Books Magazine

When Your Favorite Author Turns Out To Be A Jerk

By Robert Bruce @robertbruce76

Don’t you just hate that?

If you want, you can replace “author” with “celebrity” or “athlete” or “actor.” It’s all so disappointing when that person appears one way in public, then turns out to be a complete you-know-what when you have an opportunity to interact with them personally, or even on social media.

I won’t name names, because that’s not what this is about. But I’ve had an experience with particular nonfiction author in the past year that changed my view of him and his writing. It’s sad.

It’s sad when you’ve read several books from one writer—and you mistakenly perceive him to be one way—but in a few interactions with him, he turns out to be a total butt munch.

This is particularly true for nonfiction authors. Let’s be honest—the bar is really low for novelists, right? I mean, it takes a little crazy to write good fiction, doesn’t it?  Just read a few bios about famous authors. A lot of them are a bit crazy and neurotic and would have no problem cussing you out–that just comes with the territory. 

But for nonfiction writers, especially those in certain genres, it’s different. If you’re writing a self-help book about parenting, then you better not be a whack job of a parent. If you’re a Christian writer who preaches grace and forgiveness, then you darn well better not be a jerk or an a-hole on Twitter. If you’re dispensing medical advice in some type of wellness book, then you better have the knowledge and the degrees to back up your opinions. You can’t just make stuff up like novelists.

All that said, these people aren’t perfect. They all have bad days, just like the rest of us.

It’s unrealistic to think an author is going to be a perfect gentleman or lady to every person they meet every day. But when it’s a reoccurring thing, and when it’s someone you or someone you know has interacted with several times, and the jerkishness continues to be an ongoing theme? Well, in that case they are probably just a jerk.

You have two options.

1)   Take their advice at surface level. They very well might have great advice for you in their writing. Even when people don’t “practice what they preach,” sometimes their preaching still makes good sense. You just have to somehow separate the teaching from the teacher, and that’s hard to do.

Or 2) Just stop reading the author. Stop responding to their tweets. Stop having anything to do with them. Let the natural consequences of their jerkiness take over.

Bottom line, though, is to probably just do your Frozen imitation and let it go, no matter whether you continue to read their work or not.

We all can be jerks some times. I’m sure Mother Theresa even had a moment or two in her life. But if you’ve found your favorite author’s jerkiness to just be too much, then let it go and find a new favorite author.

Sometimes, jerks just gonna be jerks.

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