Every Author for Branding

No, this isn’t about body-modification. That’s next month. This is, well, it’s less about writing, and more about the author-as-public-figure. Now, for those who aren’t aware, former NYC mayor and billionaire in his own right Michael Bloomberg formed a gun control advocacy group a number of years ago. They’ve lent weight – and money – to any number of state and national political campaigns and legislative efforts, as well as bankrolling other astroturf gun control groups.

Recently, Everytown has announced the formation of an Author Council. 130 authors have signed on to prevent gun violence. Notables include Jodi Picoult, Lev Grossman, and Tim Federle. (Truthfully, those were the only names I recognized. I don’t know whether that reflects the make-up of the group, or of my reading tastes. (I’d also like to note that I’ve never read a Jodi Picoult novel. Not my fandom.))

I’ve seen a middling amount of reaction from my online circles. Everything from shrugs to calls for informal boycott. Me, I don’t care. I’ve never let political leanings get in the way of enjoying (or writing) a good story, and I don’t look to start. That said, as so few names are even on my horizon, I’m unlikely to look to this list for my new favoritest author evar.

Regardless of your opinion on gun rights, Bloomberg’s opinions, or politics in general, the Author Council’s call to action is an important point for writers to consider.

Do you like money? Do you want people to commit egregious commerce with you, turning gobs and scads of their money into your money? I know that’s one of my major writing dreams (too far off to be a goal, at least until I get more writing time into the schedule). I’m really somewhat admiring of this council thingy. They’re rocking their market targeting by doing this. By simply publicly signing their names to a gun control group, they’re advertising what kind of people they want to buy their books. Jodi Picoult could probably drink puppy smoothies for breakfast and not lose her readership, and Lev Grossman has a successful television series based on his big work, so there’s less courage there.

But for anybody less well-known, or well-selling, this is a great way to tell whole swaths of readers that you do (or possibly more significantly, don’t) want them to give you money for your efforts. As an author, causes you come out in support of or opposition to are going to mark you to readers. Some readers. The ones who pay attention to that kind of thing, at least. And among certain genre (like ourn) this is a more fraught venture.

Witness the fallout of the Puppy campaigns.

Any number of writers were outted (rightly or wrongly) as one thing or another, and calls for boycotts were loud and shrill. “Friends” were shunned and writers lost readers. Which is a shame.

How does this matter to you? Simply put: be aware. Know your genre, know your industry, and know your readership. For example, I suspect most of the authors on the council aren’t writing milSF. Joining a gun control group and writing scifi gun porn would be almost as poor a choice as writing stereotypical high fantasy and publicly raging about the evils of western civilization.

Should you then not stand for principles in an effort to gain more readers? By no means. If you’re passionate about something, you should advocate for it. Just be aware that doing so will likely lose you some readers, though that may simply be in potentia. I doubt my eventual milfantasy will get me many leftist readers. Certainly my views on individual liberty and the proper role of government would lose me them.

And I’m fine with that. They wouldn’t have read me in the first place. I’m too publicly associated with the rest of this band of reprobates, and I don’t much care who knows it. I’m also the smallest fry among the MGC.

It likely doesn’t matter, anyway. Who we are as writers comes out in our writing, and people will love or hate that as they’re individually bent. I don’t read Larry Correia for the heart-wrenching scenarios (though I still haven’t forgiven him for Sam), just like I’m not pulling out my much-thumbed copies of David Eddings to read his exhortations about which firearms to choose and how to plan a military campaign (he rightly implies that the most exciting campaigns are often the ones where things go spectacularly wrong. At least for the heroes.)

Look at Sarah’s Darkship books. Written by a statist, they ain’t.

The message to you, the writer, is as I said above. Be aware of your market. Know what they want to get out of your writing. Do they want polemics? Do they want entertainment? And what kind? I read for fun, and tend to avoid certain things. Lev Grossman’s Magicians looks (admittedly, from the television spots) like a rich world with complex characters and a compelling plot. That doesn’t mean I’m going to like it. The way it was first described to me didn’t sound like something I would actually want to read. Which is fine. You can’t snag every reader, and he won’t miss my book budget.

