?

Two sub-polls, really. Chose one from the first pair and one from the second - would you rather:

  1. be critically acclaimed if financially equal (win awards to make up for loss of sales);

    4 vote(s)
    36.4%
  2. be popular and sell lots of copies if financially equal (no awards, all income from sales);

    4 vote(s)
    36.4%
  3. be critically acclaimed If financially unequal (lower sales=lower income);

    1 vote(s)
    9.1%
  4. be popular and sell lots of books if financially unequal (more sales=more money).

    6 vote(s)
    54.5%
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    "Short on Sales but Long on Acclaim"

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by BayView, Jun 20, 2015.

    I just read an article on the death of author James Salter (http://news.yahoo.com/james-salter-author-sport-pastime-dead-90-225738234--finance.html) and the twitter tease was: "James Salter, a ‘Writer’s Writer’ Short on Sales but Long on Acclaim, Dies at 90 "

    It made me wonder - is that a good trade off?

    For me, I don't think it would be. I figure if lots of people buy my books, that's because they like my books. And I'd rather have lots of people like my writing than a few critics like it.
     
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  2. Tim3232
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    Tim3232 Active Member

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    There was an article in the Telegraph last year ago about a book which had received good reviews but really low sales. I presume the sales would have lifted a little more after the article - maybe not. I can't remember the book or author now, but the reporter couldn't understand it. Could it have been down to bad marketing? Perhaps the subject of the story was unappealing or perhaps potential buyers took a peek and simply didn't like what they saw. I don't recall the article having a answer.
    I think i would go for acclaim and awards but then I don't write for a living.
     
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  3. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    It's somewhat difficult to answer from a writing perspective, having never written a novel, let alone published or sold one.

    I think my experience with software writing, however, will translate into my writing goals. With software (writing equivalent), I derive satisfaction from
    1. producing something that is easy to use (read) that doesn't get in your way or force you to do anything, despite potentially being very complex and involved
    2. producing software that helps people do what they need to do (escape, or aspire to a better life or world or what have you)
    3. develop rapport / relationship with people using the software, and improve it or make other software that may also be useful (write sequels, or other books, etc)

    I see some of the threads here and do not recognise book titles or authors, and cannot contribute meaningfully for that reason. Not sure if that is good or bad, or will persist through any sort of writing career, but I do not know of many awards in the literary world, and my opinion of critics is low. I do not understand how a non-producer can wield so much power and influence over the creative people who actually produce the content (thinking food and film critics here specifically).

    So after lots of rambling, I am going to say:

    [x] be popular and sell lots of books x 2.

    More so for the audience and reach vs the money.

    A most thought provoking question.
     
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  4. BrianIff
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    BrianIff I'm so piano, a bad punctuator. Contributor

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    I think living in Paris does something to writers. Why aren't as many New England cottage folk represented on course syllabi? But seriously now, suppose society has an infatuation with reading about vanity and the pursuit of an attractive appearance, for example; there's only so much that can be said about it, and so many angles, but that doesn't mean society will become any less interested. Take self-help, say, and its perpetual reinventing of the wheel for living a more relaxed, healthy lifestyle. The pace at which it publishes doesn't follow from parallel leaps in psychological research or the nutritional sciences. To me, this is a simple fact of humanity that must be taken as a first principle for understanding why things are popular. Writers who focus on writing as an art may be lucky enough to have some popular appeal, but for them, true innovation goes beyond the details. This is not to say that the popular is très déclassé, but Parisians do it right.
     
  5. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I would prefer a lot of readers. They are their own award.

    Critical acclaim, depending on where it comes from, can be a sign of success, and can drive notice which might lead to additional sales. It's sort of like built in marketing.

    Some YA awards, for example, will mean libraries will be more likely to take notice and pick up copies of a novel, thus being introduced to readers (beyond the initial library sales). For those that might be interested, a Hugo or Nebula will open doors--invites to Fantasy/SF Conventions and possibly improve the ability to negotiate a better contract (or an agent do it), and also help to ensure better distribution.
     
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  6. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Given a choice, I prefer awards and great reviews from critics over lots of readers for two reasons. One, I'm writing for like-minded people, and I already know this is a small market. Two, my circumstances have changed the last couple of years, so my goal no longer involves selling a ton of copies and making money that way.

    Anyway, I'm going to check out James Salter when I can. It seems like he was admired by a lot of his fellow writers, which is always a good sign.
     
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  7. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I don't understand why people think it's one or the other, why not go for both? David Foster Wallace sure had his critics, Harold (Shakespeare Invented Humanity) Bloom for one, but he was both a critical and commercial event with his Infinite Jest. Same with Hemingway really. Critical darlings in films flop because they are duller than dish water, and things that have neither public or critical appreciation can have a cult following that grows to mainstream and critical success over a long period of time. That's happened a number of times, like for example with H.P. Lovecraft.
     
