If any of you have ever read John Irving’s “The World According to Garp,” you may remember that Garp was often frustrated by readers who wanted to know about the personal life of the author. The author should never be as important as the story he or she told, Garp felt.
This is true.
However, we live in the real world and we all love to be able to relate to others. Whether that is face-to-face or in a virtual context, as human beings we seek to connect. Part of that desire means that readers like to “know” authors.
At this point, you may be wondering, “so what, Caroline?” This is where I launch into my gentle lecture on what I think it means to be your own brand.
If you are a political writer, obviously you are going to talk politics until the cows come home. If you are a news correspondent, there will be a great deal of current events in your posts. For each of us, there’s a “genre” that will influence our conversations.
As someone who writes supernatural fiction that teenagers have been enjoying immensely, I am highly aware of how my “image” is transmitted to my audience and my readers. I am visible on Twitter, I don’t have my profile set to private, so any teenager who reads one of my books can pop over there and read my tweets. If I wouldn’t want my children to read what I say (or Sister Regina from junior high, for that matter) I probably shouldn’t throw it out there for any impressionable reader to wonder at.
This is, of course, my opinion only. No matter how we approach marketing and engaging with people, we are bound to OFFEND someone. The internet also has trolls, and their sole purpose seems to be getting a rise out of people.
Be like the Penguins of Madagascar: “smile and wave.” Do. Not. Engage.
You are your own brand: as a writer, your readers and potential readers will associate YOU with your STORY.
So, to put it simply – be kind (unless you are a Lisa Lampanelli in training, haha). Be genuine and sincere. And remember that you are influencing others (whether you want to or not).
Happy writing, and blessings to you all.