Monday, July 22, 2013

Privacy

I participated in a very small conversations about authors' privacy.  Someone was concerned about how much biographical information there was about authors now.  In all honesty she was appalled at what she could find out about the authors, just on their back cover flaps or what was read after an audiobook.  

My comment was that many of the younger writers grew up in a world with email, MySpace, Facebook, and other such social media.  They're used to putting everything out there to share with their friends.  I think that writers of that generation are going to feel a lot more comfortable with detailed bios than those who grew up without such social media. 

What do you think?  Do you find that bios have more information than you're comfortable sharing about yourself?  Or do you think it's a great way to connect to readers? 

28 comments:

  1. I think it's a great way to connect with readers. I enjoy learning a bit about the authors I really like. And I've never read one that I thought was too personal.

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  2. Wow, what bios have these people been reading???? I don't find that much information about authors is reveals. We hear more about celebrities lives than we do about authors (unless an author is a celebrity).

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  3. My bio on books is short and sweet but add my social media too.

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    1. Adding social media is important. And the social media gives the readers a chance to get to know you without you having to reveal too much in a bio.

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  4. You can find more info from someone's email addy than you can a book cover bio, so I don't think they give too much info.

    Interesting topic, though.

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    1. Well, if I ever need to hack anything I know who to call. The only thing I know from someones email is that I can talk to them if I need. :) I haven't seen a bio that I believe crosses the line, but I have seen bios that give more info than I would.

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  5. I think a great way to connect with readers is more about issues pertinent to readers' lives -- if they're middle graders or young adults -- rather than personal details about the author's life. Perhaps maybe with the exception of one or two distinctive, cutesie things like the author raises Venus fly-traps or they love hot strawberry in winter instead of hot cocoa. That's a point of contact without being overly sharey. (There's my new word. Sharey.)

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    1. Agreed, and honestly I think that's what readers want. They want a point of connection, not a complete history or pedigree chart.

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  6. I think there is indeed a balance of making yourself available and protecting your privacy and family a bit. It's an art-- find a way to be revealing without revealing more than you need to. People want to connect, that doesn't mean they need to know everything. Thought-provoking post!

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    1. As is everything, it is a balance.

      People in this day and age do want to connect. They're used to being able to find out anything on the internet and They demand that their authors be there too. But in most cases I don't think they want all the dirty on someone, they just want enough to make the author a real person.

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  7. I am a tad uncomfortable with sharing so much info publicly. I just try to be wise--though sometimes that is difficult to determine.

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    1. It can be difficult to find that line. But it is important to be comfortable with our decision. If in doubt I'd err on the side of caution.

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  8. I don't think I need to connect with my readers that much. I prefer to share information that's relevant to me as a writerly person. I want them to be a fan, but not like in the old Robert De Niro movie The Fan.

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  9. I've never seen any overly revealing bios. Maybe that reader has a different view of over-revealing. I share some, but I'm careful not to reveal names, relationships, locations, things like that.

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    1. I haven't seen one that crossed the line either. I don't know if she was more sensitive or if it was really as bad as she said since she refused to share the book or author. Shrug, guess this is going into the 'who knows' file.

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  10. I like to share some information, because I know as a reader I like to know a little bit about the lives of the authors I enjoy. I have to agree with Carol though--I wonder what this person considers overly revealing? I certainly don't share family names or details that would allow someone to locate me.

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    1. It's a fine line, and honestly everyone has their own level of comfort. I, too, enjoy learning more about the authors. It does help form a connection.

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  11. A little bit of information is good to allow readers to relate to the writer as a person, but sharing intimate details would be foolish. That being said, I haven't seen any author bios that revealed too much.

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    1. I haven't either but my personal experience may be shading that. We've adopted two children and in the process have had to become adept at setting up our personalities so people can connect with us and keeping private details private. It's like being an open book with the publishing details blacked out. I've had to put myself out there much more than I'm comfortable with for the adoptions so no bio has really crossed the line for me.

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  12. Both, I suppose. But I'm wondering about these revealing bios. I haven't seen any.

    Unless they mean location, but unless you're a super-celebrity complete with stalkers, I don't think you have to worry about revealing your general location, and in fact you could be missing out on connecting with local readers. (That's 'you' in the general sense, not you specifically.) How long was Stephen King an author before he had his run-in with his stalker? Mind, this was before the Internet, but still, he was traced via his bio and a phone book-- but my point is that 99% of us don't have to worry about stalkers. (I don't think. This could be an interesting question for authors, though. And I wonder if genre is a factor.)

    Many, many authors these days are using pen names because of the Internet. I wouldn't be surprised if the bios were fake as well. (Robert Galbraith *cough, cough*) :)

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  13. Interesting.... hadn't really thought about it, but I have to admit, I don't mind sharing stuff about me on the blog, but I do respect the privacy of my wife and kids to where I don't identify anyone by name.

    I think any bio of mine for a book would be pretty basic... but we'll see :)

    PS: the Linky for "GaryFest" is up and running now :)

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  14. I've never read a bio and thought, "TMI, man."

    Not a problem for me at all.

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  15. The bios I've read haven't been too overboard. For the most part, they should be short, so there's not much you can do "TMI" wise with that. I think they are a fun way to get to know a writer. :)

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  16. Most bios that I've read seem to be pretty average to me. I can't recall reading one and thinking, "Whoah! Bit overboard." I do think that many readers like to know little things about authors. Like Julia said, fun way to "get to know" the author. :)

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  17. I think a standard bio sharing some general information about myself might help readers feel more connected with me, but I don't think I need to share every random detail about myself.

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  18. Totally agree with you. It's also the reason why newspapers and print books are on the way out. The newer generations are growing up with everything electronic.

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  19. I might feel differently if I had kids... but for now I think that as long as I'm portraying a professional-enough image (basically no photos or wild tales that might get me fired at work!) then I don't mind what's there. Unless other people are posting photos of me that I don't care for!
    I find authors and others seem more "real" if they're in different places online and talk naturally, rather than having PR people writing for them or posting one comment on FB and then disappearing for weeks.

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