Today is a little bit of a rant rather than an informative blog. XD
As someone who’s been reading advice about writing for years on the internet (an article is what triggered this post) and before then receiving it (whether I wanted it or not) from other people, there’s a common theme floating in the sea of free advice that’s bothered me: what to write to make money. So, let’s be serious a moment. I would love, love if my novel landed on a New York Times best seller list and I was able to pursue writing as a career for the rest of my life and retire off of it by the time I hit 40. I would love to roll in the money and finally see a physical manifestation of my life’s pursuit in my bank account. That being said, I have never written a story in my life with money in mind. In fact, my process is quite the opposite.
I consume stories. I’m a reader, rabid music fan, and an avid movie goer. I have persistent depressive disorder and anxiety. I love escapism in its many beautiful forms and those very stories, whatever their medium, have gotten me through some tough days.
I’ve been writing and concocting stories and playing make believe for as long as I’ve been a self-aware human being. When I publish my work, it’s not just for hopes of monetary success, but also sharing the world I’ve turned to in tough times. I want to do for readers what other writers have done for me. I want them to see the struggles of characters and overcome their own real life problems with encouragement from my worlds and stories. My books and stories are encouragement from me. I want someone to read my creations and find relief, even if brief, from the everyday trials of life. I want to inspire.
I don’t think I’m unique in this aspect, at all. I don’t think I’m unique in this as both a reader and a writer. Millions of people enjoy escapism and millions more suffer with the same issues I do, that’s not what I’m getting at here.
I write to write. I write for passion and I write because these people and places and ideas are bursting from me. I know it sounds cheesy, and really it is, but I can’t contain them sometimes. A story won’t let me rest until I write it, or at the very least begin the process of writing it. When I read articles suggesting that people write this or that to sell more titles I can’t help but to think that a lot of successful writers did the opposite. I suppose it’s always possible that they did, but would never admit it. There’s always the dreaded “sellout” word in the artistic community. At what point do you become a sellout then?
Do I think there’s something wrong with someone who writes purely with money in mind? No. Everyone has to eat. We all would like to fluff the bank account. Money provides opportunity and could pave the way for your real passion if writing isn’t it. Writing is technically cheap. Time consuming, yes. But cheap. I suppose if you include the cost of a computer and word processor it can still be costly to start up but, who doesn’t have a computer anymore? And you don’t need a computer. You can use a typewriter, paper, and writing utensils. You just need the time to dedicate. I’m of course aware there are millions of people who don’t have a computer or even electricity, but writing for a fat check is usually the last thing on someone who is trying to survive’s mind.
Do I think I’m better than those who write with money in mind? Nope. And really I don’t have a problem with those giving out this advice, but stop giving it out as though it’s the end all be all.
What I don’t like, or have a problem with, is people telling writers to think only of the market. And so comes in my title for today. Do you write your book to fit the market? Or do you create a marketing strategy to fit your book? To say I entirely disregard what others will think of my work while writing would be inaccurate, but at the same time it’s definitely not all I think about. If I love what I’m writing, why wouldn’t someone else? And I suppose another difference is to not let yourself be utterly disappointed if not everyone is as passionate about your work as you.
My thoughts are really scattered (sorry!), but back to the point. I’m not saying that people shouldn’t advise writers to write for a specific selling strategy in mind, but offer that advice in addition to other motivations. Don’t say it is the end all be all to success, because it isn’t. We know this. J.K. Rowling wrote her first book at six years old. We know that Stephenie Meyer penned Twilight because of a dream she had. Stephen King shares his passion for writing and even says, “there was nothing else I was made to do. I was made to write stories and I love to write stories. That’s why I do it. I really can’t imagine doing anything else and I can’t imagine not doing what I do.” Does any of that sound like someone writing to market?
The writing to market strategy might work in the short term, but I think if you write for passion as opposed to money, it bleeds through.
Until Next Time…
This entire thing is just my opinion and as mentioned above I don’t think less of people hoping to make some money off of their writing (I certainly wish to!). I just don’t think it should be preached to budding writers to create their stories around marketing and not vice versa. I think what should be done is write the story you want to write and create a market strategy around it. Don’t write a specific formula or genre because you think it will sell. I say write the story and you can figure out the genre when you’re done. You can always alter a market strategy to the current trends, but a great story, a passionate and well thought out novel is timeless.
Dragon Bloode: Covet is out everywhere ebooks are sold.