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Bixso, I guess that for me, writing isn't a chaotic, stressful, grueling thing. I've published enough books over the past 12 years that I can formulate a story using whatever criteria I want. And I choose to write to audience since it's what makes the most money. In fact, having limitations helps me to more quickly lock into what my stories will be.

And although I might be heavy into sexuality politics in the rest of my life. I know that it is a losing strategy when it comes to publishing romance because people truly do just want what they want.
 

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Bixso, no one is telling you what to write. We are answering OP's question on what sells. I don't know the specifics of what trad is seeking but I know they try to appeal to (mostly) the same audience as indie genre authors. (And I do keep an eye on what trad publishes in my genre. I have seen one author who published a MM YA publish an FF YA but the books were not in a series and she did not seem to have the same interest on the FF story).

If you want to write according to your passions, that is great. I write according to my passions too. I just do it within certain constraints of what I believe will sell.

Sometimes I prioritize sales more and sometimes I prioritize passion more. But I always find a compromise of some kind. I sometimes fall out of love with a book or series, but I always go into it with a combination of artistic interest and belief in sales potential.
 

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Bixso, I guess that for me, writing isn't a chaotic, stressful, grueling thing. I've published enough books over the past 12 years that I can formulate a story using whatever criteria I want. And I choose to write to audience since it's what makes the most money. In fact, having limitations helps me to more quickly lock into what my stories will be.

And although I might be heavy into sexuality politics in the rest of my life. I know that it is a losing strategy when it comes to publishing romance because people truly do just want what they want.
Maybe it depends on the idea, or how much planning and plotting and outlining, or lack thereof, lol, has been done beforehand. Someone could finish and complete a story rather quickly, where someone else, it would take them longer to work on a specific project. Visa versa. The person who busted out a project easier last time, might be taking it easy this time, and the person, whom, which it took them longer to finish their project, managed to complete a project rather well and quick and easy this time. There are no wrong answers to this, and yeah.

I'm just saying in general, writing a novel is an adventure, and journey, No matter the semantics, or if you spend time researching or not, plotting or plantsing or pantsing, or a mixture of it all, and all the above lol.

I will say if I was doing a collaboration, or group project, I wouldn't mind conforming, and maybe doing ideas for conformity, and for trend sake etc. But my own personal projects, I will take into consideration of course, some detail, with audience in mind. But it's my story, and if they don't like it, they can write their own, and that's partly why I became a writer damn it lol, because I was tired of not finding stories that I could relate to, or like, because they were too conformed. Also, because I just had a knack for writing and creating, and having an imagination, since I was little, so yeah lol.

But I respect your opinion, thank you.

Bixso, no one is telling you what to write. We are answering OP's question on what sells. I don't know the specifics of what trad is seeking but I know they try to appeal to (mostly) the same audience as indie genre authors. (And I do keep an eye on what trad publishes in my genre. I have seen one author who published a MM YA publish an FF YA but the books were not in a series and she did not seem to have the same interest on the FF story).

If you want to write according to your passions, that is great. I write according to my passions too. I just do it within certain constraints of what I believe will sell.

Sometimes I prioritize sales more and sometimes I prioritize passion more. But I always find a compromise of some kind. I sometimes fall out of love with a book or series, but I always go into it with a combination of artistic interest and belief in sales potential.
I suppose, but maybe the truth should lie somewhere in between all that. Writing for yourself, and writing ideas you like, because why else would you spend the hours/days/weeks time into a manuscript etc., only for it not to be your vision, and your own art. Although, I also see the benefit of maybe altering your art for commercial/trend/popular appeal, so yeah. It's complex.
 

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because why else would you spend the hours/days/weeks time into a manuscript etc., only for it not to be your vision, and your own art.
For the money. Haha! For the potential of large sums of money. Because no matter if it's your vision or not, you're still making your own hours with your future in your own hands. And, no matter what you write, it will beat pushing paper in an office working for someone else. :giggle:
 

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I enjoy making a lot of money, but, for me it's more about the broader readership. More sales = more readers.

I would never tell someone they should pursue money or sales first. I would never tell them they should pursue passion first.

