Presenting Your Professional Self on Social Media

I wrote this in response to some very bad advice being given to new authors.  I hesitated to share it publicly because it’s from a conversation in a FB writing group and it got me blocked by admin and banned from the group. Apparently, it’s controversial. But, I stand behind my reply and want to share it with other professionals. (That is, anyone who deals with and sells product or services to others.)

The original post stated (paraphrased since I was blocked before I could screenshot it for accuracy): If you’re constantly posting negative things on your personal Facebook profile and it’s chasing away your readers, make a second account and post only positive, uplifting things there. Moreover, this was suggested specifically as a branding tactic so your followers see you as someone who is positive and admirable … even if you’re not.

Notice, this isn’t the same as suggesting that you keep your personal profile separate from your professional one to keep your personal life private. The poster was very specific about “constant negative posts” driving away readers.

DON’T DO THIS!

First, it’s against Facebook’s Terms Agreement. One account per person. If you’re a professional, you really don’t want some petty person report you and have your professional profile shut down.

If you want separate entities, your have the option of Pages and/or Groups. Yes, yes; I know: the algorithms are making harder to get organic views to push you to pay for “boosts” and ads. If you don’t want to use a Facebook Page, encourage people Follow you so they see only your public posts.

More importantly: If an author (or other professional) is constantly making negative posts on a their profile, they definitely should not friend their readers, clients, and fans. I’ll go a step further and say that (in general) clients, fans, etc. should not be on our profile or privy to our private life. They can “follow” and see only public posts, but your private life should stay exactly that: private.

And, what about readers, clients, and fans who are family and IRL friends? Plainly put: They don’t want to hear constant negativity, either. They love you, but ultimately they’re going to walk away from your drama for their own emotional well-being.

There’s a difference between sharing about the rough patch you’re going through or an unpleasant experience and making so many negative posts that other people no longer want to see your content. One is being transparent and relatable. The other is a serious problem that needs to be addressed.

Suggesting negative people start a second profile so they can pretend to be something else to their readers is NOT branding. It’s lying. If someone is an undesirable person in real life, that’s going to leak out.

We can’t hide our true Self.

If we want to succeed, we need to be accountable for what we post on social media. Even on our personal profile. Even if it’s private. It’s important to understand we can’t say whatever we want, whenever we want. There are consequences to being an unpleasant person and for authors and other professionals, it’s loss of support, sales, and reputation.

Instead of violating Facebook terms and risk getting your account shut down so you can LOOK professional, it’s wiser to actually BE professional. Even on your personal profile. Have class and be considerate of others – Just like you would be in real life.

We don’t just walk into a room full of friends, family, and colleagues and just spout off over and over. We need to actually control (and be accountable for) what comes out of us; whether it’s spoken to people in real life or posted on social media.

Instead of expending valuable time and energy babysitting a second account in an effort to be viewed as a decent person, invest your time in learning how to authentically connect and communicate with your audience (personal and professional).

If what you’re posting on social media so negative it turns people off of you and your product/service, the problem isn’t that you’re sharing personal trials. It’s YOU.

Take a moment to self-evaluate:

  • Are you dwelling in the negative?
  • Are you always in a crisis?
  • Are you attacking, complaining, cutting down, soap-boxing …?
  • Are you not authentic in your support of and/or connection with other people?
  • Are you making promises you don’t keep?

That type of behavior exhausts people emotionally. It mentally drains them. It has nothing to do with whether or not they’re going to read your books. If your posts are regularly “taking away” from people, you’re going to lose them. Period.

I’m not saying you can’t be true to yourself on your personal profile. Or that you have to hide parts of yourself. I’m saying you need to take a look at how and what you communicate with others so you aren’t robbing them of their joy and peace of mind.

Before you post, think about what you’re about to put out to your social circle.

  • Is this issue going to matter in 3 weeks? 3 months? 3 years? Will you even it remember it in a few month’s time?
  • Can you rephrase it in a more positive light? Or turn it into a positive learning moment?
  • Is it something you could discuss with a friend or therapist instead of blasting on social media?
  • Type it out, leave it for 3 days until you feel better. Then, consider rewriting or not posting.

