Monday, March 16, 2009

Should We Take A Page Out Of Our Facebook?

So I have a Facebook page, which I thought would be a great networking tool considering I’m an aspiring author. But something has been happening of late and I’m not so sure it’s a good thing. My writer’s world and personal world are merging. All of a sudden, people in my romance-writing life are side by side with people I’ve known in utero—people who are finding me, “friending” me … and posting pictures of me from the ugly ages.

Were you ever unfortunate enough to go through that beaver-toothed stage, where you’d just gotten your adult teeth and your face hadn’t grown into them yet? Yup. You can find it on my page. Fourth grade. This is the picture your mother still cackles at but then remembers herself and says, “Well, *I* still loved you, honey.” And how about the adolescent stage when you first started getting pimples?--the stage during which you once decided that instead of hanging out with the other kids that first night at camp, you’d go back to your cabin, pick your zits and go to sleep. And then, of course—since you have really rotten friends (yes, I mean YOU, Dr. Abraham)—they came barging in to snap a picture of you to last throughout all eternity. That picture too, I fear, has been posted for my future agent, editor, and readers to see. And while such a thought makes me cringe, still ... I must admit to spending many glorious hours reconnecting with people I haven’t spoken to since grade school. My first crush? On my friend list. He has a wife, two girls and no hair. My first nemesis? Yes--and aging nicely, I’m a little sorry to say. My 3rd grade best friend? Oh yes and man, did I have good taste in friends at 8 years of age! But still. I'm worried.

In my personal life I’m very casual (I mean more so than here). I’m a tad off-color (yes, even more so than here). I don’t have to censor myself because who cares? These people already KNOW me and they’re still talking to me. I’m accepted. But in my writer’s world … I’m not so sure. I keep hearing you need to treat your career as a business. “Be professional” is what I’m told. Okay, but does having your mother bust your chops on your Facebook page count as being professional? I think at one point she even used my getting-into-trouble name. You know the one. The WHOLE name. First, middle and last.

On Facebook though, I’m registered under my pen-name. I use a pen-name so that my kids won’t ever have to explain to their friends their mother sometimes writes about whoopee. So I thought that by using my pen-name on my FB page, this alone would keep my two worlds separate. Aside from my middle name, no part of my pen-name is recognizable to my old friends. But here I am with my high school track coach calling me “Squid” on my FB wall. Dear God, but my future readers will know I was once called Squid! They’ll go to the bookstore, pick up my book, flip to the author photo and think: Yes, now I see why.

So I wonder … how important is it to keep your writer’s world and personal world separate? Are any of you having this same problem with Facebook/Myspace or that Twitter thing? Is being “professional” worth hurting your friends’ feelings?

Oh, and in keeping with this month’s theme of villains … is the real you your own worst enemy?


Christy LaShea said...

Great post! As I spend TOO much time on Facebook, this is very timely for me. I can see how Facebook and all the other related sites can be a blessing and a curse.

The bad thing, like you said, is all of your friends have become one. The personal side of you your mother sees is displayed for a potential agent/editor to also see and that may not be a good thing.

The good thing, is you have 300++ people to notify when you sell your book and the more people you befriend, the bigger -possibly- your readership will be.

I guess depending what you write and who your friends are, some may need a pen name facebook page and a facebook for who they really are, if these networking sites are important to the person.

Debbie Kaufman said...

I have resisted Facebook and Twitter. I already spend too much time online, LOL. However, I do see the networking opportunities, so eventually, I will. But first, I'll finish the manuscript :) I'm really not sure how many "friends" from my past I want contacting me. I was a painfully, shy teenager with few real friends.

Tammy Schubert said...

Great post.

Debbie, I'm right there with you. I have been resisting a long time, but I know that one of these days I'm going to have to fold. I was also shy as a child and not sure I want to reconnect to people I used to know.

Back to the post. You bring up a really good question that isn't so easy to answer. We should ask the next agent or editor who blogs with us.

And, yes, sometimes you can be your own worst enemy. I do stupid things all the time that come back to haunt me later.

I have to ask. Where did the Squid name come from or shouldn't I ask?

J Perry Stone said...

