Indie community, you're being catfished.

By Kyle Perkins.

 

First off, let me start by saying that using a pen name is ABSOLUTELY OKAY AND SOMETIMES NEEDED! There is nothing wrong with using a pen name.

With that out of the way, let me explain something that really bothers me about the indie community.

My problem is when authors pander to their audience for sales by manipulating their fan base into believing absolute absurdities about them. You know the types, the authors that create elaborate stories about themselves to seem interesting to their audience so that they can sell books. I get it, all indie authors need to make money, but when you do it at someone’s expense, it’s really careless and shady behavior.

If the author you are following looks like this: absdude_rotator

Chances are, he isn’t an indie author.

Not to say that really attractive people aren’t writing, but just how many do you think exist out there? Protip: The answer isn’t, “all of them.”

You see, the indie community are die hard and loyal fans and I think they deserve better than the deceit they are getting. Furthermore, authors that take their work seriously deserve better. If there are hundreds of women shouting out from the rooftops about a male author and it finally reaches the desk of a publisher and they decide to look into it, they are going to find this: Screenshot (2)

Which means the author is using a fake image and misrepresenting him/herself.

There is nothing an employer likes more than someone that is openly deceitful.

Soon, the publishers and agents stop taking this community seriously, and it becomes poisonous to be associated with, which is a shame considering how amazing the people in the community are, they just don’t realize they are being lied to.

Furthermore, if an author has to rely on a gimmick to make sales, it says one thing to me, they don’t believe in their work, so why should you? Real authors, they love their work, they believe in it and are passionate. Many of them have spent their whole lives believing in this as their dream. Then to get overlooked because there is some bullshit male model parading around with fake pictures as the shittiest cliche version of a man, well… It’s a gut punch.

It’s called pandering. It means they act or behave in a way that will elicit some emotional response or attachment from their audience because they believe they are too stupid to figure it out, see this clip for more: Click Here.

Now, I don’t want to take money from these people, and I wish them all the success in the world, but they need to do it honestly. Otherwise they undermine the entire community as a whole, and cheapen it.

Another type of author that really bothers me are the ones that are always crying out for attention, and using false personal tragedy to get likes and sympathy. You all know who I’m talking about. The authors that always have some new ailment, family members constantly dying, and always on the verge of “just quitting being an author forever.,” etc.

The reason this bothers me is because they are using their friendships to garner sympathy and to pull the spotlight back onto themselves. I mean, that’s what we are right? I look at my fans as my friends, and I would never abuse their trust and loyalty. Some authors lack that tact however, and always seem to have a new problem they want their hundreds of fans to rescue them from and to console them. It’s disgusting. “I can’t make my takeover today because three of my kids are sick” but just last week they said the same thing, and the week before. If you don’t want to fulfill obligations you signed up for, just say you don’t feel like it. At least that’s honest. Using your fan’s sympathy to get out of an obligation YOU fucking signed up for is appalling, and it happens far too often.

Anyway, I’m getting off track. If the author you follow makes a million reasons for why they can’t prove their identity, and it’s not “I am using a pen name because I write smut and I don’t want to shock my family, or coworkers” then chances are they are full of shit. Agents and publishers want their authors to be seen, because if they make it big, they will need to attend conventions, signings, shows, public speaking events, etc. You as a fan are being catfished.

You can read more about catfishing here.

If you suspect your author is creating bullshit fabrications to pad who they are to abuse their fanbase, use this neat trick. Simply reverse image search the photos that they surely say are them, and you will find all of the places these images pop up, that they stole the photos from. You can do so here. Just save one of their pics and upload it right to google.

Now in closing, like I said, I don’t want to take money from anyone, I want these people to do well, I just want them to do it honestly. If you’re using a pen name, say you’re using a pen name. There is no reason to misrepresent yourself unless you are trying to con your fan base into paying for your books. Try writing a book and making money off of its merit, instead of some cheesy gimmick. Making your fans believe you are some supermodel single dude that is interested in them is fucked in the head, and you should be ashamed of yourself if you participate in this sort of behavior. It’s dishonest, and worse, abuses the very fans that care about you and your success.

