apropos absolutely nothing at all.

Quick question:

If your work could have commercial success or critical acclaim, but not both…which one would you prefer?


50 thoughts on “apropos absolutely nothing at all.

  1. RobertM says:

    Commercial success.

  2. Carteach says:

    Commercial success. It’s nice to have others telling you how great you are, but it doesn’t cook up well for dinner.
    Besides, most people are idiots. Why work just to please idiots?

  3. Sean Sorrentino says:

    Commercial success. I’d rather be rich than loved by hipsters with newspaper columns. Enough money and you suddenly find that you give even less of a crap about what Roger Ebert has to say. Besides, commercial success is the best form of critical acclaim. It’s the acclaim of those willing to part with their money for whatever you produced.

    Now, don’t do something you will be embarrassed of. As for the critics, who cares.

  4. WR Olsen says:

    Easy decision for me…I do mediation for the legal system (a vastly unknown occupation) so I would choose the monetary recognition hands down.

  5. Bob S. says:

    I’ll buck the trend and go with critical acclaim.
    I can always find a way to make a buck but I’m not sure all of us can find a way to really make a difference in the world.

    Significance matters more than success

  6. ATLien says:

    Commercial success; and when people tout the critical acclaim they have, i can say, “scoreboard.”

  7. eli says:

    Which will matter more to you 100 years from now. For me, neither. I’ll take the money, the starving artist bit never appealed to me. Particularly when watching various generation rewrite history. Commercial success could be building the tallest sky-scraper in the world – no subjectivity to that.

  8. David says:

    Cash. With enough of it, you can purchase some hobos to talk about how awesome you are.

  9. ibex says:

    That depends. If my work had to support me (and maybe a hypothetical family), I would choose commercial success.

  10. HReizarf says:

    Meyer/Rowling vs Tolkien?

    • karrde says:

      Interestingly, Tolkien didn’t have critical acclaim during his life. (Most of the literature critics didn’t know what to do with his work–it was so far from Serious Literature of the time that they either ignored it or panned it.)

      He had commercial success, and lots of it.

      I’m not sure where Rowling would fit on critical-acclaim, but she too has commercial success.

  11. Brandon says:

    Commercial success, hands down. Critical acclaim might be nice, but I’d much prefer the acclaim that goes with tons of people voting in favor of my work via their wallets. I don’t agree with critics very often, anyway.

  12. Jeff says:

    Commercial success. What better acclaim than people parting with their hard earned dough because you reached them on some level.

  13. Linoge says:

    Commercial success is critical acclaim of its own, and pays a hell of a lot better than just critical acclaim.

  14. Commercial success. The critics in my industry are mostly entrenched in the industrial food system that is the antithesis of my farm’s philosophy, so their acclaim would be more of a badge of shame, really.

  15. Commercial success. You can’t buy food (or guns) with reviews that say how great you are.

  16. bluntobject says:

    I’ll go with commercial success — not because of the money (well, okay, mostly because of the money), but because “people like my work well enough to pay for it” is a better indication of quality than “the self-appointed nattering nabobs of my field find it politically convenient to praise my work”.

  17. Antibubba says:

    Commercial success. Because if you become wealthy enough you’ll gain a measure of acclaim (and criticism too). The other way is much less likely.

  18. Nate says:

    Commercial success. Besides, the lack of critical acclaim in no way implies being critically panned. You could be just pretty good.

  19. libertyman says:

    We could ask Stephen King…

  20. Al T. says:

    Cash talks, bullshit walks…..

  21. Tam says:

    I’d rather be a hack that laughs all the way to the bank.

  22. djmooretx says:

    Commercial success. I don’t trust the critics anymore.

  23. Commercial success, but only if I get to see the fruits of it. Being commercially successfully didn’t do beans for Stieg Larsson.

  24. Mike Dodson says:

    Commercial success, because I don’t give a hirsute rodent’s gluteus maximus about what critics have to say. The best endorsement of one’s work is that people buy it — they are the ultimate critics.

  25. RevolverRob says:

    The field I work in has virtually no commercial success, but has plenty of critical acclaim.

    Since I made the decision to work in the field…you can draw your own conclusions about why.


  26. Jared says:

    Count me PAID.

  27. Mark Alger says:

    Commercial success. I have nothing but contempt for critics.


  28. scotaku says:

    Let me see… I’ve had few consumers give me great reviews. It felt wonderful until the mortgage came due.

    Add another mark to the “commercial success” column.

  29. Blackwing1 says:

    Commercial success…as Heinlein said, “The most sincere form of flattery starts with Pay to the Order Of…”

  30. Mithras61 says:

    Commercial success. As so many have noted, critical acclaim is fine, but it doesn’t pay the bills, and commercial success (that is, earned success, not inherited) is acclaim of its own.

