Fear of exposure

I can’t count the times I’ve seen some great writing online but haven’t been able to reach the author, because the person’s email address wasn’t listed anywhere. A writer who wants to turn professional needs to provide some very straightforward biographical and contact information on his or her primary website. The writer’s most effective business card is the site used as a hub for the person’s online identity and writing-related activities.

For the sake of being taken seriously, a writer’s professional email address should use the writer’s professional name or business name. It’s possible to set up multiple email addresses for different purposes and direct all the email for those addresses to a single email inbox. Instructions for accomplishing this will vary depending on the email application being used.

It’s silly for a new author to make it difficult for a book reviewer, reporter, or event organizer to get in touch, yet many writers seem purposefully aloof online. They haven’t make the transition into the public sphere, where their potential readers might be found. Ridiculously, some of them are the same writers who, cloaked with anonymity, blame everyone but themselves for their failures at getting published, soliciting reviews, selling their books, and generating income. (Of course, being publicly obnoxious will have the same self-defeating results. Have they already realized something about themselves that’s better left hidden?)

Concerns about privacy are no small thing, but the ability of an author to attract publicity has a direct affect on the discoverability and sales of the author’s book. A book publisher can’t compensate for an author’s inability to connect to readers, or for the author’s inaccessibility to reporters, book critics, bloggers, librarians, producers, and event organizers who would help make those connections. Privacy has always been a tradeoff for fame.

Photo courtesy of Ned Horton, Horton Web Design, Nashville, TN

4 Replies to “Fear of exposure”

  1. I have had that same fear and worry. I love my privacy but do want to take my writing to the next level. So thanks for reassurance and advice on what I need to do to make that happen, and also telling me that I can redirecting all of those to a single email inbox.

  2. We all have our bêtes noires, and getting past them is challenging.

    Speaking from experience, I’ve set up Apple Mail and Microsoft Outlook to direct all my email to one inbox. You should be able to do it with Gmail, too, although from the tone of the instructions, I gather it might not be glitch-proof. Every email application will have different instructions for how to accomplish the trick.

  3. Hey Robin, I started to write an email and realized at the 89th graf that it was too complicated. Suffice it to say that you can do any of the following:
    * Forward your Gmail to a different account (but at that point, it becomes tricky to reply as your Gmail identity).
    * Pull your other accounts into Gmail, as you note above (but at that point, it becomes tricky to respond as your non-Gmail entity).
    * On a Mac, set up Google using System Preferences -> Internet Accounts. Apple Mail will handle the return address for you. I presume Windows has something similar.
    * You mention Outlook. Outlook is alarmingly unfriendly to me, but you may know it better.

    You know me IRL so you know I protect my online identity as best I can, but not only am I not attempting to get publicity (for a book or any other reason), but also, I believe I only have this year before everything is combined and public. It simply won’t be tenable to maintain privacy at some point, and I think that point is soon.

  4. Hi, Mike:

    Funny. I thought about listing the steps for doing this in the most popular email software applications and then immediately thought better of it. Thank you for sharing these tips.

    My recent experience is with Apple Mail on an iMac running Yosemite, as well as the email settings on my old iPad and iPhone. I set each of them up to fetch my Gmail (your third point above) rather than asking Gmail to forward messages (your first point above), so I agree that your third point is the simplest method. It works.

    Regarding your online privacy, Mike, I think it boils down to costs versus benefits. Maybe you’ve reached the stage at which the effort of maintaining multiple personalities (just kidding) is no longer worthwhile. Isn’t the secrecy a version of self-censorship? Hey, I barely know you IRL, but I’m doubtful that any of us will be shocked when you fling back the anime shower curtain.

    After your dénouement, we’ll need to come up with a brand new metaphor to belabor.

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