ASP 71: Should You Be a Controversial Author?

“I am not afraid that the book will be controversial, I’m afraid it will not be controversial.”

– Flannery O’Connor

It’s important for authors to take a strong stance to build a strong and loyal audience. But topics like politics and religion elicit very strong reactions from people. Barrie and Steve talk about being a controversial author and how to maintain your authenticity when controversial topics come up.

“I am not afraid that the book will be controversial, I'm afraid it will not be controversial.” - Flannery O'Connor

What You’ll Learn in this Episode:

  • Steve’s recent experience posting some controversial remarks on Facebook and lessons learned
  • The impact of sharing your feelings on controversial topics to social media on your author business
  • How to maintain your authenticity when you censor yourself
  • What you can learn from authors who write and talk about controversial topics and do so successfully
  • How your niche or topic can help determine what you should avoid talking about
  • The difference between being controversial and being offensive
  • Barrie’s rule of thumb when it comes to posting about controversial topics on social media

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2 thoughts on “ASP 71: Should You Be a Controversial Author?”

  1. The way I see it, I am always going to be controversial because most of my beliefs and views do not fit in the politically correct spectrum. I’ve tried pleasing everyone and people still find reason to argue that I’m wrong, or that I should stop writing and die. My motto is to share what is important to what I am trying to say and pick and choose the arguments I engage in. I’m not going to reply to everyone who tells me what I believe is wrong, but if their opinion is based upon facts I might reply because they may just change my views or I may try to educate them if they are simply misinformed.

  2. There is a difference between being inflammatory and being controversial. Most people, even if they revealed everything about themselves, are simply not controversial. People who are controversial don’t often intend to be controversial; their ideas just happen to be controversial. Stating you love Trump or Hillary, for instance, may be disagreeable and offensive to many but is not controversial.

    Naturally, this depends on how you define these terms but we should recognize that there is a difference between those who are “controversial” because their ideas are new and undermine the established ideas, and those who make statements that we all know to be inflammatory. Just saying, “I love Trump and hate Hillary,” is pointless. If there is nothing original to add to the public discourse, you might as well keep it to yourself. But if you have a unique reason why you love Trump and hate Hillary, I think it makes sense to share it, provided that it’s relevant to your audience. (Talking about an unrelated topic to an audience interested in a specific topic is not a good idea anyway whether it’s controversial or not.)

    And, being authentic is a separate issue from being controversial. Most people would not be controversial even if they were being authentic and completely true to themselves. I think Flannery O’Connor’s quote is expressing her fear of not having anything new and influential to contribute to the world. Her work becoming controversial would prove it had something new to contribute. Changing the status quo will inevitably displease many people. If your ideas are not upsetting anyone, clearly, you are not changing anything in the world.

    But then it’s not necessary for everyone to change the world. Some people focus on reinforcing what is good. If that is your goal, there is no need for you to be controversial.


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