Guest post by Zena Shapter

I was sick this week. I was run-down, had the flu, was tired and slept a lot. My hubbie took over where he could. My children patted me and said ‘poor Mummy’. One day I opened the front door to some door-to-door sellers of solar power panels, and they said: “oh my, you don’t look too well at all”, then promptly hurried away. When I went to get my children from school, one of the other mums said she could tell from the way I was walking that something was wrong, “as if you’re drugged or something”. I had just woken up minutes before.

But did anyone on social media know?

No. I said nothing.

On other occasions, I’ve happily shared my cold/flu status on Facebook or Twitter – after all, who doesn’t like to whinge a bit when they’re sick… and who doesn’t relish a little sympathy every now and then? Well… not me this week. This week, I didn’t want fans to worry that I might not be able to make it to an appearance later on that week (of course I made it, they’re my fans!) and I didn’t want clients to worry I may be late with their projects (which, naturally, I wasn’t). I didn’t mind my friends and family knowing – but my friends, family, fans and clients are all so mixed up on social media these days that I simply chose not to say anything at all.

And why should I really? It’s not exactly a news-worthy revelation…


 Still, it got me thinking – how should novelists, aspiring or established, juggle their personal and public profiles on social media?

If you’re on Facebook to share photos and news with family and friends – what should you do when you get a friend request from a writer you hardly know, but whom you’d maybe like to get to know better? Do you befriend them, or if you don’t what might happen – will they hate you forever? Do you keep some space on the internet reserved for friends and family and, if so, what and how? Do you simply keep your private life out of social media altogether? If so, how then will you stay true to yourself and ‘be real’ online? If you hold back, how will people connect with you?

As more novel writers are getting online and connecting with others on social media, I’m hearing these questions more and more. Where do we find the balance between public and private?

Unfortunately, I don’t have an answer for you exactly – only some practical advice which you can interpret as individual situations relevant to you arise…

Nothing on the internet is private!


Once it’s out there, it’s out there forever!

The internet is engrained in our lives. Yet it’s also still new and evolving. Who knows how it will evolve over the next fifty years?!

So, yes – be real online, just be you, and don’t hold back – otherwise what’s the point in getting online in the first place. At the same time, be cautious and don’t share everything. After all, do you really want people imagining you lying on the sofa at home with a red nose and puffy eyes. I know I don’t ;)