How "Personal" Should Writers Get On Social Media?

Image courtesy of Jenny Kaczorowski WANA Commons

The world around us is changing so quickly that most of us struggle to keep up. New paradigms call for new rules and new social norms. What do we keep from the old? What do we add to the new? The common denominator to all this social media technology is the human heart beating in its center, and we are wise to remember this.

Yet, we do run into dilemmas. How much personal information should we reveal? How professional should we be? A lot of experts seem to have conflicting advice, so I am here to clear all of that up…

They are wrong and I am right :D.

Unless these experts are telling you the same things I am, then they are also right and amazingly brilliant and insightful. Odds are they are probably freakishly good-looking, too.

Where was I? Oh, yes. Advice.

I know that writers are encountering new problems in the digital world, and you guys need some vodka and chocolate sound advice. I am actually trying to talk Writers Digest Magazine into giving me a monthly advice column for social media questions…and a corporate credit card with unlimited spending for candy. They replied and mentioned something about a restraining order and a 50 foot perimeter, but I know this is just them playing hard to get.

In the meantime, while we are waiting on Writers Digest to let go of denial and acknowledge the vast empty hole in their content that is exactly Kristen-shaped, I will just go ahead and answer your biggest social media questions as you send them. Here is an e-mail I received recently over at WANATribe:

Dear Social Media Jedi, Kristen Lamb,

I am so confused. Everything I read says to keep the tweets we send and the pages we create professional, but then I look at your messages in your Twitter stream and your blogs about spamming and they are personal to the point that they seem to contradict that advice. I think I have my blog under control, but I’m unclear about my Facebook page and I definitely don’t know what to do about Twitter, as I’ve been trying to only post relevant writing information, which results in essentially retweets and links – completely opposite of your advice.

Can you point me in the right direction? How much personal is okay before it’s unprofessional? How many links are okay before it’s spam?

I really need an answer quickly, or I might lose all hope and be forced to shave my head and join a cult of moon-worshiping vegans.


Staci Troilo

Wow, now you see why we had to talk about Staci’s problem quickly. Hair takes time to grow, and a life without bacon is no life at all.

Okay, I totally made up that last line about the vegan cult (and she didn’t specifically call me a Jedi), but the rest of Staci’s problem is not only true, but it is also very common.

Technology and Humans

We are in a completely new age, and technology cannot help but affect human civilization. Not only does technology affect our lives, but it affects our language, our ideals, and even how we define our reality.

For instance, for thousands of years, every human activity was governed by the sun and the seasons. Then some genius invented the clock. The clock got its start in the Benedictine monasteries in the 12th and 13th centuries, and the reason the device was created was for one sole purpose—to provide regularity for the monk’s seven periods of devotion throughout the day. The church bells would ring, signaling a canonical hour, and the technology that afforded bell-ringing precision was the clock.

So this doo-hicky “the clock” was invented to make sure a bunch of monks prayed enough during the day in between doing other things like gardening and inventing beer. Yet, I would venture to say that none of the monks could ever have imagined how this tool would change the very course of human history. In fact, economic ideologies like capitalism would have never been possible without the invention of the clock, and forget movie matinees, commerce and mass transportation.

Can you imagine trying to be an air traffic controller with no clock?

Why do I mention this story? Because it was really cool and I needed a place to share. But, aside from that, we cannot envision life that is not precisely measured in increments of hours, minutes and seconds. Measured time ripples into every corner our world.

Like it or not, social media is doing to humankind what the clock did centuries ago, only on a larger scale and far faster than ever in human history.

The world before clocks had different rules, expectations, and norms than a world revolving around the notion of precisely measured time. Same with social media. When some marketing “expert” tells us to only present our “professional face” on social media, that information and approach is outdated. It applies to a pre-social media world.

The New Paradigm

In a pre-Facebook world, most people didn’t own and use computers. There were no smart phones and reality television was some weird experiment on MTV. People didn’t interact real-time with each other, let alone with their favorite authors. In the pre-social media world, web sites were very expensive and most were not user-friendly, so we had to hire copy writers and web masters to do any changes.

This meant changes were expensive, so they happened very little.

Cost and difficulty are why our author image had to be so carefully crafted in the pre-social media age. We were engaged in one-way communication that had only a small window of opportunity. Print ads, billboards, television time were astronomically expensive, so of course we would present a crafted one-dimensional image.

