Despite an author page being a new and important communication and marketing tool, many feel it to be an ego thing to maintain one. This viewpoint is understandable but utterly self-defeating. A good author page is not driven by ego but by a recognition of the need to differentiate ourselves and our work from everyone and everything else.
In today’s world, like it or not, a novelist is as much a brand as your favourite coffee or Harry Potter. Some writers will throw their hands up in horror at this notion of commercialising not only their work but their public personas. Fine. I don’t care. They can do what they want, even if it involves writing, publishing and then sitting on their bums waiting for the world to realise how bloody brilliant they are.
I’ve got an author page on Facebook where I post exclusive snippets from my upcoming work, quotes, thanks to readers for their reviews, highlight ‘free download day’ promotions by other authors, post links to my blog entries and relevant news, plus lots of other stuff. I do my best to make my page interesting and not too invasive (one or two posts per day, no more than two or three days a week). I’m honest with my readers. If there’s something I want to keep private, I do, but that’s only right and proper.
What you get from my public posts is candour. I don’t lie to you and I take the risk that some or all of my views may turn you off. Don’t ever confuse an author with his or her fiction, though. In so far as a fictional work is a lie, then yes, contradicting myself, I do lie. WOOF! was described as a memoir a few days ago. It is not a memoir. A memoir is autobiographical. WOOF! is a fictional story narrated from a first-person perspective—but remember, when much-loved characters in TV soaps die, flowers get sent to the producers by grieving fans. So maybe we’ve always confused life with art, fiction with reality. I don’t know.
Yes, there is a risk that one day you’ll have an accident, break your legs, wake up in a strange bed being cared for by a crazy person who then hurts you until you change the fate of his of her favourite characters in your books.
Promoting yourself is important, though, no matter what stage your career is at. Ask Neil Gaiman or Kathy Reichs, JK Rowling or Joe Hill. Others will do it for you if you can afford their services or have a publisher willing to arrange it all, but why let them do everything? Look after your own online outlets from blogs to author pages to social network accounts unless you have some very unpleasant opinions that will alienate many members of your target demographic—in which case, the less you reveal of your true self, the better for your sales and reputation.
As with writing books, have fun with your public appearances online and off. There are worse jobs and far worse situations to find yourself in than having people interested in your opinions, where you’re from and who you are. Be honoured, flattered and a little bit humbled on your journey and you’ll invite nice things to be said about you, whether people like your work or don’t. x