Global crises can make us wonder when is it appropriate to mention them in terms of our book marketing. How much is too much, especially when for fiction authors, many of them write (and readers read their books) as an escape? Authors are afraid of revealing their political associations or feelings and turning off readers who don’t agree with them. And since there’s usually something always happening on the geopolitical stage, let alone the ongoing climate crisis, should we even be marketing at all?
The truth is readers won’t know about our books unless we tell them through our newsletter and our social media channels. Thousands of books are published each day; unless readers know to look for you and your book, they may not even know it exists. It’s sad, but it’s also true. And for those who are published through a publisher, there are varying levels of promotion which may, or may not, be done by the publisher, leaving the primary work of spreading the word about the book to the author. So what’s an author to do?
It’s an interesting question and one that I’m seeing some discussion around in the entrepreneur space recently.
Human rights are never wrong
Personally, I feel like the question about what to do is truly answered by what you want to say. If you’re standing up in support of a group, especially one facing human rights challenges, then to me, standing up for human rights is never wrong. Understand that when you do stand up for human rights, sadly there may be people who don’t agree with you. This is true regardless of the topic. You may say the sky is blue and someone may say it’s a cerulean shade or perhaps where they live it’s cloudy and gray (or twilight with vivid shades of pink and orange). Some people argue for the sake of hearing their own voice. There’s very little you can do about it (Except remember your newsletter and social media spaces are your own, so blocking/muting/unsubscribing problem individuals is always your prerogative.) and it’s something anyone who speaks in the public sphere, which social media is, has to deal with. (If you’re very concerned about bad behavior online, try sticking to spaces which you have more control or which exercise more common sense in handling bad actors.)
Is your book related to the issue?
I write equestrian literature in various genres. A lot of what I write is for representation or to provide the “feel good” of a horse story that I’ve enjoyed for a large portion of my life. Therefore, I wouldn’t send out a newsletter with the theme of “want to escape the bad news? Read my books.” That would simply be capitalizing on a difficult situation for my own gain, which is not what I want to be doing or how I want to represent myself.
Offering Support and Solidarity
I could, however, include something in my newsletter that offers to educate or offer support and solidarity. I may direct my readers to find more information from trustworthy sources (and please make sure you vet your media sources if you go this route).
I think in the end, it’s important to ask yourself the important questions before you speak out — is it true? is it kind? is it helpful? — and if you can answer those questions with yes and you are so moved, then speak out about whatever situation that may be occurring or may be affecting you and your loved ones. Let your own intuition be a guide. The truth is, those people who may be turned off by your speaking out, may also not resonate with the themes in your book(s). And you have to do what your instincts tell you.
In times of trouble, being a voice for peace, for human rights, for solidarity and support, may be one of the most important things you can do. The best way to do this? Not use global catastrophes to sell your books.