Do you struggle with creating writing that fulfills your passion as opposed to that which fills your pocketbook? Are you in a conundrum about which path to follow? Or can you make these seemingly parallel roads converge?
With over two decades in marketing, branding, and PR, particularly focusing on writers who are both creative and commercially oriented, I’ve seen it all. And I share these thoughts in the November 2023 issue of WriterCon Magazine.
Here is an excerpt to get you thinking about your writing journey:
Artistic Integrity and Commercial Viability—Are We on Parallel Roads that Don’t Converge?
Writers often find themselves at a crossroads where artistic integrity and commercial viability seem mutually exclusive. It can seem like these roads should be running parallel, not converging. However, as someone who’s spent years standing in this intersection holding up signs for all to heed, I say no, these roads can indeed converge. With thoughtful planning and strategic execution, there’s a way to satisfy both the muse and the marketplace.
Knowing your audience and deciding to write to their tastes will get you fast on the road to marketability. The other direction is a winding path ridden with the unknown, but it’s going to feed your passion. Understanding the two is crucial in knowing how they may converge for you.
Think Like an Agent or a Publisher—What Are They Really Looking For?
Do know what literary agents and publishers are really looking for? Have you ever considered why the “marketing” section of a book proposal is there? Agents and publishers know the market, understand trends, and know a thing or two about consumer buying patterns. They want to select books and authors who are marketable, so they can make money. Full stop.
If you want your book to be marketable and therefore something you can monetize, then adapt to their thinking. This may also help you get the attention of agents and publishers (among a litany of other things to consider, but that’s a whole ‘nuther topic) and get that coveted book deal.
Take some time to research your genre, look up similar authors and comp titles, and if you really want to knock their socks off, use research tools like Helium or Publisher Rocket to get sales data. How big the market is, how sales are trending, what genres are hot and getting hotter, all factor into your market analysis. Once you know it, you can cater your writing to that audience.
Wait, Slow Down, but What if This Is a Passion Project?
Write what you know and love if your number-one goal is fulfilling your soul. Do it. Go there and embrace it completely. You may find incredible success like some of the greats. Think how controversial Harper Lee was back in the day with “To Kill a Mockingbird” or how outlandish it seemed that anyone would buy gonzo journalism on an acid trip like Hunter S. Thompson’s “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”.
Is this you? Can you never be convinced to write commercial fiction or non-fiction? Then…
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