Every ‘professional’ author has an internal debate (some more than others). For some, it’s a one-time argument. For others, it’s a recurring discussion, almost to the point of being an on-going row. The subject of the argument?
“Do I write what I want to write – what I SHOULD write – or do I write what people will buy?”
The problem is, there’s no clear-cut answer to that question. Or is there?
Fortunately for authors everywhere, novels are something that you just can’t fake. Have you ever picked up a book by your favorite author and thought to yourself half-way through that it just didn’t sound like that author’s style? Sometimes you realize later that it was a joint effort by the author you like and another one. Sometimes it’s just the author trying a new style.
Regardless, it serves to illustrate a point; people don’t buy novels just for the plot-line, or the characters, or the happy ending. Even a computer can tell a story (with the right programming). A writer, however, brings something else to the table; the writer is a unique individual telling a story. THAT is what people pay to read.
So, the question “should I write what people will buy” isn’t so hard to answer, after all. You could write what people are buying. But the problem there is you’ll be copying someone else and you just can’t make a perfect imitation of another writer’s work. The readers know the difference and they won’t stand for it.
Strangely enough, though, you CAN write what people will buy. You do this (with a lot of hard work and perseverance) by making your writing the writing people want to buy. In other words, make it your style, your story-telling, that people want.
This doesn’t mean that you need to become a different writer, or change your style. It means you need to become the best you it’s possible to be. And the coolest thing about that? NOBODY else can be a better you. You are, quite literally, the only writer that can be you.
Hurry up: We’re all waiting.