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Palmfrond
04-13-2009, 10:32 PM
My publisher has a new feature on their web site that tries to increase reader involvement with the authors by having the authors answer a bunch of personal questions and make blog posts about their daily lives. I'm naturally reticent about sharing much of my personal life with the world, but I want to be a good sport and do my part to help market the book, so I answered the questions. But . . .

Apparently my actual personality is too cynical and arrogant for public consumption, and I'm supposed to make myself look like a nicer person for the purposes of marketing. I'm inclined to just answer one or two and leave the rest blank. Thoughts?

alleycat
04-13-2009, 10:35 PM
Tell them your favorite TV show is Murder, She Wrote and that your favorite book is Flowers for Algernon.

;-)

bettielee
04-13-2009, 10:39 PM
For the purposes of this post, I shall answer as Keanu Reeves. "Dude. That is major harsh." I say grow a new personality and laugh at everybody as you make your witty, heartfelt posts that are utter garbage while patting yourself on the back for being such a great character actor.

Or consider the fact you are a jerk and read more Anne Landers and Dear Margo until you feel like playing on the swings with the rest of the boys and girls. You could go either way.

Brindle Chase
04-13-2009, 10:43 PM
My publisher has a new feature on their web site that tries to increase reader involvement with the authors by having the authors answer a bunch of personal questions and make blog posts about their daily lives. I'm naturally reticent about sharing much of my personal life with the world, but I want to be a good sport and do my part to help market the book, so I answered the questions. But . . .

Apparently my actual personality is too cynical and arrogant for public consumption, and I'm supposed to make myself look like a nicer person for the purposes of marketing. I'm inclined to just answer one or two and leave the rest blank. Thoughts?

From a strictly PR position, I honestly think you are better off not interacting with your readers. If your personality(and I'm not saying it myself, I dont know you.) is not appreciated by your audience, interacting with them will cause more harm, than the publisher hopes to gain.

I think its better not to interact with them, than pretend to be something you are not. As a reader, I would respect the honesty over a fake persona.

Kitty Pryde
04-13-2009, 10:47 PM
I'll bet that you, like most people, put on a facade when you go to work at your non-author job. You just can't show up and interface with customers/coworkers/bosses as a crusty curmudgeon, not if you want to keep your job. Even if the real you wants to rant and rave about the wretchedness of the world, you smile and say 'How can I help you?' Most people wear a bunch of different masks to get through life.

Maybe you should just think of it as another instance of putting on a different personality in the name of getting the job done, and not a total baring of your cynical soul. It's the happy smiley genius author persona. While you're doing so, it also means you don't have to share your innermost thoughts. On the other hand, you could make it up!

Ken
04-13-2009, 10:50 PM
... don't do it. Be yourself. And get a new publisher if they keep on insisting that you be deceptive and lie.

Palmfrond
04-13-2009, 11:09 PM
Thanks for your thoughts. Maybe it's best to keep my mouth shut and be thought an idiot than to open it and remove all doubt.

CheshireCat
04-13-2009, 11:38 PM
... don't do it. Be yourself. And get a new publisher if they keep on insisting that you be deceptive and lie.


QFT.

The more authors bow to the absurd demands of publishers to self-promote beyond our own comfort levels, especially when it comes to sharing private information with readers, the more writers should tell them no. Politely, professionally, but firmly.

Look, once info on you is out there on the Internet, it's there, and as we all know, it can come back to haunt people. Some of our readers are, to be blunt, borderline dangerous or ill people, and to provide a forum where they can at least believe they have a personal relationship with us is asking for trouble.

That's one point. The other is that there used to be a sort of mystique about writing and writers, and it's a shame we're losing that. Blogging about trivial but possibly humorous stuff like the time your car broke down and you were rescued in the best romantic tradition -- only by Bobby Joe Jim Bob in dirty overalls, may indeed be humorous, but that might not be the image you want in your readers' minds when they pick up your next book.

Just sayin'.

Be yourself. And guard your privacy whenever you possibly can. Because it's your right; don't let publishers take that away.

