If, like me, you gobble books and gallop around on the internet frequently, chances are you’ve stumbled across author in the wild before. It’s slightly intriguing and yet odd to behold.
I, once, deludedly imagine authors as a wondrous species, who type amazing artful words all day, consume coffee, wear fuzzy socks, rule certain planets, and have enchanted mops to clean their floors.
Unfortunately (although this is a stupid failing on authors’ parts, to be honest, because when I’m a published author THAT above is an exact description of how I’m going to be living) most authors don’t live like this. They’re pretty normal humans. They have day jobs and kids and they sometimes burn the salad and get toothaches and sucky things happen to them and, all in all, they are awfully human. And humans make mouldy decisions and behave badly sometimes. And, to counteract that, sometimes humans are so freakishly nice it just leaves you speechless.
My question is…
…does an author’s actions or attitude or behaviour (good or bad!) influence your opinion of their books?
I don’t want to sit here and squint suspiciously at the mean authors. You’ve heard of them, haven’t you? If you want to google “authors behaving badly” you’ll get a ripe list that you can peruse. Um, yes, I have done this. There are some authors who have said rotten things. There are authors who abuse their fans. There are authors who are preachy about their opinions or chauvinistic or against equality. There are authors who seem to have ZERO maturity and act like any slight against their work is a reader trying to stab them maliciously in the face with a spork, when in reality the reader just didn’t like their book and wanted to talk about it.
Should bad behaviour influence how I view their book?
Because sometimes their behaviour/opinions don’t actually affect their book. Like there’s an author who ranted and abused reviewers, but I’d read and loved one of their books. Now I disagree with the author’s actions and meanness, but should I never ever recommend their book? THE BOOK IS GOOD.
It’s a quandary.
And sometimes seeing authors behaving badly has made me decide to not read their books and not support them, sometimes it doesn’t! I’m not even consistent!
But let’s swing the pendulum.
Should good behaviour influence how I view their book?
When an author has been super nice to me, like given me a book or tweeted super sweet things or is a friend — I want so badly to love their books! I feel a desperate urge to review them well because I know there’s a person behind the book. (Although, just to put it out there, peoples: my reviews are always honest.) This is actually a big reason I barely ever take review-requests. I don’t want to have to work directly with a person I might have to possibly whisper, “Um, by the way, I didn’t like your book that you spend hundreds of hours creating and is the art of your soul.” Because, erm, #awkward for me.
I tend to see the book first, and the author second if I even bother to think about them at all.
I’m here for the book. I am. I believe authors’ actions don’t have to affect their art. Although, weirdly, I don’t think books belong to readers. (I mean, when someone bakes you a pie you don’t say “I ATE THIS PIE AND IT WAS DELICIOUS SO I MADE IT!” No. You enjoy the pie, you didn’t create the pie. But that’s a topic for another time.) Authors have given us their art and now it’s between us and the art to figure out if we like each other.
Gosh, it’s not an easy topic, is it? Easy topics are for the weak, mwahhaha ha. I’m not even entirely sure what I believe either. I’ve seen authors be cruel. I’ve seen them harass and chase reviewers off the internet. It’s hard to want to read their books when I’ve seen that first-hand. And I’ve seen authors be so nice I’ve been terrified to read their books, in case I don’t like it and hurt their feelings.