Social media policy

The other night Tammi and I were very proud to attend Brandon’s football booster dinner for his high school team. Actually, we were both rather surprised when he announced last spring that he was signing up for football so he could get some exercise! We had been worried he was wasting away in his bedroom playing video games to the wee hours of the morning.
Anyway, Tammi received a folder of information that we reviewed over dinner while Brandon was out having pictures taken with his teammates. One item that really stood out to me was the “Cumberland Valley Football Code of Conduct.” The coach explained the packet while we perused and he made a point to say this Code of Conduct was a new policy and had to be agreed to and adhered to by the players. Besides the bullying, drugs, drinking, and other misbehavior it forbade, there was also a paragraph on social media behavior. This led to a conversation between Tammi and I later in the evening.
Recently, there had been an article in Publisher’s Weekly about morality clauses, very similar to the codes of conduct (see below). While I tend to be more libertarian, not wanting to dictate morality to anyone for any reason, we did have an interesting discussion about social media in general.
Personally and publicly, Tammi and I both try not to comment on politics or controversial topics in social media. You are more than welcome to ask my opinion over a pint of Guinness at the tavern, but I will rarely be caught putting it in writing — especially social media! Why, you ask? Because we want to sell books to anyone and everyone and do not want to turn off any aspect of the reading public. While we probably disagree with some people on most things and most people on some things, it is not healthy for business to alienate any segment of our potential customers.
My personal rule is to always try to take the high road — and to value the opinions of others. Facebook posts that belittle or make fun of people who think or feel differently than us are actually very rude and are not something a publisher or author who is serious about their business should partake in.
Tammi and I have befriended a good number of you on Facebook and we cherish those relationships. The vast majority of you also appear to be taking the high road when it comes to your social media commentary. But, some of you are not.
While we are not going to insert morality or social media behavior clauses in our contracts at this time, we do want to caution you to think before you post. Ask yourself — could this post turn off a potential book-buyer to my work? If the answer is at least “maybe,” I would urge you to reconsider your post. Instead, post something positive about your books — or one of our other authors.