But if they ask what will sell better, I will give them my honest opinion.
 

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but, for me it's more about the broader readership. More sales = more readers.
I have always had a hard time noticeably increasing my readership. My subscriber list has been stuck at 4000 people for about 5 years. I think it has to do with my subgenre of the last few years. There are only so many people who read it. So my strategy has been to maximize $ per reader.

I'm sure it doesn't help that a significant percentage of my sales are now from foreign language books. I get the impression they don't join newsletters for authors who translate. But it could just be me. Who knows?

And, I agree, people write for their own reasons. Though I think that a lot of people don't get how much money you can make writing if you're willing to take certain steps. It's often the things that drains the whimsy out of being an author. But some people don't even know that it's a realistic option... if you're willing to do what it takes. So, I'm fond of mentioning it.
 

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And, I agree, people write for their own reasons. Though I think that a lot of people don't get how much money you can make writing if you're willing to take certain steps. It's often the things that drains the whimsy out of being an author. But some people don't even know that it's a realistic option... if you're willing to do what it takes. So, I'm fond of mentioning it.
It depends on your temperament and taste. Some people have broad taste and accidentally write to market. Some people feel stifled by any constraints and really struggle to write a specific trope or setting. IME, most people who enjoy some genre fiction, even if it's only the more highbrow stuff in their genre, are capable of writing to market successfully. But it will still take them time and effort to figure it out. And they'll still miss sometimes.

When I say I write to market, I mean I write with certain external constraints (a popular trope, a story that hits the main beats of a romance novel, characters who readers will follow) and I also write what I find interesting. I do sometimes brush against the constraints (my desire to write more "difficult" heroines or less cliche gender roles or more realistic portrayals of mental illness where things aren't magically tied in a bow by love. I'm actually debating right now, with a beta reader, whether or not my heroine would be ready to get pregnant in the epilogue because she has an eating disorder and that is a very big ask for both her and the overprotective hero).

A lot of people think write to market means giving up all creative energy and originality. Some days, it feels that way. But writing to market is really finding the compromise of what you want that readers also want. And a career can include books that won't sell as much.

I'm sure it doesn't help that a significant percentage of my sales are now from foreign language books. I get the impression they don't join newsletters for authors who translate. But it could just be me. Who knows?
I haven't run the numbers enough to say for sure, but I do suspect I see less foreign language signups, even though I offer the same perks (the dreaded extended epilogue... now in French or German). I have seen decent growth in my French list but, as with English, I don't see every subscriber rush out to buy the book on release day.
 

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I haven't run the numbers enough to say for sure, but I do suspect I see less foreign language signups, even though I offer the same perks (the dreaded extended epilogue... now in French or German). I have seen decent growth in my French list but, as with English, I don't see every subscriber rush out to buy the book on release day.
Ugh! I offer free books for signing up in all the languages. And I've recently had my best rankings ever in all of the foreign languages. Yet, I just checked, my signups are down this month! They include only 5 German, 4 French and 1 Italian sign up. Brutal! :cautious:
 

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Y'all are Looney Tunes. Probably reason enough the literary community currently, is in shambles, as is; oop, lol. Egad, my god. Writing novels is already stressful, catatonic, and grueling already, lol, so now I have to factor in conforming to please audience, market, and damn, just people in general.
If you don't write novels that please people in general, how do you expect to sell books? I mean, I get that not everyone wants to make a living from their writing, but how satisfying is it to write books for yourself if you only sell a couple of copies a year?
 

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I would never use the term "please people," myself. I have zero desire to please anyone I am not f**

I don't try to please readers.

I make my books entertaining, yes, but my end goal is not entertainment. Entertainment is the default. Art needs to invite the viewer / reader / listener into it, otherwise it's not art, it's therapy.

But I don't think of entertainment in the base terms it's often described. I think of entertainment more as an intellectual, visceral, and emotional experience. For me, the intellectual experience always comes first, because I'm an intellectual person (as in I think a lot and deeply and experience things). I prefer the terms interesting, intriguing, stimulating... (mentally, not the other way... and the other way too).

