A couple times recently I’ve asked you questions that encourage you to decide why you’re writing. (See If You Had to Choose, and What is Success?) I’ve been asking you to identify the goal at the heart of your writing journey—are you seeking to reach a wide audience with your words, or is it more important for you to write what’s in your heart? While both goals may be possible, I’ve presented false dichotomies designed to encourage introspection about what you want out of this. Money? Fame? The simple pleasure of sharing words with others? The catharsis of expressing yourself? All of the above?

I’ve noticed lately that there seem to be two general kinds of posts amongst the publishing blogs:

1. The ones that talk about writing a commercial, saleable book, and how to make yourself marketable through building a platform; and

2. The ones that tell you to forget all considerations of publishing and marketing, and simply write. Write your truth, write your heart, write the best you can and don’t be sullied by considerations of what will sell.

This is over-simplified—perhaps a generalization—but it characterizes the two extremes of advice we read on the web.

On this blog I try to walk the line between the extremes, but I think it often appears I’m flat-out contradicting myself. I’ve been known to advocate both approaches to writing. The truth is, I’m torn.

As a writer, a voracious reader, a thinker, and an artist myself, I want to tell you to be an artist, be true to yourself, write your deepest truth. But as an agent, I also need to help you find success in publishing, and this means taking into account all kinds of considerations of the market.

There are different reasons people write. More importantly, there are different reasons people read. Sometimes we read and write as a way to express truth, or search for it. Sometimes it’s an exploration of our own hearts—whether we’re reading or writing. Sometimes we’re seeking facts, or seeking to convey facts to others. Sometimes we read or write because we want a good story—one that entertains us, relaxes our minds, allows us to get lost in another world for a period of time.

Since there are so many different reasons for both reading and writing, we can’t give a “one size fits all” piece of advice. Not only do we all differ in our purpose for reading and writing, each of us may differ in our own journeys from week to week, or from year to year. Sometimes we sit down to read or write a fun story, and other times we’re seeking something deeper, more interested in things profound or important.

The way I try to bridge the extremes is that I often tell my clients, “Find where your passion meets the market.” I’m not saying my clients should “sell out” and “write to the market” but I’m acknowledging that if they want to sell, they need to be looking for ways that the writings of their heart will connect with others and have a chance of selling.

I’d sometimes rather just tell everyone, “Write what’s true for you. Forget about the market.” And some people will do that and find publishing success. But some people won’t find publishing success by doing that.

So what then? Do we advise people to either give up their publishing dreams—or change what they write? I don’t know. Again, this completely depends on the goal of the individual writer. Is mass publication important to you, or is it secondary?

Will you find publishing success by writing what comes most naturally to you, or will you find it by paying more attention to what the market wants? I can’t answer that one in a general sense.

Since I don’t know what you need to hear or what will work for you, all I can do is continue playing both sides of this fence: encouraging you to find your voice, speak your truth, write the very best you can, be an artist. And also teaching you about the ins and outs of the market, how to craft better books, how to build a platform, how to understand publishing, and all the other things that go along with the “business” side of writing.

I’m torn, and I accept this state of being as the peculiar necessity of my chosen career.

Are you torn?

Photo from

© 2010 Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent

Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Gardner Literary. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!


  1. Mike Koch on November 22, 2010 at 2:27 PM

    >It was somewhere after seventy thousand words that I started thinking "Hey,maybe others might like this." So for me the 'artist' came first and if I'm lucky the 'writer' might be a close second. In my opinion the one will drive the other in a vicious cycle much akin to the chicken and the egg scenario. Which came first for each author will vary I suspect. I just happen to know for me it was the desire to put pen to paper with an idea, the audience part of it came second. Thanks for your blog by the way, I've just now found it and can't wait to continue my browse through your posts.

  2. Anne Lang Bundy on November 20, 2010 at 9:17 PM

    >Am I torn between art and business?

    Not nearly as much as I am blessed by this post.


  3. Anonymous on November 20, 2010 at 6:53 PM

    >OPPA. Accidentally found. Internet is a great thing. Thanks to the author.

  4. Lauren Hovis on November 19, 2010 at 10:11 AM

    >My current work is popular in publishing at the moment – young adult fantasy. However, I did not intend to write for this market. I wrote my story to test the creative waters I may or may not be capable of. As the words came to be, I realized that I am most alive in creative fiction (whereas all I used to know are nonfiction and academia). At some point, I was advised to seriously consider submitting my ms to agents as my book carries great potential (so I was told). I would be thrilled to see my name in print. However, my word in any medium (blog, online article publication, novel) always holds the same purpose – inspire and intrigue others while never losing sight of my passion to simply write.

