Who Are You Writing For?

Who are you writing for?

This is a question that gets asked a great deal on a writers’ site I frequent. I have always answered, rather flippantly, ‘for myself’. Yet I am now beginning to wonder if, by writing for myself, I am missing a trick.

After receiving multiple rejections from literary agents both in the UK and the US, I’m having to rethink my whole writing process. My novel is historical, it is romance, yet the two main characters do not get together at the end – and there will be a sequel. My novel is also long, at almost 100k words, and that doesn’t fit a romance publishing model either. It is not your regular, expected story for an historical romance and although I like the story and I wrote it for me, I wonder if I should now focus on writing genre fiction for the sake of publishing and earning a crust or two. Publishers seem to want only sure-fire bets since they are looking for the next big thing, and therefore unwilling to take chances on a lowly newbie. I don’t know why they are so intent on having books in nice, neat little boxes; I’ve always hated being put in a box, and now my novels can’t be either! Oh well.

I started writing years ago because I couldn’t find a romance novel that related to me and the life I have. I wanted to write about women who have precious few choices in their lives and the consequences of the choices they do make. I wanted to write about women who struggle with issues I struggle with (relationship issues where I have little choice, dreams and desires versus reality, e.g.) and see if they found an answer I could adapt for my life.

Should I keep writing the stories I want to read, or should I adapt my work to fit a genre in the hope I can make some money and increase the options I, and my children, have? It’s a dilemma I know that faces many an author, including Ottessa Moshfegh, and I don’t know what to do. Ottessa decided to write a genre novel, albeit one that turned out to be nominated for a Man-Booker prize…I’m a slow writer, so anything I do will take a while. Any ideas?

My Dad asked me what, as an author, I want to be known for.

What do you want to be known for in life?

 

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3 thoughts on “Who Are You Writing For?

  1. Romance genre/category novels are the way to go if you want to make money (based on the articles I’ve read over the years) but you’ll need to follow the formula otherwise no one will want to pick up your book. I’ve written what was supposed to be paranormal romance, but has morphed into a YA urban fantasy trilogy with no happy ending in the first book – I think I’ll be self-publishing!! Lol

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    • That’s the problem, and the dilemma, isn’t it. As writers we are often reluctant to obey the demands of a market if that means adhering to various ‘formulaic’ guidelines. I don’t mind writing that if that’s what will earn me some money, but do I want to be known for that as an author? JK Rowling writes detective novels now, yet is known for Harry Potter and I doubt that will ever change. I know what I want to be known for, but do I sell my soul to earn money first…

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