Personal Information, Safety and Your Author Website

When you’re building your author web site, do you spend any time thinking about how much information to share about yourself? About what email address to give out? About what might happen if you share too much? If not, maybe you should.

For some authors, these are obvious questions. For instance, one author I’ve worked with, Sherry Jones, wrote a very controversial book that incited the Islamic community. She faced death threats regularly. So she was very careful in building her website to make sure not to share too much about her life, her family, etc…

But what should an average author keep in mind? After all, there are plenty of nutjobs in the news lately who are perfectly willing to sacrifice an innocent person to send a message to the world. Not to mention cyberstalkers. It’s a scary world.

Here are some recommendations on how to keep your private information private online.

  • It’s okay to mention if you’re married, have kids, etc… but avoid sharing names, if possible. Also keep pictures of your children off the website.
  • If you live in a small town, avoid giving out the name of that town. Instead, just mention the geographic area of the state that you live in.
  • Use a post office box or your publisher’s address when you give out your mailing address on your website or blog. And set up a specific email address specifically for this purpose. Readers like to write to authors on occasion.
  • Ignore emails or blog comments that seem threatening or strange. Delete the comment, block the user or email address, and move on.

Have you had a bad experience with someone who found your website? Tell us what happened and how you would advise other authors to avoid those types of incidents in the future.