Wednesday, March 2, 2016

An Open Letter to Many of My Writer Colleagues: Please Stop With the Political Bullshit!!

Before you start screaming about First Amendment rights and self censorship, I agree one hundred percent that every American has a right to express themselves in any manner they want. I spent twenty-three years of my life in the shadows defending this country against its enemies, and it would be hypocritical of me now to tell anyone what they can and cannot say. This blog is not about writers exercising their freedom of speech.

It's a plea for my colleagues to use common sense when posting and show common courtesy to their readers.

I see myself, first and foremost, as an entertainer. People read my novels and short stories to escape from whatever burdens their daily life, whether it's passing class, balancing the household budget, the trials and tribulations of living with a teenager, restraining the urge to strangle a boss or co-worker, or whatever. Hopefully they also read my blog and follow me on Facebook and Twitter. My social media presence may not be the most exciting, but I try to make it interesting. There is writing-related information for those of us in or wanting to get into the business, genre news, pet photos, and updates on my books and convention appearances. Since I write about vampires, zombies, giant bugs, the end of the world, and portals into Hell, that's what I talk about in social media. It's why my fans follow me.

As a reader, I anticipate the same things from those writers whom I follow.

Sadly, over the past few months many of my colleagues have jumped into the political arena with a ferocity that makes Thunderdome look like an elementary school playground. I'm not talking about those writers who have expressed their support for a particular candidate. I'm talking about those who have turned their social media sites into hate fests. I've seen more venom-filled memes and comments on some writers' Facebook pages then I have on political commentary boards. I visit these writers' sites to check when their latest book is coming out, see if they've posted anything that might be of interest, and chat about the craft and the genre. I do not visit these sites to be told that I hate women or immigrants or the poor if I don't support a particular candidate, or to be called a homophobe or a misogynist or a douchebag or a Nazi if I support a candidate that particular writer does not like. And I've had enough!! If these writers cannot respect me and my decisions, then the Hell with them. I've unfriended a lot of people in the industry over the past few weeks (writers, artists, editors, celebrities), including a very talented and successful writer who I have known for years, have considered a good friend, and on whose podcast I've appeared numerous times. I've deleted their unread books from my Kindle or given the print copy to my cats to shred. Those are reviews from me these writers will never get and future book sales they will never see.

For those writers who are saying, "Why does this asshole thinks he's so special to tell us what to do?" my answer is I'm not special. I'm just a writer struggling to keep my head above water in an industry that is awash with competition. By avoiding your social media sites and not buying your books, I'm not going to have any impact on you career.

But before you tell me what I can do to myself and the horse I rode in on, ask yourself this. If you've pissed me off with your daily diatribes and hate-laced rantings, how many other readers have you pissed off? Every writer screaming that the Democrat or Republican candidate they like is the only sane choice, and if someone supports the other side then that person should unfriend them now, runs the risk of alienating half their fan base. Can you afford to lose that many readers? None of us are Stephen King. He could lose half of his readers overnight and still cash a royalty check in the morning larger than all of our checks combined. There are hundreds of thousands of writers out there vying for the readers' attention who are just waiting for you to be petty and spiteful and drive your readers into their arms.

If you think I'm full of it, take a look at the successful writers. I'm not referring to the huge names in the industry and those who are best sellers. Check out the social media of those writers who have flourishing and successful mid-list careers. They don't waste their time whining about politics and inciting (or pissing off) their readers. They write. They put up humorous and/or informative postings. They treat their fans the way fans should be treated -- like good friends who can't wait to see what the next posting is or to read the next book. And those writers will be around long after the rest of you are gone and forgotten.

For those of you wondering about my politics, this will be the only time I discuss it on my social media because, having brought up this subject, it's only fair that I let you know where I stand. I don't have a candidate I support. In my opinion, this is the most unimpressive array of contenders yet. As a former CIA officer with twenty-three years experience, I have major reservations about voting for a candidate who displays such a callous disregard for security classifications. I don't think socialism will work in this country (I've seen first-hand how it failed in the Soviet Union and North Korea). I do not feel a candidate is entitled to the Presidency because his father and brother held the post. I deeply distrust candidates who vote one way as elected officials but change their stances when on the campaign trail. And while I enjoy watching Trump upset the political establishment on both sides of the aisle by going against everything that is the norm, I have major doubts about whether he has the temperament to be President. The only candidates I thought were intelligent, rationale, and honest enough to sit in the Oval Office were eliminated very early in the process, which to me speaks volumes of what politics has become.

I'm not posting this because someone picked on "my candidate" and hurt my feelings.

I'm posting this because if writers cannot respect their readers they do not deserve to be writers.

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