If you have sex with someone while they are under the impression you are someone else, it’s called rape.

If you make money under false pretenses for personal gain, it’s called fraud.

So why are you as a community allowing this behavior?

EDIT: I have gotten a few people that have whined about this post and felt the need to defend themselves or someone they know. Look, I don’t hate these people. I said that right from the start, but if this was truly only about the writing, why would someone use a fake male modeling pic to begin with? Furthermore, not correct women when they assume they are who the pictures portray? If you felt the need to personally write me to defend yourself, chances are, you’re one of the guilty ones and felt defensive. I’m not trying to be an asshole, instead, I am trying to stand up for people that I feel are being conned. I said several times in my article that pen names are absolutely fine and have been used for hundreds of years. If you use a pen name, say you use a pen name, who cares? If you however have created some bullshit persona to string women along for the purpose of making cash, I’m sorry, but I can’t respect that. I didn’t name anyone in this article or call anyone out specifically. So to the people that believe they are under attack, it’s very telling. “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”

SECOND EDIT: Oh, and if you just think I’m jealous of their success, no. Just no. People like Chris C. Genovese have a lot more fans than I do! Lol. I’m not calling him out, mainly because he seems like a good dude and is honest. I just started in January, right at the end of the month. I don’t expect to have heaps of fans. I’m just trying to look out for a community that I have grown to love, from what I see as potential predators. The only people that would get upset by what I’m saying are people doing exactly what I’m saying they are. Normal authors, or people using pen names that don’t con their audience would have no problem with this. Don’t think it’s a problem? Just ask any one of the girls ripped off by “book models” that weren’t real so they just took the money and ran. Or people that said they were the book model and gave permission to use their pic, except it wasn’t theirs and the real model contacted the author pissed off because they used their image without their consent.

THIRD EDIT: I HAVE NO PROBLEM WITH PEN NAMES, I HOPE SOME OF YOU MAKE IT THROUGH THE WHOLE ARTICLE BEFORE FORMING AN OPINION BUT I DOUBT IT. MY COAUTHOR USES A PEN NAME. I am looking out for authors that both use and don’t use pen names. These types of deceivers make them both look bad. The point is being up front about the pen name, and not using deception to sell books. The only people that will be upset by this post are people that use deception to makes sales. So, be on the look out. This blog made no mention of names, so if you feel attacked, then it’s probably you. I’m sorry you have nothing going for you but your shitty gimmick, but I didn’t plan your marketing strategy, you did. You had to know at some point this would come up. Did you think you could make excuses and brush it under the rug forever? Have you even seen catfish?

LAST EDIT: My coauthor that uses a pen name, has made some very good points here.

Another couple of articles with some good info can be found here and here.

Finally, another awesome post supporting this one.

Found these in case anyone wants to read more on the subject. Thanks for all the support!

If you or someone you know have been Catfished, please visit this website.

 

0 thoughts on “Indie community, you're being catfished.”

  • I’m an Indie Author..I’m not sure how i feel about this article. Yes, I use a pen name, but only to protect my family and friends. I don’t tell lies, and i don’t put pictures up of some swim suit model either. Almost all of the Authors I deal with are real with their readers as I am. If i was scamming and lying, i wouldn’t struggle daily to keep my books out there. I work hard and i socialize with my readers. I want to know the people who are supporting me. Some points were valid, others made us sound like an industry of cheaters and scammers.

    • Yes, that’s why I said pen names are perfectly okay, and respectable. It’s people that are purposely manipulating their fan base into thinking they are single super models that are open and available to them that bothers me. If you use a pen name and are open about it, I don’t see any harm in that. I said that multiple times.

