Friday, June 4, 2010

My Public Face

Friday, June 4, 2010
I consider myself pretty savvy concerning public relations. That's not to say I excel at it, but I do have a pretty firm grasp on how it works. A really good PR person or firm can spin an unknown into stardom, stardom that is not always deserved because sometimes the spin is based more on bullhoey than substance. Regardless, a star is born. Whether it shines or burns out often depends n the true talent of the artist.

I don't have a publicist, so I have to rely on my own creativity and derring-do to create and promote 'my public face'. I've been doing this for years via my website, blogs, interviews, articles (on-line and in print). I always try to be upbeat and professional.

"Regardless of how you feel inside, always try to look like a winner. Even if you are behind, a sustained look of control and confidence can give you a mental edge that results in victory." --Arthur Ashe


I also strive to be honest about my personal and professional life... but without giving up too much information. I deeply believe that some things should be kept private. Plus, I think there's something to be said for modesty and discretion.

"If you live your life without secrets, the wind will become bored of you and even the trees will stop listening."--Laura Moncur

Although my public face is that of a published author, in the past, I've always freely talked about my day jobs. At first that entailed my life as a professional performer. Now it's my role as a fulltime Senior Library Assistant. My reason for sharing that side of myself is twofold. It's part of what influences my writing. And... I think it's important for all struggling artists to know that not all 'successful' artists are able to make a living fully from their 'art'. I, by the way, do not equate success with income.

However, lately I've been wondering if my 'public face' would benefit more greatly if I simply focused on my life as a writer... period. No mention of a dayjob. I wonder if the general public perceives an artist as less succssful, less talented if they have to supplememt their artistic income? Would I inspire more of a following, more sales if the world saw me solely as a 'published author'? 

"To establish ourselves in the world, we have to do all we can to appear established. To succeed in the world, we do everything we can to appear successful."-Francois la Rochefoucauld

I am at a crossroads in my career. I have an opportunity to reinvent myself and therefore I'm reevaluating how I represent/promote myself and by extension, my work. 
 
What are your thoughts on an artist's public persona? Are you more intrigued by an artist who shares 'everything'? Someone who social networks daily and even hourly via Twitter, FaceBook, and the likes? Or are you equally intrigued by someone who only 'socializes' now and then? 
 
Think hard and be honest, do you consider an artist less successful, less of a sensation, if you know they cannot fully support themselves via their craft? Even on an subconscious level?             

SIS Beth 

11 comments:

SIS Brandy said...

I guess I have never thought much about writers real lives. I know which authors' stories I like and I just get those books. When trying out a new author, I go by solely what the book is about and if the back cover sparks an interest. For some reason, I don't pay any attention to the authors' bios. Maybe that's bad of me now that I think about it.

I don't think knowing an author had a second job would deter me from buying one of their books. That fact that your second job also involves books, may actually look good to some people. It shows how much you love what you and fellow authors create!

Krys said...

In my opinion, I don't think I would want an author to be a total mystery to me, but I also wouldn't want to know everything about them or get a Facebook post or twitter every couple of minutes from them. Balance is the key. If an author wants to Twitter or FB something about their work or their personal life that isn't -too- personal, I think that's fine as long as it doesn't happen every few minutes.

And I definitely do -not- think that a person who has a second job is less successful or sensational than someone who supports themselves solely by writing. To me, success is only half book sales/popularity, the other half is what kind of person they are and how they relate to their audience.

~Sia McKye~ said...

You know Beth, most authors I know do have to work, either part time or full time. I don't think sharing the fact you work at the library is a negative--it DOES relate to your life as an author.

I do like authors that share snippets of their life, a trip they went on, or like you, being a part of Heather Grahms's production at RT, new pets, just slices of normal every day stuff.

I agree there are things that should be kept private. The internet is forever with access to about anything someone has said or done, so we really DO have to think twice about what we share. But normal every day snippets are fun. They're trival pursuit nuggets but still fun.

Beth Ciotta said...

Wow. I'm really glad I put this question out there because you all have really interesting takes!

Unable to reply at length just now. I'll be back this eve to comment on everything. Thank you for the awesome perspective!

SIS Beth

Tori Lennox said...

I only personally know one writer who supports herself by writing. And she writes non-stop almost seven days a week, 52 weeks a year. But she's the only one I know who doesn't have a day job. She is far from getting rich at it, however. Personally, I'm nosy and like to know what's really going on in my favorite writers' lives. :)

Beth Ciotta said...

"The fact that your second job also involves books, may actually look good to some people. It shows how much you love what you and fellow authors create!"

Good point, Brandy! Very good point. Maybe I should use that angle even more than I do. Something to think about.

Also, I think it's kind of cool that you're more into 'the book/story' and the author's style then the details of author's life. Keeps the magic alive!

SIS Beth

Beth Ciotta said...

"To me, success is only half book sales/popularity, the other half is what kind of person they are and how they relate to their audience."

Nicely said, Krys...and nice to hear.

As for balance... that's something I seem to be searching for in several aspects of my life. I wonder if I'll know it when I find i? :)

As for FB and Twitter posts, like you, I prefer a bit of space in between.

SIS Beth

Beth Ciotta said...

"The internet is forever with access to about anything someone has said or done, so we really DO have to think twice about what we share."

Oh, Sia. This is SO true. I once reacted passionately and harshly to a comment on someone else's blog. The blog owner tried to smooth things over by explaining the other person's comment better and I immediately felt awful. I apologized right away and we were all fine, but I hate that my outraged reaction is forever out there. That's the last time I posted in the heat of the moment!

As to 'snippets of life', I appreciate your feedback. Again, much food for thought her.

SIS Beth

Beth Ciotta said...

"Personally, I'm nosy and like to know what's really going on in my favorite writers' lives."

I don't think that's nosey, Tori. I think it's being curious and interested. It's a compliment, too.

SIS Beth

Krys said...

Beth,

I forgot to add that another plus for me is authors, such as yourself, that take the time to reply to people on Facebook and the like. Not only does that show that you are actually a part of the social media universe and not just using it for publicity, but it also shows that you care about the people who read your novels.

I've seen several FB pages that are used strictly for publicity for celebrities or bands and people who post to them get no responses from those who the page is publicizing.

Olga said...

I don't have a problem whatsoever with a writer mentioning they have a day job. Very few writers I heard of can support themselves solely from their writing. I am also more inclined to buy the writer's book if I feel I know them. (It helps, though, that my friends are great writers, too!). I really like the way you present yourself, Beth. While you do have a good online presence, you don't go overboard, and that appeals to me, too.

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