Whoosh! Bright light floods the stage. All eyes are glued to the empty spot now illuminated by several 1000-watt bulbs. Footsteps sound against the hardwood floor, slowly approaching the light. The crowd holds a collective breath. Who is it?
Yes, that’s you coming to center stage on a brightly lit platform ready for all to see. Now, I may have exaggerated a bit here, but your writing platform is important, and so is showcasing your professionalism in all areas.
I’ve broken these areas into three categories…
Professionalism in Media
Media presence is huge for the modern day writer. I’m talking Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and email (there are a few others, but I think these rank the highest at this point).
I’ve chosen some guidelines to help you when thinking about what you post to these sites:
1) What is the purpose of your post?
Posts on social media tend to fall into these categories:
· Promotion: This is obvious, but it’s you promoting your work or someone else’s.
· Interaction: A post geared to garner interaction with your audience. This tends to be more personal.
· Information: Possibly a shared photo, link, or status that informs your audience about something you’re passionate about.
Pay attention to the amount and types of posts you put up. Your audience could potentially “tune you out” by skipping over or blocking your posts if you error too heavily on one of these. If your readers only see promotional posts from you, those posts become white noise. If you want to fall heavily on one of these categories, I’d recommend the interaction type. Your audience want’s to get to know the real you!
2) Is the post error-free?
For writers, this one “should” be easy…but unfortunately we fall prey to typos and mistakes just like any normal human ;) Make sure you check (and double check) your formatting, spelling, grammar, and any links or photos attached to make sure everything is in great shape to hit the world’s spotlight.
3) Is the post timely?
This one is slightly more difficult because we don’t always have time to post right when something happens, but timeliness is extremely important! In order to draw on trends and attract outside interest, make your posts relevant.
On another note about time, recognize there are good, better, and best times during which to post to social media. Check out this great infographic for more information.
Professionalism in Materials
Ooo-boy! This one is a hot-button topic for me. I think it is so important to have professional materials. For writers, these materials typically are: business cards, one-sheets, proposals, and any promotional materials for your books. This may require you putting in a little extra money, but trust me – it will be worth it. You will stand out if you have high quality materials that are clean in design and showcase the best “you” possible. Hire a great graphic designer, or use a template, but make sure you don’t skimp when it comes to the “only” piece of information a publisher or agent may have to remind them of you.
My recommendation for business cards and one-sheets is that you include a great quality headshot. You may think I’m just saying that because I’m a photographer, but I promise I’m not! Too often I’ve seen poorly done headshots that do a disservice to the writer. Make the investment, it’s worth it! If you need more convincing, check out this informational series I did about headshots; it may just change your mind.
Professionalism in Person
Last, but certainly not least, is the professional you! When you step from the darkness into the light on the stage, what will you look like? I know a lot of us writers tend to be introverted and…dare I say, like to hide in the background? But you must know that, if you have a platform, your readers will want to see you. They want to know the person behind the pages they are reading.
I have two points of advice on this:
1) Be you.
Being professional doesn’t mean you lose who you are. It just means you take care in your appearance and bearing. Professionalism is an attitude as much as it is about what you’re wearing. Be confident! If God has given you a passion for writing, don’t second-guess Him or His calling for you.
2) Be professional.
Don’t know how to do that? Look for a friend who’s clothing style you find attractive, then ask her for help! Also, check out Pinterest. Some of my favorite outfit searches are “business casual” and “professional attire.” Do your research and find out what clothing styles work best for your shape. Dressing professionally doesn’t have to cost and arm and a leg either; take time to shop the clearance racks and get a few staple items you can mix and match. And don’t forget the shoes!
So, there you are, stepping onto center stage. Take a deep breath. Hold your head up high. And boldly step into the light knowing you've put your best on display.
Emilie Hendryx is a writer, photographer, and musician living in Washington, D.C. who's www.eahendryx.blogspot.com and her photography at www.eacreativephotography.com.shamelessly addicted to coffee and reading. Find out more about her writing at
Photo Credit: “Starving Artist” from Flickr