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.