Your online persona is simply how the world perceives you. In real life, the first thing people see is your physical person. Online, the first thing people see is your writing — in comments, blogs, blurbs. Sometimes they see your icon first. Either way, that first impression is in your hands.
What image do you want to portray? Witty, wise, intelligent, forward thinking, funny? Down-to-earth, optimistic, casual, youthful, enthusiastic? Helpful, creative, disciplined, worldly, romantic?
This is one time and place where you can be the person you always wanted to be. Even better, in acting as if you are that person, you become it. This online persona is not a fabrication, it is the better part of you. Do you want your readers to know how much you whine and complain? Do you want them to know you’re a lazy slob? Do you want them to know you tend to be narrow-minded? Only if it will help you sell more books. And you do want to sell books, don’t you?
In the online world, the moving finger does not always move on after having writ. You can change what you have written to reflect the person you want to be. Before you post a comment, make sure it fits with your online persona and that it says what you want to say. Check for grammar and spelling. Some toolbars, like Google, have a spell check that works great for comments. Some sites let you delete comments. Other sites let you edit your comments, so you can rework those already submitted. And you can rewrite your blog posts.
Did you publish an article whining about how much your mother-in-law drives you nuts? Rewrite it. Turn it into a humorous piece, one that reflects your online persona. Do publish political rants? It’s better to take a milder stance, unless you don’t mind alienating half of your potential readers. You do want readers, don’t you?
Do you regularly use IM-speak in your comments or blogs? i m sr u only want readers to see such abbreviations if you are appealing to a young audience. Otherwise, it’s best to write clearly. You are planning on making a career of writing, aren’t you? Think of the future. There is no past on the Internet. The words you say in the real world dissipate into outer space; the words you write online remain in cyberspace forever.
Make sure your icon reflects your persona. Using a sexy avatar such as one showing naked buttocks might work if you write soft porn, but if you wish to establish yourself as a serious writer, use something else. Your book cover is often a good choice.
Always remember, you are an author, both of your book and of yourself.