Writing, for Love or Money
If I’ve learned one thing about the publishing industry over the years, it’s that you can’t take anything for granted. When I got my first agent, I assumed that meant a book deal was soon to come. It ended up taking a year. When I sold my first book, I thought that meant smooth-sailing from there on. It took two and a half more years and four more novels (one shopped and shelved, the others deemed unready) before I sold a second.
The book that was shopped without selling was one I’d written specifically to be bigger and more commercial, one my agent at the time was incredibly excited about and was sure would get snatched up quickly. The books I have sold are a little odd, a little difficult to categorize: a paranormal YA that doesn’t have a romance, an apocalyptic YA without the usual dystopian trappings of oppressive authority figures or flashy action sequences.
I’ve seen authors claim that if you write what you’re passionate about, then others will feel passionately about it too. I can’t say if that’s true. One of the novels I wrote that I loved the most received the most criticism from my critique partners, and I haven’t yet figured out how to fix it. But what I do think is true is the vast majority of us can’t predict what will sell and what won’t. We don’t know whether the book we’re writing right now will be one that sells in three weeks or three years or never.
Once I realized that, I could no longer see the point in writing anything I *wasn’t* passionate about. If I can’t tell whether others will love a book before I’m finished it, the least I can do is make sure I’m writing something *I* love. It certainly makes the writing process more enjoyable! And when I’m writing something that’s important to me, it never feels like time wasted, even if I’m not able to send it out into the hands of readers right away. I know that story will always be there waiting for the right time, and since I care so much about it, I don’t mind the wait.