Author Exposure: The fine line between Hi and TMI

The folks at Dear Author have a great discussion going about authors exposing too much of themselves online and in their books.

If you only do one, nobody seems to mind. But if a fiction writer’s personal information pops up in both places, hinting at autobiographical content in the story or characters, many readers are put off.

I agree that anything that kicks the reader out of the story is a bad thing. The finer points about a writer’s politics, personality, manners, head shot outfit choice – these are relevant if they detract from the actual book.

This pitfall exists in all of the arts. (My personal weakness is with musicians. The less I know about a singer the better.) It’s annoying, even infuriating, to have your experience “interrupted” by the (often unpleasant) information about the creator her/himself.

And once you think you know something bad about somebody, it’s really hard to un-know it. You’d love to erase that part of your brain that ruined that song you used to love, but now that you know JennyPopStar is a shallow twit who grills organic puppies for breakfast? Impossible.

As a writer eager to nurture a readership, it seems I should avoid discussing my real life or exposing my real self – in case you don’t like me, and therefore, are prejudiced against my books.

Oh, I wish. I’m shy, I’m private, I’m neurotic and fear rejection. Unfortunately, most fiction writers – especially romance writers – need to chat and schmooze online to find and keep readers. It’s an emotional, personal genre, built on relationships. You have to risk being unliked by some to connect with others. Being invisible is the kiss of death.

So it’s a fine line we have to walk, and it takes time to find that sweet spot right for us. (Speaking both as a reader and a writer.)

Anyway, they’ve got a good debate going on over there. Check it out.

(Image above from The Graphics Fairy.)