Thursday, May 14, 2015

Discussion: What I Learned From Internet Stalking My Favorite Authors



 

Last month, I posted a discussion about auto-buy authors and never-buy authors. A few of the commenters on that discussion said that they won’t read books by certain authors because the author is mean to reviewers, rude to fans, or a jerk in other ways. The comments made me realize how little I actually knew about my favorite writers. I knew that I liked their work, but I didn’t know much about them as people.

To remedy this, I decided to spend a month Internet stalking my favorite authors*. I read their websites and Wikipedia pages. I followed them on social media and skimmed through months of their old updates. I watched interviews with them on YouTube. I read blog posts written by fans who had met them in real life. I did everything I could to learn about the people behind the books I love.

You know what I discovered? My favorite authors are really awesome. I didn’t find any signs of jerkiness. They all seemed very friendly.

One thing did stand out to me: some authors post a lot of their political opinions on social media. Personally, this didn’t bother me, even when I disagreed with the author. I did wonder about other people, though. Have you ever been bothered enough by an author’s opinion about something that you stopped buying that author’s books?

While I was Internet stalking YA author John Green, I found a guy on Facebook who said he won’t buy Green’s books because the author is “Too liberal.” I guess that guy was bothered by the author’s opinions. Similarly, I saw some Twitter users criticizing J.K. Rowling for her politics-related comments. I don’t know much about British politics, but the Twitter users seemed pretty irritated.



I’ve followed Stephen King’s career more closely than I’ve followed any other writer. I remember when he wrote an essay that argued for stricter gun-control laws in the US. A lot of gun enthusiasts on social media were outraged and swore to “Never buy another Stephen King book.”

I also remember when Stephen King criticized Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight. Twilight enthusiasts on social media were outraged and swore to “Never buy another Stephen King book.”

I wonder if King’s comments actually impacted the sales of his books. His opinions didn’t stop me from buying them**. I prefer literature that is filled with carnage and gore, and he’s pretty talented at cranking that stuff out, so I own a whole shelf of his work. I have no plans to ever stop buying it.

Maybe it would be different if one of my favorite authors said something racist or prejudiced. If an author behaved hatefully toward a group of people, I’d definitely be reluctant to buy any more of that author’s work. I’d also be reluctant to buy books by an author who is disrespectful toward fans or book bloggers.

Luckily, my favorite authors seem to be awesome, so this isn’t an issue I’ve had to deal with.


What about you? Has an author’s public comments (political or otherwise) ever stopped you from buying that author’s books?


*Technically, what I did doesn’t meet the legal definition of stalking. It just felt like stalking because I usually don’t pay that much attention to anyone on the Internet. Seriously, I often scroll past my own mother’s Facebook updates without slowing down. (Sorry, mom.)

**Actually, I completely agree with King about gun-control laws and Twilight. However, I’m not fanatical enough about either subject to let his comments influence my opinion of his work.





~*~



I’m linking back to Feed Your Fiction Addiction and It Starts At Midnight. They host the 2015 Discussion Challenge.  

20 comments:

  1. To me, opinions or political penchants are very personal, so unless an author was really disrespectful about his beliefs or other beliefs, I wouldn't let that stop me from reading their work. A lot of bloggers get mad when authors voice opinions that differ from theirs but for me, we're all different and if authors are respectful, I respect them back. If an author bullies people or has beliefs that I might find offensive though, I'd probably back off from their books. BUT, like you said, luckily the authors I love seem pretty awesome :D Interesting discussion^^ x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That’s exactly how I feel. I don’t care if someone disagrees with me, as long as they’re nice about it.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

      Delete
  2. Lol! I'm glad all your favorite authors are not jerks! I'm inspired to research my favorite authors now! (:

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I’m so happy they’re not jerks. I didn’t want to have to stop buying their books.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

      Delete
  3. I had to reach out to some of my favorite authors for 2 celebrity auction fund-raisers for my local fire department and they were all super nice. I'm so happy I had that experience because I could see myself boycotting their works if they hadn't been so friendly. As for political/controversial beliefs, I just prefer not knowing things about actors, authors, or public figures. I don't think it sullies my enjoyment of a film if I know an actor doesn't share the same beliefs as me, but seeing them use their influence for a subject that's not necessarily even close to their expertise is a bit disheartening. I figure the less I know, the better it is for everyone.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If I was a public figure, I don’t think I’d say too much about my personal beliefs. People just don’t need to know all that stuff about me. Most people probably wouldn’t even care about it.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

      Delete
  4. I have to say that I don't pay much attention to my favorite author's online. I do follow them on Twitter, Goodreads, etc. but I don't read too many blog posts, etc. I haven't found any of my authors that are rude so I'm assuming they're great people and I'm not just missing nasty posts!

