Bookish Musings: Separating the Author from the Book

 
 

We all probably know by now that sometimes authors behave badly toward their readers and/or reviewers. Or sometimes they have different opinions on things than we do. Or sometimes they’re just prejudiced people. Or any number of things that might turn you off from them.

But does this mean we shouldn’t read their books? Or is it possible to separate the book from the author? Let’s discuss!

 

 

On the one hand… There are good reasons to avoid a problematic author’s books

I do feel like the authors who behave badly toward readers/reviewers/people in general don’t deserve my money as much as all the other authors out there. There should be consequences for people’s actions, especially when they’re hurting people. And by supporting/promoting their work, by not treating them any differently, we’re showing them that their actions don’t have consequences, that their books will sell no matter how badly they behave.

 

But on the other hand… There are good reasons for continuing to support a problematic author’s books

1) I don’t even follow most authors on social media. And if I do, it’s usually after I’ve read their books. And I’m usually behind on everything going on in the book community, if I even hear about it at all. So I don’t even know what most authors are like as people. I simply know of their books. And I don’t have the time or energy to research every author before I read their books.

2) I’m paying for/promoting the writing in the book, not the other things the author does.

3) If I hear about an author behaving badly before I read their book, I’ll likely just avoid their work. Or if I’ve read some of their books but didn’t love them, I probably just won’t bother reading any more. But sometimes I’m still just too interested in a book to pass it up. Or I’ve already read some of their books and loved them too much to not continue the series, promote them, etc.

4) Just because an author is a jerk, their book might still impact people, change people, give people a new perspective, cover an important topic really well, be there for someone when they really need it, save a life, etc.

 

So… Is it ok to separate the author from the book?

The question is, do the pros outweigh the cons? Is it ok to support, promote, and enjoy an author’s work even if you disagree with or dislike the author as a person?

I’m not really sure how I feel, to be honest. I think it depends on exactly what it is that author is doing/saying—some things I can let slide, others I can’t. But what I said in #3 is pretty much how I’ve handled the situation in the few cases where this has come up. If I know an author is problematic, I’ll likely avoid their books, but sometimes a book still sounds amazing with great rep or characters or story, and I’ll decide it’s still worth giving a chance. And if I’ve already read and loved some of their work, then the truth is, I’m probably going to continue reading their books (or at least the books in that series) because I’m already hooked. I suppose there might be a limit where I would just say, “Nope, I’m absolutely done with this author no matter how much I’ve loved their previous books and no matter how amazing any of their future books sound,” but hopefully I’ll never encounter any authors who behave badly enough for me to find out what that limit is!

 
 

Talk to me!

Do you think it's possible to separate the book from the author?
Can you think of any more pros or cons to supporting/promoting the books of problematic authors?
Do you think it's ok to read and promote books written by problematic authors if the books themselves are good?
*I welcome different opinions as long as everyone stays respectful!*

 

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57 thoughts on “Bookish Musings: Separating the Author from the Book

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  1. Nannette Demmler

    I’m sort of like you. If I hear about an author behaving badly I consider not reading them. But I don’t follow that many authors on social media, so it has to be something really dreadful for me to get wind of it. Nice thought provoking post.

    Nannette Demmler recently posted: Dreamy Book Cover Tag

  2. Greg

    This is tough, because if an author has views that are a turn-off to me, especially if it’s something weighty, I have a hard time disconnecting that. Like an author who is super popular on Twitter made some comments that pissed me off, and even though I wanted to read their book I was less likely to at that point. It wasn’t just that they were spreading their opinion- that’s fine- but they were disparaging those who disagreed as if someone appointed them the frickin arbiter of things, you know? Irritated the shit out of me lol.

    The flip side of that is that the author might be the nicest person and just feels particularly strongly about something, or just went off (we’re all human, etc),. But yeah- the pros and cons can vary. I think for me the bottom line is can I overlook political or differences like that? Oh yeah. It’s when they’re nasty/ oiffensive/ whatever to their readers or others that I’ll walk.

    1. Kristen Burns

      I agree, I think the things that would really get to me would be like if the author were posting racist/sexist/etc. things, vs. just having differing opinions on things going on in the book community or something. And lol yes, I get so aggravated by people online too when they’ve decided their opinion is the end-all-be-all and everyone else is wrong -_-

  3. Wattle

    I think this can be applied to any well known person (or…someone with some sort of fame).