  5. Madeleine on November 18, 2010 at 10:20 PM

    >I certainly am torn, but I'm resigned to the fact that there are to sides and arguments to anything. Do you want your shoes to look good or be comfortably? Do you want your hair to be stylish or easily maintained?

    Publishing is a business, but it also depends on art and hearts and creativity. It's necessary for us to both be business-smart and aware of what's out there and also consider what it is that we can bring to the table.

    Torn I am, but I understand what it's all about, even if I can't say it in words. (A problem I'm not usually confronted with. ;D)

  6. Julie Weathers on November 18, 2010 at 4:53 PM

    >I write what I love. I think that has to be foremost because there are going to be times you hate it. When you revises it for the seventh time, you may actually be tempted to toss it in the trash for the third time.

    Having said that, I'm also aware of the market. I write with the goal of being published so I have to temper my ideas. I don't think the two goals are mutually exclusive.

  7. Mary E Hanks on November 18, 2010 at 1:15 PM

    >Thanks for being sensitive and aware of both sides of the coin. That is a great help in itself. Every craft has these two sides–the art and the need to sell/promote. As a playwright, my heartfelt words are nothing without actors to play the parts, and my actors cannot tell their story without an audience.

  8. ldwhite on November 18, 2010 at 12:10 PM

    >My comment also addresses the discussion of print versus electronic publishing. I have often picked up a very old, even obscure book and read about my life.

    To know in my heart that an author sixty years ago wrote something that God now uses to point out things in my life is remarkable. That the protagonist is facing identical circumstances as I with the exact same predicaments, choices and dilemmas prove to me that God is indeed sovereign.

    I want to write because I believe I have stories that will be meaningful to others. I need to be published or else few people will read them. They need to be in print so someone sixty years from now can find an old dusty book with a message only for them.

  9. Camille Eide on November 18, 2010 at 10:59 AM

    >Exactly. I've been trying to answer this question in my own heart, and I applaud you for accepting the state of 'torn-ness'.

    Athol Dickson blogged about a similar topic at Novel Journey: Trouble in a Writer's World in a very thought provoking post. I know I need to stop fooling around and answer the question about why I write fiction.

  10. Lynn Squire on November 18, 2010 at 9:18 AM

    >I'm not torn. I'm actually rather single-minded, but that single-mindedness has to do with how I perceive the CBA market and what I have the unction to write.

    Becoming published is easy in this day and age. Maybe not traditionally published, but I see this form becoming radically diminished as the technology and ability for an author to find alternatives increases and gains force.

    I am not torn because I strive to be single-minded in why I write. I write, first to glorify and honor God. And under that 'heading' falls proclaiming His good works. Then under that comes three subheadings: to strengthen and edify believers; to proclaim to the world who God is; to proclaim what God has done for each person through the death, burial and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ.

    Do I need to be traditionally published to do this? Nope. Can I be published and do this? Yup.

    I'm afraid I have little faith that the traditional CBA publishers see writing as a medium of proclaiming God's works in the same light as I do.

    In fact, I'd venture to say that 90% or more have gotten away from this in order to survive financially . . . they end up catering to a segment of Christianity that has forgotten the great commission or dressed it up in a way that makes it more comfortable for them. Am I angry with them? Not at all. Publishers are businesses, and they have a responsibility to earn money.

    There are plenty of niche markets that the traditional publishers are not reaching. But that doesn't mean these markets need to remain unreached.

    For me, I've learned not to concern myself with publishing – that's easy enough to do. I've learned that I must first concern myself with surrendering fully to God, moment by moment, day by day. And when I do that, then the worries of how the publishing world perceives me falls away. For me, to live is Christ . . . and that means I'm here first to offer myself up as a daily sacrifice to God, and if He so chooses, He'll take that sacrifice and use it for His glory and honor and praise in a reader's life.

  11. Edwina on November 18, 2010 at 9:11 AM

    I always enjoyr your blogs. They are informative and make me think about my journey.

    I am definitely torn. I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt that God has called me to minister to women, to teach them how much God loves them and how He sees them, and to minister to divorced women.

