It's a very confusing time to be an author. Most of us who love to write are writers because we are introverts. We spend a lot of time in our heads analyzing life and then putting the results of our analysis into stories. We're deep thinkers. We love people. We hope our stories give you a new perspective on a thorny problem...or maybe just a new way of looking at things. We hope our stories inspire you.
To be able to put all that into a story, all that thinking, all that time...we need some alone time.
But, we're told by agents, editors and pundits...you don't have that luxury anymore. You need to be on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Google Plus, Instagram....Tell readers what you're doing, what you're thinking, how you feel...
All of which doesn't just take away time for writing, it also feels like I'm giving you bits and pieces of information that hasn't had enough time to gel in my brain.
So to avoid telling you things about a book that might change, lots of authors have taken to false personas. It's a way to "be somebody" in public, while you race to figure out your next book and get it into the hands of readers. You see a lot of pix of author pets. You see a lot of "quotes" authors found in books or on the internet. You see a lot of I'm-eating-eggs-for-breakfast posts.
And that's cool. I look at that sort of like a place holder. It's like authors (including myself) saying, Here I am! I haven't forgotten you. Here's something that interests me. Hold on until I'm done with my book and I can get back with real information about the story, the cover, my inspirations!
But I've also seen a lot of interaction that upsets me...both as a reader and a writer. I received an email yesterday on a loop of authors who are supposed to be friends. I read the post as a personal request for help with something, and I did as the post requested. But two people had questions. Those questions went unanswered...meaning the author wasn't actually on the loop, chatting with us...which led me and probably everybody else on the loop to realize we'd just answered a cross-posted request for help, which wasn't personal at all. Almost like being spammed by someone we considered a friend.
As an author, I recognize this woman was/is busy. I cut her some slack.
But if I were a reader, thinking I was getting a "personal" request for help...realizing that post had been cross-posted to other loops, other friends, perhaps thousands of other people when it read like a personal request to a group of intimates...I might have been insulted. Really insulted. Maybe even insulted with a dash of embarrassment because I was too simple (or trusting of the author) to realize that.
So the world of reading and writing is probably every bit as confusing to readers as it is to authors.
And I'm guessing that when you, a reader, gets an email from an author, you've been burned enough that you automatically believe it's the same email that's been sent to thousands of other readers. Even messages that look personal, could be a "form" email of a sort, thanking you for signing up to a newsletter or thanking you for liking a post...whatever.
So the system that was meant to bring readers closer to authors isn't really bringing us closer at all. Yes, some days you will know what I had for breakfast. :) You WILL see pictures of my cat Sophia because she's beautiful. I will show you my covers. You will know bits and pieces about my stories and how I feel about them. But really there will always be a distance between us....
And maybe that's a good thing? I'm not incredibly cool. I have my interesting moments, but in general I'm a normal person...except that I think about things most people don't have time to think about. I ponder the stuff that really matters. I root around for the real meanings of things. So that my stories grab you, enrich your life, make you think about things differently.
I can do that for you because I'm not a socialite, dashing around New York city sipping champagne. I'm not always on vacation in some sunny locale. I'm not a baker, painter, revolutionary...I'm a thinker.
And thinkers aren't always online. :) Our pix wouldn't thrill Instagram. Our hair sometimes looks like Einstein's. We forget to eat or eat a lot of fattening takeout because we forget to cook. We shop from catalogs. When we do get out we ask a lot of questions that seem personal or intrusive because we're curious -- in a good way, not a gossipy way. In short, we're introverts who love to read, to think, to ponder.
But -- if you read and love my books -- maybe that's a good thing?