Authors, are your sales down? Have you taken to social media to weigh in on the political war that’s raging? There may be a connection.
As we’re all aware, a contentious political season is upon us. Facebook is full of prickly rhetoric, with posts aplenty to spark anything but civil discussion. And that brings me to the purpose of this month’s post.
As authors, we have two personas—one for real life (family, friends, co-workers,) and the one we present to our readers. Most authors I know keep their personal life as far away from their author life as possible, be it to protect their children, their job, or familial opinion. I have clearly delineated the two and I intentionally keep them that way, for the sake of protecting my author brand.
Before I say more, let me point out that I’m familiar with the First Amendment—freedom of speech among other invaluable inalienable rights. That said, because we have the right to say something doesn’t necessarily mean we should. Discretion is a valuable tool in any author’s bag of tricks.
What author hasn’t heard, “Don’t engage those who write bad reviews?” We cut our author teeth on those words, right? We could as easily say the same about politics. Respect and decorum makes political views and beliefs a slippery slope between authors and readers.
Each morning, as I scroll through Facebook, I stumble upon one political rant after another. Invariably, the words moron, idiot, and worse, are peppered in them, aimed at anyone who might disagree. Does this fend off the naysayers, or change minds, or is the outcome more insidious? Who truly cares what your opinion is? You might preach to the choir to some extent, but you also might turn people away. Garnering readers is a numbers game. Can we afford to alienate readers for the sake of “getting something off our chests?”
As authors, we should know the impact our words have. Those who don’t consider the impact, because on balance, their opinion and the necessity to express it trumps common sense, may find their royalty checks short as readers turn away.
For the most part, we don’t know who our readers might be or their beliefs. The arrangement we have with our readers is to pen a great story and hope they’ll take to it. Period. The foisting of our personal opinions on readers isn’t a part of the covenant. If those opinions include vitriol, name calling, or insults, that could shut down even the most ardent fan. Next author please. There is no lack.
We are our author brand. We’ve worked hard to get to our particular rung on the ladder to success. Why sabotage that success by blurring the line between personal life and author life?
I don’t want to blur the line between Tina (real life) and Brita (author brand,) because they are two separate and distinct entities. Tina educates herself on all things politics, while Brita is focused on writing the stories that inspire her. Tina votes, Brita doesn’t. Tina has definite opinions, Brita has none about anything but writing and the associated necessities. Why? Her job is to write. Period.
While no political post ever convinced the reader to change their own views, being called an idiot or moron (as generalities for anyone in disagreement,) will and has impacted many an author’s credibility with this reader.
I’m a huge fan of a particular author, one whose books held a prime place on my re-read list. Several years ago, I friended her on FB, where we interacted once in a while. Then she blurred the line with her political rants. I respect everyone’s views, and their right to express them, but I draw the line at blatant disregard for others. Mind you, I agreed with her view, but not her method of expression. I lost respect for her lack of insight into who might see those posts, and she lost a reader.
What did those posts and my reaction to them teach me? Yes, she had the right to express her view, but should she have restrained herself for the sake of her author brand? I’m in the yes camp and many others were as well.
Readers too have views, some strongly held, and to have someone they respect trash those views is often the ultimate disrespect.
I never have and never will express my personal or political views online. There is a place for them, but in a public forum, under my author name, with my hard-won author brand at stake, social media isn’t the place.
I appreciate zeal and dedication. But in a world where anything goes, we sometimes get caught up in our right to do something despite the harm done to our ultimate goal. We spend considerable time and money building our author brand. Don’t trash it. Sometimes, nothing said is enough. You offend no one with your silence.
Born in a small town in upstate New York, Brita Addams has made her home in the sultry south for many years. In the Frog Capital of the World, Brita shares her home with her real-life hero—her husband, and a fat cat named Stormee. All their children are grown.
Given her love of history, Brita writes both het and gay historical romance. Many of her historicals have appeared on category bestseller lists at various online retailers.
Tarnished Gold, the first in her gay romance Tarnished series for Dreamspinner Press, was a winner in the 2013 Rainbow Awards, Historical Romance category. The book also received nominations for Best Historical and Best Book of 2013 from the readers of the Goodreads M/M Romance Group.
A bit of trivia—Brita pronounces her name, Bree-ta, and not Brit-a, like the famous water filter. Brita Addams is a mash-up of her real middle name and her husband’s middle name.
Readers can find more information about Brita Addams at any of the following places:
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