Toothpaste
04-14-2009, 12:01 AM
I agree with CC. But I also want to point out that maybe it's simply the way in which your written answers came across. It may be your personality isn't shining through. That the way in which you crafted your answers makes you appear less like you. There are times when I think I am being hilarious, and I come across as cynical and pessimistic. Or sometimes I think I'm being clever, and it actually reads horribly cutesy. Even as writers sometimes our tone simply does not come across as we wish it to. That happens to me ALL the time here at AW.

I'm not suggesting you change yourself, or your answers. But maybe just read them over and see if they truly get across your personality or not.

Maryn
04-14-2009, 12:04 AM
The buyer of my last short story has kind of the same deal going. I knew the pay wasn't much going in, but I'm astonished by how much selling they seem to expect, how much online presence cum promotion they seek from an introverted writer who's sold 'em one story. The pay:effort ratio says not to, so I haven't.

I suspect if they'd purchased a novel I'd do substantially more--but I still would reveal very little of my real self. Instead, I'd probably create an authorial persona with a detailed bio and a far more outgoing personality than mine, and put on her hat when I felt I should self-promote.

Having had an online stalker once, I would never provide readers with information they could use to 'triangulate' my actual location.

Maryn, once burned

brokenfingers
04-14-2009, 12:29 AM
Think of it as a character exercise. You are a writer, aren't you? Create an author persona, same as you would a character in a book, and roll with it. No one's asking you to bare your true soul, only a little interaction with readers to help grow a fanbase for your books.

In this day and age, with the glut of books by writers, self-published writers and wannabe writers, unless your book is a sparkling gem that absolutely wows people at first glance, a little PR and marketing is gonna be necessary.

C.J. Rockwell
04-14-2009, 12:56 AM
Think of it as a character exercise. You are a writer, aren't you? Create an author persona, same as you would a character in a book, and roll with it. No one's asking you to bare your true soul, only a little interaction with readers to help grow a fanbase for your books.

In this day and age, with the glut of books by writers, self-published writers and wannabe writers, unless your book is a sparkling gem that absolutely wows people at first glance, a little PR and marketing is gonna be necessary.


It's that kind of attitude that results in never knowing who to trust or believe in.

Whether it's writers, publishers, politicians, etc.

If you can't be honest with yourself or your publisher, than it's not worth it.


That said, there are a couple well-known authors I follow and listen to various interviews they give. I seriously don't gravitate to their world views and how their views on the world mirror what they write.

But I value that their honest about what they believe, and when you give as many interviews as the authors I'm thinking of over a ten year period, you notice an underlying theme, and you can only put up a "facade" for so long before your real feelings about something comes through.

That's what the best interviewers do, get their guest to admit how they really feel.

While it's true that the truth can hurt, lies can hurt a thousand times more.

Sometimes I think marketing is a crutch people use to be dismissive and degrading and nothing more.

How else can you explain those inhumane smear campagins during major election years. Whether it's for mayors, presidents, whatever.

I still have nightmares about the heartbreaking horror that was-

The 2004 presidential race, and the smear campaign that followed.

Clair Dickson
04-14-2009, 01:00 AM
I'd PREFER to read someone who's cynical and curmudgeonly! I guess it depends on what your narrative voice is like, IMHO. If you write snarky, dark books and your blog posts and daily life are all dancing flowers and happy rainbows, I'm gonna feel ripped off. It's not really fair, I suppose, but I think that the narrative of the blog should be close in style/ tone to the books. It's expected to some degree.

I refute the notion that "Everyone" wants to read happy, fluffy, optimistic stuff all the time. Perhaps a compromise is in order-- lighten up your blog prose at first, like you would do when you first meet someone, but sprinkle in some of your own cynicism. See which "sells" or is more popular. (Though arrogance is a hard sell, no matter what.) And maybe short posts are going to better-- cynical observations or commentary.

Just my thoughts.

SPMiller
04-14-2009, 01:55 AM
I'll bet that you, like most people, put on a facade when you go to work at your non-author job. You just can't show up and interface with customers/coworkers/bosses as a crusty curmudgeon, not if you want to keep your job.So that's why I have so much trouble in the office.

scarletpeaches
04-14-2009, 02:18 AM
Do people seriously 'interface' with each other?

Kitty Pryde
04-14-2009, 02:22 AM
Do people seriously 'interface' with each other?

