I'm in the pack of the unpublished. This will not always be true. I will publish and soon I will be in another pack: of those trying to build audience. This is an elusive blob: audience. It's tied to platform (where do you reach your audience?) and genre and good, writerly manners, the relationships you develop with readers and with other writers. How do you, as a writer, build goodwill? Does goodwill help you sell any books? It might help you in the beginning, but your work has to bear out.
|Photo by me.
Your writing has to please readers. Main goal.
It will not please every reader. Impossible goal.
I also believe there is a huge difference in the kind of writer you want to be: commercially successful or critically acclaimed. These can overlap, but commercially successful writers (ie James Patterson) and critically acclaimed (ie Jonathan Franzen) write for different reasons, in my opinion. Sure, both want readers, both want to make money, but one writes in bulk, the other as social commentator. I believe much of the trendy advice to new writers today, with the exception of those in academic writing programs, has to do with making it commercially. Writing as an entrepreneur. Believe me, the business side of this career choice could drive anyone to drink (my go-to beverage, anything within arm's reach), but when does the entrepreneurship overshadow the underlying reason why I'm writing in the first place: because I enjoy it and because I'm good at it (your opinion may differ).
Does all success bear out in the bottom line of a sales report? If it does for you, then you are in good company these days. How many times have I heard in the last year, 'This is the best time to be a writer!' Yes, the publishing options are mind-numbing. Consequently, the opportunity to be financially successful could be likened to the Gold Rush. Start panning for readers, gents, and we'll strike it rich.
I didn't start writing a book because I wanted to be rich. Many people have said to me when I tell them that I've written a book, 'You're gonna be rich!' Not likely. Maybe in my wildest fantasies. But I wrote a book because I had an idea, I gave into a creative urge and I kept at it. And I'm still writing because of those reasons. Will I make money? Oh, I sure hope so, but it's not the reason I'm here writing this or anything else.
Your opinions welcomed.