Wednesday, April 9, 2014

How Much to Reveal

I recently had an author ask me how much she should reveal of herself and her personal life to fans and readers. The question is an intriguing one and one that requires more than a simple answer.

It all goes back to your author image.

I know many authors who prefer to keep their private lives private. However, sometimes fans want to know something personal about their favorite authors; perhaps after reading their work, they see themselves as connected in some way. Authors who prefer a more private existence often respond with something they wouldn't care if the world knew about, such as their love of animals or children or their favorite charities.

Other authors let it all hang out. This can be dangerous, depending on the type of books they write. For example, talking politics, especially in a controversial manner, is great for those whose careers are built on it. But controversy doesn't always sell. We all have heard stories of authors, musicians or others in various fields who put their political agendas in front of the public only to have it backfire.

So I advise authors to ask themselves: how much of your personal life will help you sell books? How much of it could harm your career?

I am (in case you haven't noticed) a slow blogger. I write a blog when I believe I have something to say. I've seen others who will blog seven days a week even if it's only to describe what they had for breakfast. Unless you're a chef and your breakfast recipes are in your latest book, you have to ask yourself whether that post will help your career - or if it's just clogging up someone's inbox with minutia.

In the end, everything you put out in public - particularly on the Internet - should be something you wouldn't mind seeing repeated on the front pages of national newspapers and it would help, not hurt, your career.

Only the individual author can determine what they want their legacy to be, and how they want to be remembered.

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