    If an author is problematic and is called out, depending on what they’re being called out for and how they react, I won’t read their work if I have no idea who they are to begin with. If they’re known to me and I’ve read some of their work, I’ll judge based on the situation. If my favourite author was ever called out for being a dick I’d probably be suuuuuper disappointed but keep his books anyway lol

    But then again, it depends what it is. I was a fan of a band whose lead singer turned out to be a pedophile and I’ve never been more angry and disgusted in my life. I hate listened to my favourite album of theirs and then destroyed everything I owned (he was later convicted and jailed for 29 years). If that was an author…I’d probably burn their books.

    1. Kristen Burns

      That’s true, it’s not just authors, but I don’t really spend money on or promote much other than books lol.

      Yeah, if I wasn’t even interested to begin with, no prob, I’ll just avoid. Otherwise, it depends. But yeah, favorite author? It would take something REALLY bad for me to stop reading them. Like your example of the pedophile. That would be one of those REALLY bad things lol.

  4. Di @ Book Reviews by Di

    Hmmmm. Interesting topic! I am so out of touch I don’t even really know which authors might even be problematic! Ha ha. However…. I don’t see why I should be deprived of my enjoyment just because an author might be/has been awful! So if I loved a series I wouldn’t stop reading it…

    And by the same token some reviewers and readers need to realise that an author’s work is not THEM as such and they shouldn’t attack the author personally, IYKWIM?

    Very interesting and I really am not sure how I feel about this one!!

    Di @ Book Reviews by Di recently posted: Review: A Gathering of Shadows - V.E. Schwab

    1. Kristen Burns

      Thanks! Exactly, I’m out of the loop too, usually unless someone specifically tells me lol.

      Oh, I agree that reviewers shouldn’t attack authors, and authors shouldn’t attack reviewers. Reviewers can def behave badly too.

  5. Angela

    I don’t really get too much into the personal side of authors’ lives, so I don’t know who’s out there causing problems! I think for most things, I would be able to separate the book from the author – unless they said or did something truly heinous, that might give me pause.

    But it’s interesting – this actually came up in a book I was reading. The characters were putting on a play, and most of them didn’t realize the play had been written by this deranged, sick serial killer. When they found out, there was a whole big discussion about whether they could separate the man from this truly brilliant work. They ended up not doing the play.

    Angela recently posted: Can't-Wait Wednesday: Foolish Hearts

    1. Kristen Burns

      I agree, for the most part, I can separate the two. I read for my enjoyment, so if I really want to read a book, I’m probably going to read it.

      Oh how funny that this just came for you in a book! See, now, if an author turned out to be a serial killer, that is an instance where I might not read their books lol.

    1. Kristen Burns

      I agree, sometimes, if I see something, it does give me that sour taste, and I might just not really feel like reading their books. But it does depend on both the behavior and the book.

  6. Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity

    I have to say, I’m probably like you. If I know an author is problematic before I get their book I’d probably give their books a miss because they don’t deserve my money (unless they’ve behaved poorly, recognised they were wrong, apologised, and then done better going forward. Learning from mistakes I can get behind) but I won’t if I’ve read and enjoyed a book and then found something out I’m in a more difficult position, especially if I want to be able to recommend a book to them. It’s being able to recommend their books I’d struggle with, should I encourage others when I know the person behind it probably doesn’t deserve my support? It’s a logistical nightmare. The thing is, though, I am very oblivious to issues in the bookish community, I need it pointed out to me otherwise I will remain totally unaware folks have issues with an author or a book.

    Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity recently posted: Bite Sized Books // The Arcs Which Time (Or I) Forgot Part 1

    1. Kristen Burns

      Oh yeah, I can also get behind people who learn from mistakes. But other than that, this is something I feel kind of unsure about too. Especially the promoting part, like you said. I’m also usually super oblivious though unless people tell me or actually start making posts about it.

