With every movement, there are waves that push the participants along. They pick up people as they dip in their toes to test the waters, and before they know it they are going along with all the others. The writing industry is no different, especially with self-published authors and indie writers.
Following others has its moments, but it can lead to your downfall. Crowds do not always follow the right path. A crowd is too many people when you want to get noticed.
What Does It Mean?
What does it mean to follow the crowd? It is doing what everyone else is doing. It is following their footsteps and imitating their actions. What they do, you do.
What is wrong with following the crowd? After all, they are showing success. They are prolific. They have the knowledge, right? Here are seven reasons you shouldn’t be following the writing crowd.
#1 — Get Lost in the Crowd
If everyone is going in one direction, the eyes looking on just see a mass of people moving along. They cannot make out but a few red shirts and some unique hair styles. Everyone looks the same, but off to the side there is someone moving in a different direction. Where does your eye go to? It follows the one that isn’t lost in the crowd. That person stands out. They are not lost on you at all.
#2 — Readers are Bored
The same ol’ same ol’ thing gets boring. Too many of one genre gets to be too much. Too many of the same kind of ads gets boring. Too many book tours by the same author on the same sites gets very boring. You don’t want bored readers. You want excited readers. Following what everyone else is doing will give you bored. Look for excitement!
#3 — Limit the World of Writing
When you follow the crowd you limit the world of writing. Unknowingly, you are putting all writers, publishers, and marketers in a little bitty box and telling them (and yourself) that you have to stay there. Even if the world is bigger than that box, you have to stay right there. How does that make sense? Don’t follow the crowd into the box. Stay outside where the readers are.
#4 — Closed Culture/Community
Following the crowd creates a very closed community. In fact, it becomes almost dangerous. I was in an Indie author forum once and challenged some ‘follow the crowd’ things that everyone is determined to do. I was about hung in effigy across the globe. It was near heresy to propose such a thing. I found that many authors, publishers, and anyone connected to the book industry had become near fanatical at doing what they had been doing even if the results were little to non-existent. They prefer to continue doing what they had been doing. (Funny how so many of these same people are so vocal against social and religious groups for doing the same thing.)
#5 — Lies Spread Easily
When everyone follows the crowds, they begin to believe so many lies that are told as ‘truths’. I don’t know how many authors continue to believe that the longer the book is, the better it is. Bigger doesn’t mean better. I’m sorry but give me a short Poe story over some of these 100k word novels any day. Quality is pushed to the side for quantity.
There are many lies spread in the marketing arena. Authors are told that to be successful they have to do certain things while in reality there is little proof that these actions generate sales. Lies are believed because everyone around them are taking them to heart. Then of course, we spread the lies. Why? Because everyone else in the crowd is doing it.
#6 — Limited Success
Following the crowd gives you limited success. Yes there might be success, but you will not be able to record the success that all the ‘gurus’ preach about. Step back and think about it. What made them successful? They didn’t follow the crowd. Problem is that the crowd shifted and began to follow them. That’s okay except they stopped looking for ways to improve it or adjust. The crowd just change course.
The successes you find in books and talked about on speaking tours are not found by following the crowd. They are found by taking the knowledge and experience gained from the crowd and then used to move away from the crowd.
Want success? Stop following the crowd!
# 7 — Low Quality of Writing
Quality begins to decline as individuality and creativity are handed over just to be part of the ever-growing and ever-moving crowd. They see the ‘success’ of some authors and try to imitate them. Before long, it doesn’t matter how good the plot is as long as there is enough gore and sex to sell.
I have to admit that I got despondent when an author friend of mine shared her monthly sales numbers. She was pumping out books every month. They were of low quality and full of explicit scenes. If I followed the crowd, I would look to imitate her. Where would that get me? Nowhere!