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JRTomlin said:
A few I know of specifically. And the [crap] did hit the fan. I'm just saying it's a good idea to tread carefully.
If they're white and posing as a POC, or hetero and posing as a LGBT person, that is obviously going over the line.

I understand your point especially in those cases.
 

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No I don't think an author bio is a profound thing. It's definitely not what convinces me to read a book or not.  I'm more likely to be interested in knowing more about a writer after I have already enjoyed a book of theirs.  I think it's more likely to be deceptive when it goes beyond the author bio but I also see no reason not to have one that is totally honest - which still makes it possible to preserve anonymity. 

I think all the fakery is completely unnecessary but people have convinced themselves it is "good marketing."

For me, the concept that is easy to understand is that most people don't like being lied to.

But for those who say it doesn't matter and readers don't care and then tell me that it's good marketing (which is saying that it's both), um okay. 

Everyone can do what they want, but that doesn't mean I buy the rationalizations.  The thing that bugs me most is people trying to fake being part of a minority group or military service.

I see lots of interesting shades of gray in writer groups that's for sure.

Several of us have already explained that we can preserve our anonymity, have genuine connections with our readers, choose what we want to disclose and not disclose, and still be honest and succeed. That is what I choose to do. I don't have to worry that readers are going to be pissed off finding out something about myself that I have been trying to hide.  I want to treat my readers the best that I can. I appreciate them.

 

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Adria R. said:
This may be off topic, but I spent my childhood in a dictatorship. A good friend of my parents was an author. He wrote science fiction that could have been interpreted as being critical of the regime. One day, he just disappeared.

I live in a free country now, but even after all these years, sharing anything about myself online makes me sick with fear. Especially in this age of misinformation, every little thing that's freely and innocently shared can be turned against you in a variety of ways. To me, using a pen name is not about hiding, or deceiving anyone. It's pure self-preservation, and it's so deeply ingrained that I don't think I'll ever be rid of it.

So to anyone who thinks using a pen name is somehow unethical or scammy, I want to gently point out that perhaps you're speaking from a place of privilege. Just a thought.
I think this is a very poignant post that the squabblers should have taken a bit more note of!

I get the row is about pen personas is not really about pen names (especially as I know some of you who are arguing about ethics happen to have a different name on facebook).

But personally I think a persona is fine as long as you are also being truthful. Yes, it is wrong to say you are of a different ethnicity, or that you are blind when you're not. I think we all know that! But it's not wrong to write an enthusiastic blog post about the benefits of grapefruit simply because you know your readers will enjoy it even if you don't really have any personal interest and could care less! It is good marketing, and someone saying it isn't is being silly. That's what marketing is! Just don't lie about 'real' things. Come on... you all know the difference.


 

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I don't ever feel the need to lie about anything as a writer or anything else in my life.  If I thought there was something my readers were interested in that I wasn't, I could still write about it without lying about it or pretending I was in love with it.

It's quite simple.  There is really no reason for me to lie about anything ever.
 

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JRTomlin said:
"Don't tell anyone?' So don't sign contracts or talk to vendors. Don't hire an agent. Never accept an invitation to a writer's conference. Hmmm...

Tell that to Josh Lanyon who got away with it for about a decade -- until she didn't any more.
Yes, exactly - don't tell anyone.

If you really care about maintaining a pen name and persona, you should probably give up on the idea of going to writers' conferences and the like. Or hiring an agent, traditional publisher, etc. You shouldn't be paying e.g. cover designers through your personal Paypal account, either. (Step things up and have a lawyer register an LLC for you, and run things through that. You can probably trust a lawyer. Mostly ;D) The IRS and your bank will need to know your name in relation to your company (and the lawyer), but that's really it.

You might tell a bunch of people about your pen name and then get lucky. Maybe for a decade, maybe even forever. Or.. maybe not. Telling people is almost always the reasons things get out. The truth ain't magic.
 