  • I read this blog because of a blog I read arguing got points. She exaggerated; you didn’t mean what she said you did and that is clear to me now. I use a pen name but I don’t have any stories that falsely present who I am, so I don’t really care.

    However.

    Your comparison to rape here is disgusting, and I need the community to know, from someone writing here since 2010, that this behavior is unacceptable. The indie writers of the mental health community, many of whom write about their histories with sexual assault and use pen names and different photos to protect themselves against their abusers, will not support you. I don’t usually comment because I don’t have the energy to defend my opinion on the internet to people who will never get it, but your ignorance here is shocking and damaging to those suffering from PTSD because they have been, as you said, raped. As the executive director of a non profit organization seeking to eradicate stigma from these people, I am asking that you apologize.

  • I’m going to go out on a limb and say this is about specific people in a specific situation, not in any way shaming authors who use pen names in general, and that the likening to rape is because had the women known the truth (ie that a man wasn’t a millionaire oil barron) they’d have never slept with him, just as they would not promote/buy from the author this is aimed at if they knew he was not a super hot single model who *might* be interested in them. I see where women might be angry by this comparison, as our society has a nasty word people use to describe that behavior in women, but rather than reacting with offense, which only cow tows to those negative perceptions, as women we should own that. Men do with no compunction. Ask a guy if he’d be more likely to buy a book from a 200 pound housewife or a swimsuit model and he answers honestly and with no shame. Yet as women there is a negative connotation to that behavior, which is a gender inequality issue this blog is not covering. What it is covering is that pretending to be a hot single model to sell books to lonely women is rotten and bad for the indie community. And though I have no idea who this is aimed at, that sentence I can completely agree with.

    • Surprisingly, this isn’t aimed at one person, but rather an entire network of people. It has happened way more than a handful of times and isn’t isolated at all. But, I agree with you. This blog isn’t a civil rights blog, and I’m not even going to touch gender inequality in 2016 during the PC era. This is more something I have noticed that has been happening over and over and people are being taken advantage of. I wish this was isolated and only happened a couple of times, but that isn’t the case unfortunately. Personally, I don’t care what someone looks like and that doesn’t influence my purchase history, and I’d say that’s the case with MOST people. This isn’t aimed at them. This is aimed after men/women misrepresenting themselves to sell books and capitalizing on loneliness in the community. In scams overseas where men pretend to be prince charming in order to con women out of money is heavily frowned upon, but do it in the book community and it’s “marketing”. Some might say that they personally wouldn’t fall for that and anyone that does deserves it. I disagree and consider that victim blaming. Instead, I want these women to have tools and the knowledge at their disposal to fish scammers out of their lives, nothing more. Like I said, the people that have complained about it either make money from this sort of scam as a scammer themselves, or by proxy as a book blog that promotes them. A lot of people feel the same way I do, and have seen it themselves. I just want people to be aware that it is happening.

  • I agree and I have a serious problem with some erotic “authors” posting porn to sell their garbage. It gives good romance a bad name. They disgust me.

  • Made it through the article! I know you did three edits to address the people who were complaining about pen names.

    I personally use a pen name. Yes. For those of you who see this comment, my real is NOT Elise K. Ra’sha. My experiences that I’ve talked about are real, any health conditions I’ve talked about are real (mainly because I want to raise awareness for certain things), but my name is not. I use a pen name to keep greedy family members from actually noticing my writing career.

    Anyway, I love this article. I honestly didn’t realize that there were people out there doing that, but I can’t say it surprises me. Thanks for this!

      • They’ll never get it then. The only way I’d drop my pen name is by actually changing my real name completely. I just feel fortunate that, while I am using a pen name to avoid the potential family issues, they won’t actually read my books. ^_^ Too science-fiction and fantasy/progressive for them. I just don’t need them googling me to find out my success rate. 😛

  • As a newbie to the Indie world, I really appreciate this post! I love making connections with other authors, and I need to know how to navigate it in order to keep my integrity. I have a pen name and no one can fact check my education or trips to London, but I didn’t think lying about my experience was ever an option because that is HOW a writer writes. You are absolutely right that when this post is misread and shared, the original points still remain time and time again. Blogs are so helpful in building credibility and showing that you are an authentic author.