This was why authors had only the heavily airbrushed author photo, a newsletter and some press releases. We only had small (and expensive) windows of opportunity to connect, so we needed to make them count. We needed to talk about our books our work and about ourselves before the window closed and we had to cough up a trunk-load of cash to open it again.

These days?

Our world is completely different. We are interacting real-time, globally, and for free. The technology is so easy a five-year-old can use it. Ah, but this also means that we are inundated in a bazillion choices (this was not a problem back in 1995). Our world is more and more impersonal, and we are looking for fellow humans among all the technology.

The Global Cocktail Party

If all writers do is talk about one facet of their identities, they will quickly bore others. Social media is like a giant cocktail party. At cocktail parties we do talk about our work and what we are writing, but we probably would also mention an upcoming trip we are excited about. We’d also tell people if we were married and how many kids we have.

If we are really great at socializing, we might tell a couple jokes, or share stories and anecdotes that will make other people laugh and want to gather around us and maybe get our number so they can hang out again or do business with us. We would ask questions about others and be careful to be good listeners. We’d compliment others, and go out of our way to talk to them and make them feel welcome.

What we wouldn’t do is badmouth others, rant about sex, politics and religion, or start fights. We wouldn’t whine and complain and tell others intimate or embarrassing personal details. We wouldn’t likely give names and specific details about our kids or our home address. We wouldn’t go to our car and grab a box of books, a folding table and a credit card machine and start selling copies of our new novel. And hopefully, we wouldn’t get blitzed on Fuzzy Navels and cry as we talk about our ex.

Granted, there are people who do all of these things at cocktail parties, but they don’t get invited back…ever.

And while it is okay to talk business and give tips and advice, if we just walked around the party handing out business cards and fliers and spouting off stock tips, others would think we missed taking our meds. So, Staci, to answer your question, feel free to post some links…but don’t get crazy.

Timeless, Yet Not

A lot of things are still the same. We are still humans with needs, loneliness, issues, drama, and a longing for company. What is different is that technology sometimes makes us forget this. We forget about the human on the other side who wants to know us as a person as well as a writer. My advice to you, Staci is to just balance both. People crave connection with real people, and they buy from who they know, so why not know you?

If you have a burning social media question, please send it to my minion assistant Chad. His e-mail is ccarver at wanaintl dot com. And, for those who want to learn more about how technology has changed our world, I recommend Neil Postman’s Technopoly–The Surrender of Culture to Technology.

Also, at WANA International, we are offering a seriously cool class, Audio Books–Catch the Wave! for only $25 this Saturday and from the comfort of your own home, using the WANA International Digital Classroom. So if you’ve envisioned your book in audio format, this class will get you started. Here is the list of our current classes. My October Blogging to Build Your Author Brand class is now open, so make sure you get a spot. This class is two months long and can be done in your own time, but it is also a class that has a history of selling out, so sign up asap. I won’t be offering another one until 2013.

But back to social media and etiquette…

What are your thoughts? Ideas? Questions? Problems? Concerns? What do you feel is TMI on social media? Do you like authors who connect with you as a person? Does it not make a difference? Have you had an experience with someone in your network wearing a digital lampshade after too many digital daquiris?

I LOVE hearing from you guys! And since we have a guest today, every comment counts DOUBLE in the contest.

To prove it and show my love, for the month of September, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

And also, winners have a limited time to claim the prize, because what’s happening is there are actually quite a few people who never claim the critique, so I never know if the spam folder ate it or to look for it and then people miss out. I will also give my corporate e-mail to insure we connect and I will only have a week to return the 20 page edit.

At the end of September I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!

I also hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in the biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left to write great books.


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  1. You are a Social Media Jedi, no question about it. If I had any clout at WD (which obviously I don’t) I’d definitely put in a word for you to get your column started.

    Thanks so much for the advice. I have both your books (Are You There Blog? It’s Me Writer and We Are Not Alone – The Writer’s Guide to Social Media) and have used them like manuals to get me to this point. Now I’m going to use this post to surge me forward. Looking at Twitter like an online cocktail party is great advice.

    Tell minion/assistant Chad to look out, though. I tend to come up with lots and lots of questions.

    Thanks again, Kristen. I really appreciate it. (I can put the razor away! Bacon cheeseburgers for dinner!)