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JRTomlin said:
If you give up ever signing a contract or having an agent, you have then given up on a considerable part of your career, or that would be the case for many authors. And even if only your attorney and your bank know, guess what. They have a lot of employees who can and do gossip.
Legal affidavits allow the use of pen names. Witness Cockygate. IANAL, but when an LLC "signs" a contract, it's often a stamp. (ETA: You don't need an agent to negotiate anything, only an I.P. attorney. Why anyone would give up 15% for someone to mismanage a contract when you could just hire a lawyer is mystifying.)

If your attorney violates attorney-client privilege, that's grounds for disbarment. You sign an NDA clause with a lawyer who specializes in privacy issues.

If your bank releases ANY personally identifying information about you to anyone without a a court order or a national security letter / SRI, the bank is criminally liable. If a teller leaks information to someone pretexting, they could go to jail.
 

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sandysocks said:
Not very convincing of what? I don't see an ethical problem. At all. Not even a little. Everything I do is made up. I create entire worlds of entirely fake, not real sh*t. My characters aren't real people. Where they live is not a real place. The situations they're in are not real situations. Not only that, but I don't think that there's a single romance blogger out there who thinks that a pen name and a bio is representing a real, actual living person. So, a little open secret for you... the bloggers are in on it...shhhhhhh.... It's pretty naive to think anything else, really.

There definitely are a lot of people who are very honest. Too honest. And to them honestly all I have to say is "yikes". The obsession of some fans borderlines on stalking behavior and I would never put myself in that situation. Even if it means "lying". I don't owe people myself. But people want something so I give them something.

Doing a silly little interview isn't conning readers. Nor is answering reader emails (though I wont for other reasons as I stated) in your persona.
The reader, my customer, bought my product as it was presented and they were entertained. I don't owe them anything else.
I'm not a beggar on the street asking for money in exchange for nothing. They bought a product. And successful products get marketed.
The pine-sol lady didn't make pine-sol, she was just the face of pine-sol. I have a face for my products, too, they're just not real people and why should they be? Someone else has a better face? Slap it on there. I don't have money to hire someone else's face though, so I'm just going to have to make up my own. Maybe someday, though. ;)
I don't see an ethical problem anymore either because you've walked back from your original claim. You started out defending snowed-in lady in Saskatchewan pretending to be part of a poodle-fancying bohemian gay couple from San Francisco--I objected that such a bio invited unethical behaviour. You then came back with "John Robert III," an example of a type of persona no one has objected to. Now you're talking about Pine-Sol lady. No one raised Pine-Sol lady or, for that matter, Mr. Clean, Uncle Ben, or the Michelin Man because brand mascot aren't real. Nor does anyone but bored frat boys send them fan mail and request interviews.

Once you're talking Pine-Sol lady or the Michelin Man, yes, you can dismiss interviews as "silly." But it's hardly obvious that every interview with a bohemian gay writer is a big gag and everyone is in on the joke. Granted, I don't read up on gay romance writers, but I've never seen an in-character interview outside comedy, so I find it hard to believe it's a widely accepted convention in the gay romance genre in particular. And even if it is in character, I doubt it's common that the writer behind the persona is straight. Putting the on the gay equivalent of blackface isn't exactly tasteful: "Why my poodles are just such cutey-pa-too-tees!" I'm not winning SJW of the Year anytime soon, but even I cringe at the thought of it. :-[
 

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ParkerAvrile said:
Well, we must agree to disagree. Because I believe what led him to win in the end was the fact that he can tell a good story that people want to read or to watch. There are lot of sociopaths in the entertainment industry. They don't all win.
You're saying he's famous because he wrote a good story. But back on page 6 of this thread you said he couldn't get any traction until he pitched it as a memoir.

Which one is it? Seems to me your first claim was right. He got famous, not because of the story, but because it was sold as a memoir, the kind of pathos-ridden self-help sob-story that got him on Oprah, and it was conning Oprah into believing his phony memoir and putting it in her book club, not the story, that made him a bestseller.
 

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One of my pen’s bios states that I like trying out new recipes. Guys, i don’t even like to cook.

Film at 11.


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