  7. Bookworm Brandee

    This is a great topic, Kristen. And one I’ve grappled with personally. There are a few “big name” authors who’ve done things that I don’t personally agree with but it hasn’t seemed to affect their sales much…and I still read them because I was already invested in their writing and in their characters. There was also an instance with an indie author, who’s a favorite of mine, behaving badly on social media. My first thought was just that the author shouldn’t behave that way…it didn’t reflect well. But then I looked at the bigger picture and realized the thing the author was reacting to was something of major importance to the author (and I agreed with the author’s reaction to it, just not the public-ness of it) and I decided that the author should be cut some slack because it was a very human reaction, one I think most people would have, and just because the author reacted in a way that I didn’t agree with didn’t mean the author wasn’t just in the reaction. (I hope that makes sense – it was hard to write all that while saying “the author” LOL) However, I do think it’d have been wiser for this author to sit back, think things over, find their zen before having a knee-jerk reaction that was public.
    Like you, I don’t really follow social media that closely. I try to follow bloggers more than authors and I fail at that most of the time. LOL So it’s probably easier for those like us to separate books from an author’s behavior. I can’t say that I’ve shied away from reading any author’s work upon discovering they’d behaved badly, attacked a reader/reviewer, etc., but I can’t say that I wouldn’t. It would depend on the circumstances, I guess. I do believe everyone is entitled to their own opinions but I also kinda think that people in the public eye should be held to a little higher standard. (I have refused to patronize certain actors because of their public behavior) They should be respectful, behave respectfully…after all, we “pay” their paychecks.
    So I suppose all of this is to say I’m kinda undecided! LOL But you have me thinking on it…

    1. Kristen Burns

      That’s a good point, sometimes people make mistakes w/ how they react, it’s human, and it’s possible to cut people some slack sometimes. You made sense, don’t worry :-) But yeah, this is such a gray area, for a lot of reasons. It very much depends on specifics. Although for me I think it’s not so much that I expect people in the public eye to meet a higher standard, it’s that I don’t pay/promote random people on the street lol, so I can’t do anything about them if they’re jerks, but I do pay/promote authors.

      Don’t worry, I have myself thinking on this too :-P

  8. Karen

    I look up authors when it comes to review requests to see if they’ve treated bloggers badly. Nothing too out there – but I check goodreads to see if they comment on negative reviews – a quick search of their twitter/blog to see if they’ve ranted about bloggers. I don’t do this for publisher/netgalley requests because I feel like there’s more of a buffer. This isn’t like a big, time consuming search kind of thing. I don’t have time for that. lol Just a quick scan.

    I do stay away from authors that have treated bloggers badly or are outwardly racist and that kind of thing. I don’t follow many authors on SM so maybe I am reading authors that are doing those things and I just don’t know it yet.

    I wouldn’t stop reading an author if it’s just a simple – I don’t agree with your every view. That’s fine. And I think we’ve all had the occasional twitter rant or said something problematic. it’s how they respond that would matter to me.

    For What It’s Worth

    Karen recently posted: tell me something tuesday

    1. Kristen Burns

      That’s smart. It’s too much work for me though, esp w/ tennis elbow. But I mean, if I happened to see them commenting on neg reviews while I’m looking at reviews to decide about the book, then yeah, I’d prob avoid them.

      Exactly, I wouldn’t even know if lots of authors were jerks lol. But if I did know, I’d try to stay away. But obviously it depends. Something like saying racist things vs. having some diff non-prejudiced views is a big difference!

  9. suzanna

    Interesting discussion. I fear I may have double standards here. Let me explain.
    I went to an author signing earlier this year. This was a children’s author. I was completely unimpressed with his attitude towards his fans and his appearance (I’m mean it’s OK to sit in your house and write in scruffy t-shirts and grubby jeans but I’d expect authors (or anyone really) to have a bit more professionalism when they were in public). The same author has also been in trouble on social media for racist and sexist comments. I think this is bad form for an adult author but unacceptable in a children’s author and it really put me off buying any more of his books.
    I’m not sure I would have had the same reaction if the author had written books for adults.

    1. Kristen Burns

      You can have whatever standards you want! I don’t read children’s books, so that doesn’t really apply to me, but I think the only reason I’d be more concerned about a children’s book author were if their books were reflecting the sexist/racist/etc. attitude.