Outside of work, I don't interface. I interact. At work, interface all the way!

Interface: a common boundary or interconnection between systems, equipment, concepts, or human beings.

Interact: to act one upon another

Wow, feel free to riff on the multitude of euphemism jokes suggested by the above. :)

SPMiller
04-14-2009, 02:39 AM
Wow, feel free to riff on the multitude of euphemism jokes suggested by the above.Deal.


Do people seriously 'interface' with each other?That's what they're calling it these days. You know, it.

jennontheisland
04-14-2009, 02:48 AM
Think of it as a character exercise. You are a writer, aren't you? Create an author persona, same as you would a character in a book, and roll with it.

Creating a character and being a character are two different things. I'm all for falsified author bios, mine sure is (glaringly so) but I don't think I could handle having to pretend to be someone else for a select group of people. Too much work and not worth the effort.

If you're a grumpy coot, be a grumpy coot.

Polenth
04-14-2009, 02:54 AM
It could be you appeared more cynical/arrogant because you found the questions a bit personal? To me, that's a sign that you shouldn't answer them. You got pushed out of your comfort zone because you felt you should answer.

It's the same tactic interviewers use when they want to know the personal lives of celebrities... most people are eager to make a good impression on the interviewer, so the celebrity often answers questions they otherwise wouldn't.

rhymegirl
04-14-2009, 03:32 AM
Personally, I think it depends on what kind of stories you write.

If you write humorous stuff, readers would expect funny answers from you.

If you write serious stuff, readers would expect serious answers.

If you write erotica, well--you get the idea.

jennontheisland
04-14-2009, 03:38 AM
Personally, I think it depends on what kind of stories you write.

If you write humorous stuff, readers would expect funny answers from you.

If you write serious stuff, readers would expect serious answers.

If you write erotica, well--you get the idea.

While I can understand the reasoning behind this, you do run the risk of seeming a bit one dimensional. Plus, I've seen some erotic romance writers give up way more info than I ever need about an author. *shudder*

Kathleen42
04-14-2009, 04:03 AM
If it makes you feel any better, we had to have personality tests at work. Mine indicated that I was "aloof".

Wayne K
04-14-2009, 04:15 AM
In the past few years--through two memoirs, I say screw them and be true to yourself. Do what you know is right.

scarletpeaches
04-14-2009, 04:20 AM
Anyone who thinks an entire personality can be distilled into one web page, one personality test, one brief paragraph, is very much mistaken.

jodiodi
04-14-2009, 04:55 AM
If I ever get published, I'll hire someone else to be me. I'm notoriously shy and can't stand to go out in public, don't want any attention focused on me, and don't like interacting with people. I'd rather stay hidden forever than have to let people see/meet me. Since I stopped working (which was a chore), I stay in my house as much as possible and try to only go places when there are plenty of people with me so I can hide in the crowd.

Maybe that's why I can't get published: I can't promote myself or my writing.

brokenfingers
04-14-2009, 05:24 AM
I understand those who say "don't do it", "be the real you, no matter what", "if they don't like it, screw 'em" etc. - but it's a judgment call.

Remember, if the book doesn't perform, if the author doesn't attract an audience of loyal readers, then the publisher will most likely not publish their next book.

We all must make compromises in this life. And again, it does depend on a lot of things - like the genre, your target audience, your publisher, the market, your editor, your writing, your story etc.

But if a publisher thinks your personal style will throw off readers or hurt sales of your book, then ultimately you, the author, must decide upon which path your future lies.

Fiction writing falls under entertainment - and in the entertainment world, many people have had to put themselves aside to become what the public wants in order to achieve their dreams.

Just some things to think about.

Good luck.

shokadh
04-14-2009, 05:24 AM
Yeah, I'd have to say be yourself. You know what they say about liars. It takes a lot more effort than just telling the truth because you have to remember what you said and who you said it to. If you try too hard, you'll #1, lose all credibility with everyone at some point and #2, forget who you really were to begin with.

"To thine own self be true" ;)

NicoleMD
04-14-2009, 08:42 AM
Why not offer some content that isn't personality based? Like writing tips or free short stories? Or book reviews?

