Hey—come back!I promise, I’m not gearing up for a big cultural commentary. I will not be sharing Deep Thoughts on whether I betrayed feminism by going to see it, or the meaning/significance/ridiculousness of the term “mommy porn.”
The only reason I’m bringing it up is that afterwards, I got caught up in a well-worn topic of conversation with two friends: why have those books been so phenomenally successful? Mocking them has become an art form on sites like Goodreads, and the professional writers I know can’t discuss the series without sinking into jealousy and resentment. Why did those books do so well? Why not us?
An immortal line from a book that has sold millions more copies than mine ever will. You can enjoy more quotes on the Beutler Ink website.
“Writer” writers with university professorships and excellent pension plans are probably exempt from these concerns. But the rest of us have these internal debates all the time. We have to balance the ideas we’re dying to work on with readers’ demands. We have to know what else is selling in our genre and what trends are overdone and tired. We like to think of ourselves as artists (and we are!), but we’re also businesses. We have to think of our name as a brand and our books as commercial products. And there’s nothing wrong with admitting we want to sell more books.Sadly, there’s no magic “Sell Out” button we can push for instant riches. E.L. James started by posting fan fiction online; she had no idea where she’d end up. So I’m working on acceptance. There will always be books that sell better than mine, even though I have no idea why. All I can do is balance the demands of the marketplace with my own interests and hope there’s some overlap in the middle. To see my books as both art and a consumer good.
Have you ever changed your work to make it more “commercial?” Been torn between what you want to write and what you think you should be writing? Or are you too busy imagining possible product tie-ins to your book at Target?