Or is it?
Like many who are trying to maintain a strong web presence, I occasionally “google” myself. “Joleene Naylor” used to bring up roughly two pages of results that were mostly me. I can now find a majority of relevant links through page fifteen, and some scattered after that. So, yay! I’m turning up on search engines. So?
So, fifteen pages of results. That’s a lot. And guess what? Not all of them have to do with my art or my writing, and even more interesting, some of them are from years ago. Starting on page four, you can find old forum posts I made on a Harry Potter group, some as long ago as four years, as well as some random comments I left on someone else’s MySpace, a photo I uploaded to Wikipedia in 2007, a petition I signed, and a paper doll contest I entered in 2005, among other things.
Why do I mention this? Because as a writer who is trying to sell not only their books, but themselves as well, this is something you need to think about. Before you post anything to a public place, you should stop and think “Do I want my readers to see this?” Because, as long as it’s viewable to the public, you should automatically assume that the public can see it. And sometimes, there are things you just don’t want them to see.
Of course, I’m not advising that you should drain away your personality, or give up on groups that you love just because your readers might disagree with them, but if your internet pastimes are really that contrary to your books and audience, then maybe you should look into a pen name. For instance, it’s going to be pretty hard to market your Christian books if you spend a lot of time on an atheist forum, or to sell your romance novels if you spent a significant amount of time bashing the genre a few years ago. And yes, what you did back in 2005 can come back to haunt you.
Long article short, before you publish under a name – whether your real name or an assumed name you’ve been using – think about what you’ve done with that name. And, once you’ve got your name, take care of it. As the “old” adage goes , “if you don’t want your mother to see it, then don’t write it down.” Or, in this case, “If you don’t want your readers to see it, don’t post it online.”
Try google searching for your name. What did you find? Did the results surprise you?