    BTW, have you considered self-publishing your work? I know you have submitted to various publishing houses and that you’ve had some luck with articles, but for your longer (as in novella & longer) stuff it may be a way in (as Larry Correia has discovered). Just a thought (and probably one that has long since crossed your mind).

    • Marko Kloos says:

      I’ll take my chances with the traditional route. There’s a certain stigma to self-publishing, and very few people manage to sell enough self-published copies to make any sort of money without the distribution network of a traditional publisher behind them.

      • Mithras61 says:

        No sweat. Just wishing/hoping to get my hands on your novel that we keep hearing about… 🙂

  31. aczarnowski says:

    Is this a trick question?

    Commercial success. You get both that way.

  32. abnormalist says:

    I guess like everything it depends.
    Did I create it with the intent of financial success regardless of what it was? IE I made it to sell, and didnt care what people thought of it, and of me for making it? Then obviously financial success.

    Whereas if I created a piece of work that was a work of the heart, something that I poured myself, blood, tears, sweat and soul into, and it sold like hot cakes, but was considered crap by peoples who’s opinion I care about, then yes I would much rather have had critical acclaim.

    I guess its all about what you want from it. If you get to decide early on, then I too would shoot for the money, and be happy on my own outside of the creation.

  33. Joanna says:

    I’d settle for work that didn’t involve a constant increase in responsibility that directly correlates to a decrease in authority/decision-making power.

    (Oh you meant like creatively … )

    Go for commercial success first; then when you’re established you can do whatever you want with a minimal amount of financial risk. I call it the Will Farrel principle.

  34. ILTim says:

    Commercial success = sellout, please the masses, dumb it down, likely disillusion with own work

    Critical acclaim = ‘in-crowd’ acceptance, irrelevancy, possible personal satisfaction, bankruptcy

    How many musicians have you seen struggle with this? A single track that becomes popular, or a later released album that diverges as the artist pleasures himself and sticks it to the fans of his earlier work? Its a balancing act, there is no right answer. Only a few people achieve both and its a matter of circumstance and luck that rockets them to the top, but usually it doesn’t last forever. Its not your choice.

  35. The Other Jay says:

    And what’s your opinion of my work Mr. Franklin? Mr. Grant? Mr. Jackson?

  36. BobG says:

    Commercial success. Once you have that, you can then work on all the critical acclaim you want.

  37. Commercial success. I gives no fuck if critics dig it or not – I regularly find my opinion a 180 from critics where movies are concerned, for instance – but I don’t write books or make movies. The type of work I do relies on word-of-mouth recommendations by rich people.


  38. jimbob86 says:

    Commercial success is critical acclaim, by the only critics that count: the ones that pay the bills.

    Professional Critics are just opinion whores.

  39. mcdonatl says:

    Better refined question:

    Would you rather have short term commercial success (one hit wonder) or critical acclaim. Since, over a lifetime they would probably pay about the same.

  40. Silverevilchao says:

    Critical acclaim. Sales =/= quality, and, besides, I could become a cult hit like Firefly – bad sales, but the people who know about my stuff love it.

  41. Kristopher says:

    Critics are hipsters who don’t pay your bills.

    Fuck ’em.

    Look up Spider Robinson’s Critics vs. Reviewers rant.

  42. glamdring says:

    I would have expected different leaning from people here. With perhaps random quotes from founding fathers perhaps.

    I will take the road less traveled…

  43. AuĂźenseiter says:

    It’s telling, that people would prefer to emulate Stephanie Meyer rather than say, Greg Egan. Who probably would be slightly financially better off writing code like he used to.

    Myself, I’d be happy with creating something that I’d know to be good. Whether it’d sell or not wouldn’t really matter. Good stuff usually finds a market, though.

  44. Marja says:

    Commercial success, with the same qualification as Comrade Misfit has – if it happens in my lifetime, and early enough that I can enjoy the money. If I sell something and drop dead right after (I’m 50, and my mother’s family has a lot of people who died before retirement age, so that’s quite possible) then critical, thank you. I don’t have kids or anybody else I’d really like to leave money for. While I like my godsons I rather suspect both of them would be better off without getting any free money, much less a large sum of it, at an early age.

  45. Tennessee Budd says:

    The money, of course. I already have my own self-worth, & that’s the only kind that matters.

  46. ASM826 says:

    Commercial success. That’s the acclaim of people willing to part with their money for your efforts. Critical acclaim is hard to measure, and harder still to spend.

  47. Ix says:

    Commercial success, definitely. I’d rather be wealthy (or at least “comfortable”) than have a lot of glowing reviews stuck to a bulletin board on my apartment wall.

    Besides, as has already been mentioned, commercial success is a glowing review of its own; it means that the average person likes your stuff enough to be willing to part with hard cash in order to get a copy for themselves.

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