It's so addictive, isn't it, Christy? Sometimes I'm shocked at how much time I spend on there. And that's a great idea about the two pages. Wish I'd had such forethought--mostly for the sake of my future readership. My friends don't judge my pursuits, but my readership might definitely judge my personality.

Debbie, you fixed my post, didn't you? You're the blog-surgeon. And, uh ... YOU were a SHY person????? How is this possible? Get on FB quick because you'd be so much fun.

Tammy, come over to the dark side (she says in a whisper). Facebook is so entertaining, but can be a can of worms. And PLEASE ask the next agent or editor. Great idea.
You should know, however, that I cannot see you doing stupid things. I just can't.

So about Squid. You know that awkward, pre-pubescent stage and you know how big sisters like to put you in your place when you're in the middle of such a stage? My sister started calling me "Squid" because she thought it was funny, and then by the time I got to high school, our track coach overheard her and that was the end for me. In fact, he called me the other day and on the other end of the line I hear, "Squiiiiid, how are ya?"

I'm middle aged, for God's sake.

Debbie Kaufman said...

Yes dear, painfully shy. If you spoke to me in the school hallways I would turn a vivid shade of red and look for the nearest locker to disappear into. I KNOW it's hard to believe now! LOL. I'll tell you all about it someday - with enough alcoholic encouragement!

J Perry Stone said...

M&M is coming up, isn't it, Debbie? I will ply you with spirits.

Marilyn Baron said...

My two kids (they're actually 23 and 27) have Facebook pages but they won't allow me access. I'd love to find out what is going on with them but apparently they don't want me to see whatever they have on Facebook.

One of my friends (she's a fellow PFHT blogger) created a Facebook page for me and my kids shut it down (whatever the correct terminology is). So no one can actually see it which is fine because there is nothing on it.

I tell my kids don't put anything on facebook you would want an employer or potential employer to see so I have that same opinion about editors. Facebook may be fine for publicizing a book, but I am so into bloggin now that I don't think I'll go the facebook route, at least for a while. I think it's too time intensive.
But I think it's neat that other people like it.

Marilyn Baron

Cinthia Hamer said...

I, too, resisted Facebook for a looong time, but finally caved. I have to admit, it's sort of fun, but having realized that it puts you out there for all the world to see and know your business, I've tried to keep it very neutral. If I have something to say to a friend, I'll send them a private message so only they can see it.

Mostly it's just a fun way to make contacts and keep up with friends and family. I don't think any editor or agent would have an issue with anything I've posted.

JPerry, you are NOT middle-aged! You aren't allowed to be middle-aged until you get to menopause. AND--if there will be any "plying with spirits", it will be ME doing the plying! You know that's my official M&M job. LOL!

terrio said...

I have resisted Twitter and at times wish I'd resisted Facebook. Since I have had almost NO contact with anyone from HS since graduation day, I was surprised recently when an old schoolmate found me. When she started talking as if we were best friends, it was even more surreal. I didn't like these people (gulp) twenty years ago so why would I want to talk to them now?

I do see the benefit of having a ready made mailing list of sorts for when you sell, but I like the idea of waiting until that day is much closer. Now I have to check out your page closer to find these pictures. LOL!

CiCi Barnes said...

Lucky me. I've been able to resist the temptation of Facebook. Maybe someday, but I'm still that old dog I wrote about in my first blog. The new trick of Facebook escapes me right now.

I have too much going on and spend way too much time on the Internet as it is. Besides, I have waaaaaay too many old pics with buck teeth, pimples, nasty hairstyles and such with waaaaaay too many cousins who have access to those pics.

Another stroke of luck -- my cousins don't know my pen name yet.


Anna Steffl said...

Hum. I think you are absolutely charming on FB (for whatever my opinion's worth)! As the song says, "Don't go changing..." I'm serenading you. Quick, cover your ears.

What's professional? Producing a great manuscript. Let's face it, very few writers' personal lives churn the publicity of actors or politicians. And of those that do, don't we love the ones that are interesting?

On the awkward stage, I AM the posterchild except there are only one or two pictures of me at that time and they are in my possession -- what a happy, yet pathetic, circumstance. Tinted glasses, white girl 'fro, wild west boy's shirt, kmart jeans, braces, slumped shoulders.

