As an Author, How Do You Feel About Expressing Your Political Views

I hesitated in opening up this discussion, but I thought it would be a worthy topic. If you peruse social media, you are likely aware of how politically charged many discussions have become.

My books and my writing are pretty much devoid of any political leanings. I welcome both conservative and liberal readers and everyone in between. This is not so with some authors.

pol1Stephen King, for instance, has famously had a feud with Donald Trump. With his sales and accumulated wealth, I doubt losing readership is a concern. He has aired his politics long before the election of Trump.

pol2J.K. Rowling has also made her opinion of Trump known. It amuses me when a non-writer goes up against someone with the wit of a King or a Rowling. It’s a no-win situation in terms of expressing ideas.

pol3Of course, there are authors on the other side of the issues. Dilbert create, Scott Adams, also has tweeted and posts videos regularly with political messages.

As a person, I definitely have political opinions. I see my friends on Facebook, many of them other authors, come down on one side of political issues or the other. This makes me scratch my head. Just as the president can destroy or build up a brand by commenting about it on social media, I feel like political opinions will sink my burgeoning brand by alienating groups of readers.

So, how about you, author and blogger friends? Is expressing your opinion more important than building a following of readers of your work?

This could be a very interesting and enlightening discussion, but please don’t let it devolve into a disrespectful exchange.

37 thoughts on “As an Author, How Do You Feel About Expressing Your Political Views

  1. Personally, I am “Reluctant” to enter the fray but sometimes it is required. Just remember – The only thing that allows evil to triumph is for good men and women to remain silent and do nothing. Let us not keep silent when we have a duty to speak!

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  2. My blog is primarily about my writing so isn’t the platform for discussing my political views, but there is nothing wrong with being public about such things, if one feels comfortable with that. Debate and discussion is always a good thing, but it’s not something I want to get into online as these things tend to degenerate into name-calling and mud-slinging fairly quickly. But it is absolutely right that others use their platforms to speak out on things they feel about strongly and, regardless of whether I agree with them or not, I respect them for doing so.

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  3. Way back, I’d say it was okay if it was relevant to a book or you’re just cracking jokes. Now, I’m not as sure about that. Seems political opinions are Internet napalm for social media. The ‘wrong’ person sees your opinion and you get flooded by anger, so it’s a topic that one really has to weigh the pros and cons of. I write fantasy, so it doesn’t come up much. Yet, I do like jokes and I’ve found the current political atmosphere doesn’t seem to permit those without repercussions.

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  4. I’m happy for readers to know the real person behind the books and stories I write. And my political and religious beliefs are part of who I am. If I feel strongly about something I let people know. I sympathise with people like Tigerman who reside in jurisdictions where your opinion can land you in jail – or worse. But the continued existence of such regimes makes it even more important that those of us who are free to speak out do so.

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  5. BT (Before Trump), I kept my political opinions to myself except for my obvious leanings toward environmentally conscious living. I find myself unable to remain quiet on certain issues now so I speak out. I don’t comment on the posts I see that are in opposition to my views, but there have been times in the past few months where my conscience would not allow me to remain quiet.

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  6. This can be a dangerous topic lately. I keep my opinions to myself and to my immediate family. I don’t discuss politics with extended family members as some of them can get really upset if your view is different than theirs. If it came to speaking out against some evil done to someone, I would, of course, do so. Or, at least, I hope I would. I wouldn’t want to see another regime like Hitler’s come to power, for instance. I do think in today’s social media, readers can be swayed by politics. I’d rather that not be the case, so I keep quiet.

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  7. As you mention, it’s partly a matter of your audience and whether political views are relevant to that audience. Many of my friends who are children’s writers are very up-front with their politics. Partly because, as children’s writers, we have an opportunity to speak directly to youth about issues that matter to them. Partly because there are other social forces that want to control what information reaches youth.

    Quite a few children’s writers experience having their book challenged as not appropriate for library shelves, especially in schools. For these writers, who feel they are being targeted for censorship, fighting for expression is nothing new. In some cases, the fight against book-banning becomes part of their artistic identity. So in this context, political opinions are actually expected and encouraged.

    Some examples: Jane Yolen, who addresses Jewish history in works from picture books to novels, Bruce Coville, who writes fantasy for middle grades, and Nick Bruel, author/illustrator of the “Bad Kitty” series of picture books and chapter books. And then there are Terry Truman and Chris Crutcher, who are among the most challenged YA novelists living today. Crutcher catches flak for profanity, while Truman’s subject matter is often challenged.

    As in all things, we choose what battles we wish to fight. What makes it work is that these authors are forthright but for the most part respectful. On the other hand, SF writer John Scalzi is fairly over the top in mocking and jeering across the political divide, and as a result has become a lightning rod for the opposite side. The constant harassment must be a pain, but I suspect that he not-so-secretly enjoys the attention.

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  8. Hi Don,
    This is a great subject to discuss and I give you kudos for addressing it. On social media, I definitely am not afraid to weigh in on political issues especially if they deal with the ‘orange thing’. Saying that I will not get into a shouting match with a friend or family. If what I write or post is not positive based, then I can’t see the point in it. As far as my blog website, I attempt to write things that people can learn from my experiences. Again a positive attitude. If it is a social issue dealing with hate, prejudice, and injustice I believe we need to stand up against it. To not, in my opinion, is to condone it. My livelihood does not depend on my following. I’m not looking to sell thousands of books. I enjoy my writing and I’m learning from those that are professional. Consequently, I will write what I think is responsible writing and if others find it offensive, so be it.
    Again thanks for opening the door on a worthwhile subject.

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  9. Pingback: Writing Links…10/2/17 – Where Genres Collide

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