Tuesday, July 02, 2019

Some follow up Q&A about your social media presence

Questions on the blog post about rebooting your writing career got your rodent wheels a'spinnin'.

Honestly, you guyz are giving me seizures with the speed, lights and smell of burnt popcorn here.

Pericula Ludus

As per usual, I got stuck on the first step. Googling myself. I'm an academic. When you google me, you get academic journal articles and textbook chapters, institutional pages and citations.

I research disaster responses and humanitarian logistics, which is all very exciting, but has no apparent link to writing historical fiction. Any author online presence would have to be very, very significant to rise to the first few google pages of my name.

Do I have to pick a pen name? My name is unique, I like it, and don't mind colleagues and students knowing about my fictional forays. But I worry that agents/editors/readers will never find the non-academic me.

No you don't need a pen name.
No you don't need to worry that your academic career will derail your trade career.
Get a website with your own (lovely) name.
Have a social media account with your own (again) lovely name.

Then tell us about the very interesting work you do.
A query letter with that in the bio is going to engage my interest almost instantly.

Remember, this advice was targeted for people who have published several trade books, had dwindling sales, or took some time off, and now want to REBOOT their career. In other words, not you.


If those old, and meager, credits are written under another name, what then? Do I not list them at all or do I list them and presume that the agent will ask for elucidation if he’s interested?

You can list your credit and say "written under the name Brenda Buttonweezer".
Or not list them at all.

You'll have to tell me all your sordid writing history (yes, I know about that dino-porn) if we get past the requested full and start talking about representation. Early writing isn't a deal breaker, it's just something to strategize about.

EM Goldsmith
I know that agents google us. And I know Janet has addressed my concern that came from googling myself this morning some time in the past. However, I didn't worry about it then. There was nothing on me 3-4 years back. Now, there is another writer with exactly my name out there. All my stuff comes up with her stuff. She's younger and well, so very not me. I don't want to lumped in with all the other humans carrying my name. I mean, I'll share my name with a dragon or a really fast horse, but other humans. What to do what to do...

Do I just mention to the agent "I am not THAT other person with my name". I am not much into this social media stuff. It's not good for your mental health so I keep it to a real minimum and to stuff that generally makes people happy. Puppy and cat pictures, talking to other writers, and Liverpool FC. That's it.

Well, crap, my rodent wheel just full-on exploded....again

Again is right. I know you Elise, and you go through rodent wheels like sox.

You can amend your writing name EM Goldsmith II, Early Mustard Goldsmith; Excellent Minion Goldmith II.

OR you can say E.M.Goldsmith (no not that one, this one.)

In other words, alert the agent there is a faux Elise on the loose.

So, I love reading this blog but don't usually comment. This really got my attention. Editors are looking to see how many followers I have on Twitter? I'm almost at 800 but just because I follow people doesn't mean they follow me back-- 2000 seems like an impossible number. And as far as getting more reviews on Amazon- how do you manage to do that? A lot of friends and family don't read middle grade...and I've posted on Facebook asking them to leave reviews which made me feel desperate afterward. And, by the way, it didn't work. It seems if you already had a lot of reviews on Amazon then you wouldn't need the career reboot anyway, right? So where do you find these random people to read and review? Even if the reviews are good, if you're in this position it means you don't have readers. So if anyone has advice for how to get more people to follow you on Twitter, review and blurb your books, and help spread the word...I'd love to hear it.

Again, you don NOT need this if you're not rebooting your career.

And middle grade is a whole different kettle of fishfingers; it's a review driven category, not a word of mouth category. Books most often sell through schools and libraries recommendations.

If you're interesting in building your Twitter followers, take a look at @LombardEmma

Ellie Firestone
I'm just wondering whether this would still apply to self-published books that were later removed from sale. When I was younger (as in, 13-16), I self-published a series of children's books with NO IDEA how to market/promote them (not to mention no budget). They got good reviews -- just not a lot of them.

I'm pursuing traditional publication now, and I recently removed my old books from sale. However, Amazon doesn't remove paperback listings in case someone has a used copy to sell, and Goodreads makes a point of never deleting books even if they're out of print.

When you Google my name, my website (which no longer contains any mention of my old books) shows up at the top, followed by my blog and my Twitter. And then ... pages and pages of Amazon and Goodreads hits for my old books.

So now I'm losing my mind because I feel like I shot my dreams of publication in the foot as a young teenager. Any advice is greatly appreciated :)

PS. I have considered switching to a different pen name to have a clean(er) slate, but everyone online knows me by this one. By "everyone," I mean my 1700+ Twitter followers and my 1,100+ Instagram followers. So it's a bit of a dilemma.

PPS. Sorry for how frantic this whole thing sounded -- I just really needed to vent my fears :P

Ellie, if the adventures of my misspent youth were available for all and sundry to view and BUY, well, I'd probably be in a convent practicing silence. Probably delivered to convent by my sainted mother who to this day does not know some of the things I did.

You're right to think you need a strategy.

You're wrong to think this will derail you.

In your query, in the housekeeping section, you say "I published books as an eager teen. I learned a lot."

That's really all you need to say.

We get it.


Theresa said...

These clarifications (as well as the original post) are especially helpful to me as I plan how to do the launch for Mary Walker much better than the one for the last book. I've got the social media established and I'm constantly refining and amplifying it.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

First I googled myself (name only) on my computer. Then my daughter googled me on her phone. Buttonweezer has more relevant info.

THEN: I googled my name and the word writer.
Eureka!!! An article popped up. Yup, I 'are' a writer.
The article was from 1997.

For the last twenty-two years hundreds of my columns have appeared in dozens of papers and what shows up now? I'd cry if I wasn't laughing so hard.

Megan V said...


I very much sympathize with Ellie here because I have a similar background. The difference is that I was not the one to publish my work through Amazon originally it was a good friend of mine who thought she was doing me a favor (I was a word hoarder and refused to share with anyone I knew, but was fairly involved in the now defunct ABNA). Me being me, I just left it at that. I didn’t promote the book. just let it sit until I decide to take it down. I did self pub some short stories but those were in a different category than I write and, once again, have long since been removed.

None of this shows up when you google me.

It’s not something I hide but it’s also not something I typically include in my queries. For one thing I don’t want it taking up limited real estate. I stick to my dating analogy on this. I’m not going to tell the person I meet for a first date about all my exes but once we get into serious talks about a relationship then everything (about my writing past) is fair game. Any agent interested in my writing past need but ask. And if they don’t, I’ll disclose immediately.

Pericula Ludus said...

Ah, nothing like a rodent race. That comment section had become a bit of a rodent wheel Marathon Des Sables and I confess to being among the particularly eager beavers.

Thank you for your reply, Janet, and for making me a beaming beaver by saying that my work in a bio would engage your interest. Engaging interest, the ultimate goal, rarely achieved, particularly in lectures. That's the bio part sorted then. Now I just need a query and a book to actually query.

Ellie Firestone said...

Whew, thanks for answering my question, Janet! An extra sentence in my query is a way easier fix than I was expecting. *steps off my rodent wheel for a nap and a drink of water*

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Thank you Janet for your reply. I am running out of budget for new rodent wheels. By the time I actually start querying...I shutter at the state of my rat monkey apparatus will be in.

Karl Henwood said...

Inspired by this article I googled myself, and after my twitter, facebook, and a couple minor mentions for stuff I've done during my other career I found this on Etsy as the one thing favorite-ed by Karl Henwood:

"3mm Mini Sequins Fabric Material, 1 way stretch /130cm wide / Sparkling RED Sequins Paillettes. shop4cotton. $7.87."

Apparently the internet things I really like being sparkly.

Morgan Hazelwood said...


If you're just trying to get followers (who are real people), the #writingCommunity has been VERY active on twitter lately, with lots of "let's help newcomer get to 2k/5k!" follow circles. And they also post a lot of writing related stuff. Some of them might even be readers!

John Davis Frain said...

I think a misspent youth will get more heads nodding than fingers wagging. Maybe that's just wishful thinking, but I'm going with it.

JanR said...

Very much enjoyed the visual of rodent wheels as sox!