And honestly I count my lucky freaking stars all the time that other people find relationships and people interesting too! Because I find plot so, so, so, so boring. I don't write it. I don't pay close attention to it when I watch things. I don't think about it except in a sorta abstract, removed way. And I spent many years pursuing screenwriting hearing that no one wanted stories about romance or stories for women from so, so, so many men. (Sometimes women too, mostly men). And now I never think about what men want and it is fantastic.

(Sometimes men were encouraging on the whole romance thing, but typically in a very "well, that is the true important thing in the action movie, but it's clearly supposed to stay a subplot." And I would have been happy with a career coming in to punch up romance subplots in non romantic movies but not as happy as I am with this one).
 

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If you don't write novels that please people in general, how do you expect to sell books? I mean, I get that not everyone wants to make a living from their writing, but how satisfying is it to write books for yourself if you only sell a couple of copies a year?
Because I kinda feel it's all bullshit, in the grand scheme of things. lol. Gonna try to keep this short, as we are now fringing on off topic territory, and mind you the OP I don't think has logged back into Kboards since they made this post, so after all this, that person hasn't returned and yeah lol. Anyways;

It's not really satisfying in general, (which whether you're a "great writer" or not is bullshit and dismissive. You can write "the" a million times in a book, and it's still technically considered art. Although a very ignorant example of possibly avant garde/minimalism and farce/satire art, it's still art. The idea is becoming a household name over that, and shockingly, there have been authors that did exactly that. Tao Lin, is a really interesting author, in which he uses dark comedy and sarcasm, he has a unique way of storytelling, his writing style is so interesting and different, that it becomes lovely and entertaining, he flip flops between perspectives and points of views, and that's more on his prose. His marketing side is also uncanny. Taping posters of his book covers outside the Buzzfeed building, and yeah lol. But it worked for him, and I'm not gonna sit here and say he did anything wrong, he didn't, Unconventional, does not necessarily, well there is no, not necessarily, it doesn't at all period mean wrong or bad. So yeah. lol.)

Whether the book is universally/generally bad or not, or the plot of your story or stories have been done a million times already, your prose/pace/being able to show not tell and things like that, could be immaculate. But if your books aren't selling, you aren't gaining a reputation/popularity for yourself as an author, and critics seem to hate you for no reason, or I noticed with indie authors, it seems the people that liked your book or thought it was okay, because you're not a popular author, won't support you, but the die hard, social media book/literature fans, will rip you to shreds if the book wasn't their cup or tea, or you're doing something different. So the review/criticism bombs come in, and that's awful for a new author etc.

So this is where I'm going to agree to disagree with you. I do understand what you're saying. But conforming/writing to market doesn't necessarily equal success either. Because you can write a story, like a fucking, Vampire Romance or Mermaid Romance, Half Human/Half Beast romance, or Victorian Romance, or Time Travel Romance etc. those seem to be what's really trending right now, then the book doesn't sell, and/or gets no notoriety, coupled by review bombing or, horrible reception and yeah.

Or you can write a story from your heart, your own original idea. Of course, there will be some dabbles, sprinkles, dashes, hints, and pinches of conformity, or adding minute or small or minor or little details, to season or flavor the story, and those could be conformed, using certain tropes or storytelling points. Which if the reaction is identical, just as if you were to write a conformed story, then okay. But at least you wrote, and are continuing to write from your heart, and you're gonna let chips fall where they do. Maybe tomorrow I'll become an overnight success, and a household name. Maybe not, but I would rather go through this approach.

So the choice is ultimately yours, but yeah. Just wanted to point that out; and I partly agree with you, but that's where I disagree. But I do understand what you mean, and yeah. Thank you. :)
 

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You may not try to please readers, but if they weren't pleased with what you write they likely wouldn't buy it.
Maybe. Maybe not. We all have theories for why readers buy and what they want but none of us have proof. AFAIK, there are no psychology studies that show, definitively, why people read or what causes them to purchase.

Besides, you didn't phrase this as books that please readers. You phrased it as the intent of the author to please readers. You are discussing how an author thinks about a book. I am telling you that this is not how I think about books and I am still successful. And I know many other successful authors that do not think about books this way.

I do not try to please people or make them happy.

