As an author in this digital age, you have some advantages over the last generation of writers. You have the option to publish your books online instantly, and then click over and inform everyone you know – without leaving your seat, dialing a fax number, or licking a stamp. The disadvantage is that this ease of access has allowed for an increase in competition.
Social media and your social media profile come in to play with digital publishing. Your profile is part of your online persona. It’s the profile that people read to get a quick idea of who you are and whether they are interested in following you. It’s your face in the social networking world….literally (with a photo) and figuratively (with words to describe you).
So should you use your real name or a fake name when interacting online? You should use the name that is on your books. If you write with a pen name, use that in building your book-based online brand. If you use your real name with your books, use it on your social profiles as well. It can be tempting to revel in the freedom that anonymity provides… but remember that your goal is to gain followers, friends, contacts to build your online tribe. You are building a brand and online presence as an author and if your readers can’t find you they can’t follow you.
Be consistent. Regardless of where your fans find you, you will want them to see you appear in the same persona everywhere. That means use the same name and basically the same information on all your profiles, varying it as appropriate. For instance, your LinkedIn profile should be all business. On your Facebook page, you can be a little more social. When it comes to your Twitter feed, you will need to be more natural in order to be successful. So beyond your name, what do you include in a good profile? First and foremost, post a photo of yourself. Avoid using cartoons, clip art, and such. Then, if you have a website, that should be included. Beyond that, add things that help people see your true personality and describe yourself in a way that incorporates keywords that people are likely to search on if looking for you or someone like you. For instance, you are a writer. What do you write? What else might people want to know about you? An example profile statement might be “Non-fiction author, book club junkie, budding salsa dancer”. Now… have you already published a book? Include the title in your profile. You’ll end up with “Self-published non-fiction author of “How to get organized”, book club junkie, budding salsa dancer”. THAT will help people find you whether they are looking for help getting ‘organized’, seeking to follow ‘non-fiction’ writers or wanting to connect with all ‘authors’ and those who have ‘self-published’. Then… the key is to post about things that are of interest to people who followed you because of that description. Maybe it’s humorous quotes, snippets of your latest novel, tips on local salsa dancing classes, and so forth. Your profile tells them what to expect in your posts.
What you shouldn’t include, for safety purposes, is your home addresses, telephone numbers, or anything about your daily routine, such as when you are going on vacation.
Check out other people’s profiles and you’ll get a sense of what to include… then write your own and post it.
Lastly, remember that your online profile is more than just what you put in the “profile” field of a social networking site. It also includes the content of your posts. If you want to be taken seriously, reconsider before adding posts that include profanity, offensive comments, complaints, or questionable photos from your last vacation. Your online presence is part of your brand and that brand’s credibility is central to book sales and your reputation.
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