When Authors Make Social Media Blunders

social media for authorsSocial Media for Authors — Use it Wisely!

Social media for authors is a must, and the wise use of free social media is a huge part of most marketing plans. I believe most authors are well-meaning souls who pay it forward by sharing their stories. The world is better for it. But a few make regrettable mistakes, even as experienced authors.

The creator of Lemony Snicket, Daniel Handler, misspoke terribly while hosting the National Book Awards, and later apologized for remarks that smacked of racism. He paid the price. The internet is forever.

Think Before You Pontificate and Avoid Disasters

No one wants to be in the news for these sorts of blunders, right? Well, unfortunately, Handler was not an isolated case. One of the most avoidable and well-documented social media fiascos of 2017 involved author Ken Jennings and his official Twitter account. You may remember him as the Jeopardy champion who famously scored more wins than any other contestant in the show’s history. And he writes children’s books. Yet, he used Twitter to attack a child.

What? you ask. A children’s author attacking a child?

You heard correctly.

From Wikipedia:

“Barron Trump saw a very long necktie on a heap of expired deli meat in a dumpster. He thought it was his dad & his little heart is breaking.” ~ Ken Jennings on Twitter

This same author also mocked people with disabilities. I can’t make this stuff up.

From Wikipedia:

“Nothing sadder than a hot person in a wheelchair.” ~ Ken Jennings on Twitter

Good Lord. It’s astounding that otherwise brilliant and talented authors step on these landmines and self-inflict negative publicity. I mean, these authors are on trajectories of literary hero status, and yet they share — quite publicly — hurtful, harmful, and completely inappropriate comments.

Now, we all hold political views. That’s fine, and we should. But when your political ideology is not central to your book, the best advice is to leave it out. Some authors gratuitously transfer their political beliefs to a character and use their books to push a personal agenda. That is fine IF you don’t care about the “other half.” The nation is politically divided (hello!), but people of all persuasions read books. They are your potential customers, so why insult those who hold an opposite view? Why pick a fight with half your readership? Again, unless politics is part of the plot, think before you pontificate.

Share your political beliefs on your personal profiles if you must, but consider keeping them off your official social media pages. Unless you are an incredibly popular author who can afford to alienate readers, just don’t go there. Focus on marketing your book to the broadest audience possible. You need those book sales!

Teachable Moments in the Literary Realm

We can learn from these social media blunders. Attacking, provoking, and mocking audiences is a terrible marketing strategy. Period. Being an author puts you in the public eye, so make good use of your platform and throw positivity into the universe. Your readers will thank you for it.

Questions? Comments? Contact melaniesaxton@icloud.com.