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A CAUTIONARY TALE

August 19, 2020

Most people like to express their views. It’s a natural tendency. Why not? With the advent of social media, it’s even more prevalent than the old water cooler, or coffee shop, or bench in the park.

The thing about social media is that it’s completely unfiltered, not face-to-face, and somewhat anonymous. Plus, what one posts is not always reliable.

Given that, when one decides they want to become an author, their social media may come to haunt them. Notice I didn’t say come BACK to haunt them.

Why?

Because, quite often, authors never develop a separate media platform from their personal lives. Hence, when they speak their mind about sex, religion or politics, guess what?

            I’ve probably talked about this multiple times here on Fred Central, but I’m not even going to go back and look up the specific articles. I’d love if YOU did, but hey, this isn’t about that. This is a cautionary tale for you.

I HAVE A FELLOW AUTHOR FRIEND(S)…

            I have a fellow author friend (actually more than one, but I’m keeping it singular for simplicity) who published a book. It’s a great book. It should be a best-seller. However…

            My friend has very strong political beliefs and is not afraid to express them on his/her personal Facebook page.

            That’s fine and dandy.

            The issue is that this person also uses that same Facebook page as their author page.

            As soon as the book launched, this author got a one-star review, a very nasty one, that had nothing to do with the book. It was all about the person’s political views. While most who read reviews might disregard this review, on the other hand, if they read it and agree with the reviewer, they may never read the book, or anything else the author ever writes.

            I’ve seen this happen over and over again. I’ve been inspired to write this article, for once, not by the usual forum threads on Facebook, but because of the increasingly polarizing political views of Facebook friends and fellow authors.

            It just struck me as something that anyone with marketing savvy, of which I admit I’m no expert, would want to think about.

            I may not be the best at marketing, but I’m also not a complete dummy. I know how not to shoot myself in the foot.

TWO WORLDS

            You have to keep in mind that as an author, you live in two worlds. There’s your author world and your personal world.

            You need to separate them unless you are a political writer.

            I’ve said over and over again that as a reader, I cannot stand someone preaching to me in their writing, or being overtly political, even if I agree with them.

            When I read, I read to escape. Subtle is okay, but overt pisses me off.

            Sometimes I think I can tell an authors’ political stand by their writing. Quite often I can’t, and when I see something personal from them, I’m just as often surprised. This is good, because that means their writing has nothing to do with their personal biases.

            On the other hand, if I can tell from the first page how they lean, I’m just as likely to put the book down, or never pick it up in the first place.

            You need two worlds. An author world and a personal world.

OR…

            If you are bound and determined to use your personal Facebook page as your author page, it’s best to keep yourself neutral. Stay away from sex, religion and politics unless you want to alienate half if not more of your audience.

            IT’S CALLED MARKETING, DUMMY!

            The whole point of writing a book and getting it published is to sell it, right?

            If you want to sell it, you need customers.

            If you want customers, you need to sell said book from a neutral front. You need to attract an audience.

            It’s just like going to the supermarket and buying cereal (my bias is cereal right now because I’m about to eat breakfast as I write this).

            Do you name your cereal Catholic cereal? Is it cereal just for Baptists? Is it for women only? Is it cereal for Trump supporting conservatives? Is it cereal for liberals only?

            Doesn’t sound very commercially viable does it?

            If you’re trying to sell a fantasy, western, murder mystery, thriller, romance, why pigeon hole it by marketing it through a web presence full of political, sexual or religious posts that polarize so many different people?

PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL LIFE SEPARATE

            Just like at work, at least for many of us, we have to keep our personal lives separate from our professional life.

            Of course, you don’t have to. You can do anything you want.

            However, of you expect, or care about selling books, it behooves you to set up a separate media platform whether a Facebook page or a completely different web site. Direct your fans and readers there. Limit your personal friends to those who agree with you!

HOW I DO IT

            I’m a hybrid.

            First off, during one of the last visits to my dad before he passed away, he told me some profound things. One was that he told me for the first time ever, some things about World War Two that he’d never told me before. I was shocked. It took forty-plus years for him to reveal these shocking details.

            Second, he gave me a bit of advice. Something that has stuck with me. It wasn’t the first time he told me this, but it was the first time I actually listened. He said that if I wanted to keep friends, never discuss sex, religion and politics.

            That piece of advice has always stuck with me, so I pretty much keep my feelings close to the vest. While I do discuss that stuff occasionally with close friends, I keep it rational and never post publicly.

            I have occasionally slipped and posted something on Facebook that might be considered political by some, but it’s always done as sarcasm, or humor, or once in a while, just plain frustration. Never to start anything.

            Hell, nobody’s perfect.

            To my point, besides keeping my personal page as neutral as possible, I also have two Facebook pages, one for each genre that I currently have published. If I start another genre, I’ll start another Facebook page. Besides that, I also have this, my web site. While my web site also contains other stuff like my personal astronomy and woodworking pages, it’s mainly for writing and books.

            Nothing political, about religion, or sex. I keep it neutral.

            You, as a reader, can feel safe coming to any of my sites knowing you’re not going to get badgered to death about something controversial. You’ll get a break from the torrent of politics and whatever on regular social media.

SUMMARY

            While some of my friends have let their voices be heard, many of them have ultimately paid the price in sales. That’s their call.

            As a new writer and author, I strongly suggest you separate your personal from professional life and be very picky who you let into your personal world.

            It’ll pay off in the long run.

            Happy writing!

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