    My challenge comes in how to minister to them. Do I write His message in fiction form? Nonfiction form? In my blog? I wait to hear from Him.

  12. Judy on November 18, 2010 at 8:52 AM

    >I'm definitely torn between writing what's in my heart(like the inspirational articles that I've had published) and going back to trying to write a novel. Ideas for that are brimming out all over but then I ask myself: are they what publishers are looking for right now?

  13. Steve Pritchett on November 18, 2010 at 7:01 AM

    >I'm torn, but I'd rather reach people's hearts and minds than go for the money. Rachelle, thanks for doing what you do. You do a great job–a job you have to do to keep going. Money's a necessary hang-up. I've come to terms with that. I'd just about rather print out copies of what I've written and sell it on the street personally than try to go through this huge and emotional process of finding an agent and shopping publishers, though. (No offense.)

    As for art versus money, Blake Swarzenbach of Jets To Brazil had an appropriate lyric: "To all the bands who mean what they say, it's not what you sell, it's what you make."

  14. kangaroobee on November 18, 2010 at 6:49 AM

    >It is for this very reason that I have changed my favourite picture book ms into a poem. I haven't send it out just yet, but it feels like I've sold my soul. I know that the subject is totally overdone and I had to cut large chunks of it out and don't want to pad it out. I don't believe in padding stories out. So I still have my 'baby' just in a different form.

  15. kangaroobee on November 18, 2010 at 6:49 AM

    >It is for this very reason that I have changed my favourite picture book ms into a poem. I haven't send it out just yet, but it feels like I've sold my soul. I know that the subject is totally overdone and I had to cut large chunks of it out and don't want to pad it out. I don't believe in padding stories out. So I still have my 'baby' just in a different form.

  16. Lisa on November 18, 2010 at 5:00 AM

    >A cautionary tale:

    I wrote a children's historical adventure story for my MA in Creative Writing and had nine agents interested in it. Brilliant, I thought. This one is going to fly. I chose an agent, the book went out to 10 publishers and all came back saying there was no market for it.

    I wrote it from the heart and I admit I did not think of the market. I had been labouring under the misconception that all I had to do was write a great story with a page-turning plot and characters that readers sympathise with.

    Publishers said it was 'exciting', it was 'well-executed', I had 'great characters' but it turns that's not enough to sell it.

    Good writing is essential but so is a good idea, a marketable concept. I guess mine wasn't strong enough. I still believe you have to write from the heart, but as Rachelle says, you have to have one eye on the market if you want it published. It is difficult to predict trends. So perhaps the trick is to find something you really want to write that chimes with people or the times. And pray you get lucky.

  17. girlgeum on November 18, 2010 at 12:56 AM

    >Maybe I'm being selfish, but perhaps it's a good type of selfish. I write for an audience of one, me, and allow others to look in and read.

    If not, I'll feel like I'm writing what others want me to write, and not what I want/need to.

  18. Rachelle on November 17, 2010 at 11:47 PM

    >I'm so impressed with all the comments here. Such great thinking going on! I love how many people have been writing about this on their own blogs. What a great conversation!

  19. Ginger Merante on November 17, 2010 at 5:46 PM

    >I'm torn every day. Do I keep writing at all? Can I stop if I wanted to? I don't know the answer to #1, but to the second, the answer is no. I can't stop. My mind constantly analyzes every situation hoping to spark an book idea. So, I continue on, torn and tortured.

  20. Amy Sorrells on November 17, 2010 at 5:07 PM

    >I'm not torn. I don't mind tweaking or writing for the market, because that in itself is a fun challenge, and if that's what it takes, than that's what it takes. Besides, I'm peculiar and I find writing is a necessity, so I'm good with it.

  21. Sierra Gardner on November 17, 2010 at 3:34 PM

    >I think acknowledging and embracing contradictions is important in life. And maybe it is possible to do both. Not every story you write will find a home on the best seller list, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't write it. I say, if you want to be successful then write the stories you love that have a reasonable likelihood of appealing to the market. If you are lucky you might even find time to write the other stories rattling around in your head as well.

  22. Rebecca Stroud on November 17, 2010 at 3:14 PM

    >I am an ardent animal lover and I truly believe all creatures are gifts from God. So I've spent decades defending & supporting them, both hands-on and through my writing.