  10. Let's Get Beyond Tolerance

    I think if you want to read and support a problematic author, that’s entirely you’re choice and I’m okay with that. I don’t always know or hear about drama either, so I tend to just hear about certain authors. In that cast, they are usually people I haven’t read yet and I just assume I probably won’t now. Like you said, there are so many other authors out there to read and support and I’d rather give my time for them. However, if I really love an author, then I might keep reading their books (not necessarily buy or anything – libraries are good for getting a book) but it DOES depend on what they did/said. So far I don’t think I’ve seen anything that would make me NEVER read another favorite author’s books again.

    -Lauren

    Let's Get Beyond Tolerance recently posted: Wheels Up by Annabeth Albert

    1. Kristen Burns

      Exactly, if I know ahead of time, unless I REALLY want to read one of their books, I’d rather just support someone else instead. But usually I don’t even hear about things at all lol. And yeah, I almost mentioned in the post that if an author is really problematic but I still want to read their books, I might just borrow them from the library instead of paying for them.

  11. L

    I’ve never experienced this before, but awesome question!

    I don’t normally follow/converse with an author unless I’ve read a few of their books. I have to really, really love their work to want to follow them and automatically buy whatever they write. I haven’t come across an awful/rude author yet, or had any negative experiences. I would like to think I’m the type of person that would take the high road and read a book for enjoyment, even if I did have a bad experience. However, I know myself, and I know that a negative exchange with an author would taint my feelings while reading their books. I don’t think I would be able to separate the two in my mind. It would be this lingering, nagging sensation in the back of my head. I’m glad that isn’t the case for me, and that I’m blissfully happy while reading my books (as long as it’s a good story!).

    1. Kristen Burns

      I haven’t had any personal negative experiences with authors either thankfully, but I’ve heard about them, and I’ve read books by some authors who have been known to be problematic with reviewers. The way that I see it, it’s not so much about taking the high road as not wanting to support an author who treats their readers/reviewers badly. However, like I said, once I’m hooked on a series or if a book sounds good enough… probably gonna read it anyway lol. But depending on the situation, I completely agree, it might taint my feelings, even if I don’t want it to.

  12. Jess

    Honestly I’ve never been in the situation – I’ve NEVER heard of an author with poor behaviors! I guess it’s just me not keeping up with the community. Authors are people after all. If I know a writer with different ethical/moral/social values from mine, however, I think I will still read and may also promote their books. I read to learn about them and about myself, and if the goal is met I think it’s worth the read.

    1. Kristen Burns

      That’s the thing, most of us don’t even know about authors behaving badly, so we just keep supporting them w/o even knowing lol. But yeah, there have been authors who’ve attacked reviewers for negative reviews, sicced their fans on reviewers for negative reviews/asked people to report their reviews just for being negative, etc. Just different beliefs though I’m generally ok with too, as long as they’re not posting racist/sexist/etc. things or something disrespectful. And you’re right, it can be thought-provoking to read about different values!

  13. chucklesthescot

    I do have a series that I really want to read written by an author who behaved badly to her fans. (Rob Thurman) I’m sure the books will be great and I do intend to read them but I don’t like the idea of reading and reviewing it because I hate promoting people I know behave bad. It’s a problem I don’t often find in the genres I read. Or it would be more accurate to say, I don’t often hear of this stuff until after I buy/read the books. I’m hardly ever on social media so I rarely see these things unless it appears on a blog I follow. I wouldn’t buy anything from a new-to-me author that I heard these stories about though. I think there will be mixed views on this but I think everyone needs to do whatever suits them best.

    chucklesthescot recently posted: Game of Thrones Gossip #41 The Good Guys

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yeah, it’s prob not so much about genre as just a lot of us don’t even pay attention to this stuff or follow a lot of authors on social media. I also usually don’t know things until people start blogging about them or tell me personally. But yeah, it’s really up to each person how they want to handle it when this comes up.

  14. Briana @ Pages Unbound

    I realized a long time ago that if I judged authors (or actors/directors/musicians/etc.) by their actions/words instead of their art, I’d quickly have practically nothing left to read. There is no one in the world I agree with 100% of the time on 100% of issues. Now, if someone says, “I am going to use the profits from this book and donate them to [some cause I don’t like],” I wouldn’t buy the book. But I read lot of books by lots of people I disagree with. The thing is…sometimes their books are quite good. The world isn’t black and white, and someone who has wild views on topic X is very capable of writing a compelling, thoughtful book on topic Y.

