Author Topic: Are you writing for yourself or for your readers?  (Read 1753 times)

Kay Inglis

Are you writing for yourself or for your readers?
« on: November 10, 2018, 04:46:56 AM »
Youíve written three books in a series and they are selling well.

Reviews are good and readers are asking for more.

But the fire has burned out. Youíve gone the journey with your characters and there is nothing more you want to say.

But another book would be well received and you would get guaranteed sales.

After all, itís just a piece of prose on a set subject, not so different from writing an essay at school.

But you have a new story alive in your mind. Youíve written the first book and it isnít selling at all. But you have the next episode in your head all ready to go.

Which will it be Ė the sequel for your readers or the next story for yourself?

Writer of Cosy Apocalypse Tales
 

cecilia_writer

Re: Are you writing for yourself or for your readers?
« Reply #1 on: November 10, 2018, 05:36:31 AM »
I try to do a bit of both - I think some of my most loyal readers would like me just to write more and more books in my mystery series (I'm currently writing the 17th) but I am trying to keep these to 2 a year to give myself time for other projects that are a bit different.

I do still enjoy writing the mysteries, partly because I know all the characters, and the books more or less write themselves, but I wouldn't enjoy them if I wrote nothing else.
Cecilia Peartree - Woman of Mystery
 
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angelapepper

Re: Are you writing for yourself or for your readers?
« Reply #2 on: November 10, 2018, 05:54:22 AM »
There's a cognitive bias that when we receive external rewards for doing something, we downgrade our self-perceived intrinsic enjoyment / motivation.

For example, people will solve puzzles for the fun of it, but in studies where they are offered cash rewards for solving the puzzles, their enjoyment goes down.

And that explains one of the fundamental paradoxes of being a commercial writer - success motivates you and also sucks some of the wind out of your sails.

When I'm feeling distracted from my goals, I remind myself of this cognitive quirk. And I also remind myself that about 4000 words into any story, no matter how passionate I felt at the outset, they all feel about the same. (Exhilarating and maddening.)

That's what works for me. YMMV.
 
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Arkturor

Re: Are you writing for yourself or for your readers?
« Reply #3 on: November 10, 2018, 08:07:11 AM »
Such an easy one to answer...ME!!! I have no fans to speak of and no reader base or mailing list. So I write anything that comes into my erratic brain. Hence the stand-alones of so many genres in my puny list. Three more novels written, all in different genres to come.
« Last Edit: November 10, 2018, 08:16:51 AM by Phoenix »
 
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Writer

Re: Are you writing for yourself or for your readers?
« Reply #4 on: November 10, 2018, 08:49:01 AM »
For readers. I might fiddle a little with the passion project in my spare time, but my main writing time goes toward the books I know I can sell. Luckily, I can always tease out something in the latter that interests me, so that even the practical projects have something enjoyable in them.
 
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idontknowyet

Re: Are you writing for yourself or for your readers?
« Reply #5 on: November 10, 2018, 08:50:17 AM »
I'm pretty sure I'll never have readers so this is all for me.  :writethink:  :dizzy  :writethink:  :icon_think:
 
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Shoe

Re: Are you writing for yourself or for your readers?
« Reply #6 on: November 10, 2018, 09:06:28 AM »
Unless you're loving what you're writing you're going to hate this job.
Publishing since May 2017. Writing full time since January 2018 general fiction and satire.
 
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Lorri Moulton [Lavender Lass Books]

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Re: Are you writing for yourself or for your readers?
« Reply #7 on: November 10, 2018, 10:12:58 AM »
Both.  I write what I love, but I try to keep my readers happy, too.  They seem to like what I like, so far.  :cheers
 
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TimothyEllis

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Re: Are you writing for yourself or for your readers?
« Reply #8 on: November 10, 2018, 11:04:23 AM »
Both.

My last trilogy was supposed to be a stand alone, but readers demanded more. So I put the plan on hold and gave them more. I still have ideas for a 4th and maybe 5th book in that series, but now I'm back on the sequel series to my first series which has been much awaited for 2 years now.

If I kept on with book 4, I'll likely do better than what I'm writing now, as now follows a 13 books series, and the prequel for it bombed.