  8. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I think this thread is more a hypothetical thought experiment than anything else. As you pointed out, lots of writers experience both critical acclaim and commercial success, but I would guess that there are a lot more writers who experience one over the other.
     
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  9. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Like, for example, James Salter!
     
  10. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Yeah - then I'd go for commercial success personally. Unless this was a pure black and white hypothetical between respect and immediate financial success and then I'd go for critical success without hesitation.

    I'd rather die in a gutter with the beautiful work only in manuscript in my arms over making lots of money over something that would only be forgotten. But, I say that, I'm a hopeless romantic who imagines himself as some Arthur Rambaud type character just to get through the day and the terrible struggle of just living with myself. :D
     
  11. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    You need an option for, I'll take either. Either option would make me ecstatic.
     
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  12. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I like this.
     
  13. Stacy C
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    Stacy C Banned

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    Show me the money.
     
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  14. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Haha. Don't worry, if it ever comes to this, you can stay with me in my beach house. :D
     
  15. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Beach house! I'm paying for the beer and BBQ! :D

    ... somehow. :p
     
  16. Tim3232
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    Tim3232 Active Member

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    Apparently, to write a best seller you need to avoid cliches, avoid using lots of verbs, and make lots of use of and, but, nouns and adjectives.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/news/10560533/Scientists-find-secret-to-writing-a-best-selling-novel.html
    But then this is based on statistical stylometry - and you know what's said about statistics. The analysis only considers sales success not awards.
     
  17. Adenosine Triphosphate
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    Adenosine Triphosphate Old Scratch Contributor

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    I have to say, the comments section of that article is remarkably abrasive even by Internet standards. It feels like I just stepped into a middle school lunch room.
     
  18. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Sometimes this forum can feel the same way, to be honest. :/
     
  19. Adenosine Triphosphate
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    Adenosine Triphosphate Old Scratch Contributor

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    Yep. Because getting angry at people is the best way to find out the truth about things. We think more clearly under those conditions.

    Oh, wait.
     
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  20. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't know which one to choose, because I have to refine definitions:

    - There's conventional critical acclaim.
    - There's some audience at least a little bit bigger than "tiny", loving and respecting my work. Loving it so that when it's criticized they said, "You don't understand! It's great!" rather than, "I know it's pure trash, but I enjoy it anyway."

    Either of those would count as "critical acclaim" for me.

    On the money side, I feel that the money would get more important as it climbed up to an amount that allowed me to work fewer hours at my day job, even more imprtant if it allowed me to quit my day job, and then become far less important. Going from ten percent of a living income to one hundred percent would be far more important than going frome one hundred percent to two hundred percent.

    I say "I feel" because I'm not in that position. It's possible that an unpredictable writing income would be a source of high stress for me, so that maximizing income would be terribly important so that I could relax about the question of whether I'd have to go back out and get another day job. It's also possible that only a fabulous writing income would make me comfortable about quitting that day job, and that no income would be fabulous enough, at least in any realistic world. I don't know.
     
  21. Kingtype
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    Kingtype Always writing or thinking things XD Staff Role Play Moderator Contributor

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    Both in all honesty but a lot of readers are in truth their own reward. As for the money....well it would be pretty damn awesome if people liked what you wrote so much you could make a living on it XD but in al honesty.

    I'll be happy as long people read it and as long as not every single critic hates it then I'll consider myself as doing pretty good.

    Don't get a fella wrong though.

    Who wouldn't love to make a living on what their passionate about?

    I know artistic integrity is important and you should fight to keep it if it ever comes down to it, but making a living off what you love is killing two birds with one stone. You get to do the thing you love and you will be paying the bills.

    That's pretty awesome.

    I'd be surprised if anybody would be alright just dying with some great written literary work but never published or even read and on the flipside dying with while making a bunch of generic really badly written super cliched pulp stories but a wallet full of cash would also kinda suck....not enough heart.

    Soooooo answering from the best perspective as I like to do.

    You should go for both.

    Let yourself write grow as a writer even after you've been published, have a business mentality when it comes to well the business side of things, always study your peers and the writers that came before you (literary and speculative), always keep writing out of love you have for it but when you have writers block, remember that an empty fridge is good motivation for anything.



    Come on!

    YA GOTTA EAT WORDS AND CRAP THUNDER.

    Write while you're chasing chickens, write while climbing to the top of a snowy mountain or writing as you outrun a car and of course write about boxing while you're shadowboxing. Oh and when you climb to the top of the mountain to shout the name of your greatest enemy or the publishing company who has rejected you a number of times.

    .......References
     

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