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Authors and Social Media, Or: Why I Haven’t Read The New Outlander Yet

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Susie Rodarme

Staff Writer

Susie Rodarme is obsessed with small press literary fiction and tea. Other notable skills: chainmaille weaving, using Photoshop semi-correctly, and drinking gin.

When the previous Outlander book came out, it was a Big Thing among me and a few of my friends. We would gather in our social media spaces and chatter, fangirl over Jamie, predict events and outcomes.

This time, I did not so much do that. In fact, I haven’t even picked up Written In My Own Heart’s Bloodnor watched the premiere of the show (though I probably wouldn’t have anyway, but my feelings about adaptations are another post).

What changed between the last book and this one? Mostly, I followed Diana Gabaldon on Facebook. She would occasionally post messages to her fans that I didn’t . . . totally love. Like this one:

Goodness gracious. Do y’all honestly think I have time to read 900 posts of pointless silliness about casting, let alone reply to them? If you _do_ think that, you might want to think again.

The only thing I _will_ say is (and this is honest curiosity on my part): What the HECK do you expect to accomplish by hopping up and down shouting, “I don’t like _him_, I want HIM!”?

If you’d just like me to respect your personal opinion–of course I do. You’re always welcome to share your own views of things here. Every single reader has his or her own mental images of the characters and situations in any book, and why not?

On the other hand, if you expect your opinion actually to have any effect on anyone else–let alone the producers of the new tv series…eh…good luck with that.

P.S. In re “supporting my lifestyle”…. Do y’all feel that you’re subsidizing the lifestyle of the supermarket checker who bags your groceries? Are you helping to put the late Steve Jobs’s kids through college? ‘Cuz you are–every bit as much as you support me. I write books, and if you want to buy them, I’m really pleased. But all I owe you is the best book I can write. That much, I promise you.

Look, I get that people on the internet can be annoying. Hell, people in real life can be annoying. But this sort of “hey, I respect your personal opinion but really, shut up because I don’t have time for this nonsense” message, especially coupled with the “I don’t owe you anything but a good book” message, puts me off as a reader and a fan.

If people are annoying, one has the option of ignoring them; I don’t expect fans to behave professionally because they’re not the professional in this interaction. The author is, or is supposed to be. I’d seen messages from Gabaldon before that struck me as being unprofessional, but this was the one that made me finally stop following her page. To me, if someone loves your work that much and gives you enough money that you can quit your day job and make up stories for a living, you can maybe let them be annoying without having to comment on it.

(And no, I didn’t leave an opinion about casting because I didn’t have one and still do not.)

I think this is when I stopped going out of my way to follow authors that I like on Facebook or Twitter. Reading can be an intensely intimate act; you’re allowing someone’s creative voice into your headspace and potentially heartspace in a private way that most people can’t access. It’s jarring when you see someone that you have allowed into yourself being unprofessional, or even a bit douchey. It makes the idea of getting intimate with them again less attractive. I loved Outlander and I’m sad that I might not feel like finishing the series.

Following authors on social media: the struggle is real.

Have you had a bad author-customer experience on social media, or quit an author due to their real-life persona? Tell us in the comments!



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