It’s happening again. What I like to call the marketing machine is rearing its head again. So many posts explaining the sure fire-way you can become a successful self-published author. So many books with fool-proof tips. You’d surely be a fool not to pay attention to any of this.
Whether I am a fool or not is possibly the subject for a future blog post – or maybe a full length work. At this stage, I’m not going to make a call, one way or another. For now, I’m going to focus this post on the idea of writing to market.
I’m not going to say that writing to market is a terrible idea. It’s actually a really good idea. If you really want to be successful, what could possibly be a better plan of action than to take the time to study what’s already been successful? Makes complete sense to me. In fact, if I was advising any writer trying to make a start in this business, I reckon this would be the first piece of advice I would give them.
Not that it means I’ll be taking that advice myself.
I can’t help it. No matter how much I try to look to the market and craft a story in the right genre, that is organised in the appropriate narrative structure, and that hits all the right notes at all the right times, I’m battling against another factor. The stories that intrude, uninvited, into my head.
They come in, whether I want them to or not. Whatever I’m doing, whatever I’m thinking, I can’t ever stop those stories from invading my consciousness. And once they’re there, I can’t ignore them. No matter how much I try to be practical and market-focussed, these uninvited stories are the ones I really want to write. They may defy genre. They may defy any ideas of conventional story structure. They may be hopelessly unmarketable in any sense.
But they also give me a real buzz. They make me smile, even make me laugh, often out of the blue. And the longer they sit in my head, the more they begin to feel like they’re a part of me. A part of me I can’t ignore. I can’t stop myself. I just have to write these stories. Which means that all those carefully thought out, market-focussed story ideas quickly get pushed out the window.
So what do I do? Do I make a serious effort to be a grown-up writer with a practical marketing-based plan that will lead to success? Or do I keep my mind open to the quirky and unexpected and write the stories I’m passionate about?
I think I already know the answer to that.
Posted by Jonathan Gould and tagged as