Public Versus Private – How Much is Too Much?

publicThis is one of those conundrums indie authors face. How much of yourself do you keep personal and how much do you allow to be public? When you are publishing books without the backing of a big house and you are doing all the social media yourself, you need to continually find ways to be in the public’s eye and brand yourself. This means, in my opinion, you need to use your real name (or the name on the cover of your books). The reason for this is that you must make it easy for readers to find you, no matter what social media platform you are on.

The question is, how much is public versus private? I have a FB page, Twitter, WordPress Blog, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, Goodreads, Linkedin, etc., and all of them have my real name. Each of these mediums also has a bio about me and while I try to keep them consistent, I also try to switch them up based on the particular medium I’m in. Twitter has me as an author, black belt and gastronaut (shock food fan), while other sites I chat up my gardening skills and others I talk about my pet ferret. On LinkedIn I actually downplay my writing and concentrate on my sales day job because I do have to make a living.

So, the question is, how much information is okay to share? I’ve heard readers don’t want to see you just preaching to them to buy your book. Nowadays with the ease of the internet and free knowledge about everything under the sun, they personally want to KNOW you. They want to see what you like, how you think and sometimes, just want to chat. I know that when I reach out to an author, and sometimes “famous ones,” that I get a real kick when they write me back. I’ve had personal conversations with a few “famous” thriller authors on FB and on twitter – not to mention probably a thousand other amazing indie writers on both mediums. I love learning a bit more about them, knowing what makes them tick and why they write what they write. Sometimes people have bought my books just because they know me personally or know me via my virtual persona.

I try to steer clear of discussing religion, politics, sex and personal finances. I also don’t list my home address or personal phone numbers and while I may discuss my family, I try to keep most private information private. Seriously, there are some things people don’t need to know. But besides those small things, everything else should be fine. Think of every post passing “the mom test.” If you won’t get a call from your mother about your post, then you should be fine!

Love to hear your thoughts on this. And for those interested in joining my email newsletter list, please sign up here. I will be offering a free short story in the next few days and information about the new book release of FLYING TO THE FIRE – book #2 in my YA Deaf thriller series.

I also am doing a Goodreads Giveaway of my Buddhist themed thriller, THE HUNT FOR XANADU. Please consider entering or putting my novel on your shelf.

13 thoughts on “Public Versus Private – How Much is Too Much?

  1. I keep my personal FB page as private as one can keep anything on Facebook, and don’t do book talk on it, because it’s for my non-book life. I don’t accept friend requests from people I don’t know, because I don’t want strangers seeing pictures of my family, and anything else I might do. On the other hand, I talk in blog posts quite a lot about my life, some of it quite personal; I wrote one post about how I got over heartbreak, for instance. I think that it’s good to be approachable and converse freely with your readers, but not post all your personal stuff on public sites. And never, ever post stuff that will allow someone to find out exactly where you live – there are too many nutters about!!!

    • Except in this day and age, they probably can find out where you live if you use your real name – the white pages easily makes it easy. So hard to know the right limit. Thanks so much for replying – appreciate the comment.

  2. Here is my non-author opinion: I enjoy authors who approach social media in a relaxed, chatty way. I like the tiny insights into an authors life, the things that make them laugh or bring them to tears. The thing I LOVE about indie authors is if a book creates a question in my mind, or a wow moment I can tweet or FB the author and talk about it.

    I do worry when I see authors using their personal page to join groups etc and wonder why they don’t use a fan page and keep their personal life private in the way Terry Tyler spoke of.

    • I couldn’t use my author fan page to join groups, it has to be personal page… hmmm… I do like the privacy issues though. I will say, I’ve started to defriend people that I don’t interact with or who I don’t know enough to wish a happy birthday. I still have hundreds of people, but I know these people…

  3. The “Mom” rule is great! When hosting flash on my site I ask that the writing be something you’d show your boss (and not get fired). šŸ™‚ Good tips on balancing privacy with publicity as a writer

  4. I don’t really have an issue. I simply do not allow certain “friends” on Facebook to see posts that are personal in natureā€¦ networking groups I’m a member of get to see it all, because they know what’s going on in my lifeā€¦ But aside from that, I *use* social media as a vehicle for my professionā€¦ the only public posts I share are either business or brand relatedā€¦ But we’re all fallible. I’m sure one or two instagram photos have slipped through the cracks to be viewed by the masses. I’m not too worried about it. My own book coming out – Ms. Cheevious in Hollywood – tells pretty much all of my personal life, so it should be of no huge surprise to folks. LOLā€¦ But my fitness and health persona is very real and very active, and I delve even into being Fit for Sex (although I do not talk about sex in the least, only about being fit for it). I draw the line at anything too sexy, revealing images or posts, or sexts, etcā€¦ I also draw the line about bullying businesses or politicians online. I sometimes post political or spiritual posts, but only again – to a select group – and only on FB.

    And it’s true – you cannot join groups as a FB page. You must join from your personal profile. Great post Elyse!

  5. This is hard for me because I am a private person by nature. Small talk is not my strength at all and that is what so much of social media is. Does anyone really want to know what I had for lunch every day?

  6. I keep posts about my children and grandchildren private and only put information into the public sites that is about me or my books. Even though I know its pretty easy for anyone to get your home address I don’t put it out there.

  7. Very important topic here Elyse…it’s important to get your real name out there I think, so people know who you are. But there’s a fine line to tread – I try to avoid giving out phone numbers and addresses unless I know the person very well and trust them implicitly, which is rare. Excellent post.

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