What’s your Filter?

30 Mar

As I near the end of my M.F.A. program, my final class is Writing about Popular Fiction, which is taught by UF author extraordinaire, Nicole Peeler. The class has members in all stages of their book careers–from multi-published authors with multiple pen names, to self-published individuals, working editors, or those that will begin their agent search after graduation. As expected in a program about producing marketable popular fiction, we’ve spent a good chunk of time discussing social media and the art of the author persona.

Creating an author persona doesn’t mean creating a new personality. It does mean thinking before you post. Everything you say contributes to your readers’ image of you as the author. So here are my questions: How well are you representing yourself online? Do you have a conscious filter?

Some writers let it rip. They talk politics and religion on their blogs, or tweet their opinions on popular events. That’s their prerogative, but it risks offending some readers.

Do you want to be controversial or conservative? Either way is fine–it’s your decision, after all–but the issue deserves some internal reflection. As an aspiring (or practicing) writer, it can’t hurt to consider what you will and won’t discuss.

Are you going to talk about your children? How much? You can range from tweeting about dirty diapers to offering vague anecdotes when the kids do something funny. Or will you decide that your personal life is separate from your writing life?

The same goes for your job. Will your readers know what you do from 9-5? Do you want them to? Maybe you have a super interesting job that you want to share with the world…or maybe you work somewhere that would frown on your writing alter-ego. Teachers and media personalities have been fired for being too free with their opinions online. Do you need to be careful?

Whatever you decide, it’s important to set your filter at the right comfort level for you and your writing career goals. But DO think about it. The beauty of social media is that we can consciously decide which topics are fair game and which are off limits.

Before you post, make sure what you’re saying jives with your image. If it doesn’t, file it away, or decide to post it anyway. It might change how people see you, but persona isn’t static. It’s a series of decisions, and you control your own destiny.

So… what’s YOUR filter?

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3 Responses to “What’s your Filter?”

  1. Jessie March 30, 2011 at 12:54 pm #

    great post and all good things to keep in mind. I think I’m hyper-aware that I could be judges by anything I post (particularly since I’m in agent-search mode), so I tend to be conservative while letting in a little bit of my personal life so I seem like a real person and not a writing robot.

  2. Kelly Hashway March 30, 2011 at 1:07 pm #

    I definitely have a list of topics I won’t talk about. I like to be honest, so I know that some things are just better left unsaid. I follow the “if you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say anything at all” rule. I never put down other writers, and I don’t talk about politics. Everything online is searchable, so we have to make sure that we never say anything we don’t want others to find.

  3. Catherine Stine March 30, 2011 at 2:52 pm #

    I agree with Kelly. Readers and teachers and kids may be reading my blog, so I have to be careful. I do not talk about my own family or kids. I rarely review books, unless I have a special connection to one, and can say many positive things about the book. I do talk about the craft of writing, about books and films, about teaching, and pub news items. I also post my upcoming writing workshops and any book fairs I’ll be in. I try also, to have the occasional fun post, for instance about creative presents for writers, or about traveling to a really cool place. Good luck with that paper, Elle!

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