We writers crack me up sometimes. Especially on Facebook writers’ groups.
The other day, I got a notice that someone had posted on one such page I belong to. And it turned out to be a really long post with some really entertaining responses.
Starting out with something along the lines of, “Nobody cares that much about what you write, how you write it or what you mean with it,” it proceeded to say that readers pick up books because of the front cover, which then colors their whole opinion about the subsequent pages.
The really long post ended with a really big picture of a woman – presumably the poster – looking all pretty and approachable and knowledgeable about something. I’m assuming she’s a graphic designer who works on book covers considering how she was telling a Facebook writers' group that their words weren’t important.
Which apparently wasn’t the best marketing move on her part. She got utterly ripped to shreds, starting with the first comment of, “Nobody cares that much about your picture.”
Admittedly, that response is pretty funny. And it’s also somewhat amusing that she wrote such a really long post to say that nobody cares about the written word. But the degree of hostility she got was equally worthy of a good eye roll.
Members of this Facebook writers' group were so righteously (or self-righteously) offended that they couldn’t see the two glimmers of important truth in her otherwise self-promoting post:
The front cover is a huge deal. Fair or not, if people aren’t intrigued by that aspect, an author’s audience will be next to nil – no matter how worthwhile the story itself is. This is an issue Innovative Editing dealt with late last year, a worthwhile read for anyone who isn’t automatically inclined to carefully consider their book’s outward appearance.
The majority of readers today really don’t seem that interested in strong writing styles, clear moral messages or authorial intent, as evidenced by a number of immensely famous writers out there. They’re more of the Nirvana “Teen Spirit” type crying, “Here we are now; entertain us!”
Now, none of that commentary is to promote bad writing. Obviously, as a manuscript editor and book coach, I’m downright passionate about encouraging writers to be the best they can possibly be at their craft.
Strong, purposeful writing can open up so many amazing opportunities, sweeping people away from their everyday issues, inspiring them to want to write as well, teaching them the beauty of language, opening their minds to new ideas, challenging them to truly support their old ones…
Purposeless writing – the kind that’s just about a paycheck or giving people what they want – leaves everyone involved stuck in a rut.
It’s important to note that the whole starving artist thing is way overrated. So paychecks are, in fact, highly encouraged. And authors most definitely should keep their intended audiences in mind, respecting them at every turn. However, we shouldn’t let ourselves be dictated by either force.
We shouldn’t let ourselves be dictated by any force.
Successful writing is highly nuanced, with so many aspects to consider. That’s why it’s okay to roll your eyes at really long posts on Facebook writers' groups about how “nobody cares that much about what you write, how you write it or what you mean with it.”
Just don’t get so righteously (or self-righteously) offended by someone else’s opinion that you miss out on an opportunity to challenge your own.