As I’ve mentioned here before, my next book is coming out under a pseudonym — which is energizing and daunting in equal measure. One area where the chickens are really coming home to roost (or going elsewhere to roost, I guess) is in social media.
Because Jael McHenry has her own online world that she’s been building ever since online became a thing, but Pseudonym Me — let’s call her P.M. for short — had to start completely from scratch.
Daunting, yes, but also great. Because starting clean on social media means you get to learn from your mistakes. And haven’t we all made a few?
So here are some do’s and don’ts:
Don’t just replicate exactly what you did the first time around. Don’t follow all the same people on Twitter or draft all the same friends on Facebook. Heck, maybe P.M. would rather focus all her efforts on Instagram. If you focus on doing the same things you did before, you’ll come up short. Take the opportunity to spread your wings. For example, my real Facebook page is a mix of personal and professional information, so I never feel comfortable “friending” people I don’t know personally (though of course I know there are ways to manage privacy settings.) I’ve set it up differently this time around.
Do make deliberate decisions. I love Twitter, and I knew it would be useful for P.M. in all sorts of ways, so that was one of the first accounts I grabbed. But @jaelmchenry follows more than 2000 people, and there is a whole heck of a lot of noise in that number. I built P.M.’s list slowly over time, author-friends here and there, a favorite bookstore or two, the famous authors in my new genre, and so on and so forth. I love food and cooking — as is very evident from my @jaelmchenry feed — but that isn’t a major part of P.M.’s activity, so I’m not following anyone in that area. She’s got her own thing going on.
Do watch yourself (or selves). While it’s tempting to have Jael McHenry effusively praise P.M.’s work and share or retweet every bit of praise her book gets, I don’t feel right about that, so I don’t do it. Basically I treat P.M. like I would any other author friend — if she has good news, sometimes I share it, and sometimes I don’t. I’m probably even a little more cautious about sharing her news than a stranger’s, truth be told.
Don’t blast the world. This is, of course, totally your choice, and it depends on how you’re approaching the pseudonym. But for me, I didn’t want to send out mass messages to my existing social media contacts telling them who I am (and who P.M. is), for two reasons: 1) it’s easy for that sort of thing to get into the wrong hands, and 2) most people actually don’t care. I’ve reached out, and am still reaching out, to individuals I think might be interested, and focusing on quality, not quantity, of contacts. P.M. barely has a couple hundred followers on Twitter, but we’re proud of every one. And the momentum is starting to build, completely independent of Jael McHenry.
Do tell the truth at the right time. Because a lot of my author friends know P.M.’s name and we’ve linked up on social media, other author friends have found me and begun corresponding with P.M. without knowing she’s me. In this case I’ll usually send a private message to clue them in. It’s not the biggest secret in the world, even if it sometimes feels that way.
Question: If you were starting from scratch on social media, what would you do differently?