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Intro Music by Fretts!

Our intro and our outro music is Your Government Loves You and Wants You to be Happy, by Fretts! If you love it as much as we do, you can find more beautiful music at fretts.bandcamp.com!

Writing to Market: How to Sell Your Soul in Six Easy Steps.

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What We’re Drinking:

Wassail Mead from Honeymoon Meadery here in Bellingham, Washington. It is really excellent stuff; the Wassail and everything else I’ve had from them is well balanced, and mead is almost always much too sweet for me. If you’re in town I recommend their Rhubarb mead particularly, but I think it’s summer only. I looked into ordering and it doesn’t look like it’s available outside of the state, sadly.

What We’re Saying:

Today we’re talking about writing to market.

I don’t a hundred percent believe in writing to market; once you see a trend happening, you probably aren’t going to be able to write and produce a quality book in time to cash in on that trend.

Writing is an artform, and as such it has to come from a genuine place. But I think we start crossing dangerous waters when we become too precious about our work.

James and I have two different opinions on this that are informed by our publishing goals. As an indie, my market is readers. And I want to write books that my readers will enjoy.

James on the other hand is interested in a traditional publishing track, so his market is a little different. He’s actually selling to publishers.

These are two completely different things; when you’re selling to a publisher, you’re not selling to people who will enjoy your work. You’re selling to a company who is eyeing your work for marketability. That marketability isn’t always a bad thing, but it can impose significant restrictions on what they pick up.

Chris Fox has done a lot of writing to market, and he does his market research through sales rankings on the Kindle store. Through that research he determines what trends are picking up steam, but have not yet peaked, and writes something for that particular market.

It doesn’t mean that he writes to a formula, and I’m sure he writes books that I would be unable to write, simply because I’m not Chris Fox. It’s still his work, it still comes from some genuine Christ Foxness. It’s just interpreted through the lens of a particular genre or story type. And I don’t have a problem with that; in fact I think authors should write in as many different genres as they can, even if it’s only short fiction. It increases the number of tools in your toolbox.

James is writing a book for the Twisted Tree universe, which is a world with an established market. The book, Drag Down the Sun, could easily be written independently of that world, but he’s choosing to write it in that world because  he kind of fell in love with it.

But I don’t think that writing to market and following your artistic passions are mutually exclusive.

I really do think that the art of fiction has to serve the reader first.

James has a different and equally valid opinion, which is that writing serves the author first.

The reason I feel the way I feel is that I had this experience where I hung an art show in a coffee shop several years ago, and one day I was in the shop and this woman came up to me. She asked me if I was the artist. I said yes, and she went on to tell me about how she had had a baby and was struggling with post partum depression, and that for whatever reason the work that I’d hung helped her with that.

And that’s what I want to do. I want to help people feel less isolated, less alienated.

And James also wants to help people see themselves in his work.

And at the end of the heated conversation, it sounds like maybe James and I don’t disagree as much as we had originally thought that we did.

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