Marketing: You Can’t Please Everyone. Really. You can’t.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned throughout my time in the world of marketing, it’s that you can’t please ’em all. And I’m not just talking about the marketing of erotica and erotic romance books. Even when I was doing little pop-by promotion products for real estate agents, it was made overwhelmingly clear that ‘you can’t please everyone’ and ‘different strokes for different folks’ are idioms for a reason. Sometimes, my silly pop-bys like giving out honey sticks with a little note saying “Your referrals make my business a hive of activity” or “Heard the buzz? It’s a buyer’s market!”… Yeah. They would go over super well with some people, who would be pleased that the real estate agent was even thinking about them enough to stop by with a little something sweet. Others hated it because it was honey, and they don’t like honey. Others were simply unimpressed by the gimmick and taglines (and hey, they were corny, so I get it). Long story short, different people all reacted differently, and that’s what you can always expect when it comes to business in general.
In book publishing, there are going to be people who love writing erotic material, and people who feel that erotic fiction, by its very nature, is appropriation and should be avoided at all costs. Some people will love the short story format while others find it too restrictive. Some people will find their goals align perfectly with a small press like Storm Moon Press, and others won’t mesh with you and choose to go their separate ways after experimenting once. They’ll all have their reasons, and most of those reasons are bound to be sound. But the fact is that reception is always going to be mixed. Even if the reaction is normally positive, there is bound to be a negative reaction somewhere to the exact same thing.
It’s just like the theme song for that show in the 80s, The Facts of Life: “You take the good. You take the bad. You take them both, and there you have the facts of life.”
There’s certainly going to be good and bad along any path of life, and writing and publishing your fiction (no matter the genre) is no exception. Some people will love your work while others hate it. Some reviewers will give you five stars, some won’t even finish your book because they thought it was so bad. The same goes for your side of things, too. You’re bound to find things you love about the genre and things that you really just wish would go away. You’re going to have great experiences and horrible experiences. You’re going to love some publishers and hate others. You’ll have a million different reasons for each of them. Just remember that there’s usually a person on the other side who has just as many reasons for thinking differently than you do. Do your best to keep things in perspective.
There is no one true way to do anything in this industry.
It’s simply the truth. You can self-publish, take your work to a vanity press, go for a small press, or shoot for the stars and get an agent who will try to sell your book to a ‘Big 6’ publisher. No one way is the right way, and there are reasons to choose each one. Whether you agree with those reasons or not is another matter, but can you see where I’m going with this? Saying there’s one way to go about your business in the genre is a lot like saying there is only one position you can have sex in. (Yeah. I said it.) We all know that’s not true, and while you might like one position better than the others (or even find one position is the only one for you), that doesn’t negate the options out there for others to explore and enjoy.
Oddly enough, it’s a good analogy. Publishing is a lot like sex. There are countless ways to engage in it, countless ways for it to be run, and different strokes truly will be for different folks (…if you know what I mean). Some people will like the hands-on approach, and others will want to just put it out there and never speak to you again. Have I taken this analogy far enough? I think so!
So, why tell you something that you likely already know? Mostly just to remind you that everyone’s path is likely to be different in the world of publishing. If you have a bad experience somewhere, chances are there will be others who have had good experiences the same place. If you get a bad review on your story, try to take the constructive criticism (if it’s there) and then let it go; there’ll be good reviews out there for you, too. Found a forum that simply doesn’t share your views? There’s probably another place that will be more receptive.
“If you look for the bad in mankind expecting to find it, you surely will.”
~Screenwriter David Swift (Pollyanna, 1960)
This is an industry where it doesn’t hurt to have a thick skin. Try not to take everything personally or make too many assumptions. It only leads to a break-down in communication, whether you’re butting heads with a reviewer, an editor, a fellow author, or even your publisher. Don’t assume everyone’s against you, but also don’t assume they’ll think you’re right 100% of the time. It’s all right for disagreements to happen. Heck, they’re going to eventually happen, whether you like it or not. We’re all not the same exact person, which means our differences are bound to clash at times. ^_-
Just remember it’s not the end of the world. You take the bad with the good, you do what you can with the situations you find yourself in, and hopefully you can look back at things and know you’ve done your best before moving on to the next endeavor.