On Sunday I received a PM from a reader announcing that she would no longer buy and read my books because she found me too "liberal and militant" in my political beliefs. This didn't surprise me at all. It wasn't the first time a reader has said they were no longer reading my work because of something I said or did or wrote. Although, it was the first time I was called "militant."
When I first became published by Midnight Ink close to 12 years ago, a reader of my earlier work when it was self-published announced to me that she would no longer read my work because the parent company of Midnight Ink, Llewellyn Worldwide, published books on the occult. And they do, along with books on paranormal, self-help, natural healing, and many other worthwhile, non-main stream topics. If that reader was really going to stick to her guns, that would mean she would have to stop reading books by most of the major publishers too, since most of them have divisions that also published similar topics. I'll bet she never thought about that or followed through.
Over the years I've received many e-mails and messages from readers saying they were no longer going to read my books based on some of the following reasons, and most of those noted below have received multiple support:
- Too much swearing, especially when in came to using "the Lord's name in vain"
- Too much sex (They were talking about Odelia Grey books!)
- Contained gay/lesbian characters
- Not enough Christianity or religious tones (Nor will they EVER.)
- Because some of my books were only available in digital (BTW, short stories and novellas are only in digital because of short length; full-length novels are in both print and digital)
- One woman even wrote that she would no longer read the Odelia Grey series because she felt I was promoting unhealthy lifestyles, but if I put Odelia on a diet, she'd return to reading them (Oh, bite me!)
- And when I wrote my more graphic vampire novels, I lost some readers, and again when I started penning the Winnie Wilde steamy romances
People are entitled to their opinions, and I support that right even if I don't agree with those opinions, but sometimes I wonder what readers who write such e-mails and messages are hoping to accomplish. Are they just venting or trying to influence authors with a gentle form of blackmail?
Trust me, no writer worth their salt is going to bend to such ridiculous comments and demands. A true writer writes from the heart and follows the story and characters. If I sanitized my books to meet all of the above, nothing would get written, or if it did, wouldn't be worth the paper it was printed on.
I admit, I am quite politically and socially vocal on my personal Facebook page, and from time to time remind readers that if they don't enjoy my personal posts, they can join the Sue Ann Jaffarian Fan Club or follow my Author Page. I never post personal views on these pages unless it's about books.
Publishers often warn authors not to put their personal beliefs and opinions out on the Internet for fear of losing readers. But many of my author friends do, as I do. It's who I am and I have the same right as everyone else to freedom of speech. If I lose some readers, I can live with that better than I can being muzzled for the sake of a few sales. And since publishers make most of the money off my books, you can see why they are concerned more than I am.
In parting, I will re-post here what I posted to my Facebook page last Sunday, just so you all know where I stand in case you weren't paying attention:
Someone just told me they were no longer going to read my books because I am so liberal and militant in my politics. Hmmm, okay. It's your choice and I'm not going to try and talk you out of your decision. After all, there are things I boycott based on my principles, all things Kardashian being one of them. But for the record, in case there are any others out there on the fence, let me be clear: I am a single, white, straight senior citizen, a moderate democrat, and an atheist. I believe in equal rights for ALL human beings of ALL faiths, ethnicity, nationality, gender, and orientation. We all have the right to walk this earth in peace and without molestation from those who are hell-bent on making us into their own image. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a book to write, because I still have other readers.