Tell me authors, do you pretend to be something other than who you really are when you’re talking to fans and other authors online? I’m not talking about pen names. I’m talking about the essentials. Do you tell people you’re in your twenties when you have grandkids? Do you act like you’re a sexual warrior when you’ve only ever had sex with your hubby? Do you portray yourself – give others an image of you – that is patently false? And why do you think it’s okay to lie to your fellow authors and your fans online? People you talk to every day, people you interact with regularly, people whom you have ostensibly made friends with? Why is okay to not tell them who you are?
I don’t know how many of you have discovered that the author you’ve been regularly chatting with online is not what he/she tells you they are. I know I’ve found out the truth about a couple of authors who portray themselves as something far from the truth of their lives. In one case, it meant nothing because I had invested nothing. I just chalked that person up as a liar. In the other case, I felt used. Now, why should I or anyone else feel used or think of these people as liars? It’s the internet. Everyone lies there, or so I’m told, as if that makes lying to people a-okay. Why would you feel used?
The truth in my world is this: People who talk to you on a regular basis, who interact with you daily on groups and IM and Twitter, are people you begin to develop a relationship with. In any relationship, you should be truthful about yourself or someone’s feelings will get hurt and the relationship thus becomes damaged. If you consider these people your friends, why wouldn’t you tell them the truth? Why would you say you are a man if you are a woman? Why would you say you’re 25 if you are 50? Do you think your fellow authors and your fans won’t love you if you are a 50 year old woman instead of a 25 year old man? Don’t you think that the strength of your writing would hold up with them? If you don’t think your writing is good enough to capture them without you lying about who you are, what does that say about your work and your dedication to the craft?
I use a pen name. That’s not to say that there aren’t people out there who know who I am, where I live, where I work, and what my real name is. There are LOTS of people who know those things about me. And who I am when I talk to you on the loops is who I am if you were talking to me in my living room or the parking lot at Staples. I don’t mind divulging my age. I don’t mind telling you about my latest problems with my kid or my DH. There are some things I hold back, but I would hold those things back from most people anyway. I am an open and honest individual and I want my fans and readers to know who crafted the characters they love. I want my fellow authors to see me as a forthright, honest, fair-minded person who has no qualms sending out a goodie bag with my return address on it nor any qualms speaking my mind.
Those of you who hide behind lies about who you are inside and who make yourself out to be something you are not just in the hope of getting more sales… I feel sorry for you. I am more inclined to buy books from an author known for his/her ferocious honesty than one who makes up a persona just to sell books.
So yeah. I think that about covers my thought for the day. What are your thoughts on made up personas?