If you want people to take you seriously, you need to be professional. I don't mean that you need to run out and pay lots of money for a personal website, tons of swag, and snazzy, Prada suits. You can have a free website and still maintain professionalism.
In your correspondences with readers, editors, and so on, try to be professional and let them set the tone for further emails. If their replies are more friendly, or you develop a closer relationship, then feel free to be more casual and use first names as well. If you agree to do a guest spot or participate in a blog hop, do your best to follow guidelines. I've found that hops increase interest and site traffic, but readers get irritated when they click on your link to find an unrelated post.
This next issue has become even more important in the last few months with the recent elections. Try not to express too many, or harmful political views on your social networking sites. If your profile is personal and only accessible to close friends or family, it might be acceptable as long as they don't see anything wrong with it. Nothing will turn more readers and potential readers away from your projects than offensive, hateful material splashed all over your wall and news feed. I've also noticed a lot of facebookers deleting friends because of offensive photo-sharing or otherwise always airing out your overly-dramatic, dirty laundry.
So, save your opinions for your close friends and family who adore, and most importantly understand, your weirdness.
What about you guys? Have you been chaffed away from readers or even publishing houses due to lack of professionalism? I'd love to read your comments!
We are a smart & savvy group of authors who write a weekly feature for their blog every Wednesday. The goal is to impart what we've learned about writing, editing, getting published, book promotion, and more along the way.