Nicole

MetalDog
04-14-2009, 10:42 AM
One of the perks of being a writer is that you don't need to turn into the sort of gurning, dancing monkey boys and girls we see on TV, desperately trying to stand out by acting like fools.

Bloody 'marketing' - when they lost the ability to sell a product and had to turn to running a circus I'm not sure, but it seems more and more common to meet nothing but clowns in that particular trade. Disappointing to hear that book marketing is going the same way.

Dollywagon
04-14-2009, 11:18 AM
I'm not even sure it's marketing anymore, just shallow spin.

Not only that it pervades everything. Look what happened with the banks, "Oh yes Sir, everything is fine, great in fact ... The economy? Bloody marvellous. In fact, I think I dare go as far to say as we have now created an almost perfect world."

Only problem is, a spade is still a spade, and we still seem to have not got the point that the spade is still digging a damn big hole in most every institution you can think of.

There are now more people than ever who seem to place a low value on integrity and usually it is linked to making a buck (or pound in my location)

I really don't think it is a matter of simply putting on a face, not if people are allowed to ask you personal questions and are expecting a response - it would be a different matter, if as someone else suggested, you were just writing articles or giving tips. Who should feel obliged to give out their knicker size for heaven's sake?

Samantha's_Song
04-14-2009, 01:45 PM
For myself, I'd consider this an invasion of my privacy and I'd refuse to do it, sorry, but I just would.
I don't do blogs, as I personally think they're a complete waste of time, time in which I could be writing something productive, plus who really reads them? I know I don't, not even for people I know/am friends with/or whom are famous and I actually like. And why should I let complete strangers into MY life anyway? I do FaceBook, but even that is set so that only the people on my friendslist can see my business. Nope, I certainly wouldn't do it :e2zipped:

Prog
04-14-2009, 02:04 PM
If it's the new online minisites I think they are, yeah, those are some stupid questions. But everyone knows they're inane ("Tell us your least favorite food!" Um, who exactly do you think my audience is?) so if you don't want to fill them out, just enter an extended bio and a bit about the book and leave it at that.

Phaeal
04-14-2009, 04:58 PM
The trick is to be your snarky self in an amusing, somewhat self-deprecating, nonthreatening manner. Think court jester and smile at the amount of truth you can tell through politic humor.

Palmfrond
04-14-2009, 06:49 PM
Why not offer some content that isn't personality based? Like writing tips or free short stories? Or book reviews?

Nicole

Good idea, but the publisher's site isn't structured like that. My own web site, obviously, has content related to the book.

Palmfrond
04-14-2009, 06:51 PM
The trick is to be your snarky self in an amusing, somewhat self-deprecating, nonthreatening manner. Think court jester and smile at the amount of truth you can tell through politic humor.

What I thought was politic humor was what got me in trouble in the first go-around.

Claudia Gray
04-14-2009, 07:24 PM
I don't think you should be wholly artificial or pretend to be someone you're not, but let's face it: Virtually everyone self-edits to some degree to get by in the professional world, and in this context, you have to look at being an author as you would any other job. You can be funny if you're funny, quiet if you're quiet, etc. -- what you can't do is tell the bosses (i.e., the readers) that you're smart and they're stupid so they can just fuck off. You find a way to balance the nature of your personality with the needs of your profession; it's as true in writing as it is anyplace else.

I would advise you to keep at it, not to simply refuse to take part in the interview. This is just one more area in which you have to hone your writing skills.

Dollywagon
04-14-2009, 07:32 PM
I sympathise, really I do. Living in the public eye in any way, shape or form, just isn't my idea of fun. Plus I seem to offend people even when I'm not trying.
I still maintain though that due to the media, marketing has switched attention from the quality of the product to the producer. It's the 'the public has the right to know' mentallity, and of course they don't have the right to know, but giving them the right to know may, possibly increase the profitability of your product.
Maybe it would be worth pointing out, if you haven't already done so, that you are in fact a bit of a liability in this particular arena?

I was thinking though, is it just me or aren't writers supposed to be introverted hermits sitting glued to a desk and snapping at the world - when did they become 'sociable' for heaven's sake?

C.J. Rockwell
04-14-2009, 11:38 PM
I understand those who say "don't do it", "be the real you, no matter what", "if they don't like it, screw 'em" etc. - but it's a judgment call.

