Security as a writer can be a challenge – but there is a way to create a balance between security and platform.
The internet is NOT a private place. One episode of NCIS or Blacklist or any other spy/cop/mystery show should prove that (because yes, if it is on television then it is possible, right?).
This week alone I have read about an author having her entire manuscript stolen, a grandmother having pictures of her granddaughter stolen, a breach in bank security, and hacked accounts – none of this was on television. It was all real life, unfolding before me.
Being a writer is a public endeavor. If you hide in your closet typing manuscripts then your manuscripts will remain in the dark. Agents want a strong platform that includes followers, friends, and a solid email list. Indie publishing also requires a secure platform.
How do you balance these two issues? As a writer you need to be public. As a person you want to remain safe.
Balancing Platform and Security
– Remember the internet is public. Even if you use private settings if someone wants to get in then they will. I avoid posting pictures of my children, never use their names (or rarely), and even refer to my husband as “husband.” I also avoid listing all of my personal information. The less I give the bad guys to work with the harder they have to work.
– Remember the bad guys are determined – and it doesn’t have to make sense. Two years ago we found a tiny bit of code on my website that left it open to being hacked. It has been placed there at some time by a hacker. The code could not be removed and it required taking down all of my websites, stripping them completely, and then rebuilding them. We had to make sure all the content wasn’t infected so that it could be reloaded (thankfully it wasn’t). My main website at the time was only getting a few visits a day, yet the hacker felt it necessary to implant code. I have three levels of security on my site now, and I install similar security whenever I work with a website.
– Remember to keep it relevant. Yes, my personal social media is for friends and family, but I still try to maintain my voice no matter where I am. I am my brand and my brand is me. When people see me I want them to think “Growing HOPE” and when people thing of growing hope I want them to think of me. That only happens if I keep my focus. (this is a personal choice though. Your voice may be different).
– Remember strangers will see your stuff. If you don’t want strangers to see it then don’t share it. You may want everyone in the world to see how your trip to the beach is going, but strangers are hearing that your house is vacant. Keep these things in mind. If you must share, delay the sharing (one of the reasons I still love a regular camera).
– Remember to keep an eye out. Search for your name in the social media platform to see who (or what) may come up. Utilize search engines for the same reason. I regularly check my accounts – internet, social media, financial – to make sure that I am the only one with access and that nobody has created a new one. The more informed and on top of the security I am the quicker a response if something does try to slip through.
– Remember to always – ALWAYS – read the terms and conditions. If there are no terms and conditions then create some for both parties to sign. It makes things more comfortable for everyone (if there is a hitch) because both parties have something to point to that can help work through any issues. It offers another level of protection if the issue has to be taken to the next level. Most importantly, putting it in writing helps clarify all expectations.
It can be scary out there. Knowing that others are out to lie, cheat, steal, and even hurt does not help with the scariness of it all. You can’t run and you can’t hide – not if you want to grow up a writing career.
Take the steps that allow you to expose your heart to your readers without stripping away the security for your journey.
What are your safe platform building tips? Share in the comments below.
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