Monday, July 09, 2012

The Risk of Blogging and Politics


They always say there are two subjects never to broach - religion and politics.

Now for an author whose book is about politics, especially if it is non-fiction, blogging about the topic is a given. Regardless of the slant, he or she will want to attract the target audience for that book. Using the right key words and the right content will bring potential readers. (And potential non-readers, sometimes in droves.)

Lately though I’ve seen a lot of author blogs going off on political rants, even though their books have nothing to do with politics. Even worse, I’ve seen a lot of political slamming comments left on other blogs. Many of these have had nothing to do with the content of the post - the commenting author just felt a need to say something politically negative.

As an author though, it all comes back to one thing - being marketable. And we aren’t selling our books, we are selling ourselves. Yes, our blogs are our own, but once we step into the limelight as an author, we need to be more careful what we say. We can be adult and tactful while still sticking to our beliefs and values.

Going on a politic tirade on one’s blog is guaranteed to do one thing - it will alienate half of your potential audience. No matter which angle you take, left or right, you are going to anger the other half. And what happens when you do that? You potentially eliminate half of your reading audience. HALF.

This isn’t limited to politics, either. It can include any controversial topic.

Authors work so hard to build up an image online. We want to appeal to as many readers as possible without compromising who we are as a person. We need to carefully consider everything we say, whether it be a blog post, comment, or Tweet. We need to avoid shooting ourselves in the foot.

As a reader, there are authors whose books I will never purchase. All it took was one rant, one negative comment, one bitter post, for me to reach that decision. And I’m sure I’m not alone.

How carefully do you consider what you say online? How many authors have turned you off?

38 comments:

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Well put!

And I'm very, very cautious. Online words live forever and I don't want my grandchildren coming across something stupid I wrote twenty years before.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I don't talk much politics at home (other than to mutter 'what an idiot'), so I'm definitely not mentioning it on my blog. And if I think politics is being discussed in a post, I move on.

I'm am careful what I say online. I don't need it to come back and slap me.

Karen Walker said...

I have stopped visiting several blogs I had followed pretty regularly because of one rant like you are describing here. This is so wise, Diane. As authors, we need to tread carefully. On my blog, I talk mostly about my own personal journey, and I may not be as careful as I should be about what I'm talking about. But it's my journey.
Karen

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Elizabeth, that's thinking ahead.

Stina, good for you.

Karen, you've never treaded where you shouldn't on your blog.

shelly said...

I've read the ranting posts out there but I'll still read thier books regardless of thier frustrations.

As for me, I wouldn't give a political rant on my blog. I have to say I think 'what a bunch of idiots' as well. So I'll leave it at that.

Jemi Fraser said...

Nicely said! I avoid those topics too. Our online author personas are not the place to get into political or theological debates.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I avoid the subject and often posts involving politics.

welcome to my world of poetry said...

I am in total agreement about blogging Relgion and Politics.
I don't understand our own politics let alone other countries.

Have a good day.
Yvonne.

Johanna Garth said...

I don't have much tolerance for those conversations in person and zero interest in participating in them on line.

LD Masterson said...

I avoid controversy online. That's just not why I'm here.

Jay Noel said...

Yeah, I think the political climate is getting ugly and spilling into all kinds of new areas: writer's blogs, Facebook, etc.

It has gotten pretty ugly, and I stay out of it.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Jemi, no they're not.

Yvonne, I think we can all say that.

Jay, it's the reason I don't visit the stream on Facebook very often.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I make sure I avoid such bloggers and not only don't write posts about politics, I don't comment on blogs that do.
There are a number of authors, none of whom I'll name, who I avoid for these reasons. It's silly to believe your blog followers have the same beliefs as yourself.

Karen Lange said...

Great point. I agree, and will not purchase a book nor read posts if this happens. Like you said, it's one thing if the book is political. Otherwise, I want to read about the book, writing, marketing, or other related things. Thanks for sharing this!

Arlee Bird said...

I've been pretty careful about these topics, and believe me there's a lot I'd like to say, but like you say it's best not to alienate any readers if that's not what I'm about as a writer.

That's why I did move religion to a blog of its own and I don't really publicize it that much. Certain people find it and that's my audience.

Now I'm not going to control what my guests have to say as long as they say it in a proper manner (no offensive language). I think in the next couple months I may have a guest or two who will get political because that's what they do. I'll put up a disclaimer on those days and hope that readers don't get upset with me.


Lee
Tossing It Out

DL Hammons said...

I don't express my opinion about politics or religion on my blog for one simple reason...I don't want to hear anyone else's. :)

Elana Johnson said...

Excellent advice. I do think every author should remember that they are selling themselves. I carefully consider my blog posts and my tweets, my FB posts, and my comments. I want to put my best words forward at all times, and be positive.

And yes, there have been authors that have turned me off.

DeniseCovey _L_Aussie said...

Good to think about. On the one hand you have people saying to get your blog read you have to be controversial. Well I don't think so. Maybe that works on twitter. However, different cultures get offended at different things. For example, Aussies laugh out loud at themselves and their country's quirks and politics, but I see some other cultures are very touchy. But at the end of the day, we still have freedom of speech and it's up to everyone to say what they like on their blog if they feel strongly and don't mind losing half their audience.

Well I did mention politics in Fiji, but didn't give my opinion in my last post.