    That said, there are a couple people who have bothered me enough that I want nothing to do with their work, so I’m not completely consistent. I’d throw out Chris Brown as an example, but I didn’t actually like his music in the first place so….my “boycotting” him isn’t really doing anything. I also may not actively *promote* books by authors who have been horrid to bloggers (say, Kathleen Hale or Kiera Cass), but I may still read them. I’m just not going to use my blogging space to provide free marketing for authors who apparently don’t like bloggers in the first place.

    Briana @ Pages Unbound recently posted: Picture Books Aren’t Just for Children

    1. Kristen Burns

      That’s a great point. That’s why part of me feels like I can read their books if I want because I’m paying for their books, not their actions outside the book. And yes, just because someone has wild views about X, doesn’t mean they can’t great books w/ great messages about other topics.

      That’s why I think it really does depend on the situation for most people. About the promoting thing though, sometimes I’ll just read and not promote. But sometimes I *want* to review a book on my blog—not to help the author, but because *I* want to talk about it w/ people. And so in those cases, I feel like I’m not going to avoid something I want to do. Unless maybe their actions are just super bad.

  15. Molly @ Molly's Book Nook

    Hmm… I don’t really follow authors. I used to on Twitter but I RARELY go on Twitter now so yeah…I don’t think I would even know an author is “being bad” unless someone told me. hahah So I guess I would still read it since I wouldn’t know. But it would also depend on the situation – If I did know about it. Like, I don’t like authors who are rude to their readers. They are making money off of US and it just pisses me off when they’re unnecessarily rude. So that’s a huge turn off for me. But yeah, like you said, it would depend on the circumstances.

  16. ioana @dragonwaffles

    This is a very difficult topic. At the start of this year I found out that one of my favourite authors was a tad bit problematic on social media so I reconsidered suporting said author. But I think for me it really depends on the GAVITY of the situation. If the author is openly racist, homophobic, transphobic (and just generally trash) than I WILL NOT support them or their books. But let’s be real their books can’t be that good because they would most probably reflect their views. But in my case the author was just generally a bully and had done some petty and small problematic things in the past that I know she hopefully grew out of so I decided to still buy her books
    All in all I think it depends. Great post and discussion ❤!

    ioana @dragonwaffles recently posted: HELLO: Valencia!

    1. Kristen Burns

      I actually got this idea because I found out an author I read has basically been a bully to negative reviewers and whatnot. Wasn’t enough to stop me though since I already love the books. But yeah, if an author were posting racist/sexist/etc. things, that would prob be something that would stop me—or I’d at least prob just borrow their books from the library so they wouldn’t get my money. It really does depend on the situation. Thanks!

  17. Annemieke

    It is hard because some times you don’t hear about it either like you mentioned. Recently I actually heard that Roald Dahl is also considered a problematic author. And here I am, buying all his books for Merijn. I don’t think it shows in his books though. Maybe it would also be different if he was still alive and saying things actively. But it does make me feel more conflicted about him.

    I do think that you can put down a hard line for yourself. What is so important to you that you would never want to support a person who said or did that? I’m thinking of rape, racism and such then for myself. But I do have to say that the twitter peer pressure is a big thing too these days when it comes to whether or not to read problematic authors.

    Annemieke recently posted: Book Review – Taproot

    1. Kristen Burns

      I didn’t know anything about Roald Dahl, but I’ve only read one of his books when I was a kid anyway, I think. But yeah, just because someone is problematic, that doesn’t mean it will show in their books. I get it though, the conflicted feeling, cuz I found out about an author recently too which is what inspired this post.

      I was thinking of things like rape, racism, etc. too when I said I prob do have a limit. Yes! The peer pressure sometimes is crazy. Like, if you read a book by an author the community has shunned, you will be shunned too lol.

  18. Zeee @ I Heart Romance & YA

    This is a very timely post because one of the authors I follow was attacked for a post that she shared on her page. Granting that the article was pretty political, a lot of readers were pissed. In this case, I am on the authors’ side. I believe that an author CAN share whatever they want on their wall and they shouldn’t be told by readers NOT to share their beliefs and thoughts and opinions because hey, First Amendment. With that said, it also depends on the context.

