Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Political Agnosticism for Aspiring Authors?

It has been a long time since I wrote anything political on my blog, which is kind of funny, since I’m really quite political in my personal life.  I have trended away from publicizing my views online in recent years, as my writing career has slowly advanced, and I don’t think an entertainer’s politics are terribly relevant to their product.  We all enjoy books, movies, music, and other things created by people of varied philosophical persuasions.  As an editor, I’ve published stories from writers who span the full spectrum, from diehard liberals to tea-party conservatives, and many sorts in-between.

During my early days online, I wore my politics on my sleeve.  I had an editorial column for a while on a little-known website and sparred daily on various current events forums.  While it made me feel better in my youth to battle it out in such a way, it really did nothing for my fiction writing career.  Oh, I met a few friends in the process, and actually had the pleasure of converting a few people on certain issues, but I can’t say it ever did a thing to help me sell any stories.  I have a lot of political “friends” in real life, but to this day I can count on one hand the number of them who have bothered to read my books.

This isn’t to say that people who share my beliefs aren’t apt to enjoy my fiction.  I’m saying it is a non-factor.  People are not liable to buy your books because you spout off some talking points or you vote for some politician.  However, there are some readers out there who will specifically avoid your fiction if you say something that rubs them the wrong way.  It may not matter when you’re already famous like Stephen King, but for those who are less well known, every reader counts.

So, over the last five or six years, I have shied away from broadcasting my beliefs online.  Oh, I still post things to my personal facebook page now and then, and I remain active in the real world, but on this blog I refrain from spouting off too much.  Many aspiring authors share this philosophy, and keep their politics close to the chest, others don’t.  I can’t say either is the wrong approach; it all depends on how you want to sell yourself.

I have read opinions to the contrary, that trumpeting your beliefs is a must to draw attention to yourself.  There is the school of thought that controversy gains you readers, though that hasn’t been my experience.  It may work if you’re going for a specific niche market, but my fiction is often less specialized.  Yet, it is something to consider, as well, as you venture out into the marketplace.  How do you seek to be seen as a writer?

Feel free to ponder this topic, and let me know your thoughts.

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