I've gone back and forth for a little while about writing this post because, let's face it, blog posts these days about authors behaving badly are a dime a dozen. It's a small wonder that in this age of social media we still have to remind writer's not to treat their potential readers like shit, and yet here we are.
A few months back, I made a post on my private Facebook account that was very anti-Trump in nature (probably around the time Trump bragged about being able to shoot somebody in the middle of Times Square and face zero repercussions, and I'm fairly certain there was probably yet another school shooting that day...). I'm an author and I have allowed a number of other authors to be, in Facebook parlance, friends with me on there. One of those authors decided to take time out of his day to insult me for not being on the Trump bandwagon and for buying into the liberal media reports about how black protestors were being beaten and forcibly evicted from his rallies (something that is still occurring, and common enough that Slate began keeping a running tally of violence at Trump rallies), at a time when Trump was promising to ban Muslims from the US.
Today that author is running a promo on his books, so his name popped up a number of times in my feed. His books sound cool, and they have a premise that is right up my alley. And they're currently free! Normally, I would have been one-clicking away over on Amazon to gather up the series.
But, as an author, I'm also a reader. A reader that usually goes through half a dozen books per month, on a fairly typical basis. A reader that this particular author decided to demean because of political differences. A reader who that author, apparently, felt was beneath him. So, no, I'm not in any particular rush to support this man's work by helping boost his Amazon rankings for the day, because this is an author that decided he did not want me as a customer.
I know this is a bitter political campaign and tempers are skewed. There's a particular segment in America that feels embittered and who are upset "their" America is being altered. They're afraid, and Trump plays well at being the fear-monger. More recently, another author reminded me of this by tweeting at me in response to a post I had shared about yet more protestors being beaten at a Trump rally (there is at least a pretty common theme among the many Trump rallies). This author posited that was the way the left likes it. Because, what, "the left" actively enjoys seeing minorities harassed and beaten by the KKK and Neo-Nazi members that support Trump? Seriously? That strikes me as more than a little bit intellectually lazy, with a dash of ridiculous conspiracy theory thrown in on the side.
And in yet another instance, I shared this blog post from Stant Litore, What You Can Do If You're A White Guy Like Me. Litore gives a few helpful pointers about how guys like us can help combat the harassment of women online and at conventions. To me, this seems highly reasonable. I've known women who have been harassed, and as somebody who was bullied fairly frequently early in life, I'm not a real big fan of harassers, bullies, molesters, and creeps in general. Be Cool may be an Elmore Leonard title, but it's also a pretty good motto to live by. Who could object to this?
Apparently the author that tweeted me, for the very first time ever, in response to an article about stopping the harassment of women, stating, "As a white male, how about I do whatever the fuck I want."
Wow. There's a conversation starter that doesn't at all reek of bitter entitlement. But, at least I have yet another name I can add to the list of writer's I won't be supporting.
This isn't a matter of having a difference in opinion. You have your beliefs, I have mine. Fine, whatever. And keep in mind I am not calling for any type of censorship (because, unfortunately this has to be stated and freaking bolded, now that we live in an era where anytime somebody disagrees with somebody else, there's a knee-jerk reaction about how they're "being banned" or "censored" because it's the cool new buzz word floating 'round these echo chambers). You're free to tweet and post about whatever you want. I do. I post opinions all the time, and I'm fine if we disagree on fundamental issues.
My point is that these differences of opinion shouldn't be staging areas for battlegrounds, particularly not between an author and his potential readers. You're not doing your cause any favors in attacking me or others, and you're definitely not earning yourself a new reader. What you're tell me is that you don't have any respect for the opinions of others, and that if we don't agree with you then we're beneath you. If that's how you want to run your business, then fine. I'm OK with that. But keep in mind that I could have been a fan, a champion of your work, a guy that enthusiastically promotes your work and tells all my friends about it because I loved it. Instead, you went out of your way to be an asshole. And that tells me something. It tells me a lot, really.
I'm a reader. I'm a buyer of books. Hell, I'm a freaking book hoarder. The money I spend on books each week, hell sometimes each day, is fundamentally ridiculous. So, you know what, maybe I have a better idea. If you're an author, and you're an asshole who holds their readers in contempt unless they meet whatever murky ideological paths you follow and you can't handle conducting yourself like an adult, let me know. I could really save some serious money this way!