J Perry Stone said...

Marilyn, I'm laughing about your kids. They actually shut it down? Too funny. But you're totally correct in that one shouldn't put anything on their page one doesn't want a future editor to see.

Here's a question though: What if you have so little sense, you aren't able to determine what information that might include?

Cindy, you KNOW I'm "no-filter Diva." At the same time, I wonder if maybe some of my more, er, "saucy" comments aren't the sort of thing that might attract readers instead of repel them. Maybe you should comb through my page.

I thought middle aged meant a little gray hair, stretch marks, doesn't think she's young and cool anymore, would rather sleep than go out, and has a pretty realistic sense of her faults as well as attributes. I'm wrong? It has to do with hormones?

Terri, after rooming with me at Nationals, you won't find anything on my page that will surprise you.

J Perry Stone said...

Terrio, so you're telling me you have no interest in your old friends? At all?

Maxine Davis said...

Great post. Really enjoyed it. No, I have not had the nerve to get on FB or Twitter. I'm afraid I'd become a permanent fixture in my desk chair. Too easy for me to stay here. As a matter of fact, I'm making myself get up now. It's Monday-washday and I can't use rain as an excuse not to. The fun never stops.

J Perry Stone said...

Cici, now THOSE pictures I'd like to see. Please go get on Facebook. Please?

Anna said: "Let's face it, very few writers' personal lives churn the publicity of actors or politicians. And of those that do, don't we love the ones that are interesting?"

VERY good point. That's what I'm hoping for. Unfortunately, I've also heard of authors who've been stalked, get icky letters from prison inmates, and who--because they've let audience into private areas of their lives--get readers who feel entitled to criticizing them/their work in ways that are by no means constructive and are entirely insulting. Hurtful even.

I'm thin-skinned!

J Perry Stone said...

Maxine, if you're that sort (and as I'm discovering: I may be too), then do NOT get on Facebook. It's like internet smack. Once you start, you need a 12-step to get off.

J Perry Stone said...

Wait. Did Anna S. just say she had a white girl 'fro?

Anna! You have my email, don't you?

Kim said...

This is an excellent point! I've been on FB for ages and its always been a "professional" page. Recently a few school friends found me. Now its merged. One thing I found helpful is the "lists". You can put your school friends on their own list, professional contacts on another and the "who the hell is this" on even another. Then when you put pictures or other content up you can make it visible to only those certain lists. For instance, I recently put up a few pictures and they were made visible to only two of my friends. I put up my son's senior picture and made it visible to my "people I actually know" list. IMO, that's easier than making two pages.

Just a bit of net-iquette, it is NOT okay to cull email addresses from your facebook, twitter or myspace contacts and add them to a newsletter. TOTALLY un-PC. It is okay to message your contacts through the networking system where you are connected but to contact them outside of that is rude.

Manda said...

Oh, J, you have hit on the very thing that makes me cringe a little about facebook. I've actually got two Facebook accounts, one for Romance Manda and one for plain old professional Amanda. Since I am required to use FB for my job and since I don't really want all those work people mixing up in my romance bidness I try to keep them separate. But there are always the stragglers who end up friending me in the wrong place (that sounds a little dirty...).

And OMG the blasts from the past who have friended me! It's like old boyfriend/crush/frenemy central! Fortunately they haven't found my romance incarnation yet or my carefully crafted separation between my two selves would come crashing down--sort of like the end of Sybil or The Three Faces of Eve! The horror!

Julie said...

Squid won’t do for you any more, J Perry. You’re too Sophisticated to be Squid. To trendy. You’re more …. Urbane … Deep … fried … You’re Calamari! So chic, no?

J Perry said; I’m middle aged, for God’s sake.
You Are not middle aged!
You can’t be Middle Aged until your children are old enough to vote, your mother calls you ‘an old broad’, and you think fiber is the building block of a Civilized Society.
What? You know its true. Talk about being Unfit for polite society. Constipated people are simply miserable creatures… full of their own self righteous-uuuhhhhhhh …. Where was I? Oh yes ….
I ‘m middle aged and I still don’t have “ a pretty realistic sense of my faults as well as attributes…” I think Ms Stone , that you have the term middle age confused with the term … Maturity!