    Now an author behaving badly is another issue altogether. I won’t support authors who are like this to their fans, and other writers. Say, if an author is accused and proven to steal from other authors, I won’t support that author. If the author attacks a reader/reviewer for posting/sharing a negative review, I will not support that author. If an author stalk/does something illegal, I will not support that author. In this case, it really is hard not to separate the authors’ behavior to that of their work.

    Zeee @ I Heart Romance & YA recently posted: Duke of Desire by Elizabeth Hoyt Book Review

    1. Kristen Burns

      I actually came up with the idea because someone told me about an author who’s books I love has attacked reviewers for negative reviews and stuff. But I’m still reading her books because it was just too late, I already love them. It has left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth though. I never even thought about an author stealing from other authors—that would be a thing that would make me stop supporting an author. But yeah, if they just have different opinions/beliefs, as long as they’re not being rude about them, as long as those beliefs aren’t racist, etc. then that’s generally ok with me.

  19. Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

    I tend to stay away from problematic authors, if I see with my own eyes (either directly, or via screen shots) what has happened. I have even stopped reading a series I really loved, because I just couldn’t continue supporting the author anymore. I even went so far as to return my audiobooks for reimbursement to make a statement.
    That is what I do for me, but by no means would I tell other readers and reviewers what to do. I think we each have a threshold when it comes to things like that. And in some instances, we might not even know about something problematic an author has done or said.
    Social media can be such an awesome tool, and a way to ‘hang out’ with authors every now and then. I think it can totally backfire too, though. And something that has been said in jest is taken seriously, and then things just get ugly.
    Great post, Kristen!

    Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews recently posted: Review: Lies Jane Austen Told Me – Julie Wright

    1. Kristen Burns

      Wow, you have more willpower than I do lol. I just can’t bring myself to give up a series I love (unless maybe the author does something truly horrible).

      That’s fair though, I wouldn’t tell other readers/reviewers what to do either. And yes, unfortunately social media does just accidentally get misunderstood and out of hand sometimes.

      Thanks!

  20. Darque Dreamer

    You made great points and have a good argument here. It is difficult to decide on situations like this. But it’s hard to know when people are telling the truth. Sometimes there is no proof of an author being rude to a reader, and sometimes there is. When there is no proof, I have no problem reading the books. It’s usually a he said/she said situation and as long as I don’t’ get involved in the arguments, I don’t see why I can’t enjoy the reading. I have yet to see actual proof of an author lashing out at a reader though, but if I did, I would probably just avoid the books because I wouldn’t like the disrespect coming from the author and I am sure there would be more backlash from readers in the community who want to start more drama after getting upset with that author. I have not had to deal with this issue yet, thank goodness, and have always had a positive experience with fellow bloggers, but I have seen some major drama and hate going on on Twitter and would like to keep avoiding it, lol.

    Darque Dreamer recently posted: Night of the Victorian Dead Cover Reveal

    1. Kristen Burns

      Thanks :-) That’s a good point, that just because someone says an author did something, it doesn’t necessarily mean they did. Could just be rumors or something. I have seen authors leaving comments on negative reviews and stuff on a few occasions though. And there was that whole thing about an author who talked about how she stalked a reviewers once. So I mean, it does happen. But thankfully most authors seem to be good people toward their reviewers. I’ve never personally had any bad experiences either. And I agree, I just try to avoid all the Twitter drama, haha.

      1. Darque Dreamer

        I am glad we have not experienced this yet! I try really hard to give respectful constructive criticism and it seems to be received well. I have had a few authors politely discuss those points with me and found that they were very open to feedback, so its nice to have that positive experience. Hopefully we can avoid the negativity! :)

        Darque Dreamer recently posted: Dawn (Hero Society #1) by Jessica Florence

        1. Kristen Burns

          Same! I try to be respectful in all my reviews, and I’ve had authors thank me for negative reviews. Of course sometimes even respectful reviews can get backlash too, but hopefully we’ll never have to deal with that!

  21. Lola

    I always find this a difficult topic, because on the one hand I think it’s good to separate the book from the author at least to a certain degree. The book is different from the author and the book can still be great and impact people like you said, even if they author behaves badly. And on the other hand I do find it difficult myself to separate the two. Once you know something about an author it can be hard not to let their influence your decision to read their book or not at times.

