I recently participated in a marketing class taught by my former WordServe agent, Alice Crider. She gave us the tools needed to take control of our careers and the motivation to create opportunities.
There was, however, one thing about the class that shocked me. In fact, if more writers knew about this before they got started, then they might have reconsidered their career choice. Here it is:
To sell your books, you need to be a likable character, and one of the requirements for becoming a likable character is to be polarizing.
Polarizing: to cause (people, opinions, etc.) to separate into opposing groups.
This means that if I am polarizing, then there will be people who don’t agree with me, or they could, gasp, even dislike me.
I hate conflict though. Can’t we all just be friends?
The problem with this wish is that as a writer, if I want anyone to stand with me, I have to first stand for something. I have to know who I am. I have to believe wholeheartedly in what I’m saying. And while this may push some people away, it’s going to draw those who agree with me even closer. They will become my true supporters.
For example, Jen Hatmaker recently claimed that gay marriage can be holy. You can’t get more polarizing than that in the church. She was attacked, and her books have since been banned from certain stores. But here’s the interesting part. She has endeared herself to her audience so completely that her latest book is now in the running for Goodreads Best Book of the Year.
Once I understood this, I decided to not only keep yoga in my next novel, but to use it in promotion. My editor was afraid some Christians would be offended, but I explained why I teach yoga and how it is both permissible and beneficial for me. She accepted with the stipulation that I write a reader letter for the beginning of the book.
I shared that letter yesterday online, and it was definitely polarizing. I received a personal message saying that I’ve been warned, and now they were going to wipe the dust from their feet and leave me behind. But I also got messages from people wanting to review the book. Besides that, one yogi reviewer told me Finding Love in Eureka is one of the best books she’s ever read. I’ve found my audience.
My point here isn’t to argue who is right or wrong. It’s to encourage writers to be strong. Of course, that’s going to include being knowledgeable and respectful. (You’re goal isn’t to tick people off but to say the hard things that you might not want to say for fear of ticking people off.)
You’re the expert. You’ve been given your passions and desires for a reason. Don’t let your message be watered down when trying to please people. You have something unique to offer that won’t resonate with everyone.
In fact, Jesus said, “Everyone will hate you because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” There’s probably never been a more polarizing man in all of history. And His book, you know, is a number one best-seller.