Tuesday, September 25, 2012
A recent confluence of events set me to thinking about social media lately, including an incident in which an agent, active on Twitter and Facebook, was attacked by someone who was able to use the media to follow her every move. Few industries have embraced the trend with the enthusiasm of publishing. Once, authors were encouraged to establish websites. These days, I can't imagine an author without one (although there are a few). Then came blogs, but they've largely been made obsolete by Facebook and Twitter, and it's reaching the point that many publishers don't even consider those two optional anymore.
Now, I actually like blogging. I started this blog nearly seven years ago, when we were still reeling from Hurricane Katrina and I had a lot to say. I don't post as often these days, but I still enjoy it. I am officially on Facebook, but I almost never post on it because I can never think of anything to say. Someone told me recently that Facebook is like cocktail party chat, and I thought, Ah, that explains it; I've always been lousy at parties. And if you can't think of something to say on Facebook, then you really can't think of anything to say on Twitter!
But here's a dirty little secret almost no one talks about: many of the bestselling authors so visible on Twitter and Facebook don't actually write their own posts; they hire someone to basically impersonate them on line. I understand why they do it; the publishers are so insistent. But keeping up with social media takes time. The more followers you have, the more time it takes to respond to all of them, and that's time a writer should be spending writing. So in desperation, they turn to assistants. Yet there's a level of dishonesty at work here that troubles me. I keep thinking of all the millions of readers out there, trustingly following their favorite authors on Facebook and Twitter, convinced they're getting to know those authors, and it's all just a hoax. Pay no attention to the assistant behind the curtain...
Yes, there are some bestselling authors on Facebook who really are on Facebook: Catherine Coulter is one who comes to mind. But I could name dozens of authors whose on line presence is really a paid assistant. I've no doubt the same thing is even more true of actors and musicians.
So what do you think? Is this just a giant hoax that everyone is in on and therefore it's okay? Is it all symptomatic of something disturbing? Or am I just being crabby?
Photos courtesy of my daughter Danielle.