Sunday, March 8, 2009

Are you Privy to Privacy?

by Danielle Jackson

There are a ton of things to think about when you’re on the internet—especially since the World Wide Web is where you do most of your promoting. It’s easy to get carried away on an anecdote about something that inspired your novel, and before you know it, the comment section is full of little bits and pieces of your actual life: your current town, your first pet’s name, why your best friend inspired your antagonist, and those hot sex scenes? Possibly everything your husband hasn’t done.

You’ve heard me say it before, but THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU ARE POSTING before you post it. Why’s that you ask? IT NEVER GOES AWAY! And you never know who might be reading it? You might think your first grade teacher it too old to know what the internet is or how to even turn on a computer, but you never know…

Additionally, I know that many of you in addition to this blog, have personal websites, are on Facebook, have a MySpace page, Twitter, etc… I don’t mean to sound like the overbearing mother, but please be aware of what you post to these pages. I think it goes without saying that putting up your address or phone number or personal email is a big NO-NO. Consider setting up a contact form on your site, or creating a separate email address through Yahoo! or Gmail for free so your author mail is separate from your personal mail.

Also, a question that comes up quite a bit, and one I even struggle with answering—how much is too much information when you’re interviewing. For example, with Robin’s Domestic God Series, it makes sense that she would talk about growing up in Brooklyn, her family dinners every Sunday with her loud Italian family, and the fact that she is married to her very own DG (I know, I know, I didn’t believe it either, but then I met him and I’ve heard so many stories—he’s the real deal, ladies!) because these all relate to her novels. Or with Cheryl—how she’s had a crush on Mr. Spock since she can remember because those hot Zetithians carry similar features—at least in their pointy ears and eyebrows (wink). Just remember that it all comes back to promoting your books, building your brand as an author, not necessarily building your own personal soap box to talk about anything on the fly.

And finally, you know I’ve devoted an entire post to commenting, but please please please be wary of what goes into the comments. They sometimes seem like an after thought, but I know the comments section is where things tend to shine in intention. Yes, we’ve all seen our fair share of people who find it necessary to say something negative in the comment section on someone else’s blog when your book is reviewed, but you do know that the review process—whether someone likes it or not—is part of this whole writing business. But logging in under anonymous or using a fake name doesn’t cover up where the comment is coming from. So posting a glowing thank you note with your gmail account and then being sneaky and saying you’re anonymous and answering a negative comment doesn’t save any face for you—many people, especially those who have their own sites, or have become very popular through their blogs pay attention to IP addresses and can tell when someone is commenting from the same computer. When in doubt, just say “thanks, I appreciate your thoughts on my book!” or don’t say anything at all. And also, you never know who is reading those comments…be it your childhood archenemy or your favorite publicist…

This post isn’t meant to defer you from never mentioning your personal life (who knows, your 13 year old daughter might have said something totally random and voila—you wrote a novel!), or deferring you from commenting, but it is meant, as many of my posts are, to alert you to be cautionary while you’re out there in Cyber-land. Pay attention to what you’re putting up there on Facebook (because who knows if that stuff will EVER be deleted), what you’re saying in those comments, and what you’re doing to further your brand and represent the Sourcebooks, Inc. brand of amazing work and integrity!

Have you had any internet snafus that were frustrating, annoying, possibly even a little funny (after the fact)? I know that I have (and I also know that there are a few of you out there that have, too). Any questions, comments, concerns, per usual, are appreciated—but be forewarned—it seems I am always scheduled to be on the blog on days I know I will be away from my computer. Be patient, and I’ll be sure to check in later in the day.

Your faithful stalker… I mean, publicist,

Yes, that’s another Leyendecker—very rare, but I thought this stolen kiss was fitting for our privacy discussion!


  1. You warnings are well-taken. I don't Google my name often, but I did a couple of days ago and in the top four or five hits was a comment left by me on a blog I had forgotten I ever visited! Fortunately I hadn't disgraced myself, but the experience was proof of exactly what you're saying.

    There's a quote from Richard Bach's Illusions: Live so that anything you do or say could be published around the world--even if what is published is not true.

    In this brave new world of the WWW, Bach's aphorism takes on the ring of prophecy.

  2. Thanks for the reminders, Danielle.

    I look at the internet as my workplace. It's like my virtual office and so I try to be very careful not to cross any line I wouldn't have crossed at a real brick and mortar office.

    It's easy to remember when I'm blogging that I have my work hat on. It's when I'm commenting that I have to watch out. I don't know how many hit preview and thought, "What the heck am I thinking?" And deleted the comment only to replace it with a much less personal one.

  3. I know this blog is geared toward the Casablanc Authors, but I've been thinking about this kind of stuff all weekend. The family has an x-box and they get on live through the Internet. I've been living in shock. I couldn't believe how much they tell strangers. And then I wondered if I do the same thing.

    I don't visit too many blogs, and when I do I tend to be careful of what I say, or at least I hope I do.

    The only time I think I've left anonymous comments is when I genuinely wanted to say something nice without it coming off brown-nosing.


  4. MM--

    A great quote! That is the perfect way to think about what you say (or don't say).


  5. Robin-

    I think thinking of the internet as your workplace is great! Comments are a great way to interact directly with readers/fans/etc., and are generally fun, but can quickly change. Thanks for taking such heed when you are guest blogging.


  6. Hi Renee--

    Thanks for stopping by! It's crazy with how many ways people can connect--which can be a good thing or a bad thing. Sharing too much information is often something that people don't realize they are doing, and it's hard (aka impossible) to take something back once it's posted. I hope through these blog posts we can all learn and remember to take caution. It sounds like you are already doing that!


  7. The trail you leave on the internet is not like footprints in sand, washed away by the next tide, but like footprints in concrete, there until who knows when!

    I've always been careful, but I suppose I've always been aware, because my career kind of predates the active internet.

    The problem is, many writer mistake notoriety (as in authors who engage in flame wars with readers and other authors, and get lots of attention as a result) with a good reputation as an author, slow-building, and something you can be proud of over time. I intend to be around for a while, and want to represent myself correctly as someone who cares about her work and readers!