    That said: I recently e-published a compilation of my "animal" newspaper columns and its sales are dismal. Of course, my marketing is probably ditto.

    So, now, I am embarking on finishing a suspense novel that's been hiding in my drawer for many moons and hope to have it done before Christmas…

    My point? Torn? Of course. Yet I also feel diversity can be a form of compromise. So I will write my heart but I will also write for the market…and, God willing, the twains shall meet.

  23. Julie Geistfeld on November 17, 2010 at 2:54 PM

    Once again an amazing post that gets me to thinking about my writing goals, dreams and inspiration. Thanks for all the great posts.

    This one inspired me to go into a lengthier description about: Where does your writing come from? On my blogspot. Here is my summary though:

    I’ve chosen to write in the way that I love to write. I’ve chosen to write out of a passion for the worlds that exist in me. I try to write the best way I can, showing my worlds in vivid color and touch and taste and smell. If I write well enough, the things of my heart, then when you read them you will see them through my eyes and fall in love with them too. If you fall in love, then maybe you’ll take a chance on me. In the meantime, I move on to the next world that is being formed in my imagination. Because there’s always another story to share, another picture to paint in bold and colorful words. That’s what I must do.

    I’m a painter, and my medium is words.
    I am, a writer.

    Thanks for the opportunity to share and the inspirational challenges you throw out!

  24. Michelle DeRusha on November 17, 2010 at 1:11 PM

    >I am SO glad to hear you say this, Rachelle. Because honestly, I've been a bit frustrated by the advice, "Write your heart. Write for God. Write the truth and everything else will follow." That's all well and good (really, I mean that — of course I understand the importance of writing for God!), but for a person with publishing aspirations, this might not be entirely realistic. I'm not sure simply writing your heart or the truth will build a platform. Other writers have passed on the old adage, "Build it and they will come" (i.e. write your heart and the audience will follow), but from what I can see, it's a glacially slow process!

    That's not to say I won't continue to write from my heart…but I'm always thinking about platform, too. Maybe this makes me a sell-out in God's eyes. I hope not.

  25. Kathleen T. Jaeger on November 17, 2010 at 1:04 PM

    >"Are you torn?" Yes.

  26. S. J. Reisner || Audrey Brice || S. Connolly on November 17, 2010 at 12:24 PM

    >I agree with the balanced approach. About half of what I write panders to the market and the rest is what I *want* to write. A girl's gotta eat…

  27. katdish on November 17, 2010 at 12:22 PM

    >Actually, Rachelle I appreciate that you can understand both the artist's POV and the commercial aspect of publishing. Pretty sure your clients do, too.

  28. angie mizzell on November 17, 2010 at 11:43 AM

    >This post reminds me of a blog post I wrote last year… I was talking about being authentic in life and in business. A woman responded, saying that she's had to learn to navigate the delicate balance of being "authentic and relevant." That comment has stayed with me. There's a lot of truth in it, I think.

  29. Allie Sanders on November 17, 2010 at 11:40 AM

    >Right now I'm writing for myself. I'm aware my work isn't a perfect fit for the current market but I'm also not in a huge hurry to get published. I'm still learning the trade. I keep myself informed and watch how things go because one day the market is going to change again and the books I fell in love with a few years back will be the style readers are looking for. I've already noticed that a larger number of contemp novels, rather than supernatural, were on the new release shelf at Barnes & Noble. I think it's important to at least be aware, even if you are not going to tailor yourself to the market but you also have to realize that you have to give some to get somewhere. There is a difference between tweaking the story to fit needs and writing simply because it is what's selling. I'd hate to find a fanbase in supernatural because it was what would sell and be stuck writing it forever.

  30. Erin Cole on November 17, 2010 at 11:32 AM

    >Great questions all writers should confront. I aim to do both. If I write solely for myself, I realize that selling my work to make a living in the future will present challenges in getting stories accepted, but if I write just for the audience, I lose connection with my muse. In my short fiction and novels, I develop plot and characters that I think will sell and engage the readers, but during the editing process, I also include my own passions, my voice, and this is often what enriches the story and keeps me progressing in my writing journey.

  31. Anonymous on November 17, 2010 at 11:31 AM

    >hello there thanks for your grat post, as usual ((o:

  32. Danielle La Paglia on November 17, 2010 at 11:30 AM

    >Like many I am torn. I don't want to write to the market, but I want my writing to be marketable. I want to write what makes me happy and what will make readers happy. It's a fine line that we all must work at.

