Monday, September 16, 2013

Writing 101: Showing Personality

You know how people always tell you "just be yourself" when it comes to any sticky situation? That doesn't apply to self-published authors. In fact, here's much better advice for the indie writer: don't be yourself. Don't be yourself at all. 

What "Be Yourself" Really Means

Everyone makes decisions and forms opinions every day. Some people use all sorts of different criteria when they're deciding what to read -- and the author's personal history and beliefs aren't at all off-limits.

I stumbled across a Goodreads thread not too long ago where one reader stated they wouldn't purchase a certain author's books, because of something they'd done or said.

Unless you specifically write politically- or religiously-toned books, readers don't need to know where you stand on the issues, how you vote or what you think happens to us when we die. Your personal opinions on the President, war and other matters are fine for sharing among friends and family, but you shouldn't use any of your author platforms to tout these opinions (unless you meet the aforementioned criteria). 

But you should still show personality as an author, and give people a sense of who you are as a person. When you're in author mode, this is what "be yourself" actually means. You should be who you are...but be a neutral version of who you are. Be a you who doesn't ruffle feathers. If you're funny, be funny. If you're sexy, be sexy (keep it PG-13 on public platforms, however). And if you want to talk politics, keep it balanced and turn questions back to readers whenever possible. 

Show personality by engaging with readers. Tweet about music you like, shows you watch, movies you've enjoyed. Tell them about your sense of style, what you like to eat, how you spend your time. Be yourself...up to a point. Otherwise, you could be alienating readers. As an indie author, that's something you just can't afford to do.

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