Julie said...

J Perry
I believe that both Kim & Manda are right. You do need to have a bit of separation between your “private” self and your professional self. Read my last post. Is That something that you want on your professional writer’s site? Or one that you would prefer to be posted your personal site? If you don’t want to bother with two separate sites … and honestly that does sound like it would to a lot of work & take up to much time …. Then I believe that it would be wise to set up your Facebook site the way Kim has suggested. Create lists. Then Direct the access of available information to people who are on those lists. Take control, before things spin out of Your control.

J Perry Stone said...

Kim, I just spent 15 minutes creating lists, 'cept now that I have them, how do I pick and choose who sees what?

Manda, stragglers who end up friending you in the wrong place?

There are so many ways I could rearrange that sentence ;)

But you, at least, were smart in creating two pages.

As Whoopee Goldberg once said, "Molly, you in trouble girl."

Julie, I think there is a pretty wide window for what ages middle-aged might include. On the one hand, I'm now at an age to be considered a high-risk pregnancy ... because of my age. On the other hand, I feel 16, talk like I'm twelve and laugh when my kids tell me poo jokes.

... and that's as close to your fiber comment you can get me. ;-)

J Perry Stone said...

And Kim, I so appreciate your professionalism in censoring the following:

"I recently put up a few pictures and they were made visible to only two of my friends."


Janga said...

J, you are not middle-aged. If you are, then I have to be ancient, and I refuse to be. I like to think of myself as well-seasoned by my years. :)

I wish I had talked to some of you before I set up my Facebook page. I did use my real name, and I should not have. I did have the good sense to limit info to friends, nearly all from the romance community. The problem is many of them don't even recognize me under my real name. I want to delete and start over. :(

J Perry Stone said...

I want to delete too, Janga!! But how annoying will it be for everyone to re-friend me?

I LOVE how you think of yourself. Now I have to copy because you're so great and funny.

I will now consider myself: "Waiting to be perfectly spiced by life."

Cyrano said...

It wasn't but a few years ago that I was blissfully unaware of Face Book. As J said so eloquently, I have come over to the dark side, since then. I am now a face book queen. Or at the very least, a FB jester.
The problem with being a FB girl is that people tag you in crazy pictures. I recently got tagged(is that the right word?) on a picture of myself at halloween as a blonde Fembot. Um...PS, I promise to never go blonde. I look awful with golden locks. There's also a few of me as a teen with horrific 80's hair. What the heck were we all thinking back then, with the frizzy curls and the sky high wall of bangs kept in suspended animation with a can and a half of hair spray? Did we ever look at ourselves in the mirror? I certainly didn't.
I check FB maybe once a week. I'm not an avid visitor, but my kids certainly are. I'll have to ask them what Twitter is. I never heard that one before. See, I'm such a freakin' novice.
And by the way, yes, I DEFINITELY AM MY OWN WORST ENEMY. I am the villain in Tamara DeStefano's writing career.
Great post J!!!
Have a stupendiolicious day!

terrio said...

Nope, don't care a lick about all those old school mates. I'd be more interested in people I went to college with, but I can't remember their names to look them up.

Thank goodness my family are not computer people. I just know my sister would post horrible pics of me, but she doesn't even have an email outside of her work account nevermind does she know what FB is.

And I'm very happy to learn I'm not middle ages. Here I thought it just meant you were in the middle of your life expectancy. LOL!

terrio said...

That's middled *aged* not middle ages. LOL! Though I feel like I could have been born in the middle ages. And still alive....

Santa said...

I, too, have a bit of mixing at my site. I joined when my best friend did. We'd go on FB and chat on the phone at the same time. Which I think totally defeats the purpose, lol. I've since created a writer centric group of frinds. Then an old friend from high school found me because I've always used my real name in blogging and on FB.

This old HS friend recently made a disparaging remark about romance books on the wall to wall bit. I know so little of the mechanics that I'm not sure if only I can see the comments. Anyway, I set her straight about what I write and that all the folks I read do not write, as she put it, smut. I listed about 20 authors.

Yes, I was name dropping and I do it proudly!

