Last night I ran across a blog post that made me both angry and sad. Probably more angry than anything. Not because of what the blogger said, but because of what her comments reflected about certain people in this world.
The post was by Amanda Hocking. For those of you who don’t know, she started off as a self-published writer and has sold well over a million books. (1.5 million as of this January 2012 article)
So, here is the post: My Reaction to the Gender Coverup
Here are the comments that made me angry on her behalf (and they really have nothing to do with the topic she was angry about):
“…I very rarely weigh in on the issue of gender bias books because I think that if I say something, people will just point that my books suck…”
“This isn’t about whether or not I’ll win awards, because I won’t.”
“I may be a terrible writer or an inferior human being or a horrible person, but none of that has to do with the fact that I’m a girl, and nobody should ever feel the way did.”
Why does this anger me? Because here is a young woman who has achieved a level of publishing success that most would envy.
(If I could make a million dollars on my writing I’d be pretty damned happy.)
How did she do this? By connecting with readers. By having fans that liked her work enough to tell others about it. By writing something that people wanted to read enough that they paid for it.
Did she do so by writing perfectly crafted sentences that would make Strunk and White weep with pride? Probably not.
Does that matter? No.
Because she managed to tell a story that connected with readers in her target market. How many people can say that?
My guess, not that many. And, of the haters who have criticized her to the point that she feels she has to excuse her writing before she can voice an opinion, I’m going to say none have done that in their respective genres.
Will she win a Pulitzer someday? Probably not. That’s not the kind of book she’s writing. Are her fans a bunch of Harvard lawyers? Doubt it.
What she did is write to a much more demanding target audience. She connected with teenage girls. (Any parents out there want to share exactly how hard that is to do? One of my good friends has three teenage girls right now and he’d love to have whatever secret insight Amanda Hocking has. Right now all conversations with his kids involve text messages.)
I find it incredibly wrong that Amanda Hocking (and E.L James and Stephenie Meyer) are torn down and attacked by the writing community for their writing when they’ve managed to do what so many more of us need to do: connect with readers.
I’m not saying they write perfect sentences or should be teaching graduate programs in literature. But maybe they should be teaching others about knowing your audience and how to tell a story that engages the reader. Because if their sales are any indication, they’ve figured out how to do that.
And I just hope that all this vitriol and negativity that gets directed at them doesn’t drive them away from writing. Because that would be wrong. Because it’s writers like this that connect powerfully with readers that are going to bring more readers into the market, which means more opportunities for the rest of us.
As a final thought, it seems pretty darned interesting to me that the first three names I could think of that get these kind of attacks are women. The only man I can think of that gets that same type of negative attention is Dan Brown.
Hm. Maybe my anger does have more to do with the original subject of Amanda Hocking’s post than I thought…