That was awkward … but this doesn’t have to be.

In honor of  “Awkward Moments Day” (March 18, 2013) I thought I’d mention an awkward moment all authors should strive to avoid:

The moment when a prospective publisher looks at your Internet presence and asks “What on earth was (s)he thinking?”

Because they look. Before they sign you. And while I can’t guarantee that an author’s awkward, offensive, or overly whiny presence will make the difference between an absolute yes and a maybe, it can absolutely transform a maybe into a no.

So … how to avoid turning off a publisher (or a reader)?

1. Talk about other subjects more often than you talk about yourself. Obviously, your blog exists to express your views. Ditto your author Twitter and Facebook pages. But there’s a difference between interesting content and navel-gazing. Learn that difference.

2. Smile and the world smiles with you. Whine and you whine alone. Self-evident, but true: people – including publishers – would rather sign (and read) a happy person. That’s not to say you can never express a critical view – but pay attention to the tone of your social media presence. Positive people attract and keep more readers.

3. Produce valuable, interesting content, and tread carefully when your subject is divisive. You don’t have to avoid charged commentary altogether (though that is a legitimate choice), but when you do engage on sensitive topics, do so with maturity and finesse. (Note: name-calling does not constitute “finesse.”)

4. Remember: Memory is long, and Google is forever. You can delete offensive or ill-advised comments, but people will remember that you made them. More importantly, Google’s caching protocols allow savvy users to pull up content even after it’s been erased from a website.

Don’t write a brilliant manuscript and then drop a bomb on your writing career.

Your reputation doesn’t start when a publisher signs you. It started the moment you made your virtual presence known.

Be smart. Be positive. Be professional.

And remember: Emperor Maximus Angryfish disapproves of all shenanigans – but especially those that can hurt an author’s career.

13B Max in cloves

14 thoughts on “That was awkward … but this doesn’t have to be.

  • March 18, 2013 at 5:05 am

    Max’s awesomeness knows no boundaries, bless him 🙂

    • March 19, 2013 at 10:59 am

      🙂 I think so too. Ironically, how I ended up with him makes it even better. Hmm…I need a post topic for today anyway…

    • March 19, 2013 at 10:58 am

      I’m glad you feel that way too Mariam – not that I’m surprised. You’re always a delight to see online!

  • March 18, 2013 at 3:51 pm

    AMEN! I love me some Maximus Angrgyfish. He’s my fav. Always so expressive.

    • March 19, 2013 at 10:57 am

      Thank you Karen. It seems like a good thing to remind myself (as well as everyone else) from time to time.

  • March 18, 2013 at 8:34 pm

    Smile and the world smiles with you – so true! Must be why I love YOU so much!!

  • March 19, 2013 at 3:46 am

    Right on target, Susan. That was the one piece of advice I gave my husband when he hit the Facebook waters – only discuss positive things, and never, ever whine. Now all our friends think we have the best life! Well, we do, but still…lol! Cheers hon!

    • March 19, 2013 at 10:56 am

      Thank you Christine! It’s something so many people seem to forget. Facebook “feels” private because you’re talking with “friends” but so many people don’t think about the fact that most of it is open to the public.

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  • March 22, 2013 at 6:28 am

    Hi, Susan, I got here from Piper Bayard’s site. I’d like to re-post this on my blog-site (attributed to you, obviously). Would you mind PM-ing me re whether you’re OK with re-posts, please?
    Thank you.

    • March 23, 2013 at 2:44 pm

      Hi Richard! While I definitely appreciate the interest, I actually prefer that people mention a post and link back here rather than re-posting a post in its entirety. Copyright considerations make it much harder to track the re-posts. I’m really glad you liked the post though!

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