This applies to political or religious post, as well. I know you feel strongly about it. How can you communicate your view without making others  feel attacked? You won’t necessarily change anyone’s mind, but if you don’t drive them away, you might be able to teach them something or open them to a new point of view.

If you sincerely cannot control yourself due to medical issues, I suggest your get someone to help communicate with your audience while you seek professional help.  I want you to succeed and if that requires taking workshops or talking with a professional to help you, then do so. You deserve a better life and by helping yourself, you are in a better place to help others.

However, if someone thinks they’re fine and don’t want to make the effort to change how they communicate …. Good Luck. A second profile to hide that they’re a negative person is like a Band-Aid on a gangrenous wound.

Readers Ask: “What’s the Best Advice You’d Give Someone?”

This is a tough question to answer, because I’m a very opinionated person and have bushels of advice on a lot of topics lol The one bit of advice I have that applies to  all aspects of life would be this:

☀️ ALWAYS trust your instinct. Call it your higher self, or super conscious, or whatever you need to, but it receives everything you experience, even if you didn’t consciously notice it. It processes the data, evaluates possible situations/outcomes, and sends you signals to let you know what’s in your best interest for survival (physical, emotional, spiritual). Trusting your instinct is actually trusting yourself, which is vital for you to thrive and blossom.

⭐️ If we trust your instincts and something didn’t work out, we have a tendency to start doubting ourselves. Don’t do that. Look around at the people you rely on. One of those people is not your ally. They may be smiling and saying the right things, but they are sabotaging you.

❗️Usually, it’s the person who wants to step up and “fix” your “mistake” or “comfort” you. They don’t want you to succeed because your success equals a loss of some sort to them (ie. they lose their victim, student, fan, advantage, promotion, etc.). Or, your victory puts you “above” them in their mind, which means they’re being diminished. In some cases, it’s as simple as: If your hard work pays off for you, they will be expected to put in an effort to better themselves or their situation. But if you don’t succeed, you’ll stay on the same level as them.

❤️ Mr. Rogers said his mother once told him: “Always look for the helpers.” That beautiful advice keeps us seeing the positive in humanity.

When you follow your instincts and do what you know is right, but “fail” or find yourself blocked,  Auntie Rosa says:

“Quietly look for the assassin and remove yourself from their sphere of influence.”

That advice keeps us being the positive in humanity.

Side Note: Some of us were raised by “assassins” who undermine or override our decisions, block our autonomy, and blame us for “failures”.  We grew up not trusting ourselves because we’re always “wrong”. We were groomed to surround ourselves with other “assassins” who keep us off balance and second-guessing ourselves. If this is you, please get help to learn what a healthy relationship with others (and yourself) looks like. Then prune your social (and family) circle accordingly.

How To Write a Blurb

After your book’s cover snags a reader’s attention, your blurb needs to hook them in and make them want to buy it. Yet, as important as the blurb is, some authors  don’t give it the time and effort it deserves. Others simply don’t know how to make a blurb that grabs.

A good blurb needs to be short and concise while conveying the vital information of the story:

  • Introduce Hero
  • Introduce Setting
  • Outline Situation
  • Describe Problem/ Goal
  • Introduce Opposition
  • Describe What’s at Stake

Your blurb also needs to have a good hook to make the reader want to buy, so make sure that last part (what’s at stake) is big enough to create urgency.

Your blurb should read something like this:

Hero McGoodie just wants to enjoy a lazy summer, fishing and day dreaming. A strange set of footprints in the woods draws national media attention to his small town and tourists from all across the continent invade his fishing spot while looking for the source of the footprints.

Determined to reclaim his peaceful summer, Hero concocts a scheme to lead the media circus away from his community. However the owner of the mysterious footprints seems to have other plans, and Hero’s worries about invaders are about to reach intergalactic proportions.

So the break down looks like this:

  • Introduce Hero: Hero McGoodie
  • Introduce Setting: small town and surrounding woods/Hero’s fishing hole
  • Outline Situation: Strange footprints are drawing unwanted attention
  • Describe Problem/ Goal: Media and tourists are interfering with Hero’s summer plans
  • Introduce Opposition: The owner of the footprints
  • Describe What’s at Stake: Hint at an alien invasion (Note: Only hint about what is actually in the story. Please, don’t mislead your reader, even if the red herring is part of the story.)

Practice getting your blurb as concise and, if possible, run it past your editor for help with structure.

Good luck and happy writing <3

Download the Blurb Cheat sheet here or right click the image below and save.

Duties of a Beta Reader

With more authors taking the indie route, the term “beta reader” is getting tossed about more and more. But, what is a beta reader? What does the task entail? Here is the information I provide to prospective beta readers to help them understand their duties. (Link to downloadable pdf at the end.)

What is My Job as a Beta Reader?

As a beta reader, you will identify what type and tone of story the author is going for and shape your feedback to help the author realize their vision for the story.

You are the author’s extra set of eyes. You will highlight areas that need improvement and give (gently) honest feedback to weed out story issues before the manuscript goes to an editor.

 

 

What Issues Does a Beta Reader Look For?

As a beta reader, your focus will be on development. This includes plot, characters, and over all story cohesiveness.

1. Look for issues like:

2. Make note of the issues you find, question to see if that’s what the author intended, and offer suggestions for fixing it.

3. Use the Track Change option to mark your comments and corrections directly in the manuscript.

4. Be honest. If a joke doesn’t work, let the author know. Don’t brush off things that are awkward, factually incorrect, or out of character/theme/flow. It’s better to question and suggest than let something potentially problematic slide.

5. Be specific and descriptive with your feedback. Give the author something solid to work with. It helps if you give a brief explanation of why you’re making a suggestion so the author is more open to consideration.

6. Be kind. You want to avoid making the author feel defensive or hopeless. Try to “sandwich” critiques with praise or phrase them as a question/suggestion.

7. Leave editing for spelling and grammar to an editor. If you see inconsistencies in spell (ie. UK vs USA spellings) or a repeated editing related issues, make a note for the author to go through the manuscript specifically for that issue.

8. Meet the deadline. The author is on a schedule and it takes time to incorporate beta notes into a revised draft, so please be sure to have your notes back to them on or before the deadline they’ve laid out.

The author may not take all your suggestions, but at least you’ve done your job by providing giving them a good foundation for their revisions. Once you’ve sent them your notes, let it go and trust the author to do what they believe is best for their story.

 


 

You can download a pdf copy of Duties of a Beta Reader and the pdf template of the Beta Reader Checklist for your own use. If you find them useful, please share the links with other authors.

What to Include in Your Author Newsletter

What are you putting in your newsletter to prompt clicks to your site? If you’re only including things that fans have already been exposed to via your social media accounts, you’re missing out on the opportunity to generate traffic to your site.

Your newsletter can’t be just about selling your book(s). You have to give readers a reason to engage. In preparation for my own newsletter launch, I took notes on the ways other authors have mentioned to get readers clicking though to their site instead of just scanning the newsletters. Maybe there’s something on this list that will help generate more traffic for you …

Ways to Engage

  • Polls (re: titles, character names, locations, future projects, etc.)
  • A peek at your world-building
  • Character interviews
  • Cut scenes from your book
  • Sample chapters of your book
  • Samples chapters of another author’s book
  • Asking the readers personal questions
  • Asking them to send photos related to topic of newsletter
  • Giveaways (gift cards, freebies)
  • Swag give-aways (post cards, book marks, magnets, key chains)
  • Flash stories/vignettes on your site
  • Discounts on another author’s book
  • A chance to win a beta read or critique of their story
  • Adding only the beginning of an article with a “Read More” link to your site
  • Book related art (ie. wall paper) and coloring pages they can download
  • A chance to win video chat with you
  • Video updates / behind the scenes
  • You reading the first chapter of your book
  • Photos of an event or activity (besides what you’ve posted on social media

Remember: The point is to get readers to open your email and click through to your site. Mention in your newsletter that you are doing/offering something and include a link to your site they can follow to participate.

What do you do with your newsletter to generate reader activity? Let me know in the comments!!