I used to think that putting some personal stuff online wasn't a big deal. It's not like I was important enough for people to stalk or anything. And I'm not saying I am now, but things have been slowly changing over the six years since I started this blog.
Truth is, I recently found some things online about me that were, let's say, vaguely stalkerish. Not to the point where I was totally freaked out, but it put me on high alert. Like, "Oh, so there are people in the world who actually have the time to read my entire blog archive. I had no idea. Interesting."
I've recently had to ask myself a new question: Do I want people to be able to have that window into my life, into who I used to be and how I got where I'm at now?
When I first started this blog, I used to post a lot of silly things, or personal things. I talked a lot about my books and research, about my family and friends. Back then, I think it was okay. I had very few readers and nothing really to worry about. Things have changed lately. And please, don't take this as me saying I'm SUPER famous or anything like that, because I'm so not. But selling a book has garnered a certain amount a visibility, and I imagine that'll increase a little once the book is actually out. What used to be okay for me to talk about is shifting, whether I want it to or not.
When I was querying and on sub, I used to think a lot of writers got "too good for us little people" when they sold their books, because they started to close off online and were just too busy to interact like they used to. But as I've been going through the debut thing myself, I've discovered that "closing off" is for very different reasons than I imagined. Mainly, for safety purposes.
I'm sure a lot of you have heard about the agent who was attacked by someone she rejected last week (via Nathan Bransford). That is an extreme but sobering reality. I truly believe that the majority of writers are very nice people, but it's a case of a few troubling sorts ruining it for the rest.
The truth is, I've had a few unsettling, this-person-is-kind-of-invading-my-privacy moments already. I've had people approach my husband asking him to read their novels and recommend them to me, for example. I've had uncomfortable comments on my blog along the lines of "Why am I not your husband?"
What I experience on a smaller scale must be really difficult for writers who are even more visible. I have heard some stories that make me pretty scared to be doing this whole author gig.
So with all that in mind, I would just encourage everyone to be safe. Here are some ways you can do that if you feel the need:
• If you have Blogger, it's really easy to revert your older posts to drafts, if you now deem them maybe too exposing (something I've been doing a lot of lately). No deletion necessary, so you can keep them for yourself if you want.
• Never talk about where you are going—talk about where you've been.
• Don't use the location pins. (I seriously don't get the location pins.)
• If you want to advertise an event, advertise it. There's no reason to say that you will be there even if you are going.
• Consider the personal pictures you post online, and if there is any way for people to locate or contact you based on them.
Be safe out there, guys. I wish we didn't have to think about this stuff, but we do.