    I follow a lot of authors on social media and newsletters. And I find that sometimes what I learn about authors can positively or negatively impact if I want to read their books. Sometimes I meet authors that just seem so nice or they share things in their newsletter or social media that make me more likely to pick up their books or want to support them. But I’ve also had authors that I felt behaved badly or for some reason didn’t like and I find it hard to bring myself to pick up their books. Often these are cases where I wans’t sure if I wanted to read the book anyway. If I am really excited or curious about a book I might still pick it up even if the author behaves badly. It also depends on what the actual behavior is.

    1. Kristen Burns

      I agree, I think, in a way, it makes the most sense to separate them since a book can still be amazing even if the author is a jerk. But once I find out about an author behaving badly, it usually does give me this nagging feeling while I’m reading their books and possibly taints my reading experience, or it might even make me not bother with any more of their books if I wasn’t already super interested them.

      But that’s true, there is the other side to things! When an author is nice and friendly, I do feel more inclined to check out more of their books. But yeah, all of this just depends for me too.

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  23. verushka

    There’s a news report I read about whether it’s okay to watch Kevin Spacey’s work now that he’s been unmasked as a predator, and someone pointed out that there are a lot of people associated with his shows that gave their all and have nothing to do with him… but he’s usually a main character. I don’t watch House of Cards, but it’s something that’s been on my mind. I don’t watch House of Cards, but I don’t think I could watch any of his movies. When it comes to books, I think my hard line would be someone acting badly towards fans and reviewers — that I can’t support. Interesting question in light of what’s going on in the world, Kristin!

    1. Kristen Burns

      Hmm, that’s true in terms of movies/shows, that there are lots of other people involved in them. But with books it seems like it is more just the author (and maybe the pub) who will feel the effects if we stop supporting them. Thanks!

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  25. Rosie Amber

    Good question. But in the end, for me, it is down to respect and polite treatment of a fellow human being. I will review a book honestly if I’ve been respectively asked to review. If after that, the author wants to make a fuss, I try to remain professional. I’ve had a handful of authors try to verbally bully me over their review which only made them look childish and gave them a bad reputation. I won’t touch another book by them.

  26. S. J. Pajonas

    I went through a lot of the comments below and it looks like the sentiment is mostly the same. It’s hard to separate an author and their thoughts/feelings/actions/politics from their work. There’s a famous scifi author that I used to love as a kid and now I know that they’re fairly bigoted in real life, and it has soured me from reading anymore of their work. Such a pity too because their work is amazing. As an author myself, I feel like my politics are fairly straight-forward in my work, and I don’t need to shout that from the rooftops, and I was raised on the belief that if you haven’t got anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. So unless I feel it’s absolutely necessary to say something, I just keep to my own business.

  27. Dani @ Perspective of a Writer

    Hi Kristen! Great topic! Loved your points and the honesty you used to express them! ♥️ I don’t think someone is racist, etc just because their book is problematic… there are many reasons to include things in books namely you experienced this yourself or know someone else who has… just because the character the author developed acts this way doesn’t mean the author supports it… only that they felt it was a viable trait of the character… if we only had positive examples then there would be NO villains or even conflict! Both which make a story. Really I decide based on the premise and whether I like the author’s previous work… you seem to have hit it in the head!

    Dani @ Perspective of a Writer recently posted: Keep it or Skip it? Mostly Book Club Potentials

    1. Kristen Burns

      Thanks! I completely agree, though sometimes the line can get a little blurry between character thoughts vs author’s thoughts. But I too just try and decide based on the book!

  28. Julija @ Books Over Coffee

    Great post, Kristen! With all the drama what’s always seem to be happening in book community, I think it’s absolutely necessary to at least try to separate the book from the author.
    On the one hand, as you said, if the author displays problematic attitude in real life, towards real people, then yes, I think it’s totally fine to avoid their books. Even if objectively those books are fine. (Just as it is fine to enjoy them, even if you don’t like the author, in my opinion.)
    But on the other… I’m of the firm opinion that if an author writes a book with problematic characters, for example, that does not in any way mean the author as a person is problematic. A racist character, for example, may have an actual purpose, and not have anything to do with author’s own personal beliefs. Authors can create characters (and worlds), not just self-insert themselves into their own work.
    But that might just be my idealistic approach to things, haha. So glad you brought this to a discussion, though!

    Julija @ Books Over Coffee recently posted: An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson