So I’m going to throw my two cents in on this whole Pen name/catfishing drama.
First, using a Pen name is NEVER wrong I’ll never call anyone out for doing so.
Second, using a rape analogy to support your opinion is irresponsible and disgusting. It’s just a cry for attention and no better than some of the points made in the offending article about how authors post all the drama in their lives to get sympathy from readers. That kinda makes you a hypocrite. Calling us fools who are too stupid to know when we’re being raped is not the way to win over fans.
Third, calling anyone who disagrees with you a cunt, going out and actively sabotaging another author or blogger in the indie community is vicious and unnecessary, and on the same level as the type of people who “catfish”.
Fourth, using a picture other than an actual portrait, by itself is not wrong, in ANY WAY! If I want to put up a pic of my favorite band, a fave television personality, whatever it may be, so-fucking-what? Who are you to judge? If I put up a pic of my seven-year old son, does that mean I’m catfishing? I doubt anyone would believe that I’m really a seven-year old boy.
If you put up pictures of gorgeous male models, with six-pack abs, pretending to be something you’re not, inventing a history that has no basis in reality, THEN I have a problem with you. If you put up a profile pic of a stunning Victoria Secret worthy model, pretending to be something you’re not, flirting outrageously with your fans just to boost sales, THEN I have a problem with you.
See, the thing is, readers are in fact Fans. They buy your books, invest money in you, they follow your life, they sign up for your newsletters and tell their friends about what a fantastic writer you are. They spread the word about you, which is the best kind of publicity there is. But if you garner that kind of loyalty by pretending to be something you’re not, THEN I have a problem with you.
Yes, people (our fans) are smart. Some are not easily fooled. But EVERY SINGLE one of us has been duped or betrayed by someone we trusted, whether online or in real life. Maybe it was someone we invested our time and money in, someone who made us feel like a fool once we’re slapped in the face with the reality that they weren’t who we thought they were. No one is immune from having their trust broken, their feelings hurt or becoming jaded when person after person proves to be a fake.
Catfishing might not be the right term for what the author of the offending article was trying to describe. But it’s close. I’ve seen first hand the devastating effects catfishing can have when a good friend was duped by a woman pretending to be a man. She was heartbroken after discovering the truth about a guy she’d been slowly falling in love with for months. (This woman is not stupid, by any means, not with a law degree, a teaching degree and who speaks three languages).
Granted, the example above involves feelings, hopes and dreams that were shattered. As a fan of numerous authors, I don’t invest that kind of emotion in them, hence catfishing is truly not the right word to describe authors who are misrepresenting themselves. Pandering is probably a better description. Even so, is pandering any better? I’ve seen aspiring authors create so much drama around themselves I wanted to hurl. One in particular, goes about collecting readers solely to help her win writing contests and attract the attention of a publisher, not on her writing merit, but by the sheer volume of her supporter’s enthusiasm. And when you’re no longer useful to her, she drops you, portraying you as a monster to her other followers. She thereby ensures that the truth of what she’s really like will never be heard, because her followers immediately launch a war against the “traitor”.
She is exactly the kind of pariah the article was trying to focus on. The kind of vitriolic fake who will smile at you, tell you you’re great then bad mouth you in their private street team groups. The kind of person who’ll direct their followers to troll and spam your FB page or website. The kind that encourages friends and fans to flood amazon or goodreads with fake 1-star reviews. These people can’t handle competition, and they don’t handle it well when someone is doing better than they are.
Competition by itself is not a bad thing. Olympic athletes compete, they thrive on it. Competition makes you better, it makes you work harder. It’s the fuel that drives you to accomplish your dreams. And let’s face it, as authors we’re all in it for the same thing. Readers. We want to reach as many people as we can, we want to touch their lives, make an impact with our words. But just because another author is in direct competition for the millions upon billions of book fans, does not mean one has to go out and sabotage them.
Those kind of authors are the ones that take competition to a toxic level. They are the ones who resort to pandering to further their careers.
So be upset about the aforementioned kind of person. Not someone who uses a pen name. Not someone who may have a profile pic that isn’t themselves.
Be angry about the ones that collect followers just for sheer numbers.
Be angry about authors who care nothing for their fans.
Be angry about unscrupulous authors who sabotage others.
And if you’re not one of them, then don’t take this personally. However, don’t enable the kind of predators who do this sort of thing.