Managing Your Online Persona: First Steps

Opie, the Open Book Opossum

Is your life an open book?

As writers in today’s hi-tech world, we’re expected to be accessible to our readers. They want to get to know us.

But how do we go about setting up a web presence?

Dealing with online publicity issues is one of Twelve Troublemakers that plague me as a writer. I’m exploring one a week. This is the ninth in the series.

Three years ago I dipped a trembling toe into the swirling cyberspace sea. I’d spent my first two years writing in isolation and valued my privacy. Little did I know I’d become an eager participant in social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. At that point, I didn’t even know they existed. Heck. I didn’t even know what a blog was.

In the span of a few months, I set up two blogs and joined Facebook and Twitter. Following are the steps I took to overcome my social networking shyness.

Three Steps for Establishing an Online Presence

1) Accept the need to maintain a public profile. Gone are the days when a writer can hole up in her office. If we hope to sell a book, we have to realize that we have two primary tasks: writing and promoting ourselves.

Whether we’re anticipating a contract or already have one, we have to establish an online presence. There’s no way around this. In fact, one section of a proposal package deals with a writer’s marketing plans. Publishing houses want authors who will participate in the promotion of their books.

2) Adapt your plan to your present needs. If you’re seeking an agent or are awaiting your first contract, your needs will be different from those of a published author. Good first steps are setting up a Facebook page and starting a blog. Joining Twitter is another option.

You’ll have to decide when the time is right to establish a website. Generally, that isn’t necessary until you’re sending your work out. Once you are, a website can provide a place for agents and editors to learn more about you, your writing, and any awards you’ve won.

The goal at this stage of the journey is to establish connections and build relationships. Writers are some of the most supportive and generous people I know. We can learn from one another while having fun.

Once you have a contract, your needs will change. Since this is where I’m at in my journey, I’ll be sharing my findings in upcoming posts as I go through the process.

3) Embrace the benefits. For those who aren’t used to the public aspects of writing and might be a bit hesitant, it can take time to get over the jitters. Start small and build your social networking skills. Interacting online becomes more comfortable with practice.

One of the biggest benefits of establishing an online presence is the friends we make. I count you among mine and am grateful for you. 🙂

Your Thoughts . . . and a Drawing

Were you hesitant to get involved online, or did the process excite you?

Do you have difficulty choosing how much to share, or are you an open book?

One person who leaves a comment by Sunday, April 10th will win the opossum Folkmanis finger puppet pictured above, along with a small surprise. I’ll include the winner’s name in my April 11th post, when I introduce the next of the Twelve Troublemakers.

Wordsworth, the Wordy Weasel from last Monday’s post goes to Gina Conroy.

Odds of winning vary based on number of entrants.
I’ll ship to U.S. and Canadian addresses only.
Offer void where prohibited.

About Keli Gwyn

I'm an award-winning author of inspirational historical romance smitten with the Victorian Era. I'm currently writing for Harlequin's Love Inspired Historical line of wholesome, faith-filled romances. My debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, was released July 1, 2012. I'm represented by Rachelle Gardner of Book & Such Literary. I live in a Gold Rush-era town at the foot of the majestic Sierras. My favorite places to visit are my fictional worlds, other Gold Country towns and historical museums. When I'm not writing I enjoy taking walks, working out at Curves™ and reading.
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14 Responses to Managing Your Online Persona: First Steps

  1. Jessica says:

    Not hesitant at all. But I’m constantly aware that my thoughts are very public and so I vett what I write. I love social networking! It’s so much easier to write how I feel than to show it. 🙂

  2. Wendy says:

    I’m pretty much an open book. I protect deep private issues I’m still working through or that might hurt a loved one to share. I also don’t reveal where I’m at on something if I have yet to decide myself.

    This has been a balance for me. Guarding my heart has come into play.
    ~ Wendy

  3. Julie Nilson says:

    I have a (very new) blog, but I’m hesitant to get into Twitter just because of the time involved. I feel like I already have so little time to write that any free time should be devoted to my fiction. (This is probably why I don’t have very many blog posts yet.)

    Any tips for avoiding the time-suck of social media?

