Indie fiction authors, Big Tech politics, and the culture wars

Indie fiction authors typically write escapist genre fiction. They have little interest in embroiling themselves in the culture wars.

Almost all of the industry gurus advise indie authors to steer clear of politics on social media and whatnot. Focus on spaceships, dragons, hunky heartthrobs, or whatever you write about in your genre fiction. That’s what we’re all told, and that’s what the vast majority of indie authors do.

Almost all indie authors, though—regardless of their politics—are heavily reliant on two major tech companies: Amazon and Facebook. Amazon is the world’s biggest bookseller, and Facebook is a primary advertising venue.

After banning President Trump, Facebook received yet another wave of account cancellations from irate conservatives this past week. That means fewer eyeballs on ads run on the platform. If someone cancels their Facebook account, they don’t see Facebook ads anymore.

Amazon, meanwhile, abruptly removed Parler—a paying customer—from its Amazon Web Services servers over the weekend. Shortly thereafter, angry Parler users began posting online screenshots of their cancelled Amazon accounts. If a person cancels their Amazon account, they don’t buy books there anymore.

Neither Facebook nor Amazon has  remained neutral in the culture wars. Both companies have thrown their weight behind various leftwing causes, including the destructive Black Lives Matter riots of the past summer.

Twitter and YouTube are even more left-leaning and ideological, but neither of these companies plays a significant role in the indie author ecosystem.

Amazon and Facebook, though, are a different matter. Indie authors can’t afford for these companies to lose half their user bases over partisan politics. Selling large numbers of books is a competitive and difficult business as it is. The last thing indie authors need is fallout resulting from the whims of the Big Tech bosses.

After this past week, indie authors may discover that while they may not be interested in the culture wars, the culture wars are very much interested in them—and everyone else, as well.