In the two days chatting with Alex Zabala y’all commented more on language than sales. Interesting perspective into my readership.
He and I, like some of you, choose not to use certain words. I’ll not get into the “they’re just words!” discussion just now. I’m more interested in what makes good writing, and, slightly less important, what sells.
Can you sell a book without profanity in it? Obviously you can. Alex Zabala’s Treasure of the Mayan King has sold 6,000 copies.
Does avoiding (or including) profanity in your book widen your market, narrow it, redefine it? Or is it immaterial?
That’s a question for readers, not writers.
Since all writers are readers, let’s chat.
(I realize this informal survey will have limited reach, since I get about 50 visitors a day here. But let’s have some fun and maybe learn something. And, the fun part: I’m not trying to start an argument, or get on a soapbox or provide one for someone else. Let’s be friendly about it, eh?)
- Do you specifically search out ‘clean’ books, those without sex, violence, and profanity?
- How strongly do you avoid books with profanity? Do you stop at the first inappropriate word? Do you stop when the language is extreme? Or do you ignore it and focus on the story?
- In the past, have you proven support for ‘clean’ books by purchasing them?
- Some authors feel that this is how people talk, so your dialog should include realistic profanity. Do you think there are occasions where finding the right word means using profanity?
As writers, words are the tools we use to create art. I don’t make judgments about how others write or what they read; it’s not my place. But I’m curious, as someone who intends to market mysteries without profanity or overt sex or violence, whether the market is as large as Disney and Pixar’s success might suggest, or if that’s wishful thinking.