by R.C. Lewis
There's no doubt social media has changed the world in a number of ways. A particular difference that's struck me lately is the blur between the personal and the professional.
If you're on Twitter, you probably follow some industry professionals. Sprinkled amongst the #pubtip and #askagent info, you'll see tweets about this agent's cat, that agent's kids, and everybody's shoes. In some ways, it's nice to see that personal side. It makes the pros more real, and when querying agents, those little things can give us some clues about whether they're someone we'd want to work with.
Then again, I know I've unfollowed a few who went too heavy on the non-business side, particularly when those personal posts consist largely of rants and general negativity.
We can learn from this as writers. Should we keep our tweets (and other social media content) to all business, all the time? No way. There are approximately a gazillion-and-one of us out there. If we only talk writing, we'll likely blend into the background noise.
Personality is a good thing. It helps us stand out, create an impression, be memorable. Industry pros and readers alike can get to know us as people.
Where's the line between enough personality and too much? There may not be a hard-and-fast rule, but maybe we can come up with some general guidelines.
Sharing something quirky that happened to you today—Good Idea.
Sharing anything that prompts a "TMI" reaction—Bad Idea. (Mindy McGinnis manages to bend this one occasionally, but she's a professional. Don't try this at home.)
Discussing personal opinions—Good Idea ... within reason.
Discussing why every published book in your genre is terrible—BAD IDEA!
You can see I didn't get very far before I stumbled into the fuzzy gray area.
Maybe there is one rule we could follow, or at least a question we can ask ourselves. If an industry professional looked at our Twitter stream, what impression would they walk away with? Is it an impression that (1) reflects who we are, and (2) could lead them to want to work with us?
What falls on your own Do/Don't-Do list for social media? How do you show some personality and stand out without becoming unprofessional?
R.C. Lewis teaches math by day and writes YA fiction by every other time. You can find her (hopefully behaving herself) at Crossing the Helix and on Twitter (@RC_Lewis).