    1. Well, you definitely had an excellent question and it gave me an excuse to shamelessly promote myself to WD as a Miss Manners for Social Media.

    2. Fire away!

    • Grass Oil by Molly Field on September 19, 2012 at 4:02 pm
    • Reply

    I liked this; it was informative and lively and it confirmed a lot of what I’d intuitively suspected. Erm… How much coffee have you had today? You can stop now. 🙂

  2. I started this blog on WordPress specifically as a writer’s blog, and it was my intention to keep it professional, and honestly, I do tend to focus on writing-related topics here. However, I am also a poet, and my poetry seems to be what drives traffic to me. My poetry, unfortunately, I can’t make cool and professional, it’s raw, it’s personal, and it probably reveals way more about me than random strangers are comfortable with.

    Ah, well. I paint what I see.

  3. Kristen, your posts are fun, funny, relevant, and refreshing as heck. THANK YOU! Now I understand how I can show up and share at the social media cocktail party and stay sober but have fun anyway.

  4. I’m so thankful for posts like these. Social media really does feel like a huge cocktail party—the type we can network at and enjoy like crazy, hopefully without provoking brawls or drunken Facebook-able photo opps.

    I’ve become less paranoid about posting about travel. Is that safe??? I figure others will know where I’m at anyway if they run into me at a writers’ conference. And it’s fun to share happenings with friends online. I don’t post my home address or hotel room number or anything, but I worry some. Maybe I should post a big photo of my alarm system, sand-trap and bodyguard before my next jaunt…

      • lynnkelleyauthor on September 19, 2012 at 5:28 pm
      • Reply

      August, I have a friend who taped her target paper with all the bullet holes from target practice on her back patio door. Just a little reminder to anyone thinking of breaking in what they might be walking into. Along with a big photo of the things you listed, maybe you could add a photo of your target practice, and maybe tape it to your purse, too. I think the bad guys will target someone else. 🙂

      • malindalou on September 19, 2012 at 10:27 pm
      • Reply

      I talk about the people who guard my home while I’m gone. So far, no break ins.

      1. I ought to post a pic of our chihuahua. He may be little, but he’s got a King Kong bite! 🙂

  5. Great post, Kristen! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  6. I love when you remind people of their party etiquette. 😉

  7. Thank you for another excellent post.
    Hope you get to write a column. 🙂

  8. Awesome post! I agree that social media is a cocktail party. You don’t want to be the obnoxious drunk carrying on about yourself, but you also don’t want to be the uninteresting wallflower. It’s all about the charm balance, and unfortunately too many writers are doing just as you said…”We wouldn’t go to our car and grab a box of books, a folding table and a credit card machine and start selling copies of our new novel.” LOL!

  9. Good thought-provoking comments. It’s definitely hard to walk the line on what’s too much or not enough to tell online.

  10. This is so true: “We wouldn’t go to our car and grab a box of books, a folding table and a credit card machine and start selling copies of our new novel. ” I use the cocktail party image too. In fact, in preparing a class I’m teaching on Saturday, I wrote “at a cocktail party,you don’t walk up to a stranger and say, apropos of nothing,”I had a pastrami on rye for lunch”–so no, Twitter is not about what you had for lunch. (And it’s obviously not about “buy my book” either.) Great post.

  11. My new blog starts next week, and I’m definitely going to mix it up.

    I did learn lessons about what is good to post and what is not, during my last rise to (non)fame. One thing I can say is this- if your intuition and gut instinct is telling you not to post, especially right when you are about to click “post”… DON’T POST IT!!

    On the other hand, I fully enjoy stirring up trouble too.

    It’s good to be funny, heartfelt, personable…. but it is sage advice to not get too personal. We must not be so fearful that we don’t ever say anything… but we must respect the fact that exposure is, well…


    Don’t expose yourself to the point that you need a stage name. =)

  12. Enjoyed this post so very much!!!!!!!!! 🙂

  13. I enjoyed this post from a writing standpoint. Smooth and clear, which gave the humor a nice twist. Those vegans worshipping the moon would not be anything like moons over my hammy, though.

    Just a guess.

    Blessings and peace.

  14. I’m careful about what I post since anything that goes into cyberspace stays there Forever.

    My debut book comes out in January, I’m about to take the proverbial high-board dive into the deep end of the pool with guest-blogging, books signings, etc. I try to keep my interview answers confined to the book, the craft of writing, or the community of writers supporting each other.