But at the moment, its been a good year, and I can afford to put reader wishes ahead of what might sell better. And you never know. Another entry point into the universe might just work better, with the original series just being backstory.

But I am also writing this for myself, because it was the plan.

Genres: Space Opera/Fantasy/Cyberpunk, with elements of LitRPG and GameLit. Also Spiritual and Games.



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DrewMcGunn

Re: Are you writing for yourself or for your readers?
« Reply #9 on: November 10, 2018, 12:25:44 PM »
The series that I'm writing I started because I was having difficulty finding the stories I enjoyed reading.

I've been fortunate that apparently, I tapped into a un underserved market.  Alt-history is a tiny subset of SciFi, and while my stories have found an audience, it's not like Post Apocalyptic or Dystopian where the good stories can gain traction in the low 1000s.

Shoe's right. If you don't enjoy the stories you're writing, it's not going to be much fun.


Drew McGunn
 
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Virginia McClain

Re: Are you writing for yourself or for your readers?
« Reply #10 on: November 10, 2018, 02:09:41 PM »
I write for me. I hope that what I write will find an avid audience, but I write the books I want to read regardless of what anyone else thinks. That said, I started my latest series because I wanted to try my hand at writing something fast paced and geared towards quick release. However, outside of those parameters, (fast paced and geared towards me being able to write them quickly) I didn't choose based on what I thought would sell, I chose what I wanted to write. Consequently, I have no idea if anyone else will enjoy it (although early reviews look promising) but a few folks who have read the first three books and given me feedback have said that they can tell I had fun writing it because it shows in the writing. That seems like a win to me!

Virginia McClain | Blog | Cover Designs
 
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Authoress

Re: Are you writing for yourself or for your readers?
« Reply #11 on: November 10, 2018, 09:28:00 PM »
I write what my characters tell me to write :)

As a pantser, I just write whatever comes out when I begin, so I think my characters must be feeding me my lines & I'm just the typist/formatter/editor/proofreader/cover creator/marketer etc.  :band:
 
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guest247

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Re: Are you writing for yourself or for your readers?
« Reply #12 on: November 10, 2018, 10:55:17 PM »
I write for myself.
 
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Kay Inglis

Re: Are you writing for yourself or for your readers?
« Reply #13 on: November 11, 2018, 12:38:43 AM »
It seems like the writers on here are able to reach a good balance between writing with genuine passion and writing to please readers.

I was interested because I was reading a thread about George R. R. Martin who hasn't always kept pace with reader's expectations of new books in his series A Song of Ice and Fire.

Apparently Neil Gaiman wrote in defence of Martin's not delivering what readers wanted: "George R. R. Martin is not your bitch", and pointed out that writers are "not machines" but have every right to work on other projects if they want to.

I can think of one or two cases where brilliant writers have kept on writing to satisfy fans after they have appeared to lose the real passion for their characters. The results are not always great.

It is, perhaps, a wise writer who knows when to stop and move on to a new project.

Writer of Cosy Apocalypse Tales
 
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Kay Inglis

Re: Are you writing for yourself or for your readers?
« Reply #14 on: November 11, 2018, 12:39:52 AM »
Unless you're loving what you're writing you're going to hate this job.

Sums it up nicely.

Writer of Cosy Apocalypse Tales
 

Rosie Scott

Re: Are you writing for yourself or for your readers?
« Reply #15 on: November 12, 2018, 04:31:18 AM »
Me. In a way, writing for yourself is writing for readers. I wouldn't write at all if it weren't to entertain myself, so the only reason I have any audience at all is because they gravitate toward liking the same things I like. It's great to have fans, but none of them would have found me if I didn't write the way I do.

There are definitely compromises of sorts that could be had in the situation you're talking about, Kay. Write those next books for yourself. In the meantime, is there a way you could brainstorm companion novels or a different storyline in the same world that readers could pick up and enjoy? Personally, I didn't start gaining a solid fanbase until I published fantasy. Now I have readers sending me messages and pleading for more. The series I'm currently writing has a specific endpoint, but thankfully, I do love the lore/world/characters enough that I'm brainstorming other books in the same universe, and based on reader surveys there is a demand for it. Many novels would have to be prequels since the series has tons of casualties, and many books would star characters that are only mentioned in a historical context. Nonetheless, it's a way for me to continue being happy as an author and give the readers more of what they crave for even if I have many ideas in other genres I want to get to eventually. Perhaps something like this could work for you?
Fantasy/dystopian/sci-fi. Writer of bloody warfare & witty banter. Provoker of questions.
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guest957

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Re: Are you writing for yourself or for your readers?
« Reply #16 on: November 12, 2018, 12:37:25 PM »
The benefits I derive from writing for readers also means I'm writing for me.
 