Remember, if the book doesn't perform, if the author doesn't attract an audience of loyal readers, then the publisher will most likely not publish their next book.

We all must make compromises in this life. And again, it does depend on a lot of things - like the genre, your target audience, your publisher, the market, your editor, your writing, your story etc.

But if a publisher thinks your personal style will throw off readers or hurt sales of your book, then ultimately you, the author, must decide upon which path your future lies.

Fiction writing falls under entertainment - and in the entertainment world, many people have had to put themselves aside to become what the public wants in order to achieve their dreams.

Just some things to think about.

Good luck.


I repeat-

2004 presidential election.

The smear campaign to end all smear campaigns

What did those childish, immature, heartless media playground fights really accomplish?

Aside from "entertaining" people who think everything void of pessimestic cynacisim is "Fluff."

How else do explain movies like Superbad getting made?

And without getting too deep in politics I'm tired of seeing needless slaughter and backlash against every nagging little thing politicians do wrong.

Can't we have a more balanced view than that?

For all the things our last president did wrong, haven't some things been right? If it was all bad, wouldn't things be even worse than what they are right now? Be honest, wouldn't they?!!

I'm not "potlically minded" by any stretch of the imagination. But I know that
as writers, and readers, we demand that our characters be flawed and imperfect. Because we all know no one is perfect.

Yet we expect politicians on some level, regardless of how jaded and cynical you might be, to be perfect in every freaking way. And when they're not, we get annoyingly witchy about it.

Explain that to me, because I'll never understand otherwise...

And if you can do it without sounding like you're taking drugs to be emotion-free.

Bonus points if you can explain without ressorting to know-it-all one-liners and pretty much sounding like a (The most insulting word you can think of).

Bubastes
04-14-2009, 11:44 PM
Tess Gerritsen has a blog post about the downsides of success. Not sure if it's helpful at all, but it does highlight that you're not alone in wrestling with this problem:

http://tessgerritsen.com/blog/2009/04/11/im-famous-it-sucks/

brokenfingers
04-15-2009, 01:41 AM
I repeat-

2004 presidential election.

The smear campaign to end all smear campaigns

What did those childish, immature, heartless media playground fights really accomplish?

Aside from "entertaining" people who think everything void of pessimestic cynacisim is "Fluff."

How else do explain movies like Superbad getting made?

And without getting too deep in politics I'm tired of seeing needless slaughter and backlash against every nagging little thing politicians do wrong.

Can't we have a more balanced view than that?

For all the things our last president did wrong, haven't some things been right? If it was all bad, wouldn't things be even worse than what they are right now? Be honest, wouldn't they?!!

I'm not "potlically minded" by any stretch of the imagination. But I know that
as writers, and readers, we demand that our characters be flawed and imperfect. Because we all know no one is perfect.

Yet we expect politicians on some level, regardless of how jaded and cynical you might be, to be perfect in every freaking way. And when they're not, we get annoyingly witchy about it.

Explain that to me, because I'll never understand otherwise...

And if you can do it without sounding like you're taking drugs to be emotion-free.

Bonus points if you can explain without ressorting to know-it-all one-liners and pretty much sounding like a (The most insulting word you can think of).Huh?

I have no idea what you're talking about or how it relates to the OP's question.

But, remember - the publisher isn't asking the author to lie or change themselves or develop a new life. They're basically asking that the author frame their answers in a more 'reader-friendly' fashion, that's all.

If the author is a private person or doesn't do much besides writing, I see no reason to lie about it. but as we all know, in this world, it isn't so much what you say, but how you say it.

Be gracious, friendly, and open and you shouldn't have any problem.

Kris
04-15-2009, 01:52 AM
For me, part of being a writer is responding to edits. Now, I'm published only as a writer of nonfiction, and maybe being a novelist feels more personal and more like you should be yourself, but in the video game of my mind, any figure who appears as an "EDITOR" and suggests "CHANGES" is someone I immediately try to respond to within the limits of my ability.

Maybe that's weird and it sounds like I'm in the minority, but putting myself in your place I think I would respond to this as a request for some edits on publicity-related materials--not an opportunity to show my true self, or a test wherein I have to choose not to betray my core values.

