Saturday, March 3, 2018

Stay Safe Online While Building Your Author Platform

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

As writers we know the importance of developing an online presence, but is there such a thing as putting too much information out there? 

How do we know when we've gone beyond platform building into an area that puts us and our families at risk?
The result of too much information online can range from the irritating to the dangerous. 

But it is possible to be smart and still have an online presence that will garner you the right kind of reader notice.

Here are some tips to help you stay out of trouble:
  • Have boundaries firmly established in your own mind—BEFORE something happens. That way, when someone get too familiar, you’ll be ready to do more than just feel vaguely uncomfortable. So often I talk to writers who have a cyber-stalker and they’re not even certain whether they should be concerned or not.
  • Trust your instincts. I cannot emphasize this one strongly enough. If someone makes you uncomfortable, act on your feelings.
  • Don’t friend/follow/or otherwise engage someone who isn’t willing to post a picture and/or give out reasonable information.
  • Don’t use an social media networks and/or settings where you check in at places. There is no good reason or someone to know where you are generally. If you’re at a conference or a big event, you can let people know you’re there if you choose, but don’t leave your safety to a computer program.
  • Turn OFF your location settings for your phone, digital camera, ereader and tablet. Otherwise, any picture you take with those devices could have an imbedded code that gives the latitude and longitude of where the picture was taken. This is especially true if you post pictures of children (your own or even grandkids). Don’t make it easy for a predator to map out your location.

What should you do when something makes you uncomfortable?

The biggest thing is do NOT be tempted to be polite when you’re worried. This is similar to following your instincts in that we often push down our uncomfortable feelings for the sake of being polite. If someone is tweeting to you, sending you repeated Facebook messages, or contacting you in any way that makes you uncomfortable, don’t ignore your feelings.
  • First, confront the person making you uncomfortable and request they respect your boundaries.
  • If they don’t adhere to your guidelines, immediately block them from the social media networks where they are contacting you.
  • Finally, report them to the social media network(s) where the infraction occurred.
This isn’t something you should fool around with, but it’s also something you shouldn’t be worried about. Taking these steps will keep you safe and give you the boundaries you need to stay safe online.

What steps do you take to stay safe? Have you ever felt uncomfortable by a contact? If so what did you do?

Don’t forget to join the conversation!

Stay safe online while building your author platform - @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

Online Safety Tips for Authors - @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)


  1. Great advice Ms. Edie. This is applicable to so many folks, not just writers. Will share these tips with folks at my church. Love them all, but sometimes they offer TMI. I especially like your suggestion of "Don't follow if you don't trust." I wish there was a way to filter for trolls and trollops. God's blessings ma'am.

    1. Jim, I love this... "Filter out trolls and trollops". If ever there was an app description of the scary personas on social media that's it! Thank you for always being such an encouragement. Blessings, E

  2. Jim, This is the BEST advice yet about the net. I have had more than my share of "Trollops, Trolls, Bots & What Nots!" I keep my privacy and location filters on for those various reasons. But how do you keep the longitutude and latitude filters blockedfor photos? When we accept an apps 'Terms an Conditions,' we are giving them permission for everything it, would appear, on our computers and mobile devices. I'm not a fan of apps or any company infiltrating my information. We need more classes on cyber safety for writers. Thank you for high lighting this most important topic!

  3. On Facebook, I have received friend requests from people I don't know, mostly men. They are either widowed or divorced. They have no friends to share. I used to check them out. Now, I just delete and mark as spam. If a person sends me a friend request, I check out who our mutual friends are and then I try to accept their request.

  4. Thank you. I had an unknown person follow my blog. I checked on the person and the content of their site was rude and offensive. I blocked them immediately. So sad there are some people who have nothing better to do than cause harm online. Thank you for this valuable information.

  5. On Facebook, I also filter out men who have no friends listed. With Facebook, friending someone gives them the potential to post to your wall and see more of your information.

    I've been wondering if/how to filter those who follow on Twitter and Instagram. I know not to respond to "How are you?" messages, but do other writers block these followers too?

    Sorry that I'm responding as anonymous, but don't want to receive random spam because I'm asking this question.