I considered titling this “yes, I really change my hair color that often” to give you an idea of how accessible data is online. Admit it; you would have been curious, right?
This past weekend at NW Bookfest, I taught a workshop on how to begin to understand and communicate with your target market (vis a vis book marketing). As is usual, we opened up the discussion at the end for general Q&A. Also as is usual, a question came up, that almost always does at some point in the discussion of our online life “where do you draw the line between personal and private life?” My personal philosophy is fairly open in this regard. By many people’s standards, I have chosen to live my life out loud, as it were. But the reason for this, is that I have realized that privacy online is a myth. My husband works in internet security. I sit in what is arguably a ridiculously secure home network as I type this. He has worked for giants like McAffee and currently works on insanely cutting edge stuff. (I don’t even need to say his name, as anyone with decent internet skills can figure out who he is and who he works for).
So, knowing who he is and what he does, why do I say privacy is a myth – wouldn’t you think I would espouse the opposite view?
Because, unless you have chosen to live 100% off the grid – truly off the grid with no bills, no power, no cell phone and no friends who have any of those things either – your data lives on systems that you have no control over. Those systems are often vulnerable, and therefore, so is your data. Ironically, the main reason those systems are at risk comes down to people and not technology. This article in the Washington Post does a great job of explaining how modern security threats really work for those of you who are interested. Can you imagine what would be known about you if someone were to hack into any of your grocery store “loyalty programs” databases for example?
So my authorly and book-marketing friends, I say to you, if you want to sell books, you need to put yourself out there online. I mean, you are willing to put your heart and soul into your writing, right? You need to let it show on the inter-webs as well. Should you put your home address and daily schedule out there for all to see? Probably not, I mean hey, don’t make it TOO easy for them. But, unless you are writing for yourself alone (in which case have fun with it and stop caring about your Amazon rank) you have to connect with your readers, and that usually means being your real self in public forums. For sure, those of you using multiple pen names will have a unique problem here!
Oh, and it probably goes without saying, but let’s throw it out there anyway. What does this mean if you are considering submitting to Booktrope? If you are not willing to embrace your online life, we believe it is unlikely we will be able to sell your book at any reasonable level. Given our team approach, how could we, in good conscience, ask a team to work with you if we do not think they will ever get paid? Answer, we probably wouldn’t.