    I've never had to deal with choosing not to read a book based on author's views or actions. I don't know of any authors that I read that are mean people, etc. I think that, if I did follow an author that ended up being awful or being a plagiarist or something, I would not read their next book. Personal and political opinions though are another thing. As long as they aren't rude and aren't forcing their beliefs on people, they can say and think whatever they want. It doesn't affect me!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I never paid much attention to my favorite authors online, either. Stalking them was an interesting experience. They were all respectful when they posted their beliefs, so I wasn’t bothered by anything they said.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

      Delete
  5. This has got me thinking that I have to research mine! lol But the authors I have been in contact with these past 2 months have been totally awesome. So I think it might be a rare occurrence?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I really hope that jerkiness is a rare occurrence. It would suck to find out that your favorite author is a nasty person.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

      Delete
  6. As for opinions, it depends - some things affect me more than others. But I make a point of not reading books by authors who gang up against certain reviewers, or say stuff like "everyone's a critic" in truly high-brow fashion. I've erased books from my TBR list for those very reasons.

    Roberta R. @ Offbeat YA

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think book bloggers and reviewers can do so much to help an author sell books. I don’t really understand why some authors are so nasty toward them. I know that bad reviews suck, but not everybody is going to agree with the reviewer. Some readers will be interested in the synopsis and buy the book despite the bad review.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

      Delete
  7. Thanks for doing that research. I haven't done as much "stalking," but it fits with what I've seen-- good to know.

    I think the "author as jerk" idea is more about a few squeaky wheels, and it's less about the authors than the complainers. Once in a great while an author says something reckless-- and then the noisier part of the Internet has a problem with that, and also uses that as evidence every time they want to blame another author for some small thing. Schoolyard 101 still applies: someone talking trash usually reveals less about the target than themselves.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I totally agree about schoolyard 101. If a public figure says or does one stupid thing, the Internet bullies will never let the world forget about it.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

      Delete
  8. Shouldn't we be encouraging authors to have opinions about one anothers' work? Somewhat, considering them to be the experts on such? Even if they aren't the nicest about providing it. Still, criticism on books and writing is certainly not the same to me as saying they are against gay marriage or something. And even then, it's more an issue of me not wanting to give money to anything behind that political stance.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes! I love it when authors give book recommendations. I want to know what they’re reading.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

      Delete
  9. Interesting thought. I don't know that I have ever been offended by an author's political comments. I work in politics (kind of) and I have become very good at not taking it personally if I disagree with a person.

    But I also can't say I have ever seen an author say anything that was different from my own personal views so I guess I'm similar in that I'm happy my favorite authors are not jerks!
    Cassi @ My Thoughts Literally

    ReplyDelete
  10. We only really hear about the bad authors or the great ones. Political commentary doesn't bother me much after all we're all entitled an opinion and position, but attacking reviewers is a big no no for me. If I hear of an author going after reviewers for not liking their book then it immediately goes on my not gonna do it list

    ReplyDelete
  11. I like that when you checked them out you found out that a lot of them were very nice people. I don't really like when people attack reviews though because well, reviewers review out of gracefulness and aren't getting anything for it in most cases. It's simply someone's opinion of the book and if you put a book out there of course people are each going to judge it differently anyway!

    ReplyDelete
  12. I'm glad you found that your favorite authors are overall good people! I think the only way I would let comments bother me is if they were WAY out there and offensive - otherwise, I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt. I did break up with an author once, though - she kept kind of complaining about and bashing her own book and then complaining when people didn't buy it. I finally got so fed up with her comments that I just stopped following her altogether and haven't read any more of her books. It just bugged me.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    ReplyDelete

I do a happy dance every time I get a comment. (You should be grateful that you’re not around to witness this dance. It’s truly horrifying.) Leave a link to your blog so I can visit you.