Most people know they should make informed decisions. Whether it’s a purchase, a career move, or establishing an opinion, most people at least talk to someone else or look into something before they buy into it. That’s great, but most people look to where they’re most comfortable when making decisions and that alone can be costly.
Take writing for instance. In my vast, swirling blogroll on Feedly, there are tons of people shouting their advice. There are a few authors I read, this is what brought me to this, who say you’re not going to grow as an author unless you attend workshops or seminars, expand your writing skills, and learn. There are many who insist the only possible way to ensure quality is to hire an editor, to hire a cover artist, to do this, that, or the other thing. They’re also the ones who run, sell, and provide these services.
Here’s the thing, when the person suggesting something is the same person selling it, please take note and decide accordingly. It doesn’t mean their advice isn’t true, but it is another factor that needs to be considered. I’d like to take a workshop or two, learn in my writing, discover and repair some of my weaknesses while honing my strengths, but I also have limited finances. Most people do. This is probably an important part in growing as an author, but for the people who sell it, it’s most likely the most important part. It’s not even a matter of wanting to make money off you, the person pushing that product knows it the best. That’s what their perspective is built on. For them, it really is the the most important thing because they have seen the before and after and the direct contribution it has brought.
I’m not just applying this to writing and publishing. Apply to it everything, it’ll work. If you are watching a news channel and they’re telling you about Obama or Republicans or anything in between, take a step back. You may not realize this, but that anchor is a salesperson. Hell, everyone is a salesperson. Everything I’ve ever discussed with anyone, on this blog or in person, is a sale pitch. I believe this movie, this game, this writing technique, this person is good and I want you to buy into it as well. That’s just how people work, most of the time we don’t even realize it’s going on.
Weigh the opinions and make a decision. If you make all your judgments based on Fox or MSNBC, you are being sold pure and simple. Those networks in particular sell a very distinct product and have a lot invested in swaying opinion, keep that in mind. Everyone’s commission isn’t money, but believe me when I say they have something to gain when convincing you of something.
This is the world we live in. Technology didn’t make it, our culture or politics didn’t either, if anything it made it easier to avoid. Take in diverse opinions, diverse advice. Don’t only listen to agents when deciding whether or not to self-publish, don’t just read Joe Konrath when trying to determine the worth of a traditional publisher. This breeds stagnation and makes for a perspective that is wrought with fault.
Don’t get sold.