And be wise about how you choose to advertise your causes. I suspect most of the authors on the council aren’t trumpeting their involvement. Certainly not where it’s impacted my life. Maybe a blog post. “Hey, all, I’m in a thing,” is probably the extent of most. I hope. Should your championing of something extend beyond that to, “and everyone must kowtow to my thing for reasons,” you might want to consider dialing back the intensity. Just a mite.

Penultimately, please accept my fulsome apologies for the timing of this missive. I’ve chosen to put family ahead of career, at this point in my life, and that means things like my MGC posts come after the kids are cared for. I’d like to be able to manage things concurrently, but I wasn’t given enough hands for that.

Finally, however you honor my fallen brothers and sisters in arms (or not), this weekend, please be courteous to those who do so differently than you do. Some awesome folks will be found in our national (and other) cemeteries, cleaning, tidying, and placing flags and flowers and suchlike. Y’all rock. Many, many more will be found hoisting beverages of varying levels of inebriability. Or applying heat to flesh, via grill, or outdoors at a beach or park. Or both. This is cool. Most of those who’ve died in service of our country would appreciate that, too. Be well, be safe, keep an eye on your buddy, and if you’ve had too much to drive (read: any) call Chief, or failing that, the Old Man. Both will be happy to make sure you get home alive.


  1. Bloomberg is an a$$hole who I’m certain has armed bodyguards close at hand at all times. He had some success early on with national gun control efforts, but ultimately failed at that level so has been spending judicious amounts to foster gun control groups at state levels and grassroots organizations like the author council.
    I’m sure those who signed on thought it was a noble cause, or one that would get them good publicity. And it may in some circles, but based on current politics I strongly suspect over all will do them much more harm than good. And Bloomie also has a reputation for not hesitating to throw such folks under the moving bus once their usefulness has been extracted.
    In any case, author or anyone else with a public presence of any sort needs to decide what they believe in and how much they are willing to risk in support. Once decided by all means follow your conscience, and let the chips fall where they may.

  2. The only times I’ve avoided or stopped reading books by $AUTHOR$ were when they tried to force their politics on readers, or when they pulled stunts like a certain spice and condiment seller and announced “If you don’t agree 10000% with what I say, I don’t want you reading my books!” In which case I’m quite willing to grant them their request.

    1. I have a much lower tolerance.
      There are any number of things competing for my small entertainment budget. I have no problem blacklisting any author or publisher (Tor Delenda Eat) who pisses me off.

    2. This is true for me for many artists; believe what you will, but give me an entertaining product, and I’ll forgive you. The one exception for me is actors because they depend so much on portraying a persona. I can’t watch Susan Sarandon, for example, because no matter what sort of character she’s playing, all I see is the sanctimonious, preachy, liberal lady.

  3. If SF/F has a future at all, I believe it is with the Puppy Alignment. Any author that was identified as Puppy Aligned by the Baying Pack of Worthless Retards (aka The Usual Suspects) and “boycotted” by them probably lost hardly any readers at all. The Usual Suspects are loud, but not particularly numerous. Indeed, those authors may have gained sales from Sad Puppies moping because they had nothing to read.

    During this year of the Puppy Alignment Hiatus, I’m proud to be considered a Puppy. Hell yes.

    1. We’re not losing readers if they were people who probably wouldn’t have read us to begin with.

  4. I’m against gun violence, too. However, I have a hard time imagining why your typical armed robber or drug gang enforcer would pay any more attention to the Author Council’s views than they do to mine.

    1. Its not a matter of ‘against gun violence’ its a matter of ‘against forearms ownership’. Hence why mayors in smaller towns and cities in more… red areas of the map left its predecessor organization, MAIG.

  5. Keep them dogies movin’
    Don’t try to understand ’em
    Just rope, throw, and brand’ em.
    Soon we’ll be livin’ high and wide…

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