That language does not resonate with me.

If it resonates with you, great, keep using it. But don't tell me how I think about my books or what motivates me.
 

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Maybe. Maybe not. We all have theories for why readers buy and what they want but none of us have proof. AFAIK, there are no psychology studies that show, definitively, why people read or what causes them to purchase.

Besides, you didn't phrase this as books that please readers. You phrased it as the intent of the author to please readers. You are discussing how an author thinks about a book. I am telling you that this is not how I think about books and I am still successful. And I know many other successful authors that do not think about books this way.

I do not try to please people or make them happy.

That language does not resonate with me.

If it resonates with you, great, keep using it. But don't tell me how I think about my books or what motivates me.

I didn't tell you how you think about your books, or what motivates you. I did not, in fact, phrase it as the intent of you (the author) to please readers. I made a simple statement -- your books, in some way, do please your readers. Because if your books did not please your readers, they wouldn't read them. I'm not saying that you write them to please your readers. Maybe you're one of the lucky people who is fortunate enough to simply be able to write what you enjoy and readers just happen to enjoy it, too. I don't know your process, but you've said that you make a living from your writing, so clearly, whether the phrasing resonates with you or not, your readers are pleased with the results.

You can talk all you want about a lack of psychological studies, but the fact is, people in general buy what gives them pleasure. That is not a particularly revolutionary idea. Given their druthers, people tend to spend their money on what they like and enjoy, not on what they don't. Of course there will be the odd exception to that -- the person who reads some heavy book-club book just so they can say they read it, or to keep up with the Joneses or whatever -- but in general, if they have their preference, people will spend their time and money on books that they enjoy reading.
 

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It's not really satisfying in general, (which whether you're a "great writer" or not is bullshit and dismissive.

So this is where I'm going to agree to disagree with you. I do understand what you're saying. But conforming/writing to market doesn't necessarily equal success either. Because you can write a story, like a fucking, Vampire Romance or Mermaid Romance, Half Human/Half Beast romance, or Victorian Romance, or Time Travel Romance etc. those seem to be what's really trending right now, then the book doesn't sell, and/or gets no notoriety, coupled by review bombing or, horrible reception and yeah.

So the choice is ultimately yours, but yeah. Just wanted to point that out; and I partly agree with you, but that's where I disagree. But I do understand what you mean, and yeah. Thank you. :)
I think you might have misunderstood my question. If I'm following your argument, you seem to be saying that you refuse to conform to market expectations because it's selling out? And that writing to market is no guarantee of success anyway. Which is totally true. It's not a guarantee of success. But if you write to market you're giving yourself a much better chance of success, simply because you're writing a story that has a large potential audience. So what I was trying to get at was, would you really rather stick to your guns and write stuff with a tiny market that doesn't sell well, when you could give writing to market a try and potentially sell many more books and have many more readers?
 

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I think you might have misunderstood my question. If I'm following your argument, you seem to be saying that you refuse to conform to market expectations because it's selling out? And that writing to market is no guarantee of success anyway. Which is totally true. It's not a guarantee of success. But if you write to market you're giving yourself a much better chance of success, simply because you're writing a story that has a large potential audience. So what I was trying to get at was, would you really rather stick to your guns and write stuff with a tiny market that doesn't sell well, when you could give writing to market a try and potentially sell many more books and have many more readers?
Maybe and perhaps I did misunderstand you.

But again, I should mention if you're a ghostwriter, then it doesn't matter. When I say "ghostwriter", I basically mean someone writing under several different pen names, probably taking chapters/manuscripts other authors have wrote, and maybe because the author is busy with other commitments, or projects, you write stories/chapters/manuscripts for other authors, or you adapt what an author wrote as an example, and you explore that more, and the author publishes what you wrote etc.

This is good, but my particular ideas/writing style, aren't "ghostwriter" worthy ,or suitable. I feel "ghostwriting", is more for simplistic plots and ideas.

I also feel another exception is romance/erotica, I feel you're kinda writing to market/conform.

I guess it would help, if I knew exactly what, "writing to market" was?

