Author Platforms and Snake Oil Salesmen

I finished my second draft of my second novel last week and now I’m stuck in the in-between place where I don’t really have a project working to work on. It’s two months to Nanowrimo. And that feels like too little time to really dig into the manuscript I have in progress (a romance novel story with a haunted house, how exciting in that?) only to have to set it aside to start something new come November 1st.

I realize that I don’t have to participate in Nanowrimo but I’m going to. I love it.

No, during this 2 months between writing projects felt like a good time to focus on myself as an author whose trying to get published. I am going to write a couple synopses, query some agents and, sigh, work on my author platform.

I don’t think I can convey to you how much I loathe those two words.

Marla’s definition of Author Platform:

The online persona authors are supposed to don in order to sell their books. Usually this persona is some insincere scrap of their real personality that ensnares the masses into a sales funnel where each individual ideally buys ten copies of your book. IE, writing free, snazzy, sparkly content to get attention in a way that tries not to look sleazy but uses all of the online sales gimmicks of those people who try to sell you thousand-dollar classes so that you too can make a million dollars in passive income on the internet.

I would apologize for exaggerating if I didn’t get at least six of those emails a day. More if they’ve got a new $1000 course coming out.

Honestly though, are some good points to putting together a author platform. Namely, nobody can read my books if they don’t know about them. So, in the spirit of making my dreams come true, I’ve been searching for people with integrity (I really like Mixtus Media) who can tell me how to get started.

Combing through all of these websites about how to determine your ideal reader / customer has me thinking a lot about performance.

Since I left the Historical Society I have been working a serving job in the evenings where I present myself in a way that is far more outgoing and effusive and cheerful than I really am. In short, when I’m at work as an extrovert. I even have a costume that I wear because it helps me transition to that place where I can excitedly sell beer and burgers.

It feels like some of these passive income sales experts are telling me that I need to adopt a persona similar to what I do when I am serving if I want people to pay attention to me.

I’m not about to try selling my books like that. There has to be more to representing myself authentically then pasting on a smile and pretending to be happy. I don’t want to be performing all the damn time.

I read an article last week about how modern fitness culture is a way for (whtie) upper middle class Americans to enforce social discrimination. There’s nothing wrong with exercise or eating healthy, but when it is performed to reinforce a system of discrimination for those who are not performing (ie, not thin, not buying the right food, shoes, yoga pants, etc.) there is a problem. And a lot of what I’m seeing from the experts on how to sell my books is that I need to shine up the aspects that are aesthetically pleasing, disregard those that aren’t, then “create value” for what it is you want to sell, usually by making the potential customer feel insecure about how much they really know on the topic, then selling them the solution for only $297.

“Creating Value” is the best way to make people feel like shit about themselves so they’ll spend their money in order to be able to perform success on the internet. Because performing success on the internet makes you an expert in whatever you are selling.

But dear lord, why?

Isn’t the whole point of being your own boss to make a living doing what brings you joy? Because it sure sounds to me like a lot of people thinks it’s about being like everyone else.

So yeah while I am indeed going to endeavor to blog at least once a week and post some photos on Instagram, there is no way in hell that I’m going to adopt another persona and pretend to be that person once or twice a week just to get readers. I don’t need to create value to what I am doing, because my contribution is already valuable. I write books about love stories from a feminist perspective, because I think it’s important to have as many woman characters with agency out there as possible.

I don’t want to play who can win the internet. I’ve never been into role playing games, and I don’t have a character. And honestly, I really don’t think that the same strategies the bozos shilling essential oils use should be the same ones that I use to try and connect with readers.

I just want to be cranky, stressed out, blissed out, distracted by kiddos, preoccupied with my current characters me.

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