  33. T. Anne on November 17, 2010 at 11:28 AM

    >In my own writing I prefer to walk the line. I’m willing to change my novel to an extent, because at this point in the game I’m at the publisher’s mercy. Perhaps when my novels are selling well I’ll be able to implement a more artsy flair to my work. As it stands I’m pretty open to any suggestions that will make my work more marketable. I won’t let my stubborn streak get in the way of my goals of publication.

    BTW, this is an interesting post especially in the wake of the James Frey sweatshop that you tweeted about, companies like Alloy and even James Patterson’s writing factory. Writers want to write. Some writers are willing to sacrifice just about anything to do it.

  34. Rhonda Schrock on November 17, 2010 at 11:13 AM

    >Something in me bristles at writing for a market with the bottom line being the bottom line. I get the whole "we have to turn a profit" thing, but if I can't write from my heart in order to do that, I'll probably just stick with my day job.

    Funny thing. As I write the weekly column, I'm often either laughing or crying right there in the coffee shop. Then I find out later that readers did the same.

    Would I love to make big money at it? Sure. But when I know that my stories are making a difference and lifting people up, then I know that I'm being true to my calling. That, for now, is success for me.

    "The Natives are Getting Restless"

  35. Beth on November 17, 2010 at 11:03 AM

    >Not torn. Any kind of writing is going to help you develop your craft, and it's good to write both ways.

    There are times you're going to write because an idea is just bursting out of you. There are going to be times that you write because you've got an assignment. Both can be turn out a good product, and both will help you become a better writer.

    It's true that one may be more marketable, so for financial reasons, you may want to invest more time in what you can write for cash, but when it comes right down to it, you don't have to choose. You can do both.

  36. Wendy Paine Miller on November 17, 2010 at 11:00 AM

    >I love this post. I could easily engage in a conversation about this for hours. Writers need to hone in on what feels natural and what flows while also having an eye for the market. But we are social creatures. We’re aware of the market more than we might suspect.

    We gravitate toward a certain genre for a reason. This post advocates reading widely. By doing so we’re often able to discover where our writing should land and once we’ve discovered that, curiosity and fervor should come naturally to investigate the market out of a desire to connect more with our readers.

    “Find where your passion meets the market.” Wholeheartedly agree!


  37. Heather on November 17, 2010 at 10:52 AM

    >I just stumbled across Jeff Gerke's Writing Tip # 1. It doesn't include all the waffling back and forth about writing what the market sells and being true to yourself. It simply states: Write for an audience of One.
    My interpretation of that: If you're faithful to what God has called you to do, then He'll reward that. It may take longer than you like, but it will happen.

  38. Lisa Kilian on November 17, 2010 at 10:43 AM

    >I love this post!!!

    I don't think I've ever heard someone talk about the difference in how people read and not just write… Love it!

    As for me, I write because I have something to say or point out, I feel that I notice things other people may not. Just little things that make a person feel grounded when they hadn't before.
    And that's the kind of stuff I read, so no surprise there.

    As for being torn, I am particularly torn in that because I have something I desperately want to point out, I somewhat desperately seek publication. However, if a book is published and only sells few copies… I can't say I'd be disappointed?

    So I'm cool with obscurity, as long as the words, the story, the message, whatever gets a chance to reach readers.

    Great post!

  39. Sue Harrison on November 17, 2010 at 10:39 AM

    >Always. Always torn. Between family obligations and writing; between writing for money and writing for joy; between CBA and ABA; between reading what I want to read and reading what I should read.

    But what a joy to have those choices! So few people in the history of the human race have had the privilege to choose.

    I feel so blessed!

  40. Paul Hertneky on November 17, 2010 at 10:32 AM

    >I see being torn as seeking balance. For me, it has always worked to do what Stephen King advises: write drafts with the door closed and revise with the door open. I first immerse myself in story and truth, research and fascination with little or no regard for the reader. Then I open the door during revisions and serve my ideal reader around every corner.

    The real dilemma: how much of my time goes toward social media, selling, pitching, etc.? After 20+ years of freelancing, I fight against having these activities encroach on my sacred writing time. The more pervasive they become, the more "necessary" they seem (blogging, tweeting!), the harder the battle. But time behind the closed door must be guarded, protected, and held dear.

