Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Keep It To Yourself

I've said this before, but I think it bears repeating in our hyper-partisan culture - keep your politics and religion to yourself.  I get that our views can shape our lives, but we have to remember that not everyone shares them.  And in our super-sensitive society, some will use any reason of offense to stay away from our work.

Sometimes we take for granted that, of course, all sane people share our views.  However, we're not the only sane people, and others have perfectly valid reasons for holding a different view on something we see as common sense.  Those among us unable to see that, be they the writer or the reader, will shun those of differing views.

Why does this matter?  Because in our culture, we could potentially alienate half of our audience. Boycotts begin over differences in opinion or religious and/or political opinions thrown around.  I get that we all hold strong beliefs, and if you're writing a book about religion or politics, then it's unavoidable.  However, readers go to fiction to escape the real world, and putting in unsolicited opinions that might be controversial is a HUGE turnoff.  I can't tell you the number of times I've been reading something and I come across a not-so-subtle piece of political preaching.  At that point, I've been know to slam the book down in disgust and scream, "GODDAMMIT!" at the top of my lungs.  When I'm reading a sci-fi epic or paranormal thriller, I'm not looking for an opinion one way or the other on (insert controversial topic here).  It throws off my focus and makes me feel as if the author and I no longer share a world view.

Of course if you want to put in how you feel about taxes, foreign policy, the Presidential race, or whatever else, that's completely your call - just be prepared to lose a large portion of your audience as a result.  A few might be gracious enough to finish reading your book, but many more will put it away(or in the trash).  If you're lucky, the only consequence will be that the reader simply won't buy your stuff ever again.  However, I've seen some readers organize boycotts or publicize the fascist/communist/heathen/evangelical views of the writer and convince large numbers- numbers that might be part of the target audience - to never buy anything ever again.  Given the viral sensations that have ruined people's lives now, it takes very little for one off-the-cuff remarks to forever affect our lives.

Some of you may be poo-pooing me, saying that it's cowardly to avoid core beliefs in your writing.  If that's your point of view, that's fine.  In my personal life, I have no problem sharing my views.  But in business, the intent is to reach as large an audience as possible, thus increasing one's earnings potential.  Shrugging off half the market isn't a good way to do that.  If you want to do that, don't gripe when you aren't as popular as you expected.


  1. That makes sense to me. The sad part is when someone refuses to read something because they disagree with the author's opinion elsewhere--from his blog, public comments, letters to the editor, whatever. If it's not in the writing, the writing should stand on its own. Sad ... but true.

    1. I agree with you that an author's personal views shouldn't affect whether you read their work, for their work could be wonderful, while their views could be noxious(to you). However, a lot of people don't work that way.