The idea behind any kind of online community is to create a connection and a conversation between us and you. From a marketing standpoint, it’s supposed to create a relationship between the writer and the reader so that 1) the reader will want to buy the author’s book , and 2) to keep from falling off the reader’s radar during those months that the author doesn’t have a book on the shelf. (What five unpublished authors hoped to accomplish by creating a blog is still up in the air. ~grin~)
But there’s always the question of How Much is Too Much? Long-time blog readers probably have a pretty good idea of what I’m like in real life – I’m neurotic about my weight, I talk too much, I preach the importance of good foundation garments, I’m afraid of storm drains, etc. And, presumably, because y’all keep coming back to visit, you kinda like me – strange storm drain neurosis and all.
But what if you found out I was an atheist? Or that I’d been to jail? Or that I fervently believed in a cause you’d give your last penny to shut down? What if I used the blog as a way to preach my opinions? It would probably keep you off the Playground, right? (Okay, the other Playfriends would have beaten me to death long before then, but let’s just keep going for the sake of argument.)
From a marketing/promotion point of view comes the big question: Would you quit reading my books?
I ask because of some things that I’ve seen on facebook recently. I’m friends with a lot of authors on facebook, and I’ve seen several of them post strong points of view in their status updates – things about politics (like health care reform, the conflict in Iraq, whether they like Sotomayer for the Supreme Court, if Obama should be drinking American beer), things about religion (existence and non-existence of a supreme being), things like that. Things that make me wonder whether I’d be this author’s friend in the non-facebook world. Sometimes, they’ve even started a spirited debate among their friends in the comment thread, with their facebook friends arguing both sides of the issue.
I’m all for healthy debate. I also know that authors, like everyone else in the world, have their own beliefs and values that may not line up with mine. For the most part, it comes down to “to each his own,” and honestly, I never put much thought into what the authors I loved to read were doing with their spare time.
But then their beliefs started showing up on my facebook news feed.
Any media figure takes a risk when they make a stand about an issue. They might lose fans (remember the Dixie Chicks debacle? Or the Beatles for that matter?), or they may gain fans (Jenny McCarthy – former Playboy model – gained lots of soccer-mom fans from her stance on the MMR vaccine-Autism link).
So where’s the line? Do you care if your favorite author votes Democrat or Republican or Independent? Do you care where they stand on Sotomayer’s confirmation or if they’re a Rush Limbaugh fan? Do you care if they like the Yankees or the Dodgers or if they yell “Roll Tide” or “Go Vols”?
Does any of that bleed over into how you view their books? Can you still love the author’s work, even if you found out they stood on the opposite side of an important (to you) issue? Or would you quit reading their books altogether? Would it have to be a big ideological thing (like gay marriage)?
Or can you just put it aside because the work is what really matters?
I’m serious. Enquiring minds really want to know. What do you think?
My facebook status might depend on it (kidding).