Sunday, June 08, 2014

How Political Can Authors Afford To Be?

All authors—and in particular, indie authors—know that building a platform and interacting with readers is critical to success. We build these platforms via social media—in particular Facebook, Twitter, etc. If you spend any time on Facebook, you'll see that a lot of the stuff that gets posted and shared is political in nature and other posters will either support you with mad love or hate you with mad hate. It gets crazy out there. So the question is, if you are an author, how political can you afford to be without alienating readers?

I bring this up because it is a tough one for me. Over the years I've seen some authors be intensely political and others avoid politics like the plague. Anne Rice, for instance, is openly political and speaks out on societal issues. Every one of her posts gathers hundreds of responses and, though she does get a few trolls from time to time, for the most part her 1 million followers support everything she has to say. Another successful author, Frank Schaeffer, is not shy about having his say but, since his books are largely political, that is less surprising.

For indies it is a little trickier since we tend not to have the huge following traditional authors have. So what do we do? I consider myself to be a fairly political person. My biggest concerns tend to be societal issues like gun safety, civil/gay/women's rights, and income inequality. It would be wonderful if we could talk about these issues without them becoming partisan but these days that is nigh onto impossible. These days when I pose a question that I think is perfectly reasonable like “if imposing stricter gun regulation could cut gun deaths by 25% would it be worth it?” all I get is a bunch of folks calling me a commie, pinko, unAmerican liberal.

Over and over and over we get advice from successful writers like Stephen King and Margaret Atwood saying, essentially, WRITE THE TRUTH—and don't expect everybody to love you for doing it. It is hard to write the truth in your fiction if you are not writing the truth in your day-to-day communication.

If you are not a particularly political person, that's a different matter altogether, but I have a hard time imagining anyone compelled to write not having strong feelings about some issues. These days I say what I have to say, try to say it as politely as possible, block people who spread lies, disseminate hate, or are just looking for a fight, and pray that by being true to my beliefs I will have readers who want to hear what I have to say. The rest of the folks probably wouldn't like my stories anyway.


Thanks for reading.

2 comments:

  1. Well I love reading your posts and get alot of helpful links from them. Sometimes I feel like I am the last one left with my ideals and then I read something you have posted and it makes me happy.

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  2. That's very good to hear, Carol. Thanks.

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