Author’s Dilemma: Write for Self? Or the Market?

When writers begin penning down their thoughts and write a complete book, they wish to express themselves. For an author, writing becomes a means of creatively voicing opinions and getting heard.

This voice that a writer strives to bring forward is mostly one that he thinks will stand out from the rest. These unique points of view are thus, what drives an author to write his book. But what is the use of this voice if it is never heard? Will the book be able to convey the author’s story?

Who am I writing for?

In order to answer these questions, the author must ask himself one: who am I writing for? The entire story that the author wishes to write is centred around the answer to this question. It influences his writing style, the plot, characters and his ability to put down in words what he wishes to convey.

An author’s writing thus moulds itself according to a single answer – whether to write for himself or his audience.

Writing for yourself

Donna Radley says in one of her articles, “If you write the book you’d like to read, it means you’re writing for yourself.”

The initial stages of publishing a book, or the first few books written by an author mark the learning phase for him. It is during this stage of a person’s writing career that he writes for himself.

The writer becomes his own audience and begins to write what he would be compelled to read. In the process, the writer learns from the mistakes he makes along the way and finds his own style. His own interests and opinions are what defines an author. They make him want to express them to an audience.

But if the writer’s own passion diminishes he would lose interest in sharing them with a readership. Therefore, it becomes important for the author to understand that his stories originate from him and hold the essence of his storytelling abilities that might attract an audience.

Why an author must write for self?

•    When an author writes for himself, it helps keep the sanctity of the art-form alive. It brings out the personality of the author and reflects his truth in his stories.

•    Writing for oneself significantly reduces the pressure of pleasing every segment of the audience. The writer is his own critic and is able to write what he wants to.

•    One of the main reasons that an author begins to write is to show that he can be unique. Writing for himself gives the writer the liberty to explore the arenas available to him and stand apart from the rest of the people in the large crowd.

•    The writer can go beyond adhering to the readers’ expectations and create something novel by embracing his own style of storytelling.

•    Writing for himself encourages the author to be honest about his own expectations from the book and be passionate about writing it.

Writing for the audience

When an author begins to write a story, he expects it to be read and shared. The story can be written for himself but it represents the voice of the author to an audience. When a book is published, the author owes to the people who like his work, share and buy it. And the writer thus becomes obliged to take into consideration their preferences because he is not his own audience, anymore.

While it may not be a smart choice for a self-publishing author to write only for himself, he isn’t expected to write for everyone either. But he must not forget the presence of his ‘target audience’, in the process.

Samantha Warren says, “My readers know me. They know my books almost as well as I do. Honestly, some of them might know the books better.”

Writing is an author’s job and his readers are his customers. Therefore, it becomes important for the author to respect the opinion of his audience. Because they are the people who would support him in being able to put his own ideas across and listen to them, willingly.

Why must an author write for the audience?

•    When an author writes for an audience, he is driven to make the story compelling enough for the readers to buy his book. The author works to perfect his craft and skills to garner appreciation.

•    Writing for an audience, helps the writer avoid his own interests and take into consideration the expectations of his readers.

•    If an author drafts his story in accordance with the desires of the reader, it helps shoot up the sales of the book. The reader is most likely to purchase a book that represents the genre they wish to read.

•    When an author receives appreciation from his readers, who welcome his characters and story into their lives it moves him to better his creative expression and gives him positive reinforcement.

•    Writing for the audience helps the author to embrace others’ opinions and thinking of writing as a “communal activity” that equally involves the writers as well as the reader.

Writing for oneself or the audience?

The author must understand that this question cannot be answered as simply. Because in conclusion, the writer writes for both himself and his readers. Author K.M. Weiland says that “writing solely for ourselves or for readers will never allow us to reach our full potential as writers.

Therefore, it becomes important for the writer to understand the importance of this joint relationship and writing mindset. His own passion for storytelling ignites his passion for forming a vision and expressing his own opinions. However, the audience helps to give the writer’s voice direction.

Writing is a two-way street. It involves the author as much as it does the reader. Hence, the writer must absorb the tastes of his readers and listen to what they have to say. Because the audience supports the writer by allowing him to make a living and giving him the chance to convey what he wants to. The writer thus becomes obliged to respect his readers’ interests and weave his storytelling accordingly so that it sells in the market.

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