  41. Susan Bourgeois on November 17, 2010 at 10:10 AM

    >I'm not torn. I feel I am knowledgeable. It's my responsibility as a writer to get a feel for the market. It's my responsibility to study the entire process from writing to publishing.

    It's a plus to have an agent like you to provide a strong base of additional information. You fill in so many gray areas. All of us who follow your blog gain invaluable information on a daily basis.

    I think an agent can guide but only to a certain point. We must work as individuals and put in the required time in order to be successful in this industry.

    As a writer I think I have a pulse on what would be successful in the market. I wouldn't be writing if I didn't feel my work had the ability to form a strong connection with potential readers.

    I consider the business side of the work from the start. I feel that strongly. If I wanted to write something from the heart only, I would do so and keep it strictly for my family.

    That's not my goal. My goal is to incorporate realistic, meaningful experiences in any venture I take related to my writing with the hopes of connecting with many.

    Overall, I think it is my responsibility to study the process and put the pieces of the puzzle together in order to reach a successful outcome.

    I don't expect an agent to fill me in on every step of the process. I don't expect an agent to tell me what or how to write.

    I think of an agent as a partner who smoothes out the rough edges of my work and does her best to get my work in the proper hands.

  42. Thomas on November 17, 2010 at 10:09 AM

    >I started writing a response and then after 500 words I realized I was rambling. So my comment is this. Write for all of the above reasons and do all of the above. Why limit yourself to one way of thinking? I want to sell and have my hearts desire put in print. I think we can have our books and read them too.

  43. Laura Drake on November 17, 2010 at 9:57 AM

    >I'm only torn when I allow myself to shift focus to something other than the amazing gratification I get from the act of writing.

    I'm lucky in that what I want to write is marketable, but even if it wasn't, I couldn't stop now.

    The hope of publication was only the carrot that led me to this wonderful awareness – so I'm thankful for it!

  44. Loralie Hall on November 17, 2010 at 9:56 AM

    >This is something I think about a lot. And blog about on occasion. You are looking at the middle ground between two extremes, and I think it all comes down to what an individual is willing/happy to do to be published.

    Everyone has different moral and ethical boudries, especially when it comes to something as personal as writing. As long as an individual knows where they're willing to compromise and where they're not, that's really the best introspection they can have in a situation like this.

  45. Rik on November 17, 2010 at 9:48 AM

    >I started answering this and it turned into a whole blog post! Not wanting to clutter up the comments stream, here are my closing paragraphs:

    … I can honestly say that no, I'm not torn. I want to be published, but I'm not willing to write whatever the market demands in order to be published. I know my work is not currently commercial and while, in an ideal world, the Great Reading Public would be clamouring for the sort of stories and poems I write, the fact that reality and imagination do not (currently) overlap does not worry me.

    Thanks to the miracles of modern technology I can publish myself. I can hold my books in my hand and share them with people who enjoy my writing. And while I can't walk into a bookshop and see my work on the shelves, well I'm learning to live with that and I'm becoming comfortable with the fact.

    I know this makes me sound like a 'loser', but I don't care. There's more to life than rat races: in my world integrity and honesty, and pride in the work you do, really are greater than success.

  46. William on November 17, 2010 at 9:28 AM

    >I am torn many times over when it comes to writing because I feel I want to write for an audience but I also need to write for myself.

    You have to let your passion show through. Sitting down writing a story it is me punching the keys and delivering the words to an electronic device or pad and paper but it is not me telling the story. It is the characters narrating the story through my head. But I also need to be very consious of how I am writing these words because I want to make it so others can read it. So that can be like two fates tugging away at one another.

    One other thing I find to have a strong effect is confidence. I have friends who are not shy about telling me that my work is definately publishable. I never had that confidence but it is starting to build and now that it is my writing has gotten better and flowed even more proficiently without having to consiously check it.

    Honestly, if you want to write, then sit down and tell your story, write write write. You can always worry about making it sell worthy later, get your story down while it is in your heart and the rest will follow.

  47. 80s Queen on November 17, 2010 at 9:21 AM

    >I try to meet in the middle. I write what I want but keep in mind about the market. Every once in a while I have to compromise but that is okay. It's just like what you said, “Find where your passion meets the market.” I don't think you are selling out if you do that. I would love to write just for the sake of writing but I also want to be a success, not only because I love to write and share my ideas with others but I love to keep food on the table too. ; )

  48. Jennie Allen on November 17, 2010 at 9:15 AM

    >And isn't the market a little unpredictable anyway? I was talking with my editor and the ones they think will be a grand slam fall flat and then a little book like the shack takes off.

