If you feel something in your book may stir controversy, or bring critics out of the woodwork, don’t let your future critics get in the first word. Protect yourself and your reputation ahead of time by addressing your critics before the criticism begins.
I was contacted several months ago by a writer who wanted to interview me about my book, How to Reborn a Doll in a Day. Basically, reborning dolls is the process of using dyes, makeup and props to make a doll look like a living baby. Some artists sell their reborn dolls on ebay and other sites for several hundred dollars. And, yes, some of these artists are incredibly talented, adding not only the effects of wrinkles to their babies, but even tiny veins and more. I love reborn dolls and wanted some of my very own, but didn’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on each one. I can’t paint life-like veins or wrinkles, but I have had people come into my living room, immediately lower their voice, and ask me whose baby was sleeping in the corner. You can see photos of some of my dolls at the link above.
I knew, when writing my book, that promoting the idea that this process can be done in a day would create quite a stir in the reborn community of artists, who often advertise the “many hours” they’ve spent lovingly bringing their babies to life. Knowing controversy would follow on the heels of publication, I openly addressed the artists in the beginning of my book.
Well, I thought right. The editor of the magazine in which the article appears emailed the writer on Monday, saying, “Angela Hoy’s story has stirred up quite a controversy among the reborning artists. They are offended that she suggests reborning can be done in a day.”
The magazine is running a follow-up story and asked if they could send me questions for that article. I, of course, told them I’d be happy to participate. I was also happy to send a copy of my book to the writer of the new story and let her know I’d already addressed the expected controversy. I gave her this quote from page ix of my book:
“I’m sure many reborn artists will be a bit perturbed by the information I’m going to share with you in this book. I only ask that they understand that most of us can’t afford to pay hundreds of dollars for a professional reborn doll, but we’d love to have one in our collection (or give one to a loved one) if we can do it inexpensively on our own!”
Current and past readers of my book won’t be surprised when the brewing controversy erupts because I’ve already addressed the topic in my book. And, the information in my book, along with the photos, proves that the process can be done in just one day. One nice thing is that the controversy will undoubtedly bring more potential customers to my website to see what the book is all about.
So, if your book is likely to generate controversy, it’s a good idea to address that impending controversy in your book. It’s a lot easier to simply refer critics and the press directly to your book for your response to their criticism. When they realize you’ve already welcomed and commented on their impending challenge in the book itself, that kind of takes the wind from their sails when they realize you already knew they’d come knockin’.