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PaulineMRoss

Re: Are you writing for yourself or for your readers?
« Reply #17 on: November 12, 2018, 05:04:47 PM »
I write for me because I've never quite been able to work out what readers want. Some authors have an instinct for that, and their books are aimed with laser-precision at their target market. I have to wait until the reviews come in, and then I think: oh yeah, maybe I shouldn't have written it quite that way. But over time, I've gradually learnt a few basics (no wimpy heroines, the villain must be punished!) and maybe I've accidentally tripped over an audience that doesn't mind my slightly off-target books, because it seems to be working out OK. And it means that I still love writing, and I'd rather be doing that than pretty much anything else. It's not a job to me (but in every other respect I think Shoe is spot on):

Unless you're loving what you're writing you're going to hate this job.

Writing epic fantasy as Pauline M Ross; writing Regency romance as Mary Kingswood
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lyndabelle

Re: Are you writing for yourself or for your readers?
« Reply #18 on: November 12, 2018, 05:56:23 PM »
I've probably thought a lot about this question over the last year. I'd have to say both. I've taken a break from writing erotica the last year. The thing that has really made me get back into the shorts is that I liked writing them. I enjoyed the feeling of getting one done, putting it through the publishing process, and repeating.

I've been sitting on a sci-fantasy erotica menage story that I'll release next year. It's the start of a new series, so I wanted to work on wrapping up some others before I started a new one. I really missed being productive like that. So, I've finally decided to roll out more shorts 3k-5k again, and just put them together in an omni when the series is done.

Plus, with all the Zon changes I realized I didn't want to write for the Zon's algos anymore. I was writing them longer because of the stupid KU page payout. Then the recategories happened and all my erotica and erotic romances aren't getting visiblity, I had to just change my long term business plan. I'm sick of playing and dancing to Amazon's tunes. Screw the Zon! I'm going back to what I liked doing for myself and followers.

I'm writing for myself and the readers again.


« Last Edit: November 12, 2018, 06:04:15 PM by lyndabelle »
 
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VanessaC

Re: Are you writing for yourself or for your readers?
« Reply #19 on: November 12, 2018, 07:24:36 PM »
I'm on my first series just now, and it will end at 5 books, whether I (or my readers) want it to continue, as that's the plot and character arcs that I've planned - but this was always going to be a "closed" series. 

This isn't my job, though - I write because I love to write and someday hope to build this into something more.  But right now, it's not paying my bills, so if I had a choice of write what I love, or write something to satisfy another's expectations, I'm going to go with what I love.

If this was my job, and it paid the bills, I think the decision would be more difficult, although I would still need to love what I write.  It takes time and effort to write a book, and that's tough enough when I love the story!  If enough readers were looking for another book in a more open-ended series, I'd probably think about why I didn't want to write it, and how I could make it into a story I wanted to write - new characters, new plot line, new location, and so on.
     
Genre: Fantasy
 
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spin52

Re: Are you writing for yourself or for your readers?
« Reply #20 on: November 13, 2018, 01:43:37 AM »
I started writing for myself and gradually gravitated more toward writing to market. But I'm lucky in that I like the more marketable books as much as the others, so I'm able to keep both myself and readers happy. Best of both worlds.  :littleclap
     

Traditional mysteries with a dash of humor -- no cats, no cupcakes.
 
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Kay Inglis

Re: Are you writing for yourself or for your readers?
« Reply #21 on: November 13, 2018, 03:38:44 AM »
Me. In a way, writing for yourself is writing for readers. I wouldn't write at all if it weren't to entertain myself, so the only reason I have any audience at all is because they gravitate toward liking the same things I like. It's great to have fans, but none of them would have found me if I didn't write the way I do.

That makes perfect sense - you can be true to yourself and please the readers who naturally relate to your storytelling and style.