    That and the fact that people love my books, I hope, will be sufficient.

  15. I am SO loving the blogging class from WANA. Will be wah when it is over. (grin) That said have learned so much, but….I suck at small talk at cocktail parties! I’m usually the one in the corner nursing a Diet Coke mulling my plot! So I do struggle with the small talk of Twitter. And sometimes I get caught in a Twitter and REAL time conversation and my brain almost explodes. But I so prefer trying small talk to trying to promote my books! Where I fall down is that I don’t promote my books. LOL!

  16. Excellent advice. And timely, tomorrow on my blog post is on social networking. I’ll be linking.

    • lynnkelleyauthor on September 19, 2012 at 5:31 pm
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    Great post, Kristen. I can tell you had fun writing it, and I got lots of laughs out of it. One of the best times I had on Twitter (my least fave form of social media) was the #WANAParty when you started WANA Tribe. That was a blast, and it really was a virtual cocktail party.

  17. I bought both your books, and I think they are probably the best investment I have made in my future as a writer. You are the guru!

  18. Reblogged this on Today's News.

  19. *sigh* How did you get so smart? IF they add your column, it’ll be another good reason to open my Writer’s Digest mag. What a great addition it would be. 😛

  20. I blog a mix of personal and professional — this week 18 reasons I’m still married, with the next blog post all about what takes to be a successful writer. Guess which one is the most popular of the two?

    While I’m not into TMI, mine or others’, neither am I eager to have someone tell me how to write who reveals nothing of themselves while pontificating. People tend to trust people they like and can relate to. You can be an efficient boring robot, or a helpful, fun well-rounded expert.

  21. What’s wrong with moon worshiping vegans? 😉

  22. Excellent post, Kristin. I loved the Global Cocktail Party analogy. I’d never before thought of it quite like that. I recently blogged about professional contacts mixing politics with writerly posts on facebook. Bad juju… I agree with you–some things shouldn’t be discussed at a cocktail party.

    Not only informative, but a very enjoyable read. Your humor makes it so…

    Oh, and I do hope that Writer’s Digest comes to their senses!

  23. Excellent post. It is a great insight into how we should be interacting. It means that I should let my guard down and relax a little more and have fun! Thank you for sharing.

  24. My first time to post, Kristen. I came to work feeling really sick – recovering from flu (no sympathy expected – I am a man!). I meant to just browse your post but ended up reading it – and smiling a lot. Thank you so so much – it really helped to lift my spirits for a while…………. until I remembered that I am sick, and I do not have vodka, chocolate or bacon.
    How is it that when someone says the word ‘bacon’ I cannot get it out of my head ? Where are my pills?…………………..

  25. I started out with a food blog when I learned I was wheat intolerant. But it really didn’t satisfy my writing bug. So I started a second blog that is just my writing. I notice the stories with a more personal bent are the ones that get the most traffic. But it’s early yet for this blog so I will see what happens, but I am much happier now that I have one blog just for writing.

    WD just doesn’t understand what they are missing. 😉

  26. I’ll go to a cocktail party with you anytime, Kristen! You clearly know how to have a good time. Your advice is spot on. When writers share some personal things about themselves, I feel like I know them; I get a sense of who they are. However, I don’t know the details of their lives and don’t need to. I get enough of their “voice” to feel that they are relatable and engaging…so their books probably will be too.

    • malindalou on September 19, 2012 at 10:24 pm
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    Good advice that has worked wonderfully for me. I have read your words echoed in other places by people who are equally brilliant and insightful. Truly you are the Jon Morrow of fiction. 🙂

    • Jody Thompson on September 19, 2012 at 11:40 pm
    • Reply

    Great advice!! I know what you mean about the twitter cocktail party- ha. Cheers!

    • Diana Stevan on September 20, 2012 at 1:45 am
    • Reply

    Great post, as usual, Kristin. I love that you have the gift of lacing your posts with humor. My personal posts have definitely been more popular, but I do wonder about how much to put in about my personal life. You’ve clarified the parameters. Thanks.

  27. Thanks, social media jedi. I was wondering this very question as I dive into the deep pool of Twitter. This is no longer the age to be a wallflower.

