This afternoon I read about a very interesting story about a small publisher who purchases work from Independents for a journal she puts out — basically, a collection of stories. She pays for the work from authors and then publishes it. She asks for (and pays for) a perpetual license because eBooks, unlike print, have no run-life … they can simply go on forever. She ran into a snag with one of her previously published authors who wanted to move on to other ventures and needed the publisher to pull not only her story, but the entire journal.
That story is not what this post is about … but in some ways it is.
When the publisher told her “I’m sorry but I simply can’t do that” … the author decided to start spewing vitriol. The publisher, at the end of her rope, posted a thread about this exchange. And, much to my surprise, people actually said “out the author!” … they wanted, and even encouraged, the publisher to publicly shame this person. The publisher demurred, for which I was thankful. But still …
That, of course, started me thinking about public persona. Who we are in real life versus what we say behind the comfort of our computer screens.
Right now, we’re living in a very interesting time. The internet, social media, forums … they have made reclusive actors, authors, musicians part of our circle. You can “friend” just about anyone as opposed to join a fan club … you can “tweet” your favorite actress in mere minutes rather than writing the age old letter. And … if you’re lucky … that person will friend you back or even RT (re-tweet) you.
Authors are … more or less … considered famous.
Think about that girl … maybe she’d 14 and lives in Podunk, Somewhereville USA … maybe she’s read your YA book and is madly in love with your leading man. To her … you’re a celebrity. She doesn’t care if you’re traditionally published or not. She just knows you’re an author and authors are famous people. That’s just one example … but truthfully … there are a million more. For me — I was recently involved in a twitter convo with Jennifer Wiener. The Jennifer Wiener. She and I essentially do the same thing … we both write books, I know it’s not glam work, I know it’s a job and it’s hard and it’s stressful … but still, I was gobsmacked by her giving my tweet a moment’s time.
Sitting behind your computer screen, worrying things like punctuation and format, you may not realize such important things … but, you’re about to become a name. Maybe not a household name … but to someone, somewhere … you’re going to be the person who wrote their favorite book … you best not disappoint.
I used to frequent online forums. I loved the release the internet gave me to be really honest about how I felt. Sometimes it’s easier to say what you’re really thinking when no one is staring back at you — and I never knew there would be a day when I would be mortified by the things that came out of my mouth — or off my finger tips. I was always truthful with my thoughts and feelings and particular take on hot topics … but, I was not always kind. And now, as I get ready to become a “public figure” … I’m starting to realize, the internet has a long, long memory.
Your reputation is everything. Things you say and do from the comfort of your home and the privacy of your IP number … those little slips can come back to hurt you.
I have backed off a lot of social posting, my name is now tied to this blog and my website and my book. If I offend someone now, it means something different. It means I’m not a screen name … I’m a person.
I’m going to quote my mother … and probably everyone else’s mother as well … “if you can’t say something nice … don’t say anything at all.”
Now I’m off to close some accounts and scrub some forums clean of my footprint. ::sigh::