Who are you writing for?

Last month I discussed the ideas of writing the story you want to write versus writing to the market. I argued that writing to the market discourages diversity because, by nature, the market is homogeneous.

This month I want to argue a different, but similar part. In this case it has to do with the writing process. Another flaw of writing to the market is that it doesn’t make room for the therapeutic elements of writing. For many creative people, writing is a way of processing the world. In fact, for many writers, the first draft is their draft. They dump everything into the draft. Everything they feel about the world, the people around them, and the situations they find themselves in ends up in the book. A friend of mine has decided to write a book about a topic that has touched her life and found the first draft much darker than she expected it to be. I’ve written many NaNoWriMo projects that will probably never see the light of day because they are nothing more than an exercise to process my feelings.

A good writer can take their deeply personal first drafts and craft it into something a reader can enjoy but not if they’re feeling the crunch of the market. Writing to the market does two things that strips away this part of the process. First, it rewards speed. The faster you get another book out, the more likely readers are to buy it. Second, it pushes a “right way” to do things that is impersonal and cynical. You turn the writer into the one who just delivers their imagined story as quickly as they can get it out. They don’t have time to reflect because this book has a deadline and then they have to start the next book.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe people can and should make a living from the books they write. I want to someday be able to do this, especially for my retirement. I can easily imagine myself spending a year and a half working on each book as I shape into something others can see themselves in. I struggle with the idea that I need to be a writing and publishing machine to get this done.

What do you think? Do you agree with my concerns about writing to market or is there something I’m not seeing? Tell me in the comments.

Our own Sara Marks is a self-published author. She primarily writes chick lit and contemporary romance books but sometimes takes on horror. In 2017 she decided to focus her efforts on self-publishing over traditional publishing. This monthly series is about her experiences publishing and promoting her own books. You can learn more about her and her books on her webpage.

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4 Comments

  1. As a copywriter, I write to market all the time. I’ll admit, there’s a certain need for unsentimental output when a deadline is casting its shadow over me. On the other hand, I finished writing my first book last year, and the experience was completely different. It was incredibly liberating to just write, and not think twice about my “target audience!”

    Like

  2. Thanks for this. I have to remind myself sometimes that writing to genre is certainly more lucrative than what I do, but that doesn’t mean I can force myself to do it. My own brand of socio-political chicklit may be difficult to classify, but it’s what I like.

    Like

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