Written By Danica Cornell
November 27, 2013
Here’s a question for all aspiring and newly published authors to consider: How well-known do you want to become? This may seem like an elementary question, but I’m here to suggest it’s an important one—especially given the lengths many of us go to to register on the radars of today’s busy readers. I suspect many of my fellow writers would eagerly respond, “I’d like to be very well known, thank you very much,” while others might say, “Just enough to make a living.” Still, a clear minority might not care at all because they’re publishing a book for the benefit of family and close friends only—for them fame and fortune are meaningless.
Okay, fair enough. But what if we look at this from a different angle?
For those indie authors who dream of writing a decent-selling book on Amazon, how much of yourself and your world are you willing to divulge to the public? Think carefully, because I’m here to tell you, this is something you’re going to need to get clear on, especially if you’re intent on marketing your book/s online.
This so-called angle I’m referring to can be thought of as a self-promotional line in the sand—drawn by none other than you, the author. But here’s the thing—this line can get blurry in a hurry, and when it does, you might find yourself swallowed up by the quicksand-trap of those who, to put it delicately, are a little left of center. And I’m not talking politics here. Rather, what I’m referring to is that portion of the public who becomes overly invested in you and your work and then begins to act irrationally, unpredictably, and maybe even dangerously.
So who am I to bring up this subject anyway?
Well, for starters I’m probably like a lot of writers. My goal is to be able to at least make a reasonable living doing what I love. I also consider myself to be caring, kind, honest, and ethical. That’s all well and good, right? Sure it is, as long as these traits are balanced with a bit of skepticism and realism—as in being realistic about the fact that everyone’s objectives are not always what they appear to be.
Thankfully, the vast majority of folks I’ve encountered on the web have been well-intentioned and decent. I can say far and away that 99% of the people I’ve interacted with seem to embrace the Golden Rule, (at least to a degree), which I contend is especially important online where we often cannot read each other’s nonverbal ques.
Of course I’d be lying if I said I haven’t run into a few iffy characters in the vastness of cyberspace as well. One person stands out as being particularly concerning because after awhile it became apparent he was more than just a little unstable. He literally seemed to be losing his grip on reality. Looking back, I’d always considered this individual to be a bit eccentric—but an actual threat? Not a chance. At least not until he threw me a curve ball…when I had no idea I was up to bat.
This singular incident, along with a growing number of odd interactions within a six-week period, served as a wake-up call (mostly to me) that I had unwittingly made it onto the stepping-stone of author name recognition—a place I’ve termed the minor leagues. But here’s the embarrassing part. I was completely unprepared and overwhelmed by the mixed blessing my arrival represented in our digital age. To put it bluntly, I was rattled—to the core.
Welcome to the minor leagues
The minor leagues is a term I coined in an effort to label that intangible space straddled between anonymity and fame. It’s an often overlooked zone occupied by those who have a significant online presence in comparison to most, but who are also still far from being a household name. As I quickly learned, indie authors who are out there marketing their work can blindly stumble into the perils associated with the minor leagues—and it can happen in a relatively short period of time.
So, what should a marketing-minded author do if they find themselves increasingly bombarded with inappropriate questions and bizarre behavior from the public? First and foremost I’d recommend taking a deep breath, calming down, and understanding what this really means—your message is actually being heard. Second, it’s crucial to understand that with this good comes a little bad—and a lot of responsibility, as in online and personal security. Based on my own experiences, here are some things for authors to ask themselves before launching an online marketing campaign:
Do I have a professional Facebook page that is completely separate from my personal one?
Am I talking about my life a little too openly online?
Am I following the best practices regarding cyber security?
Am I continuing to interact with followers who make me feel uncomfortable?
Am I paying attention to physical security?
Each person’s situation will vary, but based on my own foray into the minor leagues, I’ve learned it’s wise to pause and reflect on each of these areas before launching your wonderfully crafty marketing campaign. Let’s face it, we’ve all heard the saying an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. From where I’m standing, never has this been truer than when it comes to an emerging author’s online and physical security.
Another thing to keep in mind is even if you’re doing everything right, you can still have someone who suddenly snaps for no apparent reason. If this should happen, try not to take it personally. Accept that this is what some people do. Your job is to write and market your books—and to follow your gut. If you’re paying any attention at all, you’ll feel when things aren’t right. I personally experienced this as a combination of fear/dread/isolation—something that quietly ate away at me, forcing me to take action by assessing all of my security measures with the appropriate experts.
A blessing in disguise
Now that a little time has passed since my brush with this overzealous-turned-terrifying fan, I can honestly say that I’m beginning to adjust to my ever expanding-shrinking world. I’ve come to understand that along with my growing global presence, comes a contracting inner circle and tighter security measures. But not everything has changed. I’m still grateful for all of my friends and supporters who continue to bless me with their daily doses of kindness. I carry each and every one of these angels with me all day, every day and treasure them more than they likely realize.
Perhaps the most unexpected outcome of all is that despite everything that’s happened, I’m finding my journey as an author to be even more rewarding and meaningful than before these incidents took place. I suspect this recent chapter might be the universe’s method of crafting a happy ending for one phase of my life, while simultaneously creating a new beginning for the next. Now more than ever, I’m looking forward to sharing my visions of what our existence could look like in the year 2045 and beyond with readers all around the globe. I’m also excited about growing and stretching myself as a writer, with an eye toward forging new depths and dimensions within the scifi/fantasy genre over the coming years. Of course I’ve learned that in order to achieve this lofty goal, I must pay attention to my own safety and security while simultaneously embracing my ever expanding-shrinking world.
Until next time…
Danica Cornell is an emerging science fiction/fantasy writer who is busily penning the soon to be published DARK STAR Series. To learn more, please visit www.danicacornell.com. You may also follow Danica on Twitter where she’s been known to tweet about aliens, hybrid humans, and the future of technology and society, among other things.