Books are now the target of “cancel culture”

My Turn: What 'I'm not politically correct!' really meansI’ve talked previously about “revisionist history” and the whole changing the world outlook from the “PC” police. It’s not a good sign when everything is wrong in movies, television, and now books. In an article published on July 3 in the Washington Post, While offensive TV shows get pulled, problematic books are still inspiring debate and conversation, book critic Ron Charles said…

“The great reckoning now sweeping across pop culture has been working through the stacks of literature for far longer. The effects of time are twofold: Most books have fallen into dust, along with the racist values they imbibed. And those few texts that survive have been subjected to rigorous — and ongoing — debate.”

So now its books. Books! Are we going to have a good ole book burning, like we saw at Nazi rallies or even in movies like Footloose, where religious zealots burned books like Fahrenheit 451 because of its content. In the article, Charles mentioned books like Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn  and Shakespeare’s Othello as examples of racist language not fit for today’s society. Oh course it’s not, but that’s not the point.

As I’ve said before, I’m all for racial equality across the boards. That’s been my mantra for my entire life, and I lived through the 60’s and 70’s in the South. But I draw the line at banning books. Free speech is free speech. It is an essential part of our life as American citizens. I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend your right to say it with every fiber of my being. That said, I draw the line at book banning or censorship of any kind.

Books are the reflection of our life in this world. The stories of every generation can be found in the books written at that time. Yes, they can be crass, profane, and definitely not politically correct by today’s standards, but they are a reflection of the time they were written in. Books are the chronology of our life written by the authors of the time.  When you read Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Huckleberry Finn, The Invisible Man, and other novels, you see the progression of our country through the racial divides. It speaks to the power of literature.

OUR DEFINITIONS OF UNPOLITICALLY CORRECT & POLITICALLY CORRECT ...

“Under the best circumstances, that’s the enriching conversation that literature can inspire: the alchemy that transmutes authors’ moral and artistic flaws into insight and understanding. I don’t mean to suggest that we’re under any super-sophisticated obligation to tolerate plainly racist books. But if cancel culture has a weakness, it’s that it risks short-circuiting the process of critical engagement that leads to our enlightenment.” ~ Ron Charles, the Washington Post

That’s the rub. If we start going after everything one group of people consider offensive (i.e. Gone with the Wind), then where does it stop? What purpose does it have if we “cancel” these novels and no longer discuss or engage in dialogue along these lines? Silence… Nothing but silence. Books allow us to have these constant discussions on race, culture, and society as a whole. It’s what helps us progress and move forward, not backwards.

Take The Great Gatsby for example. In this one novel, F. Scott Fitzgerald lays out everything from race relations to capitalism, alcoholism and class warfare. It is a model of society in that era, the wrong and the right, and opens the door to discuss what changes we could make in our world. This one novel opens up a wide range of discussion on many different topics. To get rid of it would be a great loss to us all.

Are there offensive books out there? Absolutely. There are many that I find offensive and would never read myself, but I’m just one person. We can’t let one person, or one group, dictate to the rest of us what we can or cannot read. Then, we start treading into fascism and communism, one government  rule, and then the next thing to go is our freedom. I don’t want to live like that, do you?

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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and iUniverse Publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available from Austin Macauley Publishing.

Writers beware! Social media will not let you write!

It’s safe to say that, in this world of perpetual quarantine, we have become a society “social media” parasites. We are living vicariously through our Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. Twitch, Zoom, and more. It is the only way we are communicating, coming together, and sharing ideas.

For writers, especially independent authors like me, social media is our bread and butter when it comes to marketing. I work at least 20 hours a week on social media, between designing posts and imagery to scheduling them, responding to queries, etc. When you’re working a full time job, that doesn’t leave a lot of time for eating, sleeping, or writing for that matter.

Plus, there is the draw, the allure, of social media. Between crazy cat videos, cute puppy videos, TikTok girls, creative artwork, and inspirational quotes, there is a constant draw into the world of social media. It’s part of the constant distraction of the internet, the kryptonite of authors. We want to sit and write, but the flow is interrupted. 

“If your content isn’t driving conversation, you’re doing it wrong.”Dan Roth, LinkedIn’s executive editor

Social media is a necessary tool for today’s authors. Through it, you can collaborate with other authors, find new readers, and promote your latest novel. It’s how we “IndieAuthors” find our niche in the book world. It’s the cheapest form of marketing an author can do. I can design a post and then use that same post for Facebook or Instagram as an ad. It’s an easy way to carry over from one form of advertising to another.  I can spend $100 a month in Facebook and Instagram ads that reaches nearly 30,000 people. That’s money well spent, but only if it turns into books purchased or downloaded.

“Nobody reads ads. People read what interests them. Sometimes, it’s an ad.” – Howard Gossage, real-life MadMen inspiration

The other problem is that there are so many “one-off” author support sites for independent authors like me. I belong to a couple of different sites, allauthor.com and bookbrush.com, that I pay an annual fee for tools in designing ads and social media posts, direct posts to other authors and readers, and a support network of other independent authors. They have been a great asset for me, but there are some out there that are scams who want money to send out tweets about your book to imaginary lists of people. So, beware before you buy into it.

Lastly, don’t be a social media butterfly or wallflower. You need to be aggressive in everything you do. If you aren’t paying attention, responding to comments or retweets, you might lose your audience. Don’t hesitate and be assertive, but always remember. Being a writer is the most important aspect of your job, so don’t stop writing for the sake of social media. You have to write, blog, and post, all at the same time. Multi-tasking is a bitch, but a necessary one. Remember that!

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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and iUniverse Publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available from Austin Macauley Publishing.