  28. Massive thanks Kristen for another great post! The cocktail party analogy is very helpful, I am never sure what I should be posting and how personal to get and the result is I just don’t post. This idea of the cocktail party is going to be very useful. 😀

  29. A toast, at the giant cocktail party to Kristen the social media Jedi, lets all mingle!

  30. Your wit always leaves me smiling at the end of your posts. I think the best rule of thumb is the cocktail party scenario…no one wants to be seen as the unwanted, snarky guest who can’t hold her liquor or her tongue…thanks for the clarification.

  31. Easy to remember analogy – treat it like a cocktail party (only if you’re a good guest at one – some folks still need to work on that).

  32. I started blogging and tweeting after reading your WANA book. My book is fiction based on Norse mythology so I have done a series of articles in that field. (Any author who does their research homework HAS to have tons of info that didn’t make it into the story – that’s where the posts come from.)
    But the best response I’ve gotten is after I started posting little pieces of cutesy, kawaii artwork I’ve done. They’re only tangentially related to my writing but they’ve gotten me more likes and follows than almost anything else.
    I totally agree that you should post and tweet things that expose the different aspects of your life. It can bring in people who would have never otherwise had exposure to your writing.

  33. Well, according to your blog post, Kristen, I am already failing. I’ve been posting lots of details in my life, and a recent one was about politics and some intense issues that I’ve been going through. My reasoning was that, 1) I want people to know the real me, because in all honesty they’re already been “reading me” in the characters I write, and 2) Sometimes my updates (as I write serialized novels) do not go up on time, and there are various reasons why. Some people assume I’ve given up on the stories, and some just get impatient. Some get puzzled at my stories’ quality, while others marvel at how I don’t have a five book deal with a publisher. So I write these things—my little dramas, any medical problems I am having, my amusing observations at work, my feelings on society…Some of these things break those rules you are stating, but so far, my blog hasn’t got much traffic. Is it really necessary to remove such content, and keep it to “Cocktail Party” conversation from now on? Or can a person just be honest with themselves and others, especially when they are writing to a niche audience like I am?

    1. A lot of it is how we do it and how much. We want people to feel good when they are around us, and that doesn’t mean we need to be fake, but we do need to remember that people have their own problems and don’t need us using them as a dumping ground (not saying that is what you are doing). I feel as long as there is a message that is positive, you should be okay. I have shared how my son knocked out all his teeth and how horrible it was when we found out my husband was being deployed to Afghanistan. I am not asking people to be superficial, I am asking them to be mindful of others and sensitive to the fact that we are not the center of the universe. Yes, we all have a political bent, a faith and a heap of trouble in life, but it is poor form to constantly dump that on others.

      I am not saying you are doing that, but I have unfollowed so many people for this type of behavior. I have friends who don’t share my political beliefs, but when we meet for coffee they don’t spend an hour ranting and calling me an idiot, yet how many writers post things that do that to others? We should respect that other people in our network might not believe the same way that we do, and know that if we hope to change hearts and minds, that being positive and approaching with love is a better bet than ranting and calling others stupid.

      1. That’s a fair thing to say. I would like to think that I post my highs AND lows with some modicum of restraint, but I think I’ll be more mindful of it in the future. I don’t get political all the time, but when I do it can be rather passionate, though never a manifesto. Thank you for your input! It gives plenty food for thought. 🙂

  34. You are wise, oh Media Jedi. My fave Twitter BFF’s are the authors who are personal in their tweeting. Being personal opens the door to conversation.

    • Tamara LeBlanc on September 20, 2012 at 8:55 am
    • Reply

    About to tweet this post, Kristen, it was a WONDERFUL read!!
    Thank you!
    Have a brilliant day,

  35. Reblogged this on …Prepare to Die. and commented:
    Social media and using it properly, as I’ve mentioned before, is still a bit beyond me. The past few days I may have gotten heavy on the negative, though I hope I dispersed that enough with interesting and otherwise amusing posts. You won’t ever see me posting about politics all the time on this blog, but I think it only natural to hear what I have to say with America’s presidential election so close. I believe most of you share some of my beliefs, though I won’t be so arrogant and presumptuous as to presume that you agree with everything, or that ALL of you agree with ANYthing. After reading this post from Kristen, I’ve decided to keep a tighter control on my posts—both to be considerate to the people in my life as well as to you readers. 🙂

  36. As always, I love your humor and snark, Kristen, but I think this one was one of the best! And the cocktail party analogy gives a great line-in-the-sand of how personal you can get in a blog, or the slant to take to make a very personal experience interesting to other people. Thanks!

