I’ve been told for many years to not “speak my mind” about current events on social media. This was an opinion I strongly subscribed to until recently, when I discovered that silence was a privilege I couldn’t always afford to have. But how do you voice your opinion without alienating your readership? And what happens if you are targeted for harassment?
Facebook is easy to manage.
You can create different groups of people and decide your audience for each post. I recommend doing this anyway!
You don’t need your readers to know when you go visit your Aunt Martha for 2 weeks and GUESS WHAT?! your house is empty. You don’t need to give them clues about where you live by tagging local sports teams, restaurants, and where you got your oil changes. It’s easy to put together were you live with just a few simple keystrokes! (And we’ve all seen Misery, yes?)
You can simply make groups like “In Real Life Friends” or “Family” or “Readers,” etc. and select the group you’d like to post to. This will allow you to have control over who sees inside your life.
You can also create a separate and private Facebook profile for only close family and friends, especially if you write under a pen name. This is probably the best option if you can do it.
What about Twitter?
Twitter’s interface now allows a mobile user to switch between Twitter profiles (a feature I utilize when running our RWA Chapter’s Twitter.) Consider creating an additional personal account, separate from your author account, to engage with fellow like-minded people.
If, like me, you want to be publicly vocal about a topic you feel strongly about, how do you make that work for you and your brand? How do you protect yourself and your career?
First, really sit down and think about a topic that you’re passionate about and how you can both be an advocate and make it work for you.
For me, it’s healthcare. The healthcare angle works for me because my books deal with both mental and physical illnesses. I’m also starting an author blog that discusses what it’s like writing books while having a chronic illness. This allows me to share my story, but also helps expand my reader base and author connections. I’ve met some wonderful friends through my work.
What happens if something goes horribly wrong?
If you are going to speak your mind, the most important thing is to have a safety plan. NOW. Not later, not after it happens. Make that plan before you post or as soon as you read this blog.
Should you find yourself the victim of abuse or harassment, know how to report posts/people and lock down your social media. Document everything. Do not respond or engage. Research lawyers you can contact and do so as soon as it happens. Know how to reach your local law enforcement.
I’m not talking about the handful of comments from trolls that disappear when you delete a status. I’m talking about serious harassment, and you need to understand that this is a real possibility. Authors have public lives, subject to everything that comes with it.
In just the last two weeks, two author friends have gone on lockdown on social media. One was targeted by public figures with an opposing viewpoint and her personal information was released online. She was the immediate target of a very negative backlash.
Another friend had an issue with a bot that tricked Twitter into thinking her account was spam. Having to deal with a suspended account can be time consuming and cost sales. Know how to reach customer service for your social sites and know how to post a note on your website for readers trying to locate you on social media.
This can happen to anyone anytime.
If you want to take a more general stand, consider something like, “I used this app to write to (these specific people) to encourage/discourage (this topic here).” Or, “a portion of my book proceeds this month will go to (this cause).” Or even “I volunteered for (this) today!”
It’s important to note that you will probably alienate readers no matter what side you’re on. That’s a decision you need to come to terms with. But, you can also gain some like-minded readers as well.
We walk a fine line. Being an author is like running a small business and you need to decide how real you want to get with your readers. Once you put something out in the social media-sphere, it’s permanent even if you delete it.
(We’re looking at you, Bon Appetit…so are the rest of us angry romance lovers.)
Take your time. Be respectful. Research. Have a plan should you become the victim of negative attention.
Until next week, my friends.
Hunting Witch Hazel: Now available
I was happy with my West Coast life – 24-hour pizza delivery and bikini-clad bodies as far as the eye could see. Now I’m in the small-ass town of Hayvenwood to extract a ransom to save my little brother’s life. And that ransom is locked inside of the sexiest witch I have ever met, Hazel Evanora.