As an independent author, you have the right to write for whoever you like, and one of the chief joys of self-publishing is that the choice is all yours. But is it smart to disregard your audience and write only for yourself, trusting to luck that there'll be some readers out there who'll share your tastes, or is the wiser move to gear your writing towards a specific audience? American indie author Samantha Warren makes a clear case for writing to suit your audience. Please join the conversation at the end via the comments box.
I’ve heard a lot of writing advice since I became an author. Some of it is good; some of it makes me raise an eyebrow. One thing I constantly hear is that you shouldn’t write for an audience. You should only write for yourself. Having been published for a few years with a handful of dedicated fans behind me, I strongly disagree.
The Evolution of the Author
In the beginning, yes, you need to write for yourself. Your first book, or books, are for you, to learn your voice, to discover if this is really what you want to do for the foreseeable future. But that all changes once you hit the Publish button. When you put your work out there and choose to make a living as a writer, your obligation is no longer just to yourself. Once people start to buy your books, like your work, and follow you, you owe it to them to take their opinions into account. They’re giving you the money they worked hard for, after all.
Over on the ALLi Facebook group, we recently had a discussion about this very matter. Someone said that writing is a solitary pursuit, and only the writer is involved. I disagreed, of course. I write for my readers. I listen when they speak.
Someone else chimed in with “Many of my readers have become friends and they earn me a living. But I don't write for them, I share my books with them. I've been badgered for sequels for 10 years,but I'll never do it. Readers want them, but I don't need to write them.”
What Do You Owe Your Audience?
Personally, I can’t comprehend that idea. When I’m down in the dumps, wondering if writing is truly the way I’m supposed to go with my life, I remember the random people who found my books and liked them so much that they actually follow my Facebook page and send me emails. That is why I write. For them.
Sure, I write the stories I want to read. And if someone asks me to write a mystery (they have), I say no, because it’s not something I’m in to. But when my readers mention an idea they’d like to see, or request sequel to a book I didn’t know had a sequel in it, I don’t say no. I think about it, and 9 times out of 10, I realize they’re right.
My readers know me. They know my books almost as well as I do. Honestly, some of them might know the books better.
I have one reader who has read my vampire series more times than I have. So when they ask, I listen. Because this is my job, and they are my customers. Because I’m an artist and they are my fans. Because without them, I wouldn’t be able to keep going.
Writing for an audience isn’t a bad thing. It’s the smart thing to do once you have a fan base, because they’re the ones who will support you in any endeavor you make. They’re the ones who will be there through thick and thin. They’re the ones who will have your back when no one else does. And they’re the ones who know what you’re capable of and will be willing to support you with their own money. They’re your lifeline. So don’t discount them or their opinions.
You need them as much as they need you.
OVER TO YOU
Who do you write for – your target audience, yourself or somewhere in between? What advice would you give to an aspiring author on who to bear in mind while writing? Please join our conversation via the comments box.Who should authors write for - themselves or their readers? Join @_samanthawarren's debate Click To Tweet