    PS – you would totally ROCK Writer’s Digest!

  37. Great & informative blog post, Kristen! Ah, shucks, I guess I’ll have to knock off the dirty jokes. (just kidding). But seriously, you make everything so perfectly clear. Thanks mucho much! 🙂 I did chuckle about the part about going to the car to get a load of books to sell. I still can’t believe one of my sister’s sold her crafts from the trunk of her car at a funeral. No joke. She also planted a money tree when she was a kid, but that’s a different story.

    Making convo & making terrific friends has been my fave part of my writer’s journey. Thank you for providing a place (WANA) for us to socialize, support, & learn together.

    Your Audio Books workshop/class sounds interesting. And BTW….I’d love to apply for a unlimited candy credit card. Writer’s Digest should hire you! (for reals) 🙂

  38. Good post, Kristen. I like that you say Spawn instead of your son’s name. I use nicknames for my family also. But one thing I wish you would caution about: A friend mentioned on FB this and on her blog today that she is going out of town for a week. Hello? That’s like issuing an invitation to burglars to invade her home IMO. Now, people can look on her blog to see where she’s located, her name is not that unusual but can people probably determine her address. and voia…she comes home to a ransacked home.My daughter has a friend whose blog practically draws a map to her home. Not a great idea, in my opinion. We want to make friends for ourselves and our books, but lets don’t be stupid.

    1. I’ve actually blogged about this before. It is also why I don’t use FourSquare or that silly check-in function on Facebook. But, probably worth blogging about again. Thanks, Caroline and it is always so great to see you *hugs*

        • lynnkelleyauthor on September 20, 2012 at 2:58 pm
        • Reply

        I was thinking about your other post that addressed all this, Kristen, when I heard about that agent that was stalked and attacked. I wanted to add your link to the blogger’s post, but I couldn’t find your post in your archives. I think it’s worth republishing or blogging about again. Thanks!

    • magnoliasoul on September 20, 2012 at 5:13 pm
    • Reply

    A post perfectly in tune with current issues – it is hard to know what to share, and when you’re nothing more than a weirdo wearing an A-board. Always a thought provoking read.
    Jo 🙂

  39. It is a new world and the line between professional and personal isn’t blurry… It’s gone!

  40. Kristen, congratulations on a metaphor about the coctail party, but I would like to point out even more important message: the invention of the clock and analogy to the impact of social media; excellent encouragement for being a little more open for a conservative and older Baby Boomers.

  41. I loved your analogy about the cocktail party – it puts some things in perspective for sure. Love the humor – thanks.

  42. Thanks for sharing. I used to be kind of dry with my reveals since starting to build my author platform, which was a contradiction, as I’m the kind of person who feels like showing people your true self (minus a few crazy rituals, huh, what? *whistles*), is the best way to go. As I’ve said over and over to whoever would listen lols, since reading your books, the feeling that I have to focus only on my progress etc, has faded. So, you and anyone else are always welcomed at my island- style cocktail parties :).

  43. I have a question: What’s the difference between true love and posting on the Internet? Things posted on the Internet last forever! Never EVER post something that might come back and bite you in the ass. Remember, law enforcement has ways of digging into your computer and finding things you deleted (I think it’s called computer forensics), and then bringing it to prosecuters when you’re on trial for breaking and entering your neighbor’s house. (Hey, I thought I deleted that blog post about lusting after my neighbor’s giant dark chocolate Easter egg!)

  44. This was great, Kristen! Thank you! Tweeting a link to it now! ;o)

  45. Excellent post, Kristen. As usual, it’s full of useful information, and you make it so much fun to read. I’ve made several good friendships through Twitter (although I must admit the contact actually began during the New Voices contest) but it is hard to start a conversation when so many people keep self-promoting or spamming or sending automated messages. I do believe what you teach works, it simply takes some time (the effort goes without saying).
    Thanks again, Master Jedi!

