What's In A Name?

It’s been a while since I posted my thoughts. If you read my most recent update, bit by bit, I’ve been working to write more short stories. The ideas are coming slowly, and I’ve been writing them down little by little.

More to the point. So, I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts and such. One, in particular, got me thinking. After a discussion in one of my writer’s group, my thoughts have been analyzing the idea even more. In some ways, I feel like social media can be a minefield. As writers, we’re told we need it to make a noticeable impact and have presence. But the thing is, I feel like a lot of us struggle with what to say.

We’re told we need content. But the question is, what kind? We play the tag games, do the writing prompts, read the feeds, etc… We work to establish ourselves so that others will know who we are and we’re about. If done right, it can be astounding. We gain followers, meet people, make connections and hopefully, as we work toward getting our novels published, establish a fan base.

It’s like learning to dance for the first time. Your footwork is clumsy, it’s hard to find rhythm and you hope everyone isn’t staring when you mess up. Problem is, you’re going to mess up. I’ve seen people say, “Do this,” or “Do that,” when it comes to social media. But there’s no guarantee that those methods will help you find success. Some could even be the wrong advice.

Something I had to learn, and am still learning, is that your name on social media is also your brand. This is where the minefield I mentioned earlier comes in. What you say, tweet, and share will, in some way, be viewed as a reflection of who you are. And if I’ve learned anything, regardless of what you think or believe personally, the mob has a loud voice.

So I think as authors, we need to be wiser about what we take part in. Building your brand is so supremely important to your success. I mean personally, I’m here to tell amazing stories or at least attempt to. The last thing I want is to get caught up in some political or social debate. I think doing so is a trap that alienates a portion of your audience.

I’ve seen authors who tout such views in their tweets and posts. Part of me cringes inside whenever I see them. It’s hard not to think or ask questions like: “Is this their way if generating content?” Or “Is this something they really believe?”

Everyone has the right to express themselves. I’m not saying they don’t. I think there is a time and place for such things, but in a different format. On my private pages with friends, I discuss a lot of things with friends. But in any format where my name and stories are connected, I reserve my thoughts a great deal. The last thing I want is to have an argument with someone about politics or some other issue at a venue where I’m trying to promote my work. I’d much rather have a discussion about what a person did or didn’t like about my novel.

I think your reputation is too important to immerse yourself in the mire of such a toxic environment. Because the mob will try to drown you out and if you don’t have the fortitude to endure the storm, it might kill the thing you love most, your passion for writing.

I mean, that’s the whole reason we create twitter accounts, websites, Instagram feeds and so forth. It’s to promote us and our work. Like any business, we live and die by our reputations. And if that reputation is tarnished, so will our sales.

Only you can protect you. No one else will. So moderating what content you share and who you support is incredibly important. If you don’t agree with someone or the things they tweet, you don’t have to follow them back. If you’re not a fan of a genre and have no idea what’s in a person’s book, you don’t have to share it. That’s completely within your right to do. Your name is that important and so is your reputation.

To be honest, I probably wouldn’t share a novel I haven’t read. I’m not saying I haven’t done this, but as I’ve pondered things, I realize doing so puts my seal of approval on the work. Again, that brings to question your name and if you have fans who hated the recommendation, they may even call into question your work as well. Word of mouth is a powerful thing and has a tremendous impact, after all.

Now, all of this relates to the long term. If you’re looking to make writing for a living a lifelong ambition and are fortunate to make a name for yourself or at least be recognized, then this will definitely apply to you.

If you disagree with what I’m saying and feel you can say whatever you want, then sure go ahead. You’re free to run your platform however you feel you should. But if miring yourself in those trenches ends up giving you an undesirable reputation, don’t act surprised at how it happened. From a business perspective, I think it would serve you better to create an account where you can express yourself while keeping it separate from your business (writing).

We all have things we are passionate about. There are many topics that are near and dear to my heart, but I have to remember balance. Knowing when to speak and when not to is key. Sometimes, speaking from experience, it’s better to walk away. Preserve your integrity first before falling to a level you may not have the ability to climb out of. It might surprise you how much others will respect you for it.



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