Monday, March 02, 2015

Serving Multiple Audiences

Or how not to yuck other people's yums. 
So, here's the thing.  Somewhere on the internet (and again, I'm not linking because I both don't want to reward such silly, and suspect it may have been genuinely unintentional slamming, but still very problematic) but, oh, hi, somewhere on the internet some books folks wrote a reading list.  Since it was February it featured romance.  Since some people have a kneejerk ugh romance reaction they entitled attempted to frame it as books that will make you like romance even if you generally think romance is dumb.  And in the descriptions of some of the suggestions they said things like: this one is even written pretty well.
Now here's the thing.  There are lots of book types that I have an, eh, not for me reaction.  And I totally expect that this place knows their core audience better than I do, so I assume they know they have a number of ugh, not romance folks. But, there are two ways to approach this.  One is: here are several things we think are amazing or interesting enough that you will like even if this is not normally your thing.  And the other is: here are several things that are pretty good even if they are from this silly genre. 
There is absolutely something to evangelizing, especially book evangelizing beyond people who have already signed on to the romance reading train.  Certainly there are books outside my normal genres that if there are recommendations from the right people, I will dip a toe into. But framing it as here are things that don't suck, versus here are things that might interest you doesn't really excite those who think that romance isn't their thing.  If your selling point is it's not bad for this kind of thing, no one wants to try that, not people who love it and not people who avoid it.  It only serves to reinforce stereotypes people may have about the genre, and piss off those who know that isn't a fair assessment of the genre. 
One of the things I'm really working on this year it not yucking other people's yums.  I can express my taste, my preferences, without taking out others.  This doesn't mean I will stop disagreeing with people, or that I will start watching that TV show or reading that book I already told you I didn't like.  But it's not just niceness, that leads me to this approach.  Slamming other people's entertainment, directly or indirectly, is not just unnecessary it can be mean.  Measured criticism is one thing.  But, if you loved a story, then yay for you.  It may have rubbed me all the wrong ways.  That's fine too.  Much of life is figuring out what works for you.  But the other part of that is figuring out things that work for you, don't always work for others, and vice versa and this doesn't make anyone wrong.