Thanks L Diane. Always a pleasure to visit.

Denise

DeniseCovey _L_Aussie said...

And I forgot to say no author turns me off by talking politics. I'm a political animal and lap it all up. I love to learn about what's going on in other countries politically. I was sorta sad to see Arlee saying there's a lot he'd like to say but doesn't...I think this is a bit of a worry but I get it.

Denise

p.m.terrell said...

I agree with you Diane. Some of the books I've written have been political thrillers and I always make the political players Independents. I always knew whether I made them Republican or Democrat, I would lose half of my audience right then and there. So I try very hard to stay right down the middle of the road.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Susan, that's a good point about beliefs.

Lee, probably a good idea.

DL, that's how I feel.

Elana, we are an open book.

Denise. you must enjoy the debate.

Trish, going with independents is a good idea.

Misha Gericke said...

I know what you mean. I haven't really decided I'd never buy someone's book, but I do intensely dislike people who come over as judgmental. So I don't mind people writing political or religious post, but I try to always keep on neutral grounds if and when I do it. :-)

Clarissa Draper said...

I'm totally with you! I don't like talking about religion or politics. I don't even live in the US so what happens between the democrats and the republicans don't really concern me. I'm Canadian but I don't live in my country so half the time I can't remember who the Prime Minister is. It turns me off when writers blog about religion and politics, especially when they're so vocally negative about it.

Nancy Thompson said...

It's funny that you should say this, right as I'm having an argument over politics via Facebook. Personally, I'm not informed well enough to argue well about politics, but as someone who lands directly in the middle of two bickering sides, I'm sick of all the rhetoric and simply wish the politicians would do the job they were elected to do.

The Golden Eagle said...

I'm not actually turned off by religion or politics. I don't mind debate--or authors who voice their opinions--so long as it's civil (though unfortunately, the internet seems to promote the opposite).

M Pax said...

I avoid both subjects and try not to say anything to give away where I stand personally. There are authors I've been turned off by because of stupid stuff.

Talli Roland said...

I definitely try to steer away from politics and religion. There's a lot I'd like to say on both counts, but I want to keep my blog light-hearted and fun. And those topics don't exactly fit the bill!

Ciara said...

I'm extremely cautious after an incident. It pays to watch what you say. I'm shocked at how some authors will get on their blog and slam another author's book. I don't think that is wise.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Nancy, that would be nice, wouldn't it?

Eagle, unfortunately it usually turns ugly.

Ciara, I don't either.

Gossip_Grl said...

Idk I don't think I would use someone's political or religious beliefs as a means of not buying their books, even if I disagreed with the message. I don't think I would judge them by a rant, nor a controversial piece. Each person is unique in everything. I do however look at the reviews and read them. I also try to find any synopsis of the story. I also like to read the first few pages before committing to buy a book. I guess that's just me.

Hart Johnson said...

It can be so hard... I sometimes can't help myself from giving a 'why I see it a certain way' but I try to ALWAYS give the caveat that I respect everyone's views so long as they are expressed respectfully. And MOSTLY I keep it off the blog--it is facebook where I've sometimes fallen in...

Ann Best said...

Good post, Diane. I think we ALWAYS need to be careful of what we say. Once those words are out there, we can't retrieve them. So, I for one am very careful about any comments I make online. IMO we should always be kind and considerate of others viewpoints.

Re: a comment above. I too always download a book's sample before I buy it. Though one blogger said the sample was the only good part about the book!

And thanks, Diane, for stopping by and congratulating me on my new grandson. SO excited to see him sometime next week.

Patricia Stoltey said...

I'm very careful too, Diane. And I've been unfollowing and unfriending the nasties when I spot their negative comments or posts.

No one seems to know how to have a real discussion or debate these days without the conversation turning ugly.

Shannon Lawrence said...

I'm very careful about what I say online, and I definitely try not to mention the taboo subjects. Facebook used to be an exception, but I am slowly converting it over to a more professional form of social media for myself, which means monitoring everything I say.

randi lee said...

I'm pretty careful about what I say online, because I don't want to offend anyone. So I keep my opinions on religion, politics, etc. to myself. I think I've only made a bad comment about one author, but typically I tend to veer away from name calling.

J.L. Campbell said...

I guess your post speaks to the reason why religion and politics are subjects to be avoided.

It's okay to talk about a variety of subjects, if that the way a blog works, but if I visit and the writer is engaged in a rant, I'll simply more on.

I understand the point of not alienating potential readers.

Mark Murata said...

Making offhand political statements is a way to lose half of one's audience. Some may give the rejoinder, "Political Party X is less than half the population." But there are all those other people who get turned off by partisan statements.
I'm more likely to be turned off by actors who make certain political statements. I suppose it's because actors make a living with their faces, and I will then remember the actor being obnoxious when seeing his/her face.

Kristin Rae said...

Great post! This has been on my mind a lot lately because I've seen so much of it. It's becoming too common to see authors of books I've enjoyed say something they probably shouldn't have on a social networking site (Facebook has been especially bad this year). We all are entitled to our own opinions, and I completely understand every second person is not going to see things the same way I do, but when I see people (especially those with a large following, like authors) disrespect others' beliefs, I don't think it can do anything but hurt. Even when I agree with what they're saying, I'm still very aware of the other half and how they're interpreting it.