    I think people are looking for something that rings authentic. SO I vote write your heat in a way that connects to people.

  49. BK on November 17, 2010 at 8:55 AM

    >Economic times change. Styles change. Hot genres come and go. But writing for publication has always been a crapshoot and always will be. So I'm not torn. There are already so many uncertainties attached to the world of publication, I can't see adding another stressor by trying to write something I don't want to.

  50. Khanada on November 17, 2010 at 8:48 AM

    >I think you need to just keep doing what you're doing, Rachelle – no need to feel torn. All these questions you asked here – we'll all have different answers for those. As with everything in life, there's no one-size-fits-all solution.

    I have a lot of different ideas, so when I don't have an idea that's being particularly persistent, I'll use the market to help me figure out where to concentrate my efforts — to find where, as you call it, my passion meets the market. I think that's excellent advice.

  51. Laura Maylene on November 17, 2010 at 8:48 AM

    >Maybe this makes me sound naive or overly optimistic, but I'm not torn.

    First of all, I primarily write literary fiction, which we all know is not exactly where the big money is.

    Secondly, I believe that making my books better, more powerful, and more engaging will bring them closer to my vision and also make it more likely that readers will embrace them, too. So I guess I hope that as I continue growing as a writer, the other stuff will be more likely to follow.

    But ask me again when I'm at the point of having a novel out on submission.

  52. E. Arroyo on November 17, 2010 at 8:43 AM

    >I just want to say your posts are so great. I find them just when I need them. I remember Peter Jackson's words to an actress as she was battling a monster. He told her something to the effect of: pain is only temporary, a movie will last a lifetime. In our case…a published book.

  53. Scott on November 17, 2010 at 8:39 AM

    >I write what makes me happy . . . and what I want to read.

    I first started writing, not for some dream of publication, but because there were words inside me, a story, I wanted to tell. So, I began typing away . . . on a typewriter. I miss my typewriter, the clickity-clack, clickity-clack as I typed furiously, my fingers trying to keep up with my brain. Oh, the joys of that sound.

    Now, laptop always before me (or so it seems) I write still, but my goal a bit different: publication . . . at some point in time.

    The question I ask myself: what part of myself am I willing to sell for publication? Can I write an angsty teen vampire book just because it's trendy? Or, do I maintain true to myself, to what I love to write, to what I love to read, and, well, write just that?

    In the end, I write what I want to read. Maybe there's a market, maybe there's not. But, in the end, I'd rather not sell a piece of my soul just to be successful. I don't think the price, in the long or short run, is worhtwhile.

    Then again, what the heck do I know?


  54. dwkazzie on November 17, 2010 at 8:06 AM

    >I find myself particularly torn about this these days, and here's why. Like many of us, I've spent years working on the craft, writing the stories I want to tell. Each new manuscript I've written has gotten more full requests than the last, but, like many of us I toiled in obscurity, and I was getting a little discouraged.

    And then about a month ago, needing a break from fiction, I wrote a short animated film using a popular animation website called Xtranormal, and posted it to YouTube. Amazingly, it went viral, and it's gotten almost a million hits.

    So now, I'm torn between focusing on these movies (I've written several more) and working on the novels I love so much.

    For now, I feel like I have to take advantage of the chance I've been given to make a name for myself. Because in the end, I'm still writing, and I'm having fun, and even if this wasn't part of the original plan, we have to adapt, right?

  55. Layla Fiske on November 17, 2010 at 8:05 AM

    >You raise an interesting issue. Yes, I am torn too. But I've gone to the side of being true to myself. Write what motivates me and hope that I can write it so well that it is published and enjoyed by others.

    I too look for the spirit's inspiration in all that I do, and feel that He works through me in all things.

    But I have to put out the effort. Keep trying to be the best I can be. It's not as easy as I once thought it would be. But I love trying and will continue to do so.

    When now famous authors first put pen to paper did they know they would have such huge successes? I think not…but they followed their passions. That's what I've chosen to do.

  56. Ellen Brickley on November 17, 2010 at 7:00 AM

    >A little – it isn't helped by the fact I can't choose a genre!

