Friday, January 30, 2009

Ethics For Wired Authors

Readers used to hate or love novels without knowing much about the authors who penned them. It didn't really matter if we spoke politely, smiled brightly, or even liked kids or teens.

They focused on our characters instead of on our character.

Things have changed in the age of Twitter, Facebook, and blogs. Now readers can follow us and discover if we're naughty or nice. They can like us virtually and be disappointed in our books, or love our books and be annoyed with us on-line.

But what if teens or kids are following and friending us? Can we be candid out here about our joys and sorrows, failures and successes, passions and opinions? What if they turn to us for spiritual advice or send a desperate direct message that sounds suicidal?

All writers wield a certain measure of influence, but the difference in power between an adult author and a child or teen reader makes things even more tricky. I'd like to see some ethical guidelines for wired authors in the world of children's and teen books. Suggestions, anybody?

Photo Source: One Laptop Per Child via Creative Commons

4 comments:

  1. I have no answers, and wonder about this all the time. Is it better or worse to be as accessible as so many of us are now? And in addition to the ethics in dealing with young fans and how much to share, there is the question of how all this social networking as affected the willingness of people do discuss kidlit critically and have a real public dialog about things we DON'T like?

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  2. Exactly. It's tempting to use a nom de plume. I suppose authors in the past had similar issues, and that's why they wrote under other names.

    I have noticed, though, that people feel free to be more honest face to face in real time when it coms to critical discussions. And that's why conferences and gatherings like Kindling Words, etc. are so important.

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  3. I think about this quite a bit. As a girl, I actually did hunt down everything I could find out about "my" authors. I read all of Phyllis Whitney's young mysteries, then got hold of all her books on writing, because I felt she was there, speaking with me about what we shared. (Yes, slight idolatry!)

    Even though I don't have an audience yet, I still try and just not cross that line on my blog--a line I'd feel uncomfortable. For one thing, my son's friends know that I write and am a book fanatic, and--it hasn't happened yet--but I don't know that one of them wouldn't stop by some day. So even though I'm blogging for me and my writing friends, I just...watch myself. Phyllis never let me down, and I kind of want to be able to say the same about myself some day. :)

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  4. Anonymous3:45 PM

    I am a girl just like sunita and face a lot of the problems just like her. do you face any of those problems?

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