Doesn't make me a sell-out, either--once I chose to be published, I chose to send one part of myself into a sort of private eclipse and enhance another, more consistent and shiny (and blonder and more cooperative) part of myself. But all that is me, not you!

shokadh
04-15-2009, 04:05 AM
What I thought was politic humor was what got me in trouble in the first go-around.

Well, I suppose you can be purposefully vague about your political bent until your work becomes really popular. Then you can afford to lose some readership, if need-be. If it hurts your sales right now to be to transparent, well, then it's nobody's business what your political views are anyway, right? What right do they have to know all your personal business? I wouldn't think it would hurt your sales to be vague at this point. Diplomacy and tact are the better part of valor, or something like that...:D

Palmfrond
04-15-2009, 04:50 AM
Well, I suppose you can be purposefully vague about your political bent until your work becomes really popular. Then you can afford to lose some readership, if need-be. If it hurts your sales right now to be to transparent, well, then it's nobody's business what your political views are anyway, right? What right do they have to know all your personal business? I wouldn't think it would hurt your sales to be vague at this point. Diplomacy and tact are the better part of valor, or something like that...:D

Sorry - I was using another meaning of "politic"

"characterized by shrewdness" "sagacious"

Little Bird
04-15-2009, 05:33 AM
If it makes you feel any better, we had to have personality tests at work. Mine indicated that I was "aloof".


I had to take one of those for a job I had in college. It said I was male. :Shrug:

Seriously, it divided people into "types" based on their answers, and listed which types were typically male or female. I was one of the male types.

I think my husband would disagree!

What happened to the nice stereotype of the reclusive writer, locked away with her muse? That's what I always wanted to be when I "grew up."

CheshireCat
04-15-2009, 06:38 AM
What happened to the nice stereotype of the reclusive writer, locked away with her muse? That's what I always wanted to be when I "grew up."

Just FYI, guys, the point I was trying to make a few posts back is that you do have a choice when it comes to how much of your private life and self you choose to reveal -- and you'll be wise to consider carefully before flinging too much personal info out for the public to study.

To those who say it's part of promotion, I say bullshit. Sure, some readers are curious about authors -- and some couldn't care less what you watch on TV or whether you like dogs better than cats or what kind of car you drive. They only care if you've given them a good story worth the money they spent on it, and that's all you owe to them. You owe them the best story you can produce.

These days, especially, more and more publishers -- even the major ones -- are asking their authors to do more self-promotion involving appearances, blogging, and various other means of putting yourself out there. Right now, they're mostly asking writers to do this sort of thing, as opposed to requiring them to, as part of their contractual obligations.

I can tell you from experience (mine and that of many, many writer friends) that the secret to building a career has nothing to do with how many hours you spend blogging or touring or being active in other self-promotional activities. The secret is spending every hour you can writing more books.

Everything not life-related that takes you away from your writing is doing just that: taking you away from your writing. And for some of us, the disruptions of our creative process can be hugely damaging.

Think about what you need in order to be the most creative, productive writer you want and need to be -- and then draw your line in the sand. Don't allow yourself to be bullied or browbeaten (by publishers, agents, or other writers) into crossing that line.

Because, unless you have a really good and caring agent (one being way easier to find than both), the only person protecting your creative process is yourself.

Trust me, if you allow yourself to be pushed out of your own comfort zone and then find yourself creatively stifled or stalled (and I've seen it happen many times), your publisher is unlikely to be understanding about it. In fact, they're far more likely to shrug you off as "unproductive" and move on to another writer.

Sure, you run the risk of irritating the publisher if you politely, professionally, but firmly tell them you really need to spend all your writing time writing, you know, the next book rather than a blog or internet interview or something of the sort. They tend to argue with you, and may even use words like "uncooperative" and "unprofessional" in the course of the argument.

That's why you need to know where your line in the sand actually is. Giving in from time to time is fine, as long as you do so after thinking it through and weighing the benefits of this "promo opportunity" the publisher is pushing over your lost writing time.

