I’m hugely active on Twitter. Its a fun place to go to meet up with readers and other authors. I like hearing what people are reading, what they’re doing, funny little family stories. I also follow my favorite authors to get the scoop on what they’re doing, etc.
A while ago I found one of these favorite authors (whose name I won’t reveal) and was happy to follow her. But soon my happiness faded to annoyance, and then outright irritation. You see, all she posted about were her political views. Loudly and sometimes not so nicely when it came to the opposing side. Now, I don’t care what your political views are, what I do care about is being bombarded by them everyday, multiple times a day. What did I do about it? I unfollowed her and now I will be un-reading her. Yes, she’s still a good writer–a great writer–but she’s left a bad taste in my mouth and now I can’t separate the political activist from the author who is supposed to be entertaining me.
Do I think she should stop spouting her political views? Absolutely not. After all, they’re obviously important to her and this is obviously something she feels passionately about. Do I think she should do this on her author Twitter account? No, I don’t. For the reason I stated above. At least not her author account. If she wants to be politically involved, then start a new account and do it there.
Authors need to remember that they are their products. Sometimes I think that’s hard to grasp because social media removes that face-to-face interaction. I have no doubt this same author would never go to a book signing and say the things she does on Twitter. Or go to a party and constantly tell us what her beliefs are. Its not acceptable in those situations and it shouldn’t be acceptable on Twitter or Facebook either. (The only exception would be if your book is political in nature and you’re writing it because of your political beliefs. But that’s not the case here).
I look at it this way. As an author, I’m the one standing on that bookshelf. I’m the product the customer might by. I need to look my best. My cover needs to be shiny, no frayed edges or turned down corners or yellowed pages. I shouldn’t be slouching. I shouldn’t be turned the other way. I shouldn’t be lying down. What I should be doing is showing my best side, my brightest, most welcoming smile. Because then I’ll catch the customer’s attention. Then the customer will pick me up and leaf through my pristine pages.
If I’m constantly frowning, if I’m always complaining, the customer will be turned off and walk right on by me and the next time I’m on the shelf, the customer will remember that frown and walk on by again.
You are your product. You are who you’re trying to sell. So always put that best face on and leave everything else at home.