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!