Artistic Freedom Part Three…
I got some great comments on yesterdays post on this topic, but a few people, both in the comments and in private e-mails to me are confused about what I mean exactly about not writing to market.
I finish my work, don’t I? Isn’t that a form of writing to market? Nope.
I try to sell what I do write. Is that a form of writing to market? Nope.
What I have been attempting to say is this:
When you decide, before you have written a word, to do a project because you think it will sell (because you know more than anyone about selling books, right?), you are writing to market.
So BEFORE YOU HAVE WRITTEN A WORD you decide to write a story to fit some market you think will sell better.
The timing is everything.
Putting critical thought on a project before the creative voice has a chance to even pop up is always, always a bad thing in my opinion. And putting money on top of a creative voice can just kill the poor thing.
That’s what I have been talking about in an artistic freedom framework.
We as writers now don’t need to play that game.
We now have the freedom to write what makes us passionate, what we love to read, what we are scared to death of (Stephen King’s suggestion).
We also have the freedom now to write for a certain market.
Freedom is a two-sided sword.
I spent a decade and slightly more writing to market and it killed my career. Completely. And killed my soul and made me turn away from writing. As I have said many times, the only reason I am still around publishing at all now is because of the indie world came to life.
And when the indie world came along, I used to talk with Kris about how worried I was about not having my voice anymore. I felt I had copied so many other writer’s voices, done so much writing to market, tramped down my own voice that I no longer had a personal voice.
And at first I didn’t. But given enough books, enough stories, my voice has come back now.
And me deciding to take the freedom to write what I want has allowed me to write things like Poker Boy and my big Seeders world and my retired detectives solving cold cases and on and on.
Do they sell? Damned if I know how well any story or book does.
I only look at the money overall for WMG Publishing each month. I never look at my own individual book sales or reviews or anything. Could not care.
But I can tell you that having a lot of product up for sale does add up. My overall book sales are way past six figures. So something must be working somewhere. I make far more money now than I ever did writing for money. Go figure.
So you have the artistic freedom to write what you love.
On the other side, you have the artistic freedom to write to market, to put a critical voice decision on your creative voice before you type a word.
You have both choices in this new world.
I stand solidly on one side of that choice because I have watched and lived the disaster of the other choice.
It just makes me sad to watch so many writers crashing because they walked that other side of the choice. I remember clearly what that feels like.