There is the real world of brick and mortar and then there is the internet world. This is the world of blogs, boards, instant messenger, Twitter, Facebook and a thousand other social media websites. Digital real estate is booming and those who know how to manipulate it are cashing in. Even those of us who are comfortable behind the screen can get lost in the crowd where flame wars are the norm and spam is a daily occurrence.
Why is an Internet Presence Important?
One of the main reasons having a solid internet presence is important is that it allows you, the author, to reach more people. These are the people who buy the products you create or contribute to. These are also the people who make the decisions on who to hire next.
My internet presence spans websites (professional), blogs (personal and professional), Facebook (personal and fan page), Twitter (Yes), IM and a myriad of email addresses to help organize my life. 100% of my jobs are remote. This means I get 100% of my income from my contact on the internet. I may meet people at conventions but it is the digital follow up that gets me the job.
I have given people work through Twitter as well as been solicited for work through Twitter, Facebook and Livejournal. Without a solid internet presence, these jobs would never have happened.
Part Marketing, Part You
The first thing you need to realize is that while your internet presence is you, it is also a marketing tool. It cannot be one or the other. It needs to be both. No one wants to constantly read “buy my stuff.” Also, if all you have on your blog is pictures of your pet llama and nothing about your writing, prospective readers, editors, and publishers will have no idea that you are an author or what you write. Thus, you must balance the marketing with the personal.
In my blogs, I separate the two. In one, it is all personal (cats, husband, gaming, chores, etc…) with hints of the professional. In the professional blog, I do have announcements of sales, what I’m working on, when things are released and events. But, I also have personal writing advice based on my experience. I link in personal things that happen to me that inspire, help or hinder my writing. I am professional but I am also personable.
There are some people who have excelled at having an excellent online presence that balances personal and professional lives. John Scalzi, Cherie Priest, Cat Rambo, Jay Lake, and the King of Geeks, Wil Wheaton…not to mention the ever grumpy but highly talented Warren Ellis. Look up any of these people and read what they have to say. You will learn about both their professional and personal lives as well as see how they present their products while remaining a real person.
But People are Wrong on the Internet
And here we come to the sticky part of the equation. The internet is filled with landmines and those landmines are known as people. There are trolls in these there woods. Trolls, opinionated assholes, pricks who are right, reviewers, readers, editors, publishers, lovers, haters and, in general, most of the world. Trust me when I say that your mere presence on the internet will upset someone while another person will thank the stars above.
Everything you write on the internet is read by someone. Never assume that what you post online is private. Even if it is ‘behind locked doors’ because people are a wild card. Some will be good for your career. Some will be bad. And some won’t care one way or the other as long as they are getting attention.
People are wrong on the internet. This is a fact. An author will never win a flame war. This is my opinion. They may be right against their opponent but they will still come off with a bad reputation in the end. Even if a reviewer lambasts your book because it is exactly what it says it is (and I speak from personal experience), it is best not to respond. No matter how angry it makes you because, on the whole, the RPG publishing industry is small and the toes you step on today may belong to the ass you need to kiss tomorrow.
Do you have any comments or questions about internet networking? Let me know and I’ll do my best to respond.