How Much Do Your Readers Know About YOU?!?

A couple of posts back, we did jumpy claps over our interview on Rachel Carrera’s blog.  We found out that one of readers’ favorite answers (and one of ours too!) was the infamous #15!  For a refresher:

15. What inspired the current or most recent story you’ve completed?

We were chatting one day and the topic of how ridiculously easy it is to find out information on people these days came up.  One thing led to another and we gave ourselves a challenge…we picked a random person that we followed on Twitter, and based on her Tweets, pictures, and details she’d shared across the internet, managed to track down and Google Map her address.  We would like to emphasize that we DID NOT DO ANYTHING WITH IT, we were just stunned at how easy it was to find her HOME with very innocent details…a sign in the background of a picture she’d posted, a mention of the mall she’d just visited…it was creepy.  But it got us thinking that if we could do that in twenty minutes with nothing but Google, what could real private investigators do?  The snowball started rolling from there.

Obviously some people don’t understand the concept of “overshare” on social media…they’re the ones who Facebook or Instagram pictures of the Easy Mac they had for lunch…with jaunty filters!  They’re also the ones whose sexually graphic, bitchy, or vulgar Tweets are enough to make your eyes pop out.

Some people choose not to participate in social media at all.

As authors, we’re in an interesting position.  You may think you’re dull-as-dishwater boring, but a lot of readers want to know at least a little bit about the authors they enjoy.  I definitely do!  Especially authors who are a bit more relateable to us and our writing lives (as opposed to Stephen King or Danielle Steel), it’s really cool to read about their motivations or even writing or promotional tips they generously share.  I follow a large number of writers’ blogs and it definitely feels like a community, especially since I’ve “met” writers that I feel comfortable calling friends now.

On the flip side of this, however, is the fact that creepers, stalkers, and other a-holes lurk all over the internet.  I’ve had my identity stolen before (and bank account subsequently drained) and it isn’t an experience I’d wish on my worst enemy.  Britt and I originally had links to this blog on our old ff profiles, until a series of disturbing and borderline-threatening reviews were left on several of my stories.  Down came the links that could lead people to this site (with its pictures of us, etc).  We can’t keep all the weirdos away, but we can try to minimize the ways they could find us!

Hence the tightrope we walk.

Personally, I’m very close-lipped (okay, fine, probably paranoid) about revealing ANYTHING about my personal life, so Britt had to do a lot of hand-holding and reassuring to get me to even feel comfortable putting a picture of myself on the blog and my Amazon profile.  Sharing my hobbies and other personal information required more back-patting.  In the time since we’ve started this blog I’ve become a bit less paranoid uptight, but I still pick and choose or rephrase quite a lot of what I share.

A lot of bloggers do an excellent job of balancing the share vs. overshare tightrope: sharing anecdotes but not identifying details; using pseudonyms for loved ones’ names; blurring out giveaways in photos; and of course authors have been using pen names for centuries.  And for as much of many of them share, it’s worth remembering those posts are just the tip of the iceberg in a person’s life.

What are your thoughts?  Do you have a “professional filter” when it comes to what you put online?  Where do you draw the line?  Have you ever had an uncomfortable moment when reading about someone’s life?  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

-Kate

6 comments

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  1. rachelcarrera

    I think that the people that lurk are probably harmless for the most part. Sure, an occasional one might slip under the radar, but what can you expect if you want to make a living doing something that the public can see (such as write)? I think that even then for the most part, the worst they will do is threaten you on line. Life’s too short to worry about what you can’t control. 🙂

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    • Kate and Britt

      Very true, and I was thinking of you when I mentioned bloggers striking that perfect balance…you’re sharing some very personal stories (and pleeeeease keep ’em coming!) on your blog without handing over too much detail about you or your family’s lives/identifying details. 😀

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  2. Harliqueen

    It’s difficult. You want to connect with other bloggers and readers, but you don’t want to go OTT on information. I tend not to post too much personal stuff, but I know people who do without any worry in the world 😀

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    • Kate and Britt

      And some people just don’t have a concept of OTT, do they?? 😀 The connection and availability is one thing I LOVE about this writing world we’re in, but at the same time, it’s a balancing act. As I said in my post, having my identity stolen isn’t something I’d wish on my worst enemy, which says a lot!

      Thank you for your comment!!!!! 🙂 -Kate

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  3. deskmonkeymummy

    The Internet makes it very easy to forget there are real people behind the words and I think sometimes when we post even we forget we have real lives and something tangible (our bodies and families and homes) to protect.
    There is a very fine balancing act between allowing yourself to gather publicity for your work, brand and self as an author but not accidentally reveal (as above) too many details to untrusted parties.

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