In case you've somehow been avoiding TV, social media and most public Internet sites over the past 10 months, it's an election year. Tensions are especially high during election season, when the news media is amped up on Red Bull and rhetoric, but some politician is always out there campaigning at all times. It's easy to get swept up in politics during any year, but you can't ever forget about the politics of being an author...particularly if you're a self-published author.
When you're a self-published author, you are your own PR agent. You're in charge of all your marketing and all your promotion, and it's a really hard job that takes up a whole lot of time. So don't screw yourself by actually being yourself in the middle of all that.
That's right. When your parents and your friends and your teachers were telling you to "just be yourself," they didn't count on you becoming a self-published author and your own best friend and biggest supporter. You can be yourself when you're at home, but you can't be yourself when you're in your author persona -- at least, not really.
Politics are polarizing, and that's a real problem for you as an author. When you're presenting yourself to the world as a writer, the social media accounts you use to tout your books are no longer your own. That means you can't start screeching about politics in the middle of a bunch of tweets about your books. The minute you make your political or religious affiliation known, you're running the risk of turning off a large portion of your audience.
I know it's true, because I'll hit my "block" button in less than 1 second if I see someone expressing a political opinion that's opposite my own...and I will not reveal on which side my bread is buttered, no matter how nicely you ask. Why? Because when you are a self-published author, like I am, you are neutral on any and all hot-button issues and political matters. Otherwise, you're going to be screwing yourself out of readers. Isn't it hard enough to get them already?
As a matter of fact, it's not even a good idea for you to have any sort of opinion except in a very specific set of circumstances.
If you write about politics, then obviously you're going to end up tweeting about it, blogging about it, and what-have-you. If you write about politics, you're already targeting a specific group and that group is interested in politics. You're going to be using political opinions and rhetoric in your promotions, and it's totally appropriate to do so. But if you write about anything else, just stay neutral. Offensive subject matter creeps into books a lot, but your author persona should never be offensive or off-putting to anyone if you can help it.