The sad truth is that a writer’s job is very confining. We sit a computer most the day (in our pajamas, no doubt), we read when we aren’t writing, and listen to podcasts and audiobooks during our chores and workouts. Other than going to the store, the post office, and other errands, we’re lucky when we go out for anything other than writing. It can be hard to think about your image when you’re busy writing and editing with barely enough time to shower, but there are several things you can do to present yourself well. You want people in general and especially other writers to take you seriously. So let’s show them that!
1. Creating an Online Presence
I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m going to say it again…utilize the internet’s resources. Websites, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Goodreads, etc, etc, etc. Reach out to the writing community. Connect with other writers. Get involved with groups and discussion on things you are passionate about. Don’t try to pitch your book. Be yourself and ask others about themselves. Let things happen naturally. Comment on blogs. Communicate. Show people that you are active in your pursuits. Agents and editors will appreciate a writer who can connect with an audience.
2. Have Business Cards on Hand
This may seem premature if you haven’t even submitted your first book yet, but once you have them, you will find unique opportunities to give them out. Going to conferences, workshops, school are great places to meet fellow writers, but you never know when you’re going meet someone randomly. My cousin and I were eating at the Olive Garden and our server was going to school to become a screenwriter. We all got talking about writing and eventually we gave her our cards. The waitress sa id that she wished that she had a card to give us as well, but hadn’t thought of having any. You may not always need them, but it’s better to have some if the right situation calls for it than not to.
3. Dress to Impress
You may wear that old Cub’s t-shirt with the holes and paint stains when you’re facing your computer, but when you are going to function (book signing, conference, writers group, etc) don’t dress like a slob. If you’re a casual person, fine. Go with that, but be the best version of that. On the other hand, don’t over do it. You want to be presentable, not garish. When it comes to writing venues, I like to dress like I would for a date with my husband, comfortable, classic, and putting a little more time into the way I present myself. Personally, I think that dressing up as a character at a conference is for the fans, not writers. You would hate to run into James Dashner if you’re dressed up as Chewbacca.
4. Remember Your Manners
This is basic, but some people forget their manners when they meet someone they idolize. First of all, you can’t look at successful authors as deity. They are people whose writing you relate to and respect, but they are people. So, if you want to talk to them, don’t interrupt their prior conversations. Don’t bumble on about how fantastic they are without introducing yourself. Don’t bombard them with your book ideas. Remember the basic rules of etiquette. Introduce yourself, let them introduce themselves (even though you know who they are), shake hands, talk to them about their most recent book, be aware that they may not be able to talk to you as long as you would like to talk to them. Read their body-language to gauge how comfortable they are. Keep it together and be yourself.
5. No Soapboxing or Tantrums
Never rant about a book you hate, an author you dislike, or being overly vocal about your political or religious views. Sharing what interests you isn’t the problem. It’s when you take it too far that it becomes a problem. It’s like writing a review. You are allowed to have a personal opinion but if you spout things from an emotional standpoint…it loses its potency. No one wants to hear things like, “The president should show his birth certificate,” or “The tea party is just a bunch of trigger-happy bigots.” Neither one of these sounds like they come from a well-rounded, educated person. Those statements should be between you and your family members or friends who you are allowed to be emotional with. Whether online or in person, as a writer, you need to present yourself more professionally. You can still have an opinion but ask yourself how you would act if you were in an office setting.
Overall, you are a writer and it’s important to think about how you want others to perceive you. Be your best self.