I am not a serious person. Erm, let me rephrase: I’m more serious than most people I know (always have been), but that doesn’t mean I’m a No-Fun Nancy all the time. I might not enjoy karaoke or camping (2 things that will never happen), but everyone has their own hobbies or ideas for fun. While I might not go out to the clubs to dance every weekend, I find fun in my own ways, whether it’s kicking ass on video games, beating Jason at HORSE on the basketball court, or playing beer pong in my basement with my crazy friends. But when it comes to my personality as an author, I find there’s a few ways to play the game.
Proof photo #1 I’m never to be taken too seriously:
When writing up author bios or answering interview questions, authors have a fine line to tread. Being the creator of a circus world, I see it as a specific trick, the tightrope we carefully balance ourselves on, trying to be taken seriously yet have fun with what we do. The authors I know are silly, funny, wide open and opinionated. Sometimes, however, that doesn’t always come across in their bios or blog posts, though, because we’re trying to show off our books or explain how we published (which, while interesting, isn’t terribly exciting). We want people to know we’re the real deal, to promote us and talk about how we worked hard at our craft to produce a unique storyline that will appeal to others. So we put on the serious face. When it comes to things like social media, however, it gets a little tricky. Book bloggers are pretty laidback and love to have fun, so authors must have the talent to turn the serious button off and switch on the fun friend button. Assuming we succeed, we end up making some great friends who are very supportive and will in turn help promote as well–but because they want to, not because they’re obligated or we begged (I hope).
Most of my online readers and friends don’t know me personally and I sometimes worry that they won’t get my sarcasm or think I’m a bit on the dull side because I’m not always throwing around ALL CAPS tweets or *hugging* everyone on my list (though I will if you ask me to!). I mean, how are they supposed to know I wear hot pink wigs for fun, that my best friend and I dressed up like Quail-Man from Doug with our underwear over our jeans for a photo shoot, or that I very often find myself dancing in the kitchen even though I’ve got nothing but white girl rhythm? My best friend didn’t like me at first–she thought I was way too sarcastic and she was pretty gullible, so she never knew when I was serious. When she actually engaged with me, though, she found I had a good sense of humor, a killer desire to learn and grow and lead, and was up for pretty much anything. She gave me a chance, just like I hope everyone else does, and it worked out for the best.
And the proof keeps coming…
So how do we show our true personalities through our online presence? How do we as authors brand ourselves so that we can be taken seriously as writers yet known as silly, friendly, funny people to be friends with via social media? Part of the trick is time–to constantly engage in conversation, to do your best to show your personality online. Sometimes emotions don’t always come across well in text, so we also have to watch it there–the last thing I want is to offend someone with my sarcasm when I was only trying to be funny (I learned my lesson with Erica, apparently!). We also want to make sure that when engaging (no matter how) that we’re considerate of other people, even if we don’t necessarily agree with what they say.
The other important part is staying true to who you are. Unless you’re a total wang and need a serious attitude adjustment, the only way you’re going to make friends online is the same way you make friends in real life: be a real person, with opinions and funny one-liners, as well as the ability to ask if everything’s okay when a blogger mentions they’re having a bad day. Be interested in what others have to say, thank people when they do something nice for you, and retweet and comment on other people’s posts to show that you really enjoy what they write (or if you don’t, then do what your momma told you and keep your mouth shut). Now most of this sounds pretty common sense (for everyone in the everyday world, really), but I think it’s important to reiterate that no one will get to know your true personality if you don’t make the proper effort.
More proof to make sure you know I am in no way to ever be taken seriously. Except on paper, of course.
I guess what I’m saying is that I hope our true personalities can shine even through a computer screen. We’ll continue walking the tightrope between “serious author” and “great friend who lives in another state” until then, because it really does take time to engage. It’s one of the most important thing I can do for my writing and I think it enriches my life as a whole, too, because we end up meeting fantastic people we’d never know otherwise.