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Thursday, May 6, 2010

Personal Editing

And no, I’m not going to discuss editing your manuscript today. I’m going to discuss editing yourself. What do I mean? I’m talking about selling yourself to the readers. This includes your online persona, the way you present yourself at conferences, in blogs, emails, crit groups, local chapters and so many more public domains.

It’s so easy to forget that we’re building our readership one reader at a time. Even if you’re unpublished, you should be thinking about how you present yourself. Another thing we often forget is that other writers are readers as well. This is a business. Even if you make friends, treat it as a business. When you bash another genre or another writer, you’ve just lost a potential reader. Think about it.

Your image is everything when you’re trying to sell yourself and remember selling a novel is only a tool, essentially you’re selling yourself because you want those readers to buy the next book. And the next. And the next.

Get it? Good. There are three things to remember when you’re self editing. Number one: Even when you think you’re attending a place that feels comfortable to you, keep your business face on and watch what you say. Relationships can go south quickly and unexpectedly. So even someone whom you believed was a friend can twist your words to make you look bad. And there’s nothing better than juicy gossip to a business full of women. =)

We all know it’s true. And we might as well embrace that side of ourselves and either live with it or learn to use it to our advantage. So even though I’m hanging out with friends I always remember to conduct myself with dignity. That’s not to say I don’t curse and cut up right along with everyone. It just means that if I disagree with someone I remember to watch my words. Words spoken in anger can come back to haunt you.

The second thing you want to remember is keeping business separate from pleasure. So twitter, facebook and all those other social media’s we all so love can be a tool to help your image. Use it wisely, young padawan. The things we say while logged in can have resounding effects sometimes. I’ve chosen facebook as my friends and family type of social media. I’m a little more relaxed about what I post there. I will post pictures of my kids, talk about the new furniture I just bought and so on. I do this because I can control who I befriend. That’s something to think about. If we let just anyone to friend us, you risk not knowing this persons intentions. Twitter however, is another story. I can’t always control who decides to follow me, although I do try. So this is my tool for networking. I’ve only befriended people in the business, I only discuss business, and I follow it religiously to see what I can learn. And you can learn a lot by listening to what people are saying on twitter. Not everyone is careful about their online persona...but you will be right?

Blogs are another place to post business only material. And I work very hard to keep them separate. It’s difficult sometimes because the two bleed into each other quite often. But it’s doable.

And lastly, the thing to learn about self editing is your website. This the first place your readers are going “meet” you. If the only thing that relates to you on your website is the fact that it sports your name, then you need an update. You’re theme should spill from your website, to your business cards, and everything in between. One of my critique partners told me last year, it’s never too early to start building a readership. I thought she was nuts because I wasn’t published yet. But she was right. Starting now, can save you a lot of hassle and time later on so when that call comes, the only thing you have to concentrate on is selling yourself.

So before you sell yourself to the reader, remember to self edit. Does your image need an update? Do you have any other advice you can offer for self-editing newbies like myself, please share it with us. It’s a business after all, one I am more than eager to learn.


  1. Great post, Melissa.

    Writers are usually the most supportive people around. The sense of community is better than anything I encountered when I had a day job.

    Yet, every once in a while you will meet a green-eyed monster who twists everything you say into a negative.
    You don't have to be published to experience it. A contest win, or success with an agent can change how others perceive you.

    I lost a good friend when I finaled in the Golden Heart. Suddenly, she added subtext to everything I said, interpreting even the most casual remark as a veiled insult. Now I'm wondering what personal information I might have shared with her, and how she could use it against me.

    So, yes, it's always better to keep your private life private. Those online friends are entirely different people when they have something against you.

  2. I am so sorry this happened to you, Clarissa. That's tragic and really uncalled for. We all have the same goals and it's sad when people can't support each other instead of being jealous. I really hope this didn't sour your experience at all. Good luck to you on this and perhaps one day she'll figure out she lost a good friend.

  3. Awesome post, Melissa! And I believe it was me who you thought was nuts last year! LOL!

    I learned that what people post about religion and politics can really get my dander up, and I figured I can't be the only one who feels this way. So I stopped posting anything controversial on Facebook and Twitter. I don't have time to waste on arguments. And I tend to defriend people who have negative attitudes. It's important to keep our outlook positive in order to live happy and fulfilling lives!

    I think this is all great advice for anyone who is just starting to create a web presence or anyone who might need a web makeover :)

  4. Religion and politics are two of the biggest hot button issues, Jerrica, so like you I try to avoid talking about them in anything I post. Frankly, my beliefs on those matters have nothing to do with my writing, and what I want to present to the world is my writing.

  5. Great post, Melissa. You've raised some noteworthy points there, especially about social networking. That's one of the reasons I created this pseudonym (you know me as Steph P on FB). I want to keep my private life (friends, family, work) separate from my writing world. Yes, I still have rants about daily stuff but I watch what I say more than on my personal page.

    Clarissa - sorry to hear about your negative experience. Sadly, some 'friends' get envious or even bitchy when you turn out more successful. Totally uncalled for but it's your former friend's loss, not yours! :-)

  6. I have to agree with you and Mindy, Jerrica about the politics and religion. Those two subjects totally don't belong amongst my writing career. And yes it was you that told me that last year! And you were so right!

    Thanks for stopping by Steph! and I love the pseudonym Cathie Dunn. It's sounds very intellegent lol. It's so hard sometimes to seperate the business and personal lives but it's something we have to do if you're like me and wish to avoid drama. You always have great responses and we're so glad you stop by!

  7. Nice reminders. Growing up a Southern girl, I always heard the saying, "You catch more flies with honey than vinegar," and I've taken it to heart. Kindness and intergity go a long way with me.

    Sometimes I have to smack down my inner sassy gal, but most of the time she behaves. Still, when she's rattling her cage to get out and wreck havoc, I don't allow her loose in public. :)

  8. Sage advice. E-publishing has opened many a door for an aspiring author and social networking and websites are valuable tools to get your 'persona' out there.

    However, it's still the ole gray matter that make it all come together.