To better advertise themselves, writers are encouraged by their publishers and agents to have websites, write blogs, and become part of the ‘literary community.’ There are even books on the subject of “Promoting Your Book” that encourage this, and also encourage leaving comments on other writer’s blogs so as to ‘integrate’ yourself into the world of successful writers – comments such as, “You are truly a masterful writer! Your last book was so good, it reminded me of my last book, titled, “XYZ” which can be purchased on Amazon at www.Amazon.xyz.
Increased book sales would surely follow.
These suggestions all sound like good ideas to me, if you are already a well-known author to begin with. If I were a on the NYT Bestseller list, other authors would love publishing my comments on their blog. And I could write endless blog posts myself containing praise from book critics, sneak previews of future books, and even fan fiction spurred by my books’ characters. But I am not a best-selling author. My books are not inspiring fan clubs, movies, spin-offs, or extravagant amounts of praise – though, truth-be-told, the relatively few people who have actually read my books appear (mostly) to like them quite a bit, even the readers I’ve never met!
Author’s note: I don’t want anything I’ve written above to be construed as discouraging other authors, particularly famous, bestselling authors, from leaving favorable comments on my blog! Really, I would appreciate it!
I need to write blog posts. I understand that. But on what? It must be on something that is interesting. Perhaps even controversial. I need to stimulate interest on a subject I can sustain for a long time. But on what??
For about twenty years, I was a competitive analyst for a multi-national computer company. Among other responsibilities, I was expected to analyze messages and advertisements from our competitors and expose their inaccuracies. I wrote white papers on the subject. I trained our sales force on how to combat competitor attacks against us, and what attacks to use against them. I also had lots of interactions on public, computer-industry websites with my counterparts from rival companies. We would exchange messages with each other, tearing each other’s arguments to shreds, fighting off slanders, and launching devastating counter-attacks. Mostly it was great fun. But in the process, I learned something.
I learned how people can tell a lie without obviously lying. I learned there were many ways to tell a lie, and only the very inexperienced in the art had to actually lie to do it.
In other words, I learned to recognize sophists and sophistry. I have decided to dedicate my next few months of blog postings to that subject.
Recently a very good friend sent me a list of twenty-one alleged ‘lies’ told by President Donald Trump. They were published by an organization called PolitiFact, a service of the Tampa Bay Times, the “liberal voice on Florida’s conservative west coast.” PolitiFact published the ‘lies’ with commentary and then assigned a metric of its own making. In this case, the twenty-one lies were all marked ‘pants-on-fire’ – PolitiFact’s most egregious category of lies.
My interest in PolitiFact began with my reading of their very first ‘lie,’ – that President Trump had lied when he said that Chicago had the strongest gun laws in the nation. At first, it struck me as a strange point for a serious journalistic institution to quibble over and to list as their number one proof-point of anyone’s dishonesty. I mean, honestly, if liberal Chicago doesn’t have the toughest gun laws in the U.S., certainly it’s got to be up there with the very toughest. Maybe President Trump is guilty of a little exaggeration, but certainly it is odd and petty to label it a lie.
Curious, I read the entire PolitiFact explanation of why they ranked President Trump’s statement as ‘pants-on-fire.’ Wow, it was deja-vu all over again! It took me right back to my days as a competitive analyst marveling and sometimes laughing at the ingenious ways people can obscure and twist the truth without telling an overt lie themselves.
In my next blog post, I’ll cover the first of PolitiFact’s Donald Trump Pants-on-Fire lies, and analyze their argument with the tools I learned as a competitive analyst in the IT industry. Next blog post: Did PolitiFact make its case that President Trump lied when he stated that Chicago is the city with the strongest gun laws in the nation?