    For me, it all comes down to one question. 'If someone told you now that you'd never be published, would you still write?' I would. That means the art needs a home. But I think it can coexist with my desire for an audience. I may end up writing my sprawling historical novels of family rifts just for me, and something different for publication, I don't know. Or maybe my mad families will find homes.

    I also think that if you do decide to write for a market in any way, that you still need to choose a genre you love, enjoy and respect. I cannot *stand* writers who say they'll 'knock out' a few rom coms/ high fantasy/ crime novels as though those things were easy. It's not easy to do anything well!

  57. A. Grey on November 17, 2010 at 6:50 AM

    >I am torn. And I agree with you, in that I think that even should I suddenly grab an agent, sell a few books and become an overnight Wonder Woman of the writing world, I'm still going to be torn.

    The difference will be trying to find a balance between what I 'feel like writing' and what commercial/editorial/publisher/fans expect me to write, whereas now I'm torn between what I 'feel like writing' and what I think will be attention-grabbing/marketable/but true to me. It's all about walking the tightrope…

  58. Timothy Fish on November 17, 2010 at 6:21 AM

    >The fact is that most of us aren’t going to be highly successful writers. Even those of us who get a few publishing contracts and have ten or twelve books that make it to the store shelves aren’t likely to become successful enough to do more than use the royalty money to modernize the kitchen or some such thing. Most of your readers will fail if their goal is to be highly ranked on the bestseller lists. So I see no reason to be torn at all. There’s no reason to set people up for failure. I just makes life difficult when they face reality. It makes more sense to me to focus on the things that make writing worthwhile whether we are “successful” or not. Sure, some of your readers will break away from the pack and have that great success. Good for them, but focusing on those few will only give the rest of us unrealistic expectations.

  59. Dorci on November 17, 2010 at 5:32 AM

    >What it boils down to for me is that I want to write in the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. I want Him to encourage others through me and I want Him to be Who ultimately leads me on that quest.

    But does that I mean I don't educate myself or take the advise of others? Of course not.

    That is where I am torn. Where do I find the balance between allowing the Lord to lead me in my writing (and if that means being published He will accomplish it), and also taking practical advise from others who are far more experienced than I?

    I don't want to listen to people to the exclusion of God and lean so much on human wisdom that I look back and realize I've left God in the dust.

    I want my writing to be Spirit-led and I guess that means letting Him lead me in who I get my advise from as much as it does what I'm writing.

    He is my God in all things, and that includes my journey in writing. He knows the hearts of people and how they need to be encouraged. And I know if it's in His plan He will lead me to those who will help me gain a wider audience through publication.

  60. Tanya on November 17, 2010 at 4:55 AM

    >I wouldn't label myself as torn. However, I am definitely frustrated.

    Gay/lesbian genre is still an incredibly niche market–and that's if you want to write commercial (and almost exclusively HEA). Cross genre? Niches within niches? Not exactly hot property.

    But my problem is not finding an audience. Love it or hate it–the likes of fan fiction have a captive enough gay audience.

    My frustration comes from wanting to be compensated for my time. Not because I want to be rich or famous–no–I only want to make enough money that I can write full time, increase my output and stop having to work jobs I don't love.

    My hope is that someday in the future my writting interests=my writing skills=market demand. And then I am golden.

  61. Dan Holloway on November 17, 2010 at 4:21 AM

    >I certainly used to be torn, because I had stories I wanted to tell, but I also wanted to get published, and the stories I wanted to tell were just not the kind enough people wanted to read. So I tried to write "for the market" and the result was a disaster. Now I just write what I write, put it out in ezines and perzines, and do the same for other writers with similar stories to tell. Even if I managed to hit the market sweet spot, I'd most likely never make enough to give up my day job, but I'd be writing something that wasn't really what I'm passionate about – in effect I'd be working two day jobs. So, given I'll always need a day job, I make sure my writing remains something I'm passionate about, and even if no one else reads it, that's not the point.

  62. Pippa Jay on November 17, 2010 at 2:38 AM

    >I write what makes me happy to write. In terms of marketing – I've done my research on the agents and publishers I try to submit to, and have worked hard on my query letters and synopsis. I'm not going to write to the current trends for the sake of it, unless I have an idea that happens to 'fit in' with them. If someone was interested in my work but wanted to change it to something more 'marketable', it would depend on how and to what degree. I guess it all depends on the kind of writer you are or seek to be.