Tweets, Statuses, and Grammar

I’ve seen the arguments on a few threads recently, as I browsed my newsfeed. I’ve even had the discussion with some friends over drinks. Basically, it starts out with someone complaining about an author’s Facebook status and how poorly it reads. “I’ll never read so-and-so’s books, simply because I can’t read their Facebook posts without it hurting my eyes.” Then they complain of misspelled words or words missing altogether, no punctuation or even talking in net-speak. “They’re supposed to be writers and they can’t even type out a 140-character sentence without screwing it up.”

Then the authors become defensive and rise to their own defense, usually belligerent and condescending in their tone. “We have editors that help our books with grammatical errors. That’s not our job” or “It’s my personal page. I’m more real on there than in my books. Correcting simple post is not part of my work,” meaning, it’s not part of their writing. Afterward, they’ll say something to downplay it all, like “If that’s how they feel, then they don’t need to buy my books. I don’t care. I write for myself, really.”

But they do care and they’re not just writing for themselves. If they were, they wouldn’t be promoting it all the time, wanting people to buy it. They probably wouldn’t have even gone through all of the formatting chaos to make it available to others. It would still be on their computer or in a notebook collecting dust on a shelf. The truth is, authors who publish want to be read and those who attach a price to their books want to make money. There’s nothing wrong with that. Nothing wrong with admitting it, either. I freely admit, I write to make a living, and therefore, because that is my goal, everything I write is about my career––even tweets, Facebook statuses, and blog comments.

Just as celebrities and politicians can ruin their career by saying or doing the wrong thing, writers can stymy their royalties by being too lazy to correct their postings before hitting the update button. Whether authors like it or not, whether we agree with it or not, readers are watching us. We need to take full advantage of every opportunity to impress them. If our update is sloppy or riddled with mistakes, it makes us look lazy and incompetent as a writer. Then, they wonder if we wrote the book or had a ghost writer. They start to feel sorry for our editors, who should probably be receiving half of our royalties if our manuscript was as bad as our latest tweet.

The truth of the matter is, whether we like it or not, this is the author’s first chance to impress a potential reader. Like a book cover entices a reader to see what’s inside, a Facebook status or tweet draws them to the author. What’s the impression we want to leave with them? Unless our Facebook is set to private and we only have our closest friends on it, we need to slow down and read over our post. We’re being watched and judged. Make sure it’s a positive assessment they’re making, which will drive them to our website and author page.

When we pressed the publish button, we opened ourselves up to scrutiny. Make sure it drives readers to us and not away. In the end, it’s all part of our resume, and we want them to hire us––purchase our book––to entertain them.

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Until next time, keep chasing your fantasies!

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