Writing for the wrong crowd

Very often new writers will try to gain the approval of literary critics, writing books that become more and more obscure and difficult to read, so that the average reader ends up not liking them. They try to load their books with (often simplistic and foolish) metaphors. I call these folks the FRM crowd because they are “fraught with meaning.” Remember: critics don’t buy books. They get them for free, and their tastes are not necessarily the same as the average person.

—David Farland


  1. That’s the same reason why I much prefer to get feedback from beta-readers than editors: because an editor by definition is neither buying the book, nor for that matter reading it for themselves. They may claim to “know what readers want”, but those are imaginary, statistical readers. And as everyone ought to know, there is no such thing as an average person in real life…

  2. Target audience. Very important.

    • Right. Couple that with what Felix points out, and I find myself coming to a rather bleak conclusion:

      To reach your target audience through traditional publishing, you first have to get the approval of a person who is guaranteed not to be part of your target audience – unless you are doing ‘literary’ stylistic jumping-jacks for the terminally jaded. No wonder the business is so fouled up.

      • Carbonelle says:

        To be fair to some of the laborers in the dinosaur publishing industry, some of them very much were the target audience. I’m thinking of Mr. Doherty or Mrs. Rusch. I suspect Ms Wieskopf is similar. I could go on, but you get my drift. It’s certainly unlikely, at any rate.

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