P.S. Then google found me a real pair of socks with hamsters on one side and rodent wheels on the other :D (Search “Friday Sock Co - Hamster and Wheel” to see.)

julie.weathers said...

I deleted, not deactivated, my facebook accounts because I detest Zuckerberg and his condescending attitude and everyone who works for him so much I can't even describe it. I excel at describing these things. Just looking at his face makes me feel like I've been baptized in vinegar. So, I'm visiting with one of the followers of @Codeofvets and he says he deleted his facebook account too, but it's still up. Facebook gave him some song and dance about why it can't be completely poofed. So, they still use his information, the scapegraces, even though he deactivated.

I decide to look. Sure enough. Mine are still there also.

I'll do battle with them again, but who knows what can be done. This is facebook and as Zuckerberg says, his clients are ignorant f***s.

I'm still on twitter. I'm getting ready to lock my personal account because it will be too controversial for many people. I should delete it, but I've had it a long time and I have a lot of friends there and vet contacts I don't want to lose. I try to stay out of politics, but I'm not always successful. I'm in love with Rep Dan Crenshaw. Who wouldn't be? Well, a lot of people. Which reminds me, I need to check on the bbq war. It seems he liberated Rep. Watkins' unattended bbq. The blackguard. Who leaves bbq laying around?

Anyway, I follow @codeofvets and several other vet organizations which attracts an inordinate number of conservative leaning folks. I need to divorce the personal from the professional. Alas, the personal account has nearly 3,000 followers and the author one has 90. I need to get to work.

For me, google brings up my website, a gynecologist, facebook (grrrr), twitter. It's good the website comes up first, I guess. I need to finish work on it and get some interviews up. I have the fancy mic, now to figure out how to use it and find some victims.

julie.weathers said...


Don't ever abandon that gorgeous name. That you have academic writing chops is wonderful. When I moved to Stillwater, OK there was a professor there named...Julie Weathers. She wrote lots of articles. People would remark they didn't know how smart I was.


"Oh, you read an article by the professor, didn't you?"

I would occasionally get the wrong medications or have a doctor say, "Your bone density is really good for a smoker."

I've never smoked.

I'm glad they started asking birth dates on everything.

People love smarts and those articles prove you can sling words. Now, you just need to show them you can make words sing or sin, whatever.

Pericula Ludus said...

Alas, I wish Pericula Ludus were my real name. See the last flash fic round for the origins of that moniker. It entered my life as a motto of the French Foreign Legion and has been my online alias for years. "Peril is my pleasure" may or may not be a suitable motto for my life and writing.

Real name is not too bad though, there are only about 60 people with my last name in the world and until a distant cousin decided to marry somebody with my first name, I was genuinely unique.

Ah, your tale of the professor impersonating you made me chuckle. And tsk, people should evidently remark on your smarts!

Now off I toddle to give my words some singing lessons...

Karen McCoy said...

@MeganV, I would read anything you write.

My online following is growing very slowly, but landing on a sustainable URL name has been tricky.

karenmccoy.com currently belongs to some astrologist. karenbmccoy.com expired and is now owned by some company that sells clothing. I have landed on karenmccoy.NET, but I'm not sure if people prefer .net or .com when looking up authors.

Regardless, this post is definitely reassuring.

julie.weathers said...


Alas, well, don't abandon your name regardless. I have been zooming through and missing many comments. Shame on me. I'm on babysitting duty again and fighting another gremlin so I miss things.

I love "Peril is my pleasure." I have some Zouave units in Rain Crow. They aren't the same as French Foreign Legion, but I pull some French characters into the mix. I'm an equal opportunity sadist.

Megan V said...

@Karen Thank you so much :)

Brenda said...

And I thought the Dino porn was so well hidden.

Konnie Enos said...

This is for Pericula Ludus. I once considered a pen name but was discouraged from doing so because, in the words of the expert I was talking to, "Why mess with perfection?"

I have an unusual name too, making it more memorable, with the added advantage of when you google my name (correctly spelled) you actually come up with me. (incorrectly spelled you come up with other people first, including my sister-in-law.)

So I'm with Janet on this one. Don't mess with perfection.

Konnie Enos
Smile. Make the day a brighter day.
Instragram @ konnieenos