What’s your attitude when you’re posting on social media? How do you approach religion or politics? Are you firm in your belief that your chosen religion or political candidate is the only choice to be made by everyone else? Do you bombard your fans and friends with posts that are divisive in nature? Is your sole purpose of these posts to force everyone following you about your books to believe as you do or get out of your life?
As public figures, authors have a duty—we can’t let our politics or religion be done is such a way that we turn off potential readers.
Your readers buy your books for one purpose only—to be entertained. Whether you pen mysteries or science fiction, fantasy or young adult tales, any type of fiction at all, you have a duty to your fans. Most authors today aren’t well known. Our name isn’t on the lips of people worldwide, as they eagerly await the release of our latest book.
As many mid-list authors discovered during the recently bitterly contested presidential election in the United States, taking one side or another publicly, posting the bitter and divisive rants of the candidates and adding our own take to them can and did have a very deleterious effect.
Our sales plummeted.
That’s right. We lost readers. Probably forever. Because we didn’t stop to think about the consequences of insulting those we’ve developed as fans. All that was on our mind was ensuring that our candidate was elected, by any means possible. If that meant a few people didn’t agree with us, then so what?
That was the attitude I ran across more often as not. Those same authors didn’t worry about the effect on their sales, until they got a royalty statement one month and made an important discovery. Where once they could depend on a royalty payment that would provide extras for their household, they were now looking at only enough to pick up a latte—if that much.
Some learned their lesson and backed off their divisive rhetoric. Others continued, feeling that if they pushed hard enough, their fans would “see the light” and “return to the fold.” Even though that has yet to happen, these authors continue to dig the grave of their career by pressing those still attached to them to demand recounts, to post rants against the elected president, and to force everyone to put up with their antics until they grow so bored with them that the rest of their fan base will slowly disappear.
The cure for this is to understand that even the big name authors quickly backed away from posting their feelings about the recent election because they soon realized their bread and butter—their fans—would express their displeasure in the one place it would hurt them the most; their bank account. The lesson from this election cycle is simple.
As a public figure, we as authors must learn to keep our opinions to ourselves. Our sole duty to our readers is to provide entertainment, not to demand that our fans lavishly follow our beliefs.