  • I agree with you that it’s a case of caveat emptor and that readers should do some checking before allowing themselves to become emotionally invested in an author. Read their books, enjoy the stories, and write a review is the best support, though I guess one could fangirl them a tiny bit if they seem the type to need it.

    But does it really happen that often? I’ve been involved with this community for a good number of years and I can only think of three occasions, two of which caused some upset and annoyance when discovered but the authors involved fessed up and are part of the community again. The other occasion was out and out catfishing of the worst sort and would probably have gone to court if the person responsible hadn’t been a sociopathic lawyer who would be able to defend herself for free. It’s hard to get at people like that.

  • Okay, I wasn’t going to post, but well… keep seeing this pop up in my timeline over and over again. (Hey, your post is getting shared-a LOT)

    With what I’ve taken away, you’re actually covering three very separate topics.

    1) Pen names. (Which mine is) Pen names are primarily chosen for safety and security for an author. (Should any of us actually hit the BIG one and gain a decent amount notoriety) For others, maybe they’ve always dreamed of having another name. Who knows. But pen names have been around for a long time. Any fan who doesn’t think that “maybe” their fav author has a “real”name, well… ?

    2) Fabricated stories to sell books. Yes, I’ve seen this. I’ve seen the “Oh they hated my book, were mean, I’m never going to write again my book will be taken down on XXX date, etc. Yep, in droves very sweet fans or just nice readers will come, buy the book, say positive things etc. Sadly, often, that book(s) never get taken down, author never leaves and it was all a sympathy ploy for sales. WRONG-WRONG-WRONG and makes me furious. I hate cheaters. (I’ve seen this gimmick a lot on Goodreads, etc)

    3) An assumption about the author, via looks, background, celebrity status, etc. Now this will fall on the fault of NOT the author, but the reader. If you’re buying a book simply because you think the author is, hot, gorgeous, sexy, famous, then you’re buying the book for the wrong reasons.

    Either the blurb and story grab you and you can’t wait to dive in, or it doesn’t. Life’s too short for crappy books. But if you buy because the author looks a certain way and that story ends up sucking rotten eggs… that was YOUR bad.

    I think readers of this post became lost, because you’ve combined several issues in a more of less blanket response.

    Example: using the assumption an authors true looks (appearance would make any difference to an agent/publisher.) Yeah, not so much. Again, an opinion to rep would be based on the writing not the authors looks.

    Happy writing-
    Bobbi

  • This has happened quite a bit in the gay romance community, women posing as gay men for increased popularity and authenticity. I think that, after last year, people now sort of agree that it’s not ethical to appropriate the identity of a minority group for financial or emotional gain, but I’m sure there are still a few more out there. It’s like Elin said, though: people come out or are found out, and after a while they get back to business and continue in the community (just not pandering as gay men anymore). There’s a pattern with these people, and the last two to come out I had already figured out. The excuses/reasons they use are varied. It used to be that the person was trans and now they’re going with gender fluid (and prefer being referred to as men). Maybe some of them are trans or gender fluid, but it’s very hard to trust after having been deceived for years with fake coming-out stories, their hardships as gay men, their first hand experiences as gay men, and all that. Or maybe I’m just super jaded after my multiple run-ins with catfish.

  • Not only to fans or culprits of this behavior, this post is also validating to other authors. It is hard to be a beginning blogger and feel bogged down by these “better than true” stories or lifestyles. Sure, there are successful bloggers who are truly interesting people, and that is great, but it is helpful to remember to not take everything at face value. Maybe because I am a young woman, I sometimes feel fraudulent just trying to “market” myself as a writer. It would be nice to learn more about where to draw the line between putting myself in the best light possible, so to speak, and this type of behavior.

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