Writer of Cosy Apocalypse Tales
 

tdecastro31

Re: Are you writing for yourself or for your readers?
« Reply #22 on: November 13, 2018, 04:34:14 AM »
If I am unable to entertain myself, then I have no confidence in my ability to entertain others.
 
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Anarchist

Re: Are you writing for yourself or for your readers?
« Reply #23 on: November 13, 2018, 06:42:40 AM »
I write for my audience. Collectively, they're my boss. They tell me what they want to read, and then I write it.

I wrote one book for myself. It was an abject failure (its sales rank hovers between 75,000 and 100,000). Never again.

For me, this is strictly a business. I'm happy to write for my readers if it means I make more money. That may sound mercenary, but in my opinion there's no higher calling that fulfilling customers' desires.
"If taxation without consent is not robbery, then any band of robbers have only to declare themselves a government, and all their robberies are legalized." - Lysander Spooner

I keep a stiff upper lip and shoot from the hip. - AC/DC
 
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Rose Andrews

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Re: Are you writing for yourself or for your readers?
« Reply #24 on: November 14, 2018, 03:11:20 AM »
Both.  I write what I love, but I try to keep my readers happy, too.  They seem to like what I like, so far.  :cheers
This is me, too. Although I just wrote a western that's doing not so well so I'm considering writing something more for me.

I really love fantasy romance but the only novel I've written in that arena did terribly. Lately though, I've been itching to write a medieval werewolf romance or a 20th century romance. Not sure which one yet so I've taken a few days to really think about it. Neither of those will sell. I don't even know how much I care about that anymore. I write mostly westerns that do okay but my books have also gotten railroaded by better selling authors who have more experience and a platform. Nobody knows me. So I may as well experiment.
« Last Edit: November 14, 2018, 03:15:59 AM by Rose Andrews »
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Rob Martin

Re: Are you writing for yourself or for your readers?
« Reply #25 on: November 14, 2018, 06:28:28 AM »
I also remind myself that about 4000 words into any story, no matter how passionate I felt at the outset, they all feel about the same.

I've got to do the same, though generally about the 12k mark. After 2 weeks, the diamond starts losing its shine.

To answer OP's question, I write what I like and don't worry too much about the reader. Either they'll like it or they won't, but there will still be a market for it regardless.
I write because I want to, not because of the woman standing over my shoulder holding a particularly pointy object. Right, dear?
 
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Evil Entity

Re: Are you writing for yourself or for your readers?
« Reply #26 on: November 14, 2018, 02:02:45 PM »
Based on my sales, 22.5% of my readers are me, so yes.
 
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Vijaya

Re: Are you writing for yourself or for your readers?
« Reply #27 on: November 15, 2018, 12:27:10 AM »
Kay, these dilemmas happen all the time and when I'm guaranteed sales, I put aside my pet projects and work on the stories that sell. But these are stories I want to write anyway. I won't write just for the money though. I'm old enough to spend my time on what I love. It's one of the more beautiful things about getting older.

Author of over 60 books and 60 magazine pieces, primarily for children
Vijaya Bodach | Personal Blog | Bodach Books
 
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Kate Elizabeth

Re: Are you writing for yourself or for your readers?
« Reply #28 on: November 15, 2018, 03:21:13 AM »
In the past, I've written for both.  Now that I've had to write as a hobby, instead of for money, I write strictly for myself.  It's a lot more relaxing.
 
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Lorri Moulton [Lavender Lass Books]

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Re: Are you writing for yourself or for your readers?
« Reply #29 on: November 15, 2018, 04:38:47 AM »
Both.  I write what I love, but I try to keep my readers happy, too.  They seem to like what I like, so far.  :cheers
This is me, too. Although I just wrote a western that's doing not so well so I'm considering writing something more for me.

I really love fantasy romance but the only novel I've written in that arena did terribly. Lately though, I've been itching to write a medieval werewolf romance or a 20th century romance. Not sure which one yet so I've taken a few days to really think about it. Neither of those will sell. I don't even know how much I care about that anymore. I write mostly westerns that do okay but my books have also gotten railroaded by better selling authors who have more experience and a platform. Nobody knows me. So I may as well experiment.

