Social networking has changed the way writers present a public face and they must now consider their IP quotient or Internet presence when engaged in online activities. Writers, many who are by nature introverted and wary of any crowd numbering more than two, have long railed against the idea of professional networking and decried the amount of time stolen from their real work: writing. Today opportunities to get your name out and take part in social media networking don't even require you to leave your ergonomically well-worn chair--although having a computer and the ability to go online is a must.
The Internet raises the stakes of the familiar Las Vegas slogan of what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. What goes on the Internet stays on the Internet--forever. It's prudent to consider how you will present yourself and your work when you're online visiting sites, leaving comments, and participating in social networks. Just as a person has a public and a private face, so too, for the Internet.
Writers take up all sorts of IPs. Some are curmudeonly such as Grumpy Editor. Others choose to use the Internet as an extension of their writing freelance business such as Georganna Hancock at A Writer's Edge and Lillie Amman. What happens, though, is that all too often no thought is given to the trail being left behind. Things said and done impulsively often boomerang. In the early days when email groups were all the rage, it wasn't uncommon for editors and agents to receive messages from group members tattling on those writers who wrote disparagingly of the agents and editors. Today writers offer opinions without realizing the wider ramifications of what is being said and left online for perpetuity. Anyone can Google their name and read a history of what has been said about them.
The Internet is a trickster that gives off a pervasive sense of immediacy and intimacy and implies privacy where none exists. It is nothing more than a vast illusion. There is no privacy. Writers would do well to remember that.
Growing numbers of writers, myself included, are taking advantage of social media networks such as MySapce, FaceBook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and JacketFlap. These are great vehicles to get the word out about books, book tours and signings,and publishing experiences. What's important to remember is that their use leaves lasting footprints. Go where you will but remember: step lightly.
FaceBook, MySpace, Twitter, LinkedIn, Jacketflap