This is not an easy blog for me to write. I’m very politically involved. And I’m super passionate about it. Despite this, or maybe because of it, I strongly believe an author platform should be politically neutral. First, let me get into the why. It’s no secret to most of you that, although I now consider my homeland The Netherlands, I was born and raised in the U.S. I also gave up five years of my life to the U.S. Army.
U.S. politics are always divided. There are only two main parties and let’s face it, the governmental system, especially the electoral college, favors a two-party system. Additionally, the U.S. is a huge country, which means history and culture drastically vary from region to region. Even the culture in Wisconsin, the state in which I grew up, is considerably different depending on where you are. The North is decidedly conservative whereas the South is sometimes more liberal in its thinking than the liberal country I now live in.
What does all this mean? It means that there is a lot of animosity in a ‘normal’ election year. This year was only different in that the animosity was more severe than ever (and that’s putting it mildly). I see you nodding your head and wondering what this has to do with author platforms – a term dreaded nearly as much as electoral college. Well, it’s simple really. Unless you have a huge following, selling thousands of books and having thousands of followers who will love you no matter what, you need to keep your author platform away from politics.
Why? Why? Why? Being an author is a business. No groaning! It’s just the truth. If you want to sell books, you need to grow a following of potential readers. You can’t do that if you alienate readers with your political views. I don’t sell thousands of books and I certainly don’t have thousands of followers. That’s why I made the very difficult and painful decision to keep anything author related, my Twitter feed, my Facebook feed, my blogs, decidedly not political.
Before everyone starts to get into an uproar, let me say that not all topics that are politically ‘hot topics’ should be avoided. For example, how rape should be prosecuted is a hot topic debated amongst politicians. That doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to be outraged when a rapist only gets a three-month sentence. But it is a fine line to be walked. When does standing up for the rights of the Sioux turn into an anti-governmental stance? And what about gay rights? Can the topic even be brought up without people taking sides?
Rather than try to walk that razor-thin line, I try to keep out of politics all together. I’ve spent a lot of time wondering if that’s the right decision. I admire authors who are not afraid to say what they think and I never thought I’d be a person who keeps my mouth shut when it’s important (although five years in the military disabused me of that notion). Then, I realized I don’t keep my mouth shut. I keep D.E. Haggerty’s mouth firmly closed. Dena’s thoughts, however? If you get anywhere near me in person, you’ll wish I’d just shut up already. Because I have an opinion on everything. Yes, everything. Yesterday’s lunch conversation went from explaining Native American voting rights to initiatives in The Netherlands regarding electric cars. Because I’m versatile like that.
What do you think? Am I wrong?