Write To Market? by Beth Barany
I was recently in Vancouver helping my mother-in-law, Bella, close out the affairs of her sister who passed away a few weeks ago. And that has me thinking more than ever about the things and people we leave behind and the impact we have on those around us. Even if we don’t realize it at the time.
It’s been on my mind for a few years to update our will and even create a trust to protect my intellectual property. I’ve been gathering resources but haven’t made any decisions yet.
As Bella and I were reviewing her sister’s will, I thought about how nice it was that the sister had a will – clear instructions on what to do with her estate.
About that legacy…
I’ve been thinking a lot about how I don’t make a living wage from the fiction and nonfiction I write; I’ve felt bad that I don’t fit in that category and have put a lot of pressure on myself to live up to a standard that frankly not many authors actually live.
Fact is I’m just not motivated by money. I’m motivated by other things—leaving a legacy and making an impact.
So I don’t write to market. Not in the strictest sense (though I’m not really sure what that means). I do pay attention to it though. Why is this important? And what do I mean?
I get it. People choose writing as a way to make money; but I never could. Not directly.
It’s so frustrating. People want to know if you’re making money as a writer, but they never ask you 1) if you’re happy, or 2) if your readers are happy with your stories.
I get it. It’s human nature to care first and foremost about survival – what we’ll eat and having a safe place to live.
But writing fiction is an art form and that art form may or may not feed us in the short, or even long term.
Write To Market?
Writing to market is a guessing game like any other, though you can make educated guesses based on numbers, trial and error, and tracking what works and what doesn’t.
But none of that drives me.
I write to make an impact, to create an emotionally compelling experience for my readers. When I focus on that, I can write and edit and come up with creative ways to market my books that fit my life and my personality.
But does it put food on the table and keep a roof over my head?
No, it doesn’t. Not directly.
But it does indirectly, just one step removed.
There is a straight line from my work as a novelist to my ability to help other writers.
In between is my ability to teach and my desire to help others and my keen interest and passion in both.
If I wasn’t a working novelist, I couldn’t be a good teacher of writing fiction.
That’s a direct connection.
I said at the beginning that I pay attention to the market.
Love Popular Fiction
I am a consumer of current and popular fiction (love reading late into the night!) and I am a product of my environment and love many forms popular fiction (TV, books, films.) So that’s what I write and what I teach.
More specifically, I let my imagination marry my interests and playful spirit, combining my love of science fiction, fantasy, romance, and mystery into adventure stories that are about strong women striving to be leaders in their world. (I write YA Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, and now science fiction mysteries.)
As far as I understand it (and I’m no expert), writing to market requires writing what’s popular and putting one’s attention on publishing lots of books quickly, so that you sell them in a short period of time. To take advantage of the trends. To take advantage of what readers seem hungry for.
I like writing first drafts fast, but I edit slow, and I need to shut out the world while I do that.
I can’t pay attention to trends.
I can only pay attention to what the story wants to be and to honor that.
A Rip-Roaring Good Read
Of course, I do get feedback from my trusted critique partners and beta readers, but at the end of the day, the decision is mine on how to create a rip-roaring good read that touches the heart and minds of my readers. And hopefully create a book readers they put on their keeper shelf and read to their kids. (That’s what one father told me about my YA Fantasy series, Henrietta The Dragon Slayer.)
All this to say – there’s nothing wrong with wanting to write to market, and doing so, but that’s not what I’m doing, nor what I teach.
My attention is on helping you create amazing stories that your readers will remember long after they get to THE END. Stories they’ll pass to their friends and their kids, and stories they don’t ever want to leave.
Do you write to market? Is this something that you’ve explored? Or desire to do?
At the end of the day, I’m here to help you (and myself) listen to the creative flow and honor it, by writing our books, polishing them to glistening gems, and publish them to the squealing delight of our readers.
I love hear your thoughts on the subjects I touched on, as always!
Post your comments below, or write me, and let me know your thoughts on writing to market or anything else.
A resource for writers on leaving a legacy: Estate Planning for Authors: Your Final Letter (and why you need to write it now) by M.L. Buchman. I have it and now I need to read it and write it. 🙂
More legal resources for authors here: http://writersfunzone.com/blog/resources/resources-books-on-literary-law/
Articles by literary lawyer, Kelley Way here: http://writersfunzone.com/blog/tag/kelley-way/
ABOUT BETH BARANY
Award-winning fantasy novelist, Master NLP Practitioner, and certified creativity coach for writers, Beth Barany runs Barany School of Fiction, a full suite of courses designed to help genre fiction writers experience clarity and get writing, so they can revise and proudly publish their novels to the delight of their readers.
She’s also the author of books for writers, including Plan Your Novel Like A Pro, cowritten with her husband, thriller writer Ezra Barany.