Who Should You Be When You’re Online? Creating An Author Persona For Social Media

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Who Should You Be When You're Online? Creating An Author Persona For Social Media

It’s no secret: Most writers are, by nature, a fairly introverted breed. We’re not all PR gurus or marketing wizards. But if you want to be successful in the current publishing industry climate, it’s vital that you have an online presence. Otherwise, the chances of people finding you and reading your work are slim to none.

So how do you use social media to attract attention without inadvertently revealing every last detail of your life?

That’s where your online persona comes in. Your personal brand. It’s the version of “you” that people will meet online. We’re not saying to be dishonest or create a character to hide behind—just be conscious about what you share and how it reflects on you as a writer.

The way you present yourself online “tells a story” or creates a narrative about who you are. And the same way that you have control over the narratives of your writing, you control the narratives of your own social media profiles.

Here are some points to consider when honing your online author persona.

The Fine Line Between Honesty And TMI

Your online persona can and should be the best version of yourself. Very few people get away with being offensive or belligerent as part of their personal brand. When in doubt, always ask yourself: How would I feel if I read this on someone else’s site?

Keep your private life and your professional author life apart. If you want to share the intimate details of your personal life with friends online, you should create separate social media profiles for your private self and your “writer self.” This way, you can maintain the proper image in the “story” of your author persona while also having a less formal, separate place to interact with your friends and family.

Think Of Your Audience

Consider the demographic you’d like to connect with the most, then do some research to find out the best way to reach them. For example, if you write novels for young adults, perhaps Tumblr is a good place to start. Or if you write poetry and want to connect to lit mags as well as readers, Twitter might be the way to go.

There are plenty of social media options that you can use to promote yourself and your author brand, but that doesn’t mean you have to choose all of them. The right platform can make a huge difference and effectively establish your persona.

It’s important to think about your audience when establishing the tone of your “narrative.” Readers like people with whom they can relate, so it’s important to keep your content and voice consistent with your image.

Don’t tweet about controversial topics or behavior if you’re trying to promote a book on parenting or start a mommy blog. Do write reviews of great restaurants or pin delicious recipe links on Pinterest if your book is about food and your desired audience is foodies.

The Power Of Images

The images you select for social media will powerfully affect how you are perceived by your readers. Choose a photo of yourself that represents you well as an author, and use it to “tell the story” you want to present about yourself as a writer.

By using the same image for your website, your social media profile pictures, and your press materials, people will readily connect your face to your name and identify you with your writing.

Even the graphic elements of your website and/or social media profiles can contribute to your branding. For example: If your book has cover art that’s specifically related to the story therein, you can incorporate similar design elements or color schemes onto your website. And if you’re on Facebook, you can even create a cover photo related to that artwork.

These little touches will make a big impression on visitors and help them more easily remember you long after they’ve logged off. This level of brand recognition is invaluable.

Writing is an art form, but it’s also a business—your work and your image are products you have to promote if you want to be successful. Luckily, it’s not as scary as it sounds. With a bit of careful curation and a positive outlook while establishing your online author persona, you can confidently market yourself online—and maybe have some fun while you’re doing it!

Photo by Sean MacEntee

QUESTION: Are you more or less inclined to follow the career of a writer whose name and face you recognize?

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