Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Books are like Haircuts

In preparation for DragonCon, an upcoming vacation and winter, I paid a visit to the salon today. My normal stylist had flown home for an emergency, so I took a chance on a new guy. An hour later, I’m sitting at home, fuming about my terrible haircut. Yeah, it’ll grow out and it’s not the end of the world...but it was my hair, my money and my time. Why did I pay so much money for such poor work (that left me pissed off)?

Then it occurred to me...haircuts are like books.

1. Length. Some people like their hair long and some like it short. Same goes for books. Where authors and stylists get into trouble is when there’s a miscommunication.

I wanted my hair shoulder length when fully dried (my hair is naturally curly so it makes a big difference). His interpretation was shoulder length when wet and pulled down to straighten out the curls. He won that battle because I’m sitting here looking like a fat, blond, female version of Carrot Top.

Fat Assassins is approximately 85,000 words, so it is a little longer than your average adult fiction book (Science Fiction excluded). Some readers thought it was long and drawn out, while others were happy with length. As a writer you have to choose the length that fits your story - a buzz cut does not work for everyone.

2. Bangs. Prologues are like bangs. Some people think they went out of style in the 80’s, but other people manage to still rock ‘em. The length and style of the bangs should compliment the whole look not make people wonder why you have them. If you’re going to include a prologue - keep it classy. I like subtle bangs that blend nicely with the rest of my haircut. The bangs I’m currently sporting are worthy of a twirly brush and Aquanet.

3. Reviews.

“It’s good, right?” the stylist asked, patting the top of my head.
“It’s too short,” I answered, looking from my reflection to the piles of hair strewn across the floor.
“No,” he said. “I think it’s good.”
He said this two more times and I let it go. He was convinced the haircut was exceptional, but I didn’t like it.

This is exactly what happens when readers post book reviews (I’m guilty). They tell us what they ‘think’. We have a tendency to want to argue with them or try to convince them that the book is good. I didn’t want him to tell me how good my haircut was... I wanted him to 1) fix it or 2) let me leave. This is one of the main reasons why I don’t respond to negative reviews. Reviewers don’t care what you think of their opinion. It’s their time, money, and book... and usually they’re mad that the book or haircut didn’t meet their expectation. Don’t respond or things will escalate.

4. Management. Most stylists don’t work directly for the salon - they ‘rent’ a chair. So when customers don’t return (because of a bad haircut, for example), the salon loses money too. This is the same for publishing houses. If they have authors who don’t perform or offend customers - they’ll feel the financial crunch of that poor performance. This salon lost my business because I trusted ‘them’ and they let me down.

If you’re talented cutting your own hair makes more sense than paying money for someone do a hackjob on your hair. If you’re a talented author, don’t be afraid to self-publish, market, etc. You might end up with a better product at the end of the day. Even if you mess it up, you can fix it or claim it’s the latest trend.

1 comment: