Tuesday

Should Authors Fear Showing Their Politics?

Ooh! My politics are showing.
This is something I wonder about more frequently than I care to admit. As an author who would like to sell books, is it a bad idea to "share" clever Facebook rebuttals to Romney's latest gaffes?

If your book is a political commentary, I'm not worried for you. Enjoy the fray.  It's the rest of us, writing for a general audience in both blue states and red, who feel torn.

This election has me fired up. The hating and the lying swirling around out there are almost too much. When someone scores a point for reason, empathy and logic, I feel the need to share, even if it paints me as political. If someone "unfriends" me because I adore the latest picture posted by the democratic party, then so be it.

What I do know is that the best tweeters and online personalities are worthy of my attention because they always seem themselves. Example: I don't know how many of you follow my lovely publicist @Bookgirl96 (known in real life as Kathleen Schmidt), but her near constant tweets have a ton of voice. And she's often opinionated, but always real.

Also, we can't accurately guess the readership of our books. But your book is a 200 to 300 page look into your brain, so chances are the political side of you that seems so terrifying is already showing on your flap copy. My latest book is all about organic food. My readers have a few clues about me already, don't they?

Here's a funny aside: Goodreads ran a poll this week, "in the upcoming election... who would you vote for?" At the time I voted, the results were 79% Obama, 20% Romney. Who's on Goodreads? A whole bunch of women to like to read. Hmm...

The social media phenomenon can feel quite confusing and weirdly personal. Authors are a sort of "brand" (whether or not the use of that word makes you feel overzealous.) But we're also humans. If we try to write tweets and posts which might easily be vetted by a corporate marketing team, we're going to come off as genuine as plastic.

After wrestling with the subject, I've come up with a few personal guidelines:

Don't try to please everyone. It can't be done, and it's exhausting.
In other words, do be yourself.
Always be nice. In fact, a scathing critique is all the more powerful when it comes in a calm and reasoned voice.
Obey the tee-shirt rule: you shouldn't tweet / post / comment if you wouldn't be comfortable wearing those 140 characters on a tee-shirt. Fashion issues aside, don't let the faux-anonymity of the web fool you into misrepresenting your true self.

Go forth and tweet with your whole heart. And whatever you do, and whomever you love, please get out and vote in November!