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BONUS POST: Your brand as a writer and its incumbent responsibilities

June 17, 2012

As part of the follow-up to the brawl over Nora A. Roberts on Smart Bitches Trashy Books, the comments turned into a battle over whether Nora Roberts had overreacted in her response to her almost-twin, Nora A. Roberts. In her own defense, Ms. Roberts (the real one) wrote:

I not only feel I have the right, but the responsibility to protect my name, professional reputation, work and readership–and potential readership.

I added the emphasis on responsibility.

Where I work, we talk a lot about personal branding. It’s part of the corporate culture there, for better or worse. Those discussions come to mind now. Whether it’s fair or not, everything you do as a writer–every interaction with people, in person, at an event, even on line, is an interaction with a potential customer. There are some customers it’s appropriate to cut loose. You can’t satisfy everyone. In fact, by appeasing one potential customer, you may be driving away other potential customers.

Part of Ms. Roberts responsibility for her professional reputation is a responsibility to her readers. She has to speak out against the pretender, because some of her fans shelled out money on sub-standard content. She’s not responsible for what Southern Pied Media did, but she is responsible for publicly sticking up for her readers, which she did.

Beyond that, each of us has a responsibility to our readers or potential readers, whether we’re published, gonna be published, read by thousands online, or just a contributor to this corner of the Internet. It’s a moderate-to-heavy responsibility if you take it seriously.

Do you feel a responsibility like this? If so, how do you carry it out?

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