Is all publicity good?

All publicity is good publicity.

I’m sure you’ve heard that phrase often. The argument is that any kind of publicity that draws attention to the person or event or what-have-you is good, regardless of whether it’s something scandalous or something actually good. I find myself in disagreement with this.

I would only want to be known for good things. I don’t want people to be interested in me or my book just because I did something really bad or aggravated a lot of people with my words and antics. I feel that it would hurt me more than do me any good. Why be notorious when you can just be famous?

In my previous post, I spoke of a number of authors who got caught using fake accounts to submit flattering reviews to their books, bash other writers or else paying others to give them positive reviews. I thought that that would discredit these authors for sure, and people might be less inclined to buy their books, but my fiancé disagrees. He thinks that a thing like this might actually make people buy their books even more to see if they were as good as their authors claimed. Personally, however, I would want to stay as far away as possible from them.

That’s but one example of bad publicity. Another example involves Fifty Shades of Grey, a novel widely criticized for its lack of literary merits and its raunchy sex scenes and abuse of women. Sure, E.L.James may have raked in money because of this book, but she will also be forever known as the lady who doesn’t know how to write. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I sure don’t want to be stuck with that title!

It’s not just books and authors, of course. It seems like everyone seeks to garner some attention by doing the strangest of things, even if they end up destroying their public image while doing so. The common mindset seems to be, “Hey, at least they know me!” Frankly I’d be happy to remain obscure rather than be known due to a drug addiction or a scandalous relationship with someone.

I don’t want to be known for being a lousy writer, or someone with no imagination, or someone who blackmails people into giving her reviews, or someone who writes cardboard characters with no backbone, or someone who likes posts on WordPress without even reading them so people would come and check out my blog. I want to be known for being a decent person, a good writer (hopefully) and an overall awesome person (ha! I wish).

What do you think? Is there any such thing as bad publicity, or am I just trying to kid myself here?

32 thoughts on “Is all publicity good?

  1. AuthorWorld says:

    This is a great post & I agree with you, I’d hate to be known for bad publicity reasons.
    However, I can see why the “appeal” is there as it draws attention to you & more people may check you out to see if what has been said is true.
    But I’d like to be known for my achievements & things I’ve done well. :-)

  2. I read both posts regarding this subject, and it is interesting that the two of you don’t so much disagree, but take different perspective on the subject. He discusses if Bad Publicity exists and you look at would you be willing to be tagged with bad publicity for sales. A good example of Bad publicity not paying off would be when Andrew Clay was accused of being a misogynist back in 1990 and his career fell apart.

    • Yes, we disagreed on whether bad publicity exists or not, and how it would affect the person! And you’re right. I can’t think of how a person might get his career going after something like that.

  3. I think you have to know what your end goal is, and work toward it.

    If the end goal is to make tons of money, then it could be argued that some bad publicity may be beneficial.

    If your end goal is to become a better writer… to be known for how well done your work is, or how much it moves or angers or pleases the reader… then an entirely different methodology is called for.

  4. You ARE a decent person, good writer, and overall awesome person. That is the only calling card you need.

    Hey, I saw your book over on Maddie Cochere’s blog today! How cool it that publicity!

  5. “Why be notorious when you can be famous?” I love that line. Of course I’d rather be famous for something good than something bad. But that does beg the question: if you had to choose, would you rather be famous for something bad, or not famous at all?

    • Thank you! =D And I think that depends on what each person wants. Like T.W.Dittmer said above, if you’re in this for the money, bad publicity might be beneficial to you. But if you want to be known for being a good writer, you need to maintain a good reputation.

  6. looseleafbri says:

    Here’s the thing (meaning my opinion is to follow), bad publicity may get you more followers and make you famous but it’s the fame that does not last. Good writers, actors, or singers, or whatever else makes people known, usually become known slowly. Their audience is built over time and good craftsmanship. Those who rise to fame quickly, be it from bad press, bought press, or just a random shooting star, usually don’t last. So, for me, I would much rather gain credibility and merit from my own hard work than from negativity. It’s much longer lasting and much more earned. If I were to purchase followers on my blog I would not be rejoicing each time the count goes up by 1. Right now I only have half a dozen, but I earned each of those in my own right!

    • Agreed! It always feels that those people keep having to do one thing or another to draw attention to themselves rather than depend on their own skills and merits. Definitely something I would not want to do.

  7. What I’d be frightened of most is putting something out there that I thought was actually good and receiving a reputation of being someone who can’t write at all. *Shudder* It’s my ultimate writer nightmare. But I would want be famous for something good or I do not want to be famous at all. Personally, I’d be happy with an underground following or a small and loyal fanbase. That sounds okay to me.

    • That would be quite terrible, having the reputation of a bad writer! I would be terrified to be known for that too. And you know, I like the idea of a small and loyal fanbase too. Too much fame can get under one’s skin.

  8. I agree, I think one should strive for good publicity. The only bad publicity I could deal with, is if it involved controversial social material/subjects. It is impossible to satisfy everyone if you write about politics and certain social concerns. In that case, I would ignore “bad press” as long as you stayed true to yourself. It is definitely much better to strive for awesomeness! :)

  9. For people who strive to be famous at any cost – any publicity is good (to them). For people who are serious about their art – good publicity is the only way. I would hate to think I’d become famous and everyone talked about how lousy my writing was – I’d crawl in a hole somewhere and probably never write again!

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