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I’m writing this post about maintaining boundaries with your readers (aka your fans, the general public, social media subscribers, people who know of you but that you don’t regularly see in person) on the tail-end of Kim Kardashian’s armed robbery in Paris this past week. I’m not huge into following the Kardashians (though they do have some amazing marketing techniques, as Midnight Publishing blogged about here), but I did catch a few articles and opinion pieces about “how this happened.” Many experts discussed how posting to social media about her jewelry and other expensive items was like a beacon to robbers, not to mention that the photos could’ve held some clues about her whereabouts as well.

When we post so much personal information about ourselves to social media, we simply cannot know the full scope of who it’s reaching, who’s watching, and who might not have our best interests at heart.

Kim’s robbery along with some of my own personal experiences as an author in the past few weeks have prompted me to ask the question: what sorts of boundaries should we put in place with our readers to protect ourselves, while also honoring and nurturing our author/reader relationship with them?

The Conundrum of Being Approachable but Protected

I have an author website, an Instagram, a Twitter, a YouTube channel, a personal Facebook page, and an author Facebook page that I use regularly (and a Snapchat that I only ever use with my nephews to make silly faces on). That’s a lot of ways for people to get in contact with me, access what I look like, where I am, who I hang out with, and even many old photos of me as a teenager when Facebook was first created, and I began posting around my last year of high school. That is so much personal information that’s accessible to complete strangers! But the thing is: a lot of my readers have found me through Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook, and that’s why they’ve begun to read my book series—without access to them, they might have never found me. Also, it’s great fun to share parts of myself with others; I love growing those relationships, and I also love when authors I admire like J.K. Rowling and Stephen King interact with readers via social media.

As a self-published author, it’s especially important to maintain a social media presence and ongoing marketing of oneself, so we are often more accessible than others who’ve published traditionally or are already big-name authors who don’t need to maintain robust accounts. With all of these ways of contact, I’ve had my fair share of a wide variety of readers and viewers—and that means that not all of those interactions were pleasant. It’s to be expected, but it’s also important for me (and you!) to remember that boundaries can and should be maintained at all times, and can and should change as we grow in popularity.

5 tips for #authors on creating #boundaries with your #readers. Click To Tweet

Tips on Maintaining Boundaries with Your Readers

1. Come Up With a Detailed List of Your Boundaries

Come up with a detailed list of your boundaries before you begin marketing, and periodically check it to see if anything needs to change: Facebook privacy levels, getting rid of information like your address, phone number, personal email, etc. This will prevent many headaches later when you grow in popularity.

2. Don’t Accept Friend Requests to Your Personal Facebook from Readers

This is something I’ve struggled with, and now I’m paying for it. I have several reader friends who have access to my personal Facebook, which means they can see all of my old photos, pictures of my nephews, personal updates—a lot of stuff I don’t necessarily want to share with the general public. I’m a very open person, so I didn’t think about this beforehand, but now with Facebook’s Messenger option, people can message me at any time and know if/when I’ve read those messages—and that’s a level of closeness I don’t feel comfortable having with individuals I don’t personally know. So now I’m stuck with either unfriending them, ignoring their messages, or requesting that they don’t message me that way—all things I’d really not like to do since they’re my readers and I cherish them! So my advice to you is not to accept friend requests from the beginning. Create a designated author page they can follow, and be very interactive there.

3. Always Monitor What is in Your Photos

For Instagram and Facebook especially, it’s important to ensure that details about your specific location are kept to a minimum. Avoid “tagging” yourself in locations unless they’re popular destinations, cons, book signings, or public get-togethers; that means you shouldn’t tag yourself at your favorite local coffee shop near your home, or share the exact city you live in (something general is fine; perhaps the state capital).

4. Do Not Engage with Trolls

This is obvious, but warrants reminding. I’ve had some of this (not nearly as much as others), and the best defense is a great offense: do not engage. Everything you say and do is viewable by others, and by giving a response of any kind, it provides the trolls and everyone else with ammunition to distort your meaning, call you a jerk, misinterpret, etc. Let your other readers defend you: I assure you, they will if it’s needed and when you’re popular enough.

5. Above All Else, Remember: You Are a Person and You Are Allowed to Designate Those Boundaries That Feel Most Comfortable to You

As authors, we are so often thinking and saying, “Thank you for reading my work, thank you for your support, like me, like me, LIKE ME!” and we may feel unappreciative or rude if we maintain boundaries with someone who is actively violating them. Do not let this happen to you. Your protection and wellbeing are much more important than “angering” or “offending” a reader—never forget that. As a female, I’ve really had to learn this when it comes to male readers contacting me, speaking to me in certain ways, etc. As uncomfortable as it may have been for me to stand up for myself, it was a very important lesson and something I am thankful to have learned already.

Midnight Publishing is an award-winning editing, writing, and marketing company entrusted with over five million words to perfect since inception. Contact us for a free editing sample, and to discuss any help needed for your publishing journey: including social media platforms and protecting yourself as an author.