Columns > Published on December 16th, 2016

7 Reasons Why Posting Politics Kills Your Career

Your social media platform is one of the most powerful tools you have as a writer. It is free, marketable, and provides the opportunity to build a readership if you use it right. The question is: Will you use it for effective marketing or for your personal political agenda? For creativity or career destruction? Good or evil? Make your choice. 

I’ve run into two opinions amongst professionals regarding politics on social media. For some, it’s wrong NOT to post, not to speak your truth. It’s evil to promote silence. The world is aflame, and posting on lighter or more entertaining subjects is UNTHINKABLE! How dare we not write about the evils on social media all the time? Then there’s the other school. Their advice is to shut up about politics, because there's a time and a place (and an author brand) for everything.

I understand both viewpoints. You have to do what feels right for you. It’s been a road, my friends, but I’ve come to be a member of the latter school. Unless you are a political writer, and promoting politics is your game, you may just want to join my preferred school. Here’s why.

1.  You’ll Abandon Your Author Brand.

You may want to write full-time and make a career out of it. You may do it as a therapeutic outlet with no professional goals in mind. Either path is fantastic. We are creatures of creativity. But if your goal is writing full-time as a profession, remember your focus. Think of your audience and how you will market your brand as an author. Fantasy, horror, edgy erotica? Politics? It would be fitting for someone who writes about non-fiction political topics to post a shit-ton of politics on their page. They are aiming for a certain audience. They are also aiming for certain reactions to get some buzz going about their work. An author of YA suspense shouldn't take the same marketing path as the political writer.

Learn from my own self-destructive experience. I’ve posted things, only to go back and delete the thread because it was turning into a shit show. The waters of Facebook were getting a bit too choppy when my purpose with social media has always been to promote literature, music, film (basically anything arts-related), and to connect with friends and strangers who share like-minded interests. Professionally, I wanted to network with readers, writers, and other editors. There are still times when I am tempted, but then I remind myself that making political enemies is not on my to-do list. It’s just not what I’m using my public platform for as a fiction writer and editor.

2.  You Could Lose A Reader.

A lot of people really don’t like this viewpoint. Am I being fake and schmoozy with readers if I want them to buy my book even when I don’t agree with them politically? No. Some authors are of the opinion that if they lose a reader after their political rant, well, then they don’t want that reader anyway. I think that’s the solid mark of a pretentious author. Care about your readers, even if you don’t agree with them. If they take the time to read your creative blood, sweat, tears, and whatnot, CARE about them. As much as some of us don’t like to face it, writing is a business. Publishers won’t work with you if they can’t get anyone to buy your books. Social media is about the most useful platform for building a readership and promoting your writing. If you haven’t cranked out a New York Times Best Seller or haven’t been able to make a living as a full-timer writer, how choosy can you be with your readers? You can’t be. But, let’s say you are a best selling author bringing in six figures a year. We still don’t want to hear it from you. It just makes us all really crabby and ruins our Facebook experience.  

3.  Productivity And Quality Will SUFFER from flame wars.

When I thought I was cool and would do everyone a favor by turning them from political moral corruption, I found it didn’t quite work. Not only that, I was getting angry at people, dealing with frustration and anxiety and drama when I should have been working. I stopped putting it on my own FB page and grabbed a bucket of popcorn to see who else was having the same problem. Family fought family, professionals took their shit out on colleagues in a completely non-professional way, friends insulted other friends and other friends’ spouses. Even people’s children were fair game for flame wars. Some threads got so bad, you just knew there were tears of hurt behind those responses. If that is your shtick, go for it. I found that such turmoil kept me from writing. Even when I turned off social media, my mood had been affected and I was no longer in that head space to crank out a good word count. I can’t focus on creativity when I’m so worked up about something that has nothing to do with my fiction. All I wanted to do after that was take a nap. Or maybe a Xanax. It’s just not worth it.

4. You Could Be Marketing! 

You are wasting your time on political complaining. Truly, you are. Your time on social media can be spent promoting your work, promoting others’ work, stalking other successful authors’ accounts and seeing what works for them, or even connecting with readers and potential readers. When your writing gains traction, readers will start to reach out to you. If they love what you write, they love to hear from the author. If you respond in a sincere and humble way, you are building a die-hard following who will fork over the cash for anything you publish. When you vomit politics, you aren’t going to convert anyone. So please, don’t bother. None of us want you to try.

5. It’s Not A Good Look On You. Or Anyone.

Self-righteousness is never a flattering look, even if it’s a popular trend nowadays. I’ve tried the outfit on plenty of times, and it was about as attractive on me as a pair of skin-colored leggings. The only thing posting politics got me or my friends was ugly, raging arguments from family and friends. People can really bring out the nasty when they stand behind keyboard courage. If you wouldn't say it in your friend's home at their cozy Christmas party, don't hide behind the screen to say it either. Don't let your news feed be a playground for chaos. T’would be prettier for us all to partake in National Skin-Colored Leggings Day.

6. You’ll Demolish Your Career Opportunities.

These issues are important. They run deep. There are things that need to be discussed regarding race, human rights, prevalent violence, security, financial policy, political corruption, etc., etc. It sounds old-fashioned as fuck, but there really is a time and place etiquette. Readers may not want to read you, and editors may not want to publish you if they can plainly see that your most passionate pastime is pissing people off politically on social media. No one is saying you shouldn't Do and Discuss. If you believe in a cause, get out there and fight for it, whether that means volunteering for those in need, getting petitions signed, calling governors, or following your dream of working for the federal government. Blessing others with your righteous knowledge is not the most effective way to go about it. However, we are writers. Our words are our power source, and knowledge-sharing can be a powerful beast, especially on social media. But use a blog for your discourse. Publish a well-researched article for a political magazine. Fight the good keyboard fight on your favorite political online communities. If you want to talk to your friends and family, do it in your own conversation or, GASP, in person.

7. You're Not An Expert (Unless You Are).

I’ve spoken my flawed opinion. I’ve shared irresistible articles as a fuck-you to anyone on the other side who may happen upon my political minefield. Did anyone thank me for showing them the light and helping them switch over? Did anyone shower me with appreciation for doing the right thing and speaking out against evil and corruption? No! Can you believe that? (Yes. Yes you can. Because politics is not my area of expertise. My area of expertise includes coming up with a variety of erotic descriptives for sex organs.)

You may have valid points. You may be well-educated and a great writer, so you feel it is your duty to PREACH the right side to those around you. You may just love to complain, and this is your therapy. Of course, if you have a PhD in political science, a master's in psychology, and a minor in philosophy, along with the professional experience working behind the scenes for the federal government, I may be interested enough to read what you have to say. If not, then don't try to educate through social media.

About the author

Holly Slater is a freelance editor and writer. She slowly built her business at espressoeditor.com until that glorious day she was able to quit her regular job and venture into the world of full-time freelancing. She loves to tell you everything that’s wrong with your book, but she’s super-duper nice about it. Holly holds a B.A. in English and creative writing from Southern New Hampshire University and has been editing and writing for ten years. Her short story collection, Sweet Violent Femmes, is a display of bizarre erotic horror with a feminist bent. Holly lives in Cincinnati with her filmmaker fiancé and her talented theater-performing son.

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