Now my brother, chef and two people who know me outside of writing have friended me but they're cool, so I don't mind. My deli thugs want to friend me but I've ignored them. They're too young and too nosy, IMHO.

The friend that brought me to FB has joined link'd for professional reasons. Has anyone ventured there? I find Twetter intimidating and don't think I want to dip my toes in those pools. The same holds true for MySpace. It's too open-ended for me.

Oh and the HS friend has pictures of me. I just don't think she's savvy enough to know how to post them - thank God. And that's not a knock on her, she's told me as much, lol.

Julie said...

Santa, I have a bit of sage advice for the Unenlightened one who used the word “smut”.

"Pornography is about dominance. Erotica is about mutuality."
Gloria Steinem

IMO the stories told in Romance Lit are about mutuality and …. Maturity…
Mature stories. For emotionally MATURE People.
Grow Up, dear.

Stephanie J said...

GREAT topic! This is something I think about quite a bit, especially since I was on facebook before I started to pursue writing. I struggle with the balance between putting myself out there personally and professionally! In the end, I realized that I can't draw thick black lines between my personal and professional life (at least when it comes to writing) because they influence each other way too much. Behold my rules in case they're any help:

1) Under no circumstances will I be facebook friends with anyone that I work with in the insurance world.
2) Should I ever get fans of my writing (you know, after I'm published) if I don't know them personally they will only be granted limited access to my facebook profile (read: PG-13 info, and very few photo albums, no wall post access)
3) All posted photos shall remain scandal-free just in case
4) All Twitter posts shall remain PG-13 and generic. No, I will not be Twittering the juicy details of my hot date...
5) For that matter, all blog posts shall remain public-appropriate meaning I wouldn't be embarrassed for my dad, or grandma, or potential employer to read

I use my real name in everything because someday, when I'm published, I want to see my own name on that book! :)

I'll stop rambling now...

Linsey Lanier said...

No Facebook or Twitter for me. I can barely stand the exposure from blogging. Not shy - private. Introverted. Mysterious....

And there are definitely people from my past I don't want to talk to! :)

Great post, J Perry (or should I say Calamari?). I laughed a lot!


J Perry Stone said...

Real quick. I'm at a 5 hour computer class and I'm not allowed to blog.


I'll respond tomorrow, kay?

Ana Aragón said...

Hey, J,

Great post! I'm one of those on the dark side and love it! My kids have friended me, Marilyn, but they made a separate list for me (I think it's the one that won't allow me to see the pictures of them drinking from the keg spigot.)

I'm on there as my romance writer self, and while a couple of "friends" from the past and my day job have found me, I haven't been tagged with any obscene or unattractive pictures of myself.

It isn't because I've never been caught on film doing stupid's just that it would take the person lots of time (and technological skill they probably don't have) to unglue the pictures from their 1970s scrapbook, scan them, find them on their computer after scanning, and then upload them to their Facebook page.

I think I'm safe, whad'ya think?


Carol Burnside said...

I have MySpace, Twitter, Shelfari and my blog. I don't think anyone from my past has contacted me through any of them. Of course, I've moved so much and my last name isn't the same and I refuse to list schools, so anyone who does find me must be a P.I. LOL!

There are reasons for not listing my schools. I won't go into them here.

J Perry Stone said...

Terrio, you are now and will always be "middle ages." You know I'm not letting that one go.

San, who is your hs friend and what's her phone #? (maybe I can convince her to learn how to scan photos. Heh.)

Stephanie! Had I cut/pasted/printed and read your rules before every post, I wouldn't be in this pickle.

You're going to call me "Calamari" next time I see you, Linsey, aren't you? And if I had your sense of privacy, I wouldn't have these problems.

Ana! What stupid things did you do one film? It's probably something benign, but now my imagination is running away from me;)

Carol, I thought about the school thing after-the-fact. That's the hole in the bucket, isn't it? As for you other reasons for not listing them, remember: Cindy and I are plying people with spirits next M&M. You can spill your juicy stories then.

J Perry Stone said...

Tamara, a blonde fembot? This Saturday. Pictures please!

J Perry Stone said...

Suddenly, I'm not feeling so alone.


Mary Marvella said...

Good blog. I'm stopping at Facebook book now!