Because here's the thing. No publisher knows what promo opportunity is going to be truly valuable and productive. They guess. And very often, they guess wrong. (I speak as someone who was once driven across a state to sign at two stores, one of them a grocery store, a "promo opportunity" that was an unbelievable waste of the publisher's money and my time.)

Guard your writing time if you mean to make this a career. Life will pull you away often enough, and should; don't let your publisher pull you away as well.

My opinion.

Stijn Hommes
04-16-2009, 01:30 AM
QFT.

The more authors bow to the absurd demands of publishers to self-promote beyond our own comfort levels, especially when it comes to sharing private information with readers, the more writers should tell them no. Politely, professionally, but firmly.

Look, once info on you is out there on the Internet, it's there, and as we all know, it can come back to haunt people. Some of our readers are, to be blunt, borderline dangerous or ill people, and to provide a forum where they can at least believe they have a personal relationship with us is asking for trouble.

That's one point. The other is that there used to be a sort of mystique about writing and writers, and it's a shame we're losing that. Blogging about trivial but possibly humorous stuff like the time your car broke down and you were rescued in the best romantic tradition -- only by Bobby Joe Jim Bob in dirty overalls, may indeed be humorous, but that might not be the image you want in your readers' minds when they pick up your next book.

Just sayin'.

Be yourself. And guard your privacy whenever you possibly can. Because it's your right; don't let publishers take that away. I've seen several authors who did quite well for themselves mostly because the fanbase they created through interaction. The whole free audiobook movement provides most of those authors. I think at least some interaction is crucial to make a book a success, but you shouldn't go outside your comfort level. Answer only what you want and be honest about what you feel. Are they offering you standard questions? If not, they might let you pick questions from readers that you ARE comfortable about answering.

Gillhoughly
04-16-2009, 04:07 AM
My publisher has a new feature on their web site that tries to increase reader involvement with the authors by having the authors answer a bunch of personal questions and make blog posts about their daily lives.

I can't think of anything more boring to read than the daily life of a writer.

We sit in a room, stare at a screen, and type. For hours on end.

That's what *I* do, anyway. I break up the routine with housework. Not a lot of thrill there unless I lose a fight with a dust-rhino.


I'm naturally reticent about sharing much of my personal life with the world,

Your instincts are right. There's little enough privacy left to us, and the Net is full of creepy people who don't need to know stuff about you.

Less is more.

Speak through your books, not your publisher's website.

Be a mystery.

I know absolutely jack about my favorite writer. He wrote amazing books. The only pic I ever found was of him walking away from the camera. The mystery was much more interesting than if I'd gotten his life story in detail.

Sometimes it's better not to know too much about your favs. Ever since Mel Gibson got drunk and abusive with that poor cop I can't stand the sight of him. I've a bunch of movies I can't bring myself to watch again because of that.

"There's a reason why we're not telepathic: we'd kill each other off as a species." -- P.N.Elrod

MetalDog
04-17-2009, 03:04 PM
Agreed, Gillhoughly.

I had a much better time reading the Jack Aubrey books before I found out more about Patrick O'Brian. I also met my computer game designing hero and that was a massive disappointment as well - mystery is good!

Authors are not the characters you love - the characters are a mere splinter of the Author you don't know.

Gillhoughly
04-17-2009, 05:48 PM
What you said MetalDog.

I had quite a crush on one of the Highlander actors until I met him in person. What an egotistical arsehat!

OTOH, several of the supporting actors were absolute gems, people you could hang out with. So I did.

But back to writers--the same things goes. I've met a few who were jerks and others who were darlings. Ray Bradbury, I love you, and I don't have to know your life story and what you ate for breakfast. I wish other writers would figure that out.

Unfortunately, thanks to blogs, we can find out that kind of info.

I avoid the blogs of several favorite writers because they blather about their domestic life (sorry, you're NOT Erma Bombeck, no one is) or their politics (booooring), anything but their BOOKS. If the blog is boring, your book might be, too.

I'm careful on my blog. I only post if it's something to do with my books. No, I don't keep tabs on how many words I wrote that day or how long it took or how hard it was to do. No one likes a whiner. It's hey, presto! Look, a new book! Tah dahhh!