Sent you a PM  :mhk9U91:
 
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CaptnAndy

Re: Are you writing for yourself or for your readers?
« Reply #30 on: August 20, 2019, 08:50:37 AM »
I'm a newbie here,(I finally gave up on KBoards). I write about what interests me, naval history based fiction, post apocalyptic, hard SF, current event based fiction, and alternate history (without magic, faeries, or time travel). As a retired, recovering systems engineer, a prepper, a Navy vet, and an insatiable reader, I know about a wide range of technologies, naval history, off grid survival, and I grokked what Heinlein wrote. I never expected to get rich from my books, but at 75, I can't stop writing. I published the first book, BB-39 in 2012, and since then, I have a total of 16 currently on Amazon under A.G. Kimbrough.
 
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Simon Haynes

Re: Are you writing for yourself or for your readers?
« Reply #31 on: August 20, 2019, 04:53:28 PM »
I really enjoy historical naval fiction - can't get enough of Alexander Kent/Douglas Reeman, Dudley Pope, C.S. Forester.  I'd love to write a novel along those lines, but I don't have the background so I just added wooden-hulled warships armed to the teeth with cannon to my fantasy series, and went for it. (Pretty sure I said the same thing in another thread recently.)

As for 'more of the same', when I burn out on one series I start another. Now I have four to choose from, and I can return to any of them when the urge strikes me.

 

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Lynn

Re: Are you writing for yourself or for your readers?
« Reply #32 on: August 21, 2019, 12:44:49 AM »
I started writing for myself and I still write for myself. I rarely read the books in my genre but I read just about everything else and tons of fan fiction (that would easily fit in my genre if it were commercially publishable fiction). So my books are by nature a bit off-genre, and yet don't really fit anywhere else either.

All that said, though, I write for me and the readers who are looking for the kinds of stories I tell.

I would write my stuff even if no one bought it. (Don't ask me about the sequel I've started to a book that sold <.1% of all the books I've ever sold. I'm still writing it and I'll still publish it, because you never know. Someone out there might pay a few dollars for it and at least I'll get something beside the satisfaction of writing it out of it. And maybe someone will find the first two books of the series and enjoy them all.)

I think it's great that some people can write for purely monetary reasons, but money had never been a good motivator for me. If I get bored, I'm done. I don't like being that way, and I've done everything I can to keep from getting bored writing my stories, and that does mean I have to write strictly what interests me. That's the way it has to be, or writing will become just another thing I got bored with and moved on from. I really don't want that. Writing fiction is the best job I've ever had.  I've wanted to write stories since I was a child and wanted to publish them since I was in my teens. I waited a long time to get here. I don't want to give it up because I got bored with it. So I write exactly what I want and leave it at all and hope every time that my interests continue to hit a chord with people willing to pay for my books.

Luckily, I tend to like a lot of the genre fiction available and rarely have trouble understanding at least on some level what it is that people like about the things I hate. Basically, my tastes run to the common in some respects and that means my fiction does please at least a few people who will pay for it. :)
 
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Betty Blast

Re: Are you writing for yourself or for your readers?
« Reply #33 on: September 13, 2019, 02:30:27 AM »
In the past I've always written for myself, but lately, I've transitioned into writing more for readers.
 

DougM

Re: Are you writing for yourself or for your readers?
« Reply #34 on: September 13, 2019, 05:03:11 AM »
I write for myself because, as far as I can tell, I pick the deadest of dead niches with no uncanny accuracy.

Fortunately, I also entertain my wife and daughter.
« Last Edit: September 13, 2019, 05:06:15 AM by DougM »
 

LilyBLily

Re: Are you writing for yourself or for your readers?
« Reply #35 on: September 13, 2019, 05:52:15 AM »
I write for myself because, as far as I can tell, I pick the deadest of dead niches with no uncanny accuracy.

<snip>

You and me both, brother.
 

Simon Haynes

Re: Are you writing for yourself or for your readers?
« Reply #36 on: September 13, 2019, 02:22:20 PM »
I ran a poll for my newsletter readers asking which of my four series to extend next. The vote was fairly even, with one slightly ahead, but I went ahead and started on the one I wanted to anyway.  As it happens, it was the series with the fewest votes.

It was nice to know what people wanted more of, but I'm the one who has to put in the weeks/months of hard work, and I need to write this book.

