When do readers cross the line when interacting with authors? As any female author of erotic and kink fiction can attest, the lines between fantasy and reality often become blurred when readers interact with authors. Inappropriate photos, nudity, off-color humor, clinginess, and tone-deafness to social cues make many authors wary of interacting with people online. Authors of naughty fiction cook meals for their children, run errands, mend buttons, and shop at home improvement stores just like anyone else. This may come as a shock, but I don’t fall over in glee when I receive unsolicited photos of naked genitals. *shock* I’m not flattered or turned on by instant messages laced with chat speak, misspellings, and crude suggestions.
Because I write spanking and discipline, too often readers can confuse my characters with me. I’m not secretly hoping to find a girl to discipline, and I don’t long for a chance to scold every person who giggles and flirts my way. I write discipline, my private life is no one’s business, and (as anyone would know who has read any of my books), I consider disciplinary/erotic spanking the height of intimacy and trust. If I have just met you, I will not receive sexual pleasure if you beg me to spank you. (Ana said sexual pleasure! Yes, I know.) I will joke about it with friends, but friends include only those who know to stop before a joke goes too far.
Online privacy is a hot-button topic, given many issues that have come up recently. A few months ago, I posted an explanation why posting photos without permission is a serious no-no. I’ll assume that we’ve all had the online safety talk, so I won’t go into the typical warnings to be careful of your phone number, home address, or identifying information.
Simply put, let me say this: You do not owe anyone your trust. Block, unfollow, unfriend, mute, and all of those social media options are your friend. No one has any right to be in your life, let alone a stranger on the internet. You don’t owe anyone explanations of why you cease contact, either. When the red flags go up in the back of your mind, listen to them. Too often, especially as women, we are manipulated by plaintive attempts to tug at our sympathy. “But I didn’t ‘know’ any better!” “Why won’t you at least talk to me?” “But I gave you my phone number!” But, but, but…No. Never. As recent events in blogland have richly demonstrated, we have no proof that people are who they say they are. In my case, I will give people the benefit of the doubt but err on the side of caution. No one “deserves” to have any information about you (unless, for example, someone is suspected of fraud or deliberate harm of another). Sockpuppets, or people creating extra accounts to vouch for or interact with others, are a serious problem online. Don’t accept another person’s word that someone is trustworthy. You are the one who will get hurt if it is not true, and people act differently in different contexts.
Bottom line: Please be careful. I want you safe and sound so you can buy all of my books. 😀