Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Saving Face on MySpace

MySpace can be a great place for authors to connect with fellow authors, readers, friends, and if you're not careful, connect with an embarrassing moment or two as well.

If you're in the middle of developing your novel, writing your first draft, or even revising your draft, consider setting up a Myspace page. The setup process is easy and builiding a network of friends is a nice break from the pleasant but hard work of progressing through the writing process. That said, and as we offer in Novelist's Boot Camp, remember that blogging on MySpace, adding friends, reading others' posts, or re-designing your MySpace page is not writing. You can add all the bells and whistles you want to your MySpace page, just remember that your writing goal is still out there waiting. At the end of your day, you don't want to have that goal grinning in triumph at you because instead of making progress on your novel, you changed your MySpace page design sixteen times.

Moreover, before you upload photos of your cats, your doily collection, and those shots of you dancing on the table at the last writers' conference, remember that MySpace is one of the first places people turn to find out about you. As an author, you're a brand--or will be if you execute your writing drills and get your book done. MySpace is a great opportunity to screw up a first impression, so choose wisely what you say and what you post.

Note too that businesses are checking MySpace to check up on future and even current employees. Photos of you in a costume that might be acceptable at, say, a vampire-themed ball at a Science Fiction/Fantasy 'Con might not play well in HR or in an interview.

It can also be embarrassing and downright painful to have your identity stolen--so minimize the personal information (hometown, birthdate, and so on) that you make public.

Finally, choose your friends well. If you're a published author, your publisher may say that amassing as many MySpace friends as possible is a good thing. Indeed, the more people who know about your writing project -- whether work in progress or published piece -- the more who might purchase a copy. However, there are snakes in the grass in the MySpace friends --filling your Friend list with profiles that are no more than links to porn or scam sites can damage your creditability and turn people off in a hurry.

In Novelist's Boot Camp -- both the book and the workshop (and we're doing our next one at the
Wisconsin Writers Institute in March--y'all come), we teach authors to be conscious of the process and text they're producing. Save yourself some embarrassment--public or private--and be conscious of what you're doing on your MySpace page as well.


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