Most publishers and writers are in agreement about an author’s need to establish a platform, that is, a significant network of relationships in which to broadcast their work and cull potential readers. How one builds said platform is another story. Of course, blogs and social networking are at the forefront, and the bigger the better. But what of the voice that defines an author — the stylistic stamp; the candor, curiosity, cynicism, introspection, hipness, frankness or fickleness? Aren’t these as much of an attractant to like-minded souls?
Yet for some time I have wondered if openness and honesty should be part of a writer’s platform.
Please don’t misunderstand that to mean that dishonesty should be part of a platform. What I mean is that winning friends and influencing people usually means backing off potentially divisive statements, controversial opinions, and inflammatory rhetoric. In short, if a writer wants readers they should do as little as possible to turn them off. Which immediately puts me at a disadvantage.
You see, I have this problem of speaking my mind.
I ran into this while pastoring (which could be one of the reasons I no longer pastor!). The Bible commands us to “speak the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15) and, early on, I did my best to exclude the “love” part. But as I matured (?), I attempted to turn down the rhetoric and temper my comments. Sometimes, it meant simply shutting up. Nevertheless, being honest about people, programs or events — even if it’s executed “in love” — inevitably turns some people off.
And that can’t be good for someone hoping to get published, right?
…I’ve fully come to believe over the last year that how people perceive you in the writing industry is just as important, at times, as the writing – although in the long run, quality writing always trumps.
It’s somewhat consoling to know that quality writing trumps personal perceptions. Even an obnoxious ass like me can stumble their way into print. But is it true that “how people perceive you in the writing industry is just as important, at times, as the writing”? Kevin goes on to say that, in response to his observations, he laments some of his public comments and now avoids forums and “snark blogs” that draw too much attention and incite “flame wars.”
Man, I can totally relate. I once had to email the moderator of a website and ask her to remove a comment I’d left earlier that day. Of course, it was not before I generated enough resentment to chill Chernobyl. But if discretion is the better part of valor, then maybe keeping my sentiments to myself is actually an act of courage. Funny, but when I abstain from opinion — especially as it relates to getting published — I feel less like a diplomat and more like a suck-up.
It leaves me wondering where the “truth” part of being a Christian author is. Is it just me, or are lots of writer / reviewer blogs nothing but propaganda machines? If we’re not pimping ourselves we’re pimping someone else. I understand that this is a business. At some point, I should believe in a product enough to not feel ashamed endorsing it. But, c’mon people — every CBA book does not deserve a five star rating! Sheesh! Are Christian writers so hard up to get published that we’ve lost all objectivity?
See? There I go again.
Okay, so maybe honesty and diplomacy can coexist. I mean, I can be honest without being rude. But if perception is a key to publication, then the outspoken writer runs the risk of being perceived as a malcontent or agitator. Alas, maybe being a suck-up is a better career option. Either that, or I can build a platform of malcontents and agitators…