For most of history, writers have been able to hide behind their words and only be judged on their merit and talent rather than impressions and appearances. Classic works such as “Jane Eyre” have only been able to rise to the top thanks to this possibly for anonymity. 

Today, however, things are very different. If you don’t have a website, Twitter account and group of fans that have formed a small community, then some will say you haven’t even begun to “make it” as a writer. Now, an author’s online presence is almost equally as important as the very words they commit to the page.

The Culture of Modern Literature

We are living in a time of celebrity with a culture of idols. The cult of the personality reigns supreme. We don’t just want to laugh, cry and love along with the characters in stories anymore, we want to know about the writer, their life and the influence it’s had on the words.

When once we would have been content to just fear J.K. Rowling’s "Dementors," these days we’re more interested in how they’re a clever representation of her depression.

While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it does mean authors are having to concentrate a little more than usual on how they present themselves to the public.

Online Marketing

More authors are moving into self-publishing and marketing. While this puts the power back into the hands of up-and-coming and independent writers, it also means that the reasonability of creating a promotional image for themselves and their product is now on that shoulders.

Creating a website that will not only encapsulate the ideas, themes and moods of your writing while targeting and attracting the right audience members can be tricky, but taking the time out to perfect this element will have a dramatic impact on your sales and popularity.

Social Media

It’s not just the look of your online marketing campaign that matters. The way you conduct yourself online is probably even more important. As previously mentioned, readers want to know the person behind the story. Social media is probably the most powerful platform to make this happen.

Unfortunately, when sharing, replying to comments and messages, and posting opinions, it can be easy to get into murky waters. We all have days when we make rash comments and have emotional responses to critics, but sounding off about something online means your words are immortalized forever.

Always think twice before you post anywhere online and be sure to properly check yourself when making comments in anger.

Cyber-Paranoia

Another unfortunate side-effect of the expansion of the internet is that most people have become extra cautious about potential threats. Website owners (including authors) have to be extra careful about their internet security. If they do fall victim to a hack or infection, all names and domains associated with that business will be under threat and might break ties.

Due to this, it’s important for authors to take the steps necessary to properly protect all of their online accounts and campaigns. Even if it’s something as simple as a rogue advert attaching itself to your website, it’s going to lose you fans and harm your reputation.

Thankfully, for those who aren’t familiar with online security, you can easily protect yourself with a few simple tools. A firewall and antivirus software are your best first steps. Follow those up with getting a Virtual Private Network (VPN). It is a tool that will encrypt information on any network to keep information safe from interception and users anonymous.

Being the face of your brand is now more important than ever, and your online presence is the most important part of this. Try to think about what you’re doing right now and see if there are any improvements you could make.