I just read an article about the Netflix movie Rebel Moon: Part One – A Child of Fire and it brings to mind an interesting conundrum when producing entertainment. Is it better for people to like the movie, book, television show, play or other production or is it better for there to be a lot of buzz about it?
It’s a question I, as a writer myself, definitely think about. I imagine a lot of people making things in this modern age of social media think about also.
What’s the Difference Between Good and Buzzy?
Good is difficult to define and there is always the subjective versus objective debate. But, for the purpose of this article, let’s assume good means people in general and professional critics enjoy your work.
I’ll define buzzy as something people are talking about. Not necessarily in a good way. If something is truly terrible but intriguing, people will talk about it.
Rebel Moon is Buzzy
Judging by both audience and professional reviews, Rebel Moon isn’t very good. I’ve seen and read several reviews and also read comments by fans of the genre and they all seem rather disenchanted with it. A few positive reviews focus on the visuals and what not. With that being said, I think it’s safe to say Rebel Moon isn’t a particularly good movie but it is a certainly very buzzy movie.
People are talking about Rebel Moon all over the internet and mostly, although not exclusively in a negative way.
Good and Buzzy
Obviously, I’d love for my novels and short stories to be very good and to have people talking about them. That’s obvious but it’s not my question today. I think my novels and stories are quite good but there is certainly no buzz about them.
We can fairly safely say Reble Moon isn’t a good movie and it has a lot of buzz around it. It’s difficult to say if the movie is a financial success or not. Netflix is a subscription service and just because Rebel Moon shows hundreds of thousands of views doesn’t mean it is profitable. What makes it profitable for Netflix is if people are convinced to stay with the service or add the service because of Rebel Moon or its seemingly inevitable cavalcade of sequels and director’s cuts.
It does seem buzzy is better than good, from a purely financial point of view. This is not a universal rule though. There is some fatigue at play. If you produce the same sub-standard product again and again, even a huge amount of buzz doesn’t translate to profits, particular if you spend a great deal in production.
Fool me once, the saying goes.
Answer the Question Already
Would I prefer my novels and stories to get a huge amount of buzz on social media or would I prefer them to be good? It’s a fair question because sales for me are quite minimal. A few people have read my work and enjoyed it, or at least that’s what they tell me. If there was huge buzz about my novels and stories, I’d be making a significantly larger amount of money.
I’m never going to write anything I don’t like because there is no guarantee it will get buzz anyway. The question isn’t whether I’d write something bad in the hopes it gets buzz but which one I prefer. Buzz or quality.
To lay it out plainly. I write two novels, doing my level best to write them well. One is really good and one isn’t. The one that is good gets no buzz and the one that is bad gets a tremendous amount of buzz. Which novel makes me happier? The one that got buzz and money but makes people think I’m a crappy writer or the good one that doesn’t make any money but people really enjoy and feel they’ve gotten value from reading?
For me, I’d rather my novel be good than buzzy. That decision is certainly influenced by the fact I’m in a good financial situation even without huge profits from my novels.
The bottom line is my audience. People who read my novels spend a nominal amount of their money so that’s not as big a consideration as their time. It takes time to read a novel, many hours. Me, I want people to close the book, or device, and lean back with a satisfied smile. That was worth my time. I enjoyed that. I got value for my time and money. I’m glad I read that.