Authors – You are your product

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.



11 thoughts on “Authors – You are your product

  1. I cannot stand this on Facebook (I’m not on Twitter). Once in awhile I’ll share some joke or comment, but it’s rare. I don’t shove my politics down someone else’s throat, and I expect the same. Recently, on Facebook, I was violently attacked by a one-time friend because I don’t agree with his views.

  2. I’m with you, Sharon and D’Ann! There is a time and place for everything and FB or Twitter is not it for this kind of stuff. Very good advice and post šŸ™‚

  3. Politics and religion are two of the things you don’t talk about unless you want to hear what someone has to say. I have almost un-friended someone who has been a friend for a long because of this very issue.

  4. I would have done the same thing you did, Sharon! An occasional political post wouldn’t bother me, as long as it wasn’t one of those with the underlying tone of “I’m right and everyone who doesn’t think this way is stupid.” Which unfortunately, is what it sounds like this author was doing. I try to stay away from posting that sort of thing myself. You make some good points!

  5. OMG I love this. Two things I cannot abide online regardless the social media are authors who constantly complain about inane things (or just constantly complain about everything) and those with a political soapbox. For the first one, I figure if you’re lucky enough to be sitting before a keyboard & monitor then you’re luckier than many people and if you’re lucky enough to have time to post complaints, again, you’re luckier than many people.
    For political rants? I will occasionally ReTweet positive causes & their links and try to check the links out myself first. I draw the line at Twittering political statements. If you feel that strongly, start a blog about it.

  6. Very good points. I think Twitter makes it all too easy to post the first thing that comes to mind and THEN realize it probably wasn’t a great idea. Although what some people post – especially authors and other public figures – blows my mind. And with Google searches, nothing posted on Twitter ever really goes away.

  7. Totally agree re the politics and have in fact hit the delete key a few times when I was straying into tweeting on some hot or controversial topic. I’m not there to discuss that stuff, as you say. As the widow of a Marine, however, I do support the military at all times IRL and online & I try to tweet and retweet interesting or thoughtful tidbits. It’s part of me, probably overdo it at times (altho I TRY to stay conscious of the mix of tweets and topics LOL). Good post!

  8. I agree that such opinions have a time and place. I had many essays on my old Angelfire site expressing political, social, and religious opinions, and when my website was deleted (long, off-topic story), I was able to save many of them. But I decided I’m not going to be posting them onto my new blog, because I just don’t want to alienate any potential followers or readers who might have the exact opposite views on those subjects. And I’m trying to keep it as a blog about writing, books, classic films, and classic rock, instead of making it political or overly religious.

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