07-21-18 Patricia Sargeant

Monday, September 19, 2016

The Writer And Her Mask

by Michelle Monkou

God hath given you one face, and you make yourselves another. - Hamlet, Shakespeare.

How true is this quote on this day and life of anyone on social media, especially for us, authors. You see, in addition to writing books, we have the marketing side to our business that requires significant amount of time on the Internet, and on just about every major social media site.

We learn to navigate through digital streams of information with the public in a way that fulfills the likability factor but still maintains a level of privacy. At the Romance Book Summit held this summer in San Diego, one of the workshops shared that the reasons for purchases are led by (1) liking the author, (2) then by topic or subject, (3) then for series reading.

Getting readers to like us takes work. And for the introverts like me it's a monumental commitment to  open up. But then here is where the mask becomes a tool to bridge the discomfort. And so for any given day, I'm neutral on most subjects. I'm cheery with my support for authors and their books or endeavors. And I aim for upbeat and hopeful for my writing or personal posts. Occasionally I may have a rant about a mundane topic, but I have no emotional investment to escalate my sarcasm.

It takes effort to keep that mask of likability in place. Doesn't take much for the mask to slip off and then those moments become the viral hit because the less than stellar behavior of an author is revealed. But most of us are generally charming and approachable keeping any crankiness away from public eye.

Thankfully, I can keep my wits together and stay along the center of the lane.

In the world of fiction, I can play with the motif of the mask. In To Charm A Billionaire, Damien--the hero--wears his mask to hide his vulnerability. That need to keep parts of him a secret has consequences and not to his benefit. Taking off the mask sometimes takes courage to trust that the real you will be accepted or faith that eventually you will be accepted. Part of Damien's journey is not to rely on that mask--quite the learning process.

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Judith Ashley said...

You are correct, Michelle. As an author, I don't want to put anything out on social media or elsewhere that is a turn off unless it is something true to my books. Not everyone wants to read about certain topics or subjects so I think it's important to let readers know what those are in your books. Mine cover such issues as domestic violence, ptsd, battling cancer, rape, etc. I've had some readers interested in my books but not buy because they are dealing with breast cancer as is the heroine in one of my books.

Sarah Raplee said...

It's hard to keep that mask in place sometimes, but so necessary for an author to do most of the time. No one finds an angry person likable and approachable on the internet. It's not the forum for changing minds because like-minded people seek each other out.

Damien sounds like an interesting hero!

Diana McCollum said...

I enjoyed your post! It is hard to keep that social media mask in place!!

Susan Chapek said...

Thoughtful post, and I think a true one.

Set me pondering how many people today use social media as a place where they can do the opposite--rip off the masks of peaceable discussion, of politeness, of consideration.

But writers do understand, better than most, the potential in a handful of words.