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Julie, I hear you on the challenge of finding time for social media, blogging, etc. For those who have yet to sell a book, the prevailing advice I’ve seen from agents is to make writing and study of craft your highest priorities. Once you have a manuscript ready for submission and have begun to get nibbles is the time to get serious about social media.

      Some of the best posts I’ve seen for dealing with time issues and social media are from my critique partner Jody Hedlund. Here’s a link to one you might find helpful. Once you’re on her site, you can check out the sidebar for links to others.

      • Julie Nilson says:

        Thanks! That’s good advice. I’ll try to stop stressing about my tweetlessness until my manuscript is ready to go.

        Thanks for the link to Jody too–I love her blog, but I haven’t had time to wander through her archives yet!

  4. I was hesitant to join the blogging world. There are so many others that have much more interesting things to say than I do…it sort of feels like one big competition that I can’t possibly win. But I’m trying anyway. I also tend to be an open book. Sometimes I like that about myself and sometimes I don’t. 😉

  5. I shunned the idea of blogging before I knew anything about it. When I heard that I should have a blog if I expected my novel to be published, I cringed at the thought. I started my blog and before long found that I enjoyed it and liked reading the posts of others. I went into Cyberspace looking for blogs that interested me.

    As far as sharing my personal life, it came naturally like breathing. I don’t mean that my life is an open book. But sharing parts of myself just happened in the course of conversational comments, in small increments, little by little. My life is puzzle-like, so the whole picture has yet to be apparent from excerpts here an there, yet very likely the revelation will continue.

    Thank you. You have published some very helpful posts, Keli. I appreciate it very much. Blessings to you…

  6. Terri Tffany says:

    I love this series:) I didn’t have any trouble at all jumping in–started blogging over 4 years ago and loved it. Doing FB and Twitter and enjoy the people I have met along the way–like you!

  7. I was not hesitant to get an online presence, but now feel (with two blogs, a Twitter account that focuses on one blog and Facebook that covers both blogs) a bit schizophrenic and definitely overwhelmed. Oh and then there’s my LinkedIn presence. Being a children’s writer and adult non-fiction writer at the same time can be a bit daunting. I’m just beginning to get things under control. It will happen… right? Peace and the feeling that things are going smoothly now?

  8. Sherrinda says:

    I’m pretty open, but struggle with having something TO share. I’ve been having a hard time with my blog and I think mainly because I haven’t been writing the last few weeks. Life at home, work, and church has just taken over and I haven’t had the energy to do anything. Pathetic, huh?

    And then I go blurt out how I’m struggling! lol Sometimes there is such a thing as TMI. 🙂

  9. erin says:

    Hi Keli! Thanks so much for your awesome comments/suggestions on my blog! I appreciate it!

    I really was hesitant to hop online to do marketing/social media. Interestingly, I’d been doing online blogging, writing and social media for years for my job as an online writer/editor but making the jump to doing it personally felt like a huge step to me. I still struggle with twitter but I really try! It’s totally worth it, though!

  10. Carla Gade says:

    Opie is so cute!!

    I’ve been online for about 12 years now, so I’ve kind of forgotten. But it seems to me that it was a big step as I’m kind of shy. But putting myself in a more assertive way, including my writing was a bigger step even more. I’m still not comfortable about it, but I’m enjoying all my online interactions with new friends and connections. It’s boosted my confidence for sure.

  11. Ella says:

    I read a great blog post by Nathan Bransford where he talks about the need to use social media to promote your work, three years BEFORE your book is published. Why? Because it takes three years to build a reputation and a following. You can find the post here:

    When I read this it sent me into a panic. ACK!! Three years! I am so late to the game! So I now have a blog, use Twitter, Facebook, etc. Entering the social media arena didn’t scare me. My day job is in technology, so this was a natural progression for me. But I’m finding that working the social media circuit is extremely time consuming. It is certainly taking time away from my writing. But I’m meeting some great people, making connections, and having fun.

  12. Don’t you think that part of the mystique of a writer comes from the mystery surrounding their ‘real’ lives? As readers we can imagine them as anything – and that alone can fuel our fire for their words – When they are laid ‘bare’ – more often than not we discover they’re as ‘boring’ as we are and who on earth wants to read more of that?

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