by Erin Mitchell
In case you’ve been stuck under a rock in a soundproof cocoon for the last several months, it’s election season in the good old U-S-of-A, and people have some strong opinions about candidates.
We seem to be down to two on each side, and when folks aren’t wigging out about the one from their chosen party who isn’t the one they support, they’re positively freaking about the prospect of someone from the other party winning.
So, what’s an author to do?
When it comes to social media, like most SM questions, there is no right answer. But there are a few things worth considering.
Like it or not—and I’m not meaning to diminish the art involved in writing novels in saying this—books are a product that you want people to buy. And just as I won’t shop at certain stores because I disagree with some of their corporate policies, some readers will not buy books from authors with whom they disagree politically.
So if you decide to express political opinions publicly, you run the risk of losing part of your potential reader audience.
You do have options, though. If you have a Facebook profile, for example, you can adjust your privacy settings so only friends see your posts and then only accept friend requests from (or send requests to) people you know. Everything on a Page is public, but on a Profile, you can control who sees what.
On Twitter, everything is public by default. You can choose to make your account protected, which means that only people you approve will be able to see your tweets. Same goes for Instagram.
It’s worth considering, too, what you stand to gain from posting or commenting on politics. Some authors have a great deal of influence with their readers, and this isn’t something that should be taken lightly. Chances are good, too, that many of your readers’ life circumstances are different from your own, and so with influence comes a certain responsibility.
I’m not a fan of hate-mongering under any circumstances. I think it’s possible to disagree civilly. But if you express an opinion—pretty much any opinion—on social media, sooner or later someone is going to have a go at you. When they do, the best (and simplest) thing to do is delete and (depending on the circumstances) block. That person was never going to buy your books anyhow.
Is it November yet?