I like magicians better when I don't know how they did it.

jodiodi
04-18-2009, 03:51 AM
Even though I loathe personal contact, I suppose my upbringing with my genteel Southern Lady Granny and aunts serves me well. I can smile and be gracious under pretty much any circumstances. I just have my quick, sarcastic temper to control. As I get older, it's harder to avoid saying what I think.

Emily Winslow
04-18-2009, 06:38 PM
Authors are not the characters you love - the characters are a mere splinter of the Author you don't know.

True! And beautifully phrased....

Crinklish
04-20-2009, 06:53 AM
The publisher I work for has created a similar site (or heck, you could be talking about my house), and some of my authors got a little freaked out by the questions...but it's no big deal. Just answer the ones you don't mind, and skip the rest. And you don't have to reveal anything deeply personal...no one knows if you're telling the truth, anyway.

Or why not answer the questions in the voice of your protagonist? Then it's still a selling tool, but no one thinks you're revealing your own secrets.

Palmfrond
04-20-2009, 07:01 AM
Or why not answer the questions in the voice of your protagonist? Then it's still a selling tool, but no one thinks you're revealing your own secrets.

Great idea! My protagonist is a homo erectus female half a million years ago. "What food could you eat every day?"
"Raw antelope liver, without a doubt!"

Gillhoughly
04-20-2009, 07:09 PM
Just to be clear--I meant Highlander: The Series, that was on TV.

After the 2nd movie I stopped following the films. Life's too short.

MaLanie1971
04-22-2009, 05:40 PM
Look at Stephen King, from some of his remarks I think he's an ass, but sometimes people love asses! If it makes you stand out from the crowd it might actually be a good thing.

cletus
04-22-2009, 05:51 PM
Look at Stephen King, from some of his remarks I think he's an ass. Sometimes people love asses! If it makes you stand out from the crowd it might actually be a good thing.

What remarks were those or did I miss something?

Or maybe I'm just an ass, too?

Either way I'm curious.

SPMiller
04-22-2009, 05:55 PM
He called a spade a spade.

Wayne K
04-22-2009, 06:51 PM
Sometimes people love asses! If it makes you stand out from the crowd it might actually be a good thing.

Thank God, I hate to think I wasted my entire life.

KikiteNeko
04-22-2009, 07:10 PM
If my agent/editor asked me to do that, I'd politely decline if I were in your shoes. My real personality and day-to-day thoughts can NOT be good for my book sales. Why waste your precious writing time on a blog if your heart's not in it? You can be working on your next book!

Also, as a reader, I don't really care about the author's life or personality and wouldn't read their blogs, but that's just me.

MaLanie1971
04-22-2009, 10:09 PM
Ok, maybe "ass" was the wrong word. Sorry, that was the first thing that came to mind after the Army remark he made (I'm kinda loyal). He freely speaks his mind and most people love it, that's my point. We love people that aren't politically correct; they stand out because they have an opinion of their own and do not follow the crowd, they tell it like it is and sometimes stir up the pot.

Kris
04-23-2009, 12:54 AM
Steven King also said that Stephenie Meyer is a bad writer. I haven't read her stuff but his unvarnished opinion did make me like him more, although I also cringe to think that it might have been hurtful to Meyer.

Kris
04-23-2009, 01:04 AM
I relate to how everyone is saying to keep your private life private, but don't you already have a public persona that you could edit to make it more palatable?

I hope that doesn't make me sound like a psychopath, because I am actually quite nice.

MaLanie1971
04-23-2009, 01:31 AM
Steven King also said that Stephenie Meyer is a bad writer. I haven't read her stuff but his unvarnished opinion did make me like him more, although I also cringe to think that it might have been hurtful to Meyer.

Lara, I felt for her too.

Kris
04-23-2009, 01:45 AM
Lara, I felt for her too. Nothing like a big time author publicly crushing your first book. You would think someone like him would recognize that she is new to writing and just happened to hit the jackpot. I imagine she will grow as she writes just as many authors do.

Although I cringed for her, I also thought, "If she's smart, she'll be able to take that for what it's worth and move on." She has tons of truly adoring fans and crazy book sales, and she and King are almost like different species within the genus of writers (in spite of both writing about vampires), so I hope that's enough to keep her from being too crushed.

And King has taken some REALLY harsh criticism in his day.