After this one, or maybe after the next (the one they voted for), I'm going to try a write-to-market title. It's a genre I'm keen on, so I don't consider myself a sell-out, but it doesn't fit with anything else I've written so far. I might even use a pen name, but I haven't decided on that yet.



 

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Hazard

Re: Are you writing for yourself or for your readers?
« Reply #37 on: September 16, 2019, 01:16:09 PM »
This has been a major impediment to completing work on my part. I've taken an interest in combining genres lately and from all that I've read, it's probably not a good idea if I want to appeal to a non-niche readership. I've second and third guessed partial manuscripts that they litter the files section of my computer.
 

elleoco

Re: Are you writing for yourself or for your readers?
« Reply #38 on: September 16, 2019, 02:58:14 PM »
I invent stories in my mind for my own entertainment, kind of a daydreaming thing. However, when it comes to writing them down and publishing them, I do whatever modification I think the story needs to make it suit readers of the genre. Generally that means softening everything from events to dialog to characters. I get a lot of reviews that call my books "gritty." If only those reviewers knew how things started out.  :)

Simon Haynes

Re: Are you writing for yourself or for your readers?
« Reply #39 on: September 16, 2019, 03:43:16 PM »
I've just designed three covers for a brand new series, and started plotting book one. (Serious stuff, no comedy).  That's the 'for the readers/money' part.

While plotting, I wrote a short 200-word fragment which absolutely cracks me up, which is the 'writing for me' part. But, if I include this kind of slightly ribald comedy in the serious series, the money will not flow and the readers will not read.

I mean, it's just not a trope for that genre, and I'm deliberately writing this series to market.

Argh.
 

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Lorri Moulton [Lavender Lass Books]

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Re: Are you writing for yourself or for your readers?
« Reply #40 on: September 19, 2019, 01:43:45 AM »
This has been a major impediment to completing work on my part. I've taken an interest in combining genres lately and from all that I've read, it's probably not a good idea if I want to appeal to a non-niche readership. I've second and third guessed partial manuscripts that they litter the files section of my computer.

I've combined genres in a few books.  One advantage...I can enter a lot of different promos.  :smilie_zauber:
 
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Hazard

Re: Are you writing for yourself or for your readers?
« Reply #41 on: September 19, 2019, 01:14:43 PM »
I've combined genres in a few books.  One advantage...I can enter a lot of different promos.  :smilie_zauber:

How did the readers enjoy/accept the books? What were the genres?
 
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Re: Are you writing for yourself or for your readers?
« Reply #42 on: September 20, 2019, 04:07:01 AM »
I was looking for a quote from Nabokov about the perfect "reader" and came across this article from Writer's Digest:

https://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/should-you-write-for-yourself-or-for-the-reader

This line had more of the less the gist of Nabokov's comments:

Quote
...I asked myself who was going to read my book. I visualized one person from that proverbial bookstore line. Not me. And not a generalization of everybody else. One person. The same way I create characters when I write, I created a readerómy ideal reader. The best fit for my book, my work...

I now write only in first person and have an idealized reader in mind when I'm writing. I know his or her socio-economic circumstances, education, profession, and worldview (it's funny how they're all always very similar to mine). They know what I know, but not from my perspective.
Publishing since May 2017. Writing full time since January 2018 general fiction and satire.
 

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Re: Are you writing for yourself or for your readers?
« Reply #43 on: September 20, 2019, 04:26:28 AM »
I heard this advice early on: write for the fans you want.
 
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Lorri Moulton [Lavender Lass Books]

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Re: Are you writing for yourself or for your readers?
« Reply #44 on: September 20, 2019, 05:40:11 AM »
I've combined genres in a few books.  One advantage...I can enter a lot of different promos.  :smilie_zauber:

How did the readers enjoy/accept the books? What were the genres?

It's been my most popular book, but I'm not doing any new promotions (outside of BookFunnel) until I finish the sequel.

Mystery, suspense, romance, paranormal, intrigue, urban fantasy, a little European history...second from left in my signature line.
« Last Edit: September 20, 2019, 06:25:59 AM by Lorri Moulton [Lavender Lass Books] »
 
Author of Romance, Fantasy, Mystery, Suspense and Historical Non-Fiction.
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