Way back in the far-off era of 2009, I started a little thing called the Twitter Novel Project. I fell off from updating it at the end of last year (for reasons too boring and drama-filled to go into here), but when I started it, I was writing anonymously.
I picked up a fair amount of readers and followers early on, and quickly started getting emails asking “Hey, are you [insert name of writer here]?” or “I know you’re [insert name of other writer here].” I had my reasons for doing it anonymously, though I don’t really remember what they were (probably something arty and pretentious like “the author doesn’t matter, it’s the story that matters, man“), but after more than a few people asking who I was, I had no problem posting my identity.
It didn’t seem to change much in the way of readership, but I also think it got me my first book deal of the modern era, so there you go.
Nowadays, I’m completely different with the stuff I post. I like to think of myself as pretty accessible — if you can’t get a hold of me via Twitter, email, Facebook, or commenting on the blog… well, you’re really not trying. I put my name on everything I produce, and I’m talking pretty much all the time (as evidenced by my doing so right this second on the blog).
Again, I’m not sure it makes much difference in readership, but it does allow me to connect with people who read my stuff, and that’s always cool. And it introduces me to their stuff, which is doubly cool.
When I was writing anonymously, it wasn’t to insulate myself from criticism. People can still criticize a story that has no name on it, and I’d still see that criticism. It wasn’t to distance it from my “author identity” (if such a thing exists), because at that time, I didn’t really have one. It was more a fun way to approach a new project, and I’d probably do it again just because it was kind of fun to do.
But lately, it’s pretty obvious I fall on the side of putting myself out there, as nearly 500 entries on this blog probably indicates. I have no problems with anyone tracking anything I write back to me, because, let’s face it, I’m kind of a fan of myself. I’ll talk to pretty much anyone who contacts me, because I like people, and I like to talk. I find all sorts of cool stuff that way — like Tennyson Ewing Stead’s 8 Sided Films, or Dan Holloway’s 79 Rat Press. I get to talk to other authors, and ask them a ton of silly-ass questions.
But as far as authors go, what do you prefer? Do you want them to be accessible, or would you rather they not interact with their readers? I can see definite advantages to both; being accessible makes you feel like you know the writer; but if they never talk to their readers, they won’t say anything that hurts the image we have of them in our minds.
So what examples of author interaction have you seen that you liked? What bad examples have you seen? And what authors distance themeselves from their readers — is it a good or a bad thing?