Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Online Networking Part 2

So, yesterday I posted about how you don't have to blog (or whatever else online) if you don't want to. But if you DO want to, here's my own personal do's and don'ts:

  • Use proper grammar
    • This is especially true if you want to be an or already are an author. Your profession is in words. Show it.
      • Does this mean you can't have your own voice and/or slang? Of course not. I mean, make an effort for correct punctuation, spelling, etc.
      • Also: please be aware that I'm a former English teacher and a stickler for grammar. So, obviously, I'm probably biased.
      • Also also: I've probably made a gazillion grammatical errors on this blog. Sorry. 
  • When in doubt: be professional
    • Professional layout and design
      • There is nothing wrong with the simplest blog design--but there is often much wrong with the more complicated ones. More graphics/colors/bling does not a better blog make.
      • Please please don't make me listen to your music
    • Professional tone of writing
    • Professional subject of posts
  • But don't be so professional that you don't show your own personality
  • Book covers & info
    • If you are a published author, please make your cover and ordering information easy to find
    • If you are not a published author, be very very very wary of making a mock-up cover of your unpublished book. You tend to either (a) look like an amateur or (b) look like you're trying to trick people into thinking you're published. You just can't win this way.


  • Lose sight of your goal
    • If you're writing an author blog, think about your content and limit yourself. Post about topics your audience will want to know about. This doesn't mean you can't talk about your dog--but don't let it overwhelm your blog.
  • Be combative, rude, or belligerent
    • There's a difference between a negative review and a slam
    • There's a difference between a debate and an attack
    • There's a difference between sharing your opinion and trolling
  • Make it hard to find basic information
    • There are a few things that should just be easy and obvious to find:
      • Contact info
      • Feed subscription links
      • Comment links
      • Permalinks

In the end, I thought about what I want people to think of me based on my online presence. Does that make me pompous or fake? I hope not. But I decided what I wanted people to think of me was that I was professional, but real. To that end, I made an effort to have a professional design to my website, and keep most of my posts in a professional vein. But not all--I wanted to also be real--so I'll have posts about my real life, or tweet about my dog, or show you pictures of me on vacation on Facebook. But not too much. There have been books I've read and not liked--but you won't see a negative review on here (or not any more--I did do some before I got my book deal, but decided to take them down). I won't lie--if you ask my opinion on a book I didn't like, I'll tell you--but I'm not going to post it publicly. There have been reviews of my own book that I've not liked...but I won't comment on them. There have been online opinions that I disagreed with, and while I'll give my personal views, I won't argue. 

But this is all me. Maybe the you that you want to represent is different. Maybe you want to be known for being fun and funny. Or maybe you'd rather be known for being an expert on something. Maybe you'd rather be wise than witty--or vice versa.

Think about who you want to be--and be it.


Unknown said...

As a current English teacher, I cringe at poor grammar. "i" kills me and, lately, has become my biggest writing pet peeve. I've stopped following blogs because they can't be bothered to press down the shift button to capitalize a word that should ALWAYS be capitalized. *wipes brow* Okay, I'm done with that rant.

Thanks for a great post and reminding people that it's imperative to leave a well-edited, lasting impression. :)

Liza said...

I cringe when I go back and find typos on my blog...especially one where there have been a lot of comments so it's clear people have read it. I proof and proof, but confess to missing things sometimes. I'm with Mary though...things like "i" which are supposed to be cute (I think) drive me up a wall.

Caroline Starr Rose said...

Agreed, esp. about the grammar (former English teacher, too) and the professional tone.

Now I need to check if my contact information is accessible...

Gabrielle Carolina said...

I'm in all kinds of agreement!

Kelly Polark said...

Great do's and don't list. I like "be professional but real."
I always want to correct friend's spelling errors on facebook. Way too many people use your instead of you're. It drives me nuts!

MG Higgins said...

You've obviously put a lot of thought into your online presence. Thanks for the excellent advice.

Alix said...

Great advice. Thanks for sharing.

The music thing drives me insane. No matter what the post is I click close as soon as I hear it.

Emy Shin said...

Thank you for these two posts on online networking. These are really great advice on what to do & what not to do. :)

Natalie Aguirre said...

Thanks for the commonsense advice. I so agree with not posting negative reviews of books. As authors, we should support each other and leave the negative reviews, if any, to others.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

I'm so glad to hear you say you won't publish negative reviews - I'm the same way, but sometimes I feel like people expect that. I figure that's what book bloggers and regular non-writer reader types should do - give their honest opinions. But I know how hard it is to write a book, not to mention get it published. And while I'll privately be honest (with lots of kindness) in a critique, I shy away from doing that publicly - even less to a finished work, which the author has already flung out into the world.

For me, I'd rather promote the books I think are great. :)

Nicole Zoltack said...

Awesome list. Everything is so true. If you want to be thought of as being a professional, then of course your blog should look professional, your posts should be spelled and grammatically correct, as well as your comments. I think it's important to also show personality and to be yourself. People read blogs to learn more about you.