Is that having, cooking cutter, milquetoast plots, and not having stories that deal with too much intensity. (Example, a cozy mystery about a woman running a bakeshop by day, and being a detective by night is fine. However, a story about a talking Afghan Hound that works for the post office, and she teaches Zumba classes, isn't okay. etc. lol.)

Is that not writing about common, typical, homely, haggard, alternative, minority, LGBTQ characters? (Example, if your characters aren't young, attractive, good looking, aren't Mary Sue's or Plain Janes, aren't upper high class or regal, aren't characters that are goth, alternative, free spirited, silly heart, characters that aren't white, and characters that are gay or transgender or gender non conforming, or gender non binary, or third gender/two spirit etc.)

Is that releasing an absurd or unusual amount of books/novels in your resume/bibliography. (Example, Writing five books or more a month etc.)

Is that "writing to market?"

Also, it may seem that if you write what you want, your chances of success are low, but I don't know. I kinda mentioned in my previous post, that it's luck above all. No doubt about that, first of all. But I don't know. I still kinda feel you can gain a level pegging amount of fans/popularity/reputation/support, as an author, writing what you want, just as if, you were treating writing, well I'm just going to go on ahead and say it, as a business. So yeah lol. But I don't know. I guess it's up to the author.

So yeah. I don't know. I mean I see what you mean, and I do agree somewhat, and get what you mean. I do feel it should be up to the author, and their validity, as to what they do with their author career. etc. So yes.
 

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It isn't a fact that people read for any reason. Where is the proof? Facts require proof.

I reject the world pleasure because it is unspecific. And it does not resonate with my experience of consuming content. If you asked me why I love my favorite books or TV shows, I would not say "they give me pleasure" at any point in their description. I would say they interest me, make me think, make me feel, teach me about the world, open my mind, offer unique insights, make me feel understood or more capable of understanding.

Those are all things I enjoy. And those are all reasons why readers might pick up a book. Do these books give me pleasure? Well, sorta. I read because I enjoy it, but I associate pleasure with a certain kind of cotton candy quality and I don't enjoy that.

I have asked many readers why they read, and I've heard many different answers. Those aren't facts either, but they are more than my opinion.

I'm not saying I don't think about readers. I am saying I don't consider pleasure to be a goal of a book or my writing.

I am trying to offer a counter position for authors who don't find the way people talk about writing to market appealing. Are you trying to tell them to STFU and step in line? Why are you arguing with me?

There are 1000 other places you can go to hear more about how you need to write what pleases readers or write fast food or some other way of suggesting a book has no substance. No one needs to hear that advice again. We're all heard it a million times.

I am not telling you how to think about your work so don't tell me how to think about mine.
 

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Bixso, if you are legitimately unclear on writing to market, I highly recommend Chris Fox's book on the matter. His books are the best. Very clear, encouraging without blowing smoke up your @SS.

Writing to market is a very simple concept that people make complicated. It's the overlap of what you want to write and what people want to buy.

The story and character beats are often genre or subgenre specific. For example, in romance, I try to play with gender roles, but I do have to keep them in mind. Readers aren't into men who seem whiney or weak, but they love a brooding or tortured hero (it's mostly the guys needing to keep all their feelings to themselves). But then I've also found you can push the boundaries there quite a bit if you do it well. You'll just have an easier time if you stick to genre norms.

I had one book where the heroine was a bit of a hot mess, a total lush with a slutty past, and I was surprised that absolutely no readers had a problem with it. They all adored her. They actually had more issue with the guy (that was a first), but it was mostly appropriate for the trope (it was a friends to lovers book and he was soooo oblivious).

I mostly only write tropes I like. I do sometimes write things I don't like, but it is more of a goal to stretch myself, rather than to appeal to other people (though I do make sure I don't make false claims about my book, so if I plan to call something X trope, I make sure I hit a lot of important X trope beats, even if I subvert some others). But once I start writing, I am only beholden to my characters, what they do, what they want. If they go off genre norms, I go off genre norms with them.

People throw around a lot of stereotypes about why people read, but I have found plenty of readers (in my genre and elsewhere) really just want an interesting story with well-developed characters. It's not as complicated as some people make it seem.
 
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