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Yesterday, the lovely Jody Hedlund--one of my favorite bloggers--did a post on her 10 Social Media Pet Peeves. Now, Jody and I almost always agree. We've seem to have followed a similar blogging journey along the same timeline and often I find myself nodding along with her posts. And this post was no exception...for nine of those ten points. But number 4 gave me pause and thusly, inspired this post.
Here's her number four:
Pet Peeve #4: When followers use graphic pictures. This applies mostly to Pinterest. Soon after I joined, I quickly realized I couldn’t auto follow back. I was getting some very steamy pictures in my nice “happy” homepage stream. My laptop sits on the kitchen table in plain view of my kids, and I don’t want to have to worry about what they happen to see as I browse my SM sites. Even if a writer’s brand is erotic, I still think it’s wise to be sensitive to the fact that many of us are Moms with kids running around us.
I was with her until the "even if a writer's brand is erotic" part. :)
See, here's the deal. Your "brand" as a writer should be closely aligned with your style of books. If you're writing children's books, then you're not going to be talking about politics and sex on your blog. If you're a Christian writer, you're not going to be blogging about how drunk you got last night.
I write erotic romances that have explicit sex scenes in them. Kink is part of my books. People who read them know that and like those kinds of stories (or else they wouldn't be reading them.) So my readers aren't going to get offended if I post Boyfriends of the Week or shirtless men on my Pinterest (or even sexier stuff on Tumblr). In fact, not only are they not offended, but those boyfriends are the posts that get the most hits by far. So obviously, a big portion of people who follow me are into it.
But I know I also have a portion of followers who are writers who started following me when I was running Fiction Groupie. They are here for the writing posts and aren't necessarily interested in reading my books. That's fine. I even have a separate RSS feed for those who want only writing posts and no mancandy in their inbox so that they don't have to worry about it.
But if you go follow me on Pinterest or Tumblr without looking at the types of things I post, then that is on you. If I have a board named MELT INTO YOU Inspiration, which is a book about a BDSM menage relationship, you can probably guess the photos aren't always going to be G-rated. Hell, my book covers aren't even G-rated. If you choose to follow, that is at your own risk.
I make no secrets about the kinds of books I write. Look at the tagline up at the top of the blog. I'm not going to apologize for posting things in line with my brand. In fact, next week I'm starting a series in prep for STILL INTO YOU's release that is going to be about fun ways to spice up your marriage or relationship. These posts are going to be tasteful, but they're not going to be G-rated. They shouldn't have to be.
Yes, I know people have kids around their computers. I have a four year old. I get it. But it is not MY responsibility to cater this blog (or any of my other social media sites) to keep things away from your child's eyes. That's like saying I shouldn't write erotic romances because a child might pick up their mom's book. My only responsibility is keeping it from my kid's view. I know which sites not to click on if he's sitting next to me.
My brand is sexy romance. It shouldn't be a surprise if I sometimes post about sexy things. Just like if a Christian writer is posting about a bible passage or their religious journey. If I'm following them and not of that faith or whatever, I have no right to get offended. Their brand is clear. If I chose to follow the person, that was at my own risk.
And if someone is posting stuff you don't want to read or see, don't follow them. I've unfollowed a fellow erotic writer for being unnecessarily graphic and cursing nonstop (and believe me, I'm not easily offended.) But it was too much for me and I was getting nothing from their feed. I've also unfollowed people who spout off poitical stuff that ticks me off. I don't need that stress in my day. Was what those people were posting wrong? No. It just wasn't for me. They have the right to make their image and brand whatever they want them to be. I have the right not to buy into it.
For my own blog, I have lines. I don't post nude mancandy pics since I prefer photos that leave something to the imagination. I occasionally curse, but usually keep it at a PG-13 level or ** out the words. I try to keep everything tasteful and classy even when I am talking about a racy topic. Why? Because that's what I want my place on the web to be like. The way I discuss things on here is how I would discuss things in person.
Jody responded to my comment on her blog with, "Obviously, if we're trying to reach our target audience, then we'll try to brand our Pinterest boards to our books. That makes sense. Nevertheless, I do try to be sensitive to the fact that I have numerous followers from all spectrums of life."
I see where she's coming from (and of course I still heart Jody), but I also know that trying to please and cater to "everyone" is an impossible task. Try doing that with your novel and see how well that goes.
Different people want different things. A fellow writer is going to want something different from me than a pure reader will. A romance reader will want something different from me than a suspense reader. You can run the risk of becoming too generic or safe in your brand. That's what was happening with me at Fiction Groupie. I felt restricted because I only posted about writing. I was afraid to post romance-y stuff because some people would've been turned off. So it boxed me in to only talking about writing. That's something I love to do, but it was becoming a very one-dimensional version of me. And where does that leave the readers who could give a crap about how-to writing posts?
So this is me and this is my brand. If you only want writer me, you have the option to just follow those posts. If you want to follow me on Pinterest, cherry pick the boards that appeal to you. If you want to follow me on Tumblr, read the 18+ and NSFW warning at the top. If you want to follow G-Rated mom me, follow my group mommy blog Peanut Butter on the Keyboard. If you want to follow me on Twitter, you'll get a little bit of it all. But I'm not going to apologize for what I post. You've been warned. Follow at your own risk. (But I do hope you still follow.) ;)
So what are your thoughts? Do you think we should keep everything PG even if our books are not? Has anyone ever surprised with something you didn't want in your feed? Do the mancandy posts make you happy or make you nervous to view my blog?