  46. Love the post, Kristen! I don’t share personal-personal stuff on my blog or Twitter or at Starbucks, but I write strange fiction (horror; sci-fi; uh-oh, look out Santa, there’s a monster behind you-style), therefore most people who’ve read anything by me probably already assume I’m not, shall we say, ordinary (ok, I mean *normal*, but *not ordinary* sounds nicer). So I write, tweet, and joke about that aspect of myself. There are a couple of big-time authors who tweet back to me (one, I’ve seen you tweet with), and I adore them, which makes me want to read their books even more than I already have. Should I win the lottery, I will buy their entire back list. LOL So, yes, I think connecting with readers in a positive way can be a good thing in this brave new technological world in which we live. But we do need to remember where we are, which is not in our living room with our besties. Everything we say is out there in Cyberville forever. Just use common sense (not so easy on the third cup of coffee, though, is it? LOL).

  47. Oh Jeeze! I love the cocktail party metaphor. That’s great! And it gives a surprising amount of clarity. Thanks! 😉

  48. I must admit that entering the world of bloggers and twitters, I have noticed that I like to reach out to meet different people not to constantly promote or sell my book but to obtain advice, strategies, and sometimes the latest sci-tweet on a movie. Social media is a wonderful platform when not abused with overzealous twitters with that use auto-tweet responders a tweet bit too much.

  49. Hey! This is kind of off topic but I need some guidance from
    an established blog. Is it hard to set up your own blog? I’m not very techincal but I can figure things out pretty quick. I’m thinking about creating
    my own but I’m not sure where to begin. Do you have any tips or suggestions? Thanks

    • Angie on September 30, 2012 at 10:27 am
    • Reply

    Oh, your advice is so needed in a monthly column and not just in Writer’s Digest! Your explanation of how not to be an unappealing, insecure and self-destructive online voice in a sea of voices (and ears) was succinct. It reminded me of when I lived and worked in a country other than my home country for a few years and noticed many of my co-workers, also ex-pats, proceed to act like completely carefree, irresponsible and idiotic versions of themselves simply because they felt they had the protection of being so far away from home. Boy, were they wrong. Some were wrong to the point of losing jobs, some were wrong to the point of being asked to leave the country and some were wrong to the point of becoming the victims of violence. When in doubt (and when interested in truly promoting one’s work), a bit of common decency, common sense and good ol’ shame goes a long way. Social media can do many things, but provide protection ain’t one of them. Looking forward to reading more of your blog.

  50. That makes so much sense to treat social networking as one would a cocktail party. Thanks! I actually enjoy cocktail parties, so this has helped me think about tone and content from now on. I’ve been blogging for a long time, but not often because it was difficult for me to share too much of myself. I’ve opened up a lot more this year, and am about to incorporate more personal annecdotes about my childhood to help readers get a better idea of the type of person I am and my “story”. I’m glad I found your blog.

  51. I was just recently introduced to your blog and you! How in the world have I not found you before? Clearly there was a you-sized hole in my world. And I e-love you. I digress. Since I write about my personal life, lessons learned, I try not to share any real details if it involves another person that would totally disparage them. I have also implemented a “Statute of Limitations.” So I may speak about things, but I am far removed from them by the time I blog about it and if not, then it’s good news.

    As far as twitter has been concerned, when I go on a positive rant, it has been beneficial to me in connecting with people and getting followers and great connections.

  52. I was fortunate enough to be of the generation who experimented with social media long before I made my writer’s facebook page, twitter, and blog. It allowed me to make some mistakes before I would suffer financial consequences for them and that helped me a ton. I was actually surprised by how much is okay to share on social media sites and how a lot of what you share is about HOW you share it as much as WHAT you share. For instance, I’ve talked on social media sites about the fact that my house burned down last year and how someone I cared about died in the fire. Was it okay to share this? Absolutely. What I don’t share is some of the day to day things, I still struggle with to this day because of that fire or anything about personal fights I got into with people after it happened. Because those are too personal and specific. When a writer struggles with a personality tragedy these days, it’s better to be honest about it, but there’s a right way and a wrong way to go about it.

    I like your guidelines. You don’t badmouth people, you don’t talk about religion and politics. I do think it’s okay to rant, but to keep it uncontroversial or only lightly controversial and try to make it clear you are open to opposing opinions. It helps if its something that you know that most of your audience can relate to, if not all. And keep it unpersonal, as you said. Instead of saying,”I hate my sister because she thinks the novels I write are evil because they are too violent.” (I do not have a sister in real life, by the way) Instead, a blog post can be made about the merits of violence in novels and why violence in novels is sometimes a good thing. That sort of thing. Turn the negative into something positive or informative.

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