So, there’s a discussion on Smart Bitches about what things an author can and can’t say online, and at what point people get turned off by an author.  It makes me nervous, because while I try very, very hard to be sweet and nice and gracious . . . okay, let’s face it, I went to law school for a reason.  And that reason had nothing to do with my being sweet and nice and able to handle confrontation in a gracious manner.  When I get an idea in my head, I am about as gracious as a bulldog with lockjaw.

One of the extremely practical reasons I decided not to post about politics on this blog had nothing to do with turning people away with my political beliefs, and everything to do with the fact that I handle disagreements more like a lawyer and less like an author who thinks that all viewpoints are valid.  (Although I do think other viewpoints are valid!  Sometimes!  Although definitely not if your viewpoint is on the content of law and is inconsistent with fifty years of Supreme Court precedent.  It is just that I show my, er, appreciation by jumping up and down on other viewpoints, trampoline style, to see what survives, rather than handling them like unique and delicate flowers.)

So this whole Suzanne Brockman thing has me in a bit of an uncomfortable tither–because that could so easily be me.  I would be SO MUCH WORSE than she is under these circumstances.  And yes, I could say that she shouldn’t have said this or shouldn’t have said that.  But my argument style tends to be more along the lines of shoot first, interrogate the bleeding corpse later, and then chop its head off and bury the body in unconsecrated ground if it doesn’t have a satisfactory answer.  It’s not a pretty sight.  And the scary thing is that I have toned myself down SO MUCH over the last ten years.

I am fairly certain that at some point in my career, I am going to say something I shouldn’t, and then I will dig myself into a hole by trying to explain where I’m coming from.

I am toast.  That is all.

13 thoughts on “Er….

  1. Oh, Courtney, I’m the same way. As you know, I’ve often said things that I probably shouldn’t have. There was a reason why everyone wanted me to pursue law. I personally respect authors who are honest and shoot from the hip, then those who do the cloak and dagger routine to try and please everyone. I know at some point (and I know I’ve already done this) that I’m going to anger people and then try to explain what I meant but I’m not smart and I’m stubborn to a fault. So, I’m toast, very burnt toast.

  2. do you have a link? I’m interested to see whats going on.

    I’d say many authors have this problem. I know i do! I guess in a way romance authors are always having to defend themselves, so maybe we might even be more opinionated than most.

  3. Stephen King just said something about Stephenie Meyers writing and I really thought, as a professional in the same business, he could have used far more tact. If he couldn’t say anything nice, why say anything at all. And yes, religion and politics, those are things better left alone. Those kind of topics are just WAY TOO emotional.

  4. Because of the internet, consumers have a voice and that voice can have an impact. Since I’m in marketing, I find it fascinating that loyal readers feel they have a say in how a book is written. A number of Stephenie Meyer’s fans raged over the final book in the Twilight series and some wanted to return the book. Meyer addressed the issue on her website and defended her work, but she did so in a gracious manner. Even more intriguing is that controversy does create awareness. I know of one debut author whose book caused a firestorm of criticism on blogs and reader reviews. She also handled the controversy graciously, but the criticism did get her name out there. All a writer can do is be true to her own vision. Now here’s a weird scenario. What if publishers tested reader reactions much like advance movie showings? Can you imagine? Oops, hold up production – 35% of test readers objected to XYZ.

  5. I’m a shrugger–I shrug and go back to playing my computer games. I haven’t realized what an asset it is until now. 🙂

    But really, Courtney, I think you might as well say it if you are going to bite your gauntlet to shreds.

  6. Vicky,

    The thing about reader reactions, though, is that 35% of readers objecting isn’t all that bad. In fact, if they object strenuously enough–and if there are enough people who love it on the other side–it may even be better for sales. Movies have bigger budgets and so need a bigger fanbase–and also therefore they’re going to be more risk-averse going in.

    (The other place you see test audiences is that in very important cases, lawyers will hire people off the street to act as jurors so they can run their arguments by a group.) But these things only happen in very high-ticket places, where millions of dollars are spent. Focus groups are expensive.

    You’d think they might set them up for the few books that get seven figure advances though, huh?

  7. I think this is a very timely topic and is one that authors should definitely think about–especially in the area of politics and religion. If you want to promote a certain view/candidate be aware that not everyone agrees with you. Case in point: I recently heard about an upcoming book that intrigued me greatly. So I found the author’s web site–and did a doublecheck. The home page was about how to campaign for a certain candidate. I checked to make sure I had the correct site–and yes, there was mention of an upcoming (debut) book, but most of the web page dealt with a candidate who espouses beliefs I don’t agree with. I was looking for a book; not a political rally. After much reflection, I’ve decided I’m not going to buy the book and I won’t talk it up among my friends, which I have been known to do. The author has the right to her beliefs and her choice of promotion; I have an equal right as to where I choose to spend my money and who I choose to praise.

    Louise B

  8. I’m late coming in here, but I’m in the same boat as you CM. There are certain things I’m not going to be able to keep quiet about. Gay rights being one. Its funny, when i read the post i didn’t think twice about it. She’s pro gay. Great. It didn’t even cross my mind that people might be offended by this or she should keep quiet about it.

    Its up to author, obviously. If we dont mind offending some people, then oh well. We’ll just have to realize not everyone is going to agree and shrug it off like Sherry. Of course that gets a little hard if you’re getting death threats.

    The thing is, we’re not journalists. Readers have to realize this. No one says we have to be in the middle. We write fiction, in my opinion, we can say whatever the hell we want to say. 😉

  9. Courtney wrote: “Focus Groups are expensive.” Did you know I’m a market research analyst? LOL. I’ve traveled all over the US and Europe for focus groups. 😉 And yes, they are expensive.

  10. As a huge Brockmann fan, I think the issue has less to do with her politics and more to do with the fact that many readers felt really invested in a particular HEA. Lori Foster (over at running with quills) has a similar revolt over her latest as well, and she NEVER discusses politics beyond shilling for the humane society. I think you can’t put a muzzle on yourself. Honestly, I think I have a bigger beef with authors who don’t put themselves out there, who don’t participate in the larger community of readers and writers. Don’t play it safe. Just play it you 🙂

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