Applying Your Parents’ Advice to the Online Age (Part 2 of 2)

Dressing for the Job You Want

It’s common business advice to say you should dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Of course, this concedes the point that others judge you (unfairly or otherwise) based on your appearance… but that’s neither here nor there. The truth is, coming in to work looking like a grody schlub with no direction in life will rarely express to your colleagues that you have ambitions to greatness; sometimes even driving your old beater to work instead of a nicer car (or at least, a clean one) can work against you. If you’re determined to rise in the corporate world, sometimes you just have to suck it up, putting on the suit and acting the part.

The same advice can in some ways be applied to writing. Self-representation is key to success in modern publishing, in person and online. Trust us on this—if you show up to a professional convention in a dirty t-shirt, reeking of B.O., your printed-out manuscript clutched in your hands, writers and editors and agents are going to flee your presence. It’s much better to not only play it cool (never bring your printed-out MS to a con!), and dress invisibly. If you’re comfortable in formal clothes—a blazer and slacks—then rock it. If you’re not, there’s nothing wrong with showing up in a t-shirt and jeans, so long as they’re clean.

Similarly, online, we self-represent—and online, it’s important to “dress” for the job you want, as well. A WordPress blog is really just fine for authors at any level, but it certainly never hurts to have a nice website with modern SEO and easily-navigated browsing (as well as mobile readability). A blog is often the first representation of yourself to your audience, so even if you’re not yet the author you dream of becoming one day, looking like you are isn’t a bad thing.

Additionally, self-representing through thoughtful social media practices is another way of dressing for the job you want. If you look at the social media strategies of successful authors, rarely do they spam Twitter and Facebook with constant self-promotion; they typically do not create pages for each and every book and than “invite” their social media followers to “like” each and every one, two seconds after sending them a friend request. Now, before you say “but… they don’t have to!” contemplate the air that is cultivated by nonchalance. “You’ll hear about me, I’m confident” is a much more intriguing attitude than “BUY MY BOOK, BUY MY BOOK” when it comes to interacting with your fans.

Being awesome online, and self-representing responsibly, is the modern equivalent of dressing for the job you want. Don’t underestimate it! Take your parents’ advice on this one.

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