Writers, especially those without a long-running series or company, must rely on their name as a brand. It is something we can choose to keep constant. And it can follow us with everything we write.
Readers come back to the writers they know. Loyalty, in any business, is a priceless thing and it may be even more so to those in the creative arts.
But that, fellow pen-wielders, can be a bit harder to have a handle on than we realize.
Everyone warns you against posting photos of you partying with alcohol, or expletive-laced e-mails to publishers (I mean, I only sent it yesterday and they already put it on Facebook) but a few things can make being perceived as professional difficult.
Example 1. I Google myself periodically (don't judge, try it). Along with results for this blog, my poems, and things unrelated to me were comments I leave for others. Since a search engine only gives snippets, I sometimes find myself with partial quotes taken out of context. Some can be funny, but a couple seemed... well... snide. I can only hope anyone searching for me (both of them) will click and check out the whole source.
Example 2. I'm finally on Twitter (jenruthjackson). It took me forever to pick a handle that came across as close to my "brand" as possible. Most advice I read claimed long user names are indicative of amateurism. I'm sorry, but some things are worth less tweet space. Would people perceive me the same if I were jruthj? I don't know but names are important.
Example 3. When I was young, I fell for the huge poetry contest scam of the time. I wasn't the only one. Now, you may say that any writer worth his/her laptop would research and be aware and, to an extent, that's true. But there are occasions where you cannot see the pitfall, no matter how much research you do. It can alter how people see you once they know you've been scammed.
I have more examples from others as well as more first-hand but I shall stop there. What's the use in worrying? There is none, really. Consider this merely something to be conscious of and, of course, a reminder to always be a good online persona. Things can be hard enough.
Do you have personal anecdotes about these things? Do you think I'm over analyzing?