February 25, 2010

Privacy & the Writer

by Kathleen Y'Barbo

For anyone who doesn't get the privacy issue, I understand. It's almost schizophrenic. We're to publicize and yet we're to hide. Well, not really. For ten years I've been a published author, and until my recent retirement to concentrate on my writing, I was a publicist for Books & Such Literary Agency. We all know PR has become a required part of the publishing process. Your name needs to be out there. Your face should be in the newspaper and recognizable to fans. Your books are supposed to fly off the shelves because people love you and want more of your work. But how to go about it safely?

As with anything in life, it's all about boundaries. Though few of us are on the level of a Hollywood star, I would urge we start thinking like one when it comes to the big picture of what's out there on the Internet.  When called on to coach on PR, here are a few things I suggested to my clients:

* Use an alternate address, be it a UPS store, a post office box, or whatever. It's a tax write off. It also separates business from personal and gives you a measure of control over who knows where you live.

* If you must give out business cards (I use pens instead) consider only putting your website address on them. If you're comfortable with the idea and have a decent amount of minutes to spare, add a cell phone number. Unlike a land line, those cannot be as easily traced to you. Case in point: I needed to call a multi-published high profile author whose number I've had forever but didn't have handy. On a whim, I looked her up on an Internet white pages site. There she was, complete with home phone and her address. Scary considering she's widowed and lives in a VERY tiny town. And I've already told her, so NO, it isn't you. :)

* Get a top notch website. A webmaster who knows his or her stuff will be able to advise you on promotion while keeping a measure of safety. This can become your meeting place for fans and can give readers controlled interaction with you in a safe format. Blog, post, and inform about upcoming events and books here. New content will keep readers coming back.

* Use social media wisely. Twitter away and fill your Facebook page with great stuff just as you would your website, but be careful about linking to photo albums on sites where you'd prefer strangers not follow. For me, this means I do not link to my children's photos. If there's something I see that I like, I save that picture to my computer then upload it to Facebook. I also am careful about tagging people for the same reason. For parents of teens and tweens, a conversation about this would probably be in order. And for goodness sake, if you're going to be at Restaurant X with Andy Author at 7pm tonight DO NOT announce it to your followers on Twitter. Seriously people! That means someone can not only walk in and find you but they also know your cat and your jewelry are home alone!

Stepping off my PR soapbox and putting my writer hat back on....
This Wild West adventure just might be the life she was meant to live.
The future is clearly mapped out for New York socialite Eugenia “Gennie” Cooper, but she secretly longs to slip into the boots of her favorite dime-novel heroine and experience just one adventure before settling down. When the opportunity arises, Gennie jumps at the chance to experience the Wild West, but her plans go awry when she is drawn into the lives of silver baron Daniel Beck and his daughter and finds herself caring for them more than is prudent–especially as she’s supposed to go back to New York and marry another man.

As Gennie adapts to the rough-and-tumble world of 1880s Colorado, she must decide whether her future lies with the enigmatic Daniel Beck or back home with the life planned for her since birth. The question is whether Daniel’s past–and disgruntled miners bent on revenge–will take that choice away from her.

Still unmarried at 25—and not so sure she wants a husband, anyway—aspiring 19th-century journalist Anna gets the break of a lifetime when she crosses paths with nefarious gunslinger Doc Holliday. But her reporter’s instincts are hampered by Jeb—who’s bent on revenge. Can she get her story before he gets his man? 


Casey said...

Good things to think about-thanks!

brendalottakamaggiebrendan said...

I keep saying I have to pick up your books! The covers are so great!

Edna said...

I love to read Kathleen's books they are always so joyful,there is always something to make you laugh.


Tina Dee Books said...

I HIGHLY recommend The Confidential Life of Eugenia Cooper--LOVED IT!

I'm waiting eagerly for Anna Finch and the Hired Gun to be released. Especially knowing Anna Finch from the first book, adding a hired gun into the equation, 'gonna be fun' would be a gross understatement!

Brenda said...

Am waiting to read one of your books, have not to date. I should put it on my TBR file!

Stephen & Janet Bly said...

Thanks so much for sharing all this excellent advice!