Always listen carefully to the advice people are willing to give you, but be just as willing to reject it and do your own thing. The truth is, whether you’re a professional creative or a small business owner or just a human being trying to live a life, the opinions of other people don’t matter all that much. Data is starting to become available to prove that out. You can assimilate what people are telling you, pick up the things that seem useful and incorporate it into your own flows, but you can’t do things the way other people insist you should. They’re not you. It may not apply to you. And often, they’re full of crap. Here are some comments on 3½ articles that sum up my bad attitude (it’s 4 links on 3 separate topics, if you need that explained).
There’s an article up on Medium discussing how relatively worthless influencers are in terms of marketing power. Just because someone has a lot of followers on social media doesn’t mean anyone is necessarily paying attention to them. Getting them to talk about your product might not get you the bump you hoped for, whether it’s getting more followers yourself, increasing brand awareness, or generating sales. I can speak from experience that the few times tastemakers have given me or one of my books a shout-out, the best I’ve gotten was a small blip from the attention economy. The notion that I should be pursuing these people to endorse me, paying them to talk about me, or kissing their ass, has always felt ludicrous to me.
I think that people are, for the most part, smart enough to realize that when a person is endorsing a product or service they’re probably being paid to do so. We also know that a lot of followers are bots, so who knows how many people are being “influenced” in objective reality. If it’s something that will solve your problem or looks appealing, you’ll buy it for those reasons. An influencer might get something in front of you that you hadn’t seem before. But you’re not spending money on crap you have on use for just because somebody you follow on social media said they like it.
The CEO of Hachette Group (tl;dr that’s a publishing conglomerate) said “The ebook is a stupid product: no creativity, no enhancement“. And he’s right, because in terms of design you really can’t do all of the the same things (yet) that you can do in print. Publishing hasn’t caught up yet to the potential of digital media to do anything other than display text and pictures. I am fully aware that to grow my business, I need to get into creating physical products. There are limits to being a digital-only publisher.
That said, I wouldn’t be able to be a publisher at all without digital formats and platforms. And it does offer a benefit over physical books, and that’s the amount of space ebooks take up in my small apartment. I don’t have to move a metric ton of boxes when we eventually move, either. All you need is a charger and an outlet. So as successful as they are, I’m not looking for Hachette to be a role model for my own business.
This one will come across as highly judgmental, and I’ll admit that it is. I am the king of typos, and embrace that as part of the overall those of being the Roger Corman of tabletop roleplaying games. I have tight deadlines and no budget. Someday, I’ll have longer deadline and a bigger budget, but for now we do the best we can with the resources we’ve got. Which is why I shouldn’t clock people for bad grammar. I think context is important, though.
What am I talking about? There’s a study showing a correlation between negative online reviews and bad grammar. A well-written, thoughtful review is more likely to be a positive one. The majority of one-star reviews tend to be unintelligible gibberish. And actually, the majority of reviews other than five-star reviews tend to be poorly written. Considering that both consumers and publishers/sellers are more likely to find a well-written review useful, you can understand why I tend to ignore the occasional bad review.
I only have two criteria for my own creative work at this point: Am I happy with it, and is it making money. If the answer to either of those questions is “no”, then I start asking questions, gathering data, and looking for ways to improve. If the answer is “yes”, then I leave it alone. And no influencer, corporate CEO, or reviewer is really going to have any impact whatsoever. If the love it, thank you, no matter what I think I’ve garnered a compliment.
But if they hate it, but I love it, and it sells well, their opinion has little value to me because I’m getting what I need out of it. It’s only if they hate it and I hate it too, or they hate it and it’s not making money, that I’ll turn to them for some feedback about what I need to fix. Otherwise, I don’t need to fix it.