Monday, October 8, 2012

Writer heart, business brain

I love to write. Love, love, love it. And the fact that I can publish my stories and share them with other people is so amazing. When other people like my stories, it’s gratifying and validating. If my books didn’t get published, if they didn’t sell, if they didn’t get good reviews…would I still write?

I’m not sure, actually.

I don’t write just for the money. There’s no way you could do that. Much as I love it, writing isn’t easy sometimes. It’s hard work and a LOT of time. You have to love it to do it. To understand this, I keep in mind the saying I’ve heard, “I write for fun. I publish for money.”

The way I look at it is, if I didn’t make money from my writing, it would be really hard to justify all the time and effort I put into it, especially time that isn’t spent with my family or cleaning my house (not that that’s high on my list of fun things to do, but you know, it has to be done once in a while). My kids are older now so it’s not like they need me, but it’s still important to spend time with them and my husband, and contribute to the upkeep of the house. My husband does all the laundry now, without complaint, so I have time to write, but if I wasn’t making any money from my writing, I’d feel really guilty about that.

When I make decisions about what projects to work on next, I try to do it with business in mind. But that doesn’t always work. For example—my hockey books. I know with my business brain that I should be taking advantage of all the interest and sales I’ve had of those books and write the next one. I started writing it. But somehow my writing heart blocked my business brain, and it wasn’t happening. (But it will!)

My business brain has looked at sales of my books with different publishers. I know which sell better and how many copies they sell. I’ve made business decisions about the types of books I’ll write and where I’ll submit them based on financial considerations. It’s not worth it to submit an 80,000 word manuscript that took me months of research and writing to a publisher where it won’t sell well. Also, the different subgenres make a difference. I’ve seen that my recent romantic suspense book hasn’t sold nearly as well as other books, and even though many readers said they’d like more romantic suspense from me, that probably won’t be a priority since the sales aren’t there. Although I do love romantic suspense. On the other hand, my ménage books outsell everything else, and clearly I should be writing more of them. And I will. But my writing heart can’t write nothing but ménage stories. Then there are my BDSM stories, which have gotten great reviews but not so great sales. I’m not sure if that’s because of price, publisher, or because they’re BDSM, but my writing heart wants to write more of them anyway.

So I have to try to balance the love of writing and loving what I write, with practical business decisions. It’s hard.

What do readers expect? More of the same books that are so popular? Is there a risk of getting tired of the “same old thing”? Should writers be trying new things and experimenting with how they sell? Do readers understand that sometimes there are business decisions behind what we write? Or am I the only author who thinks this way?


Kim B said...

I find this really interesting. I will read any and all of your books. But if I went looking for a new author to read, I would probably pick contemporary or BDSM before ménage.

I absolutely love your suspense and I have read some with your humor and they are awesome!!

I never really gave it much thought that sales might determine what genre you write, but it makes complete sense. But that may change in 2013! ;)

Selena Robins said...

Great post you hit on so many great points.

As a writer, I try not to concentrate on market trends and just on what I as a reader would love to read more of, and then from there for my own writing.

You're not the only author who thinks this way, sometimes we have to make these hard decisions for the sake of the business side of things and try to balance it with our creative side.