I’ve noticed a few authors expressing political and even religious views on Facebook and other social networks. This has probably always gone on, but I just spotted it lately. Perhaps the political season is bringing opinions out of the woodwork. I wonder about the wisdom of doing this by someone who wants to sell books.
One poster I’m thinking of is an author whose books I’ve liked. But after reading her posts about various topics, I find that I don’t like her. So I will probably not buy any more of her books.
An author’s stock-in-trade is his voice. I’ve always contended that you can’t create voice. You can become a skilled grammarian, you can possess a broad vocabulary, you can be an expert at structuring interesting and complex sentences, but the one thing you have no control over is voice. It manifests itself in an author’s writing without him even knowing it. I believe that happens because it’s a tacit expression of an author’s true personality. Sort of like a deeply embedded sub-plot.
So when an author mixes voice over which he has no control, with strong vocal opinion, an image emerges. And it might not be an image a reader particularly likes, especially if an author unwittingly steps on someone’s toes. That’s bad news for most authors. This is not the same as giving a book character negative traits to show who he or she is.
I’m thinking that if someone is so in love with his own words that he just can’t contain himself, perhaps he should initiate a blog. And use another name rather than the name he wants to sell books under. Just a thought.
No one has stronger personal opinions than I do. But being a naturally over-cautious person, I’m very careful about what I say on the social networks. I try to be a diplomat and keep my comments as innocuous as possible. The last thing I want to do is alienate a potential reader with some dumb thing I spouted that’s important to no one but me.
I don’t even criticize books I don’t enjoy. And there are many. Believe me, more than half the books I start to read I never finish because I just can’t stay interested long enough to last for 300 pages. I subscribe to the notion that if I can’t say something positive in a public forum, I don’t say anything at all.
Nor do I often endorse books I do like, although I give very brief opinions of them in my newsletter. (By the way, if you want to get on my monthly newsletter mailing list, just go to my Web site and sign up for the Yahoo group. www.annajeffrey.com )
Having said all of that, fellow-bloggers, I want you to know that I am not wishy-washy. If you and I are having a personal, private conversation, I’ll most likely express my true opinion, come hell or high water.
So I bring this up because I have a question: Am I wrong about this? How do you feel when you read one of your favorite author’s comments that would have been better left unsaid, or at least reserved for another venue? Does it change your opinion of the author or his work?