Does “Write What You Want to Read” Equal “Never Get Published”?

Cup of Chocolate (La Tasse de chocolat)

  • We’ve heard “Write what you know.” We’ve also heard: “Write what you want to read.” Whichever path you follow, the idea is that it will (may, might) lead you to publication. So, it’s publishing advice. Or is it?

“We need books we can sell, not just books we love.” — Janet Reid, NYC literary agent

  • Is it worth it to write something “not you” but sellable?

Sometimes it may be a long but successful road to publishing “the book of your heart.” Here’s what Janet Reid says about Jeff Somers and his book CHUM:

“What Jeff did was smart: he kept writing. He got published. He waited for his agent to get the book into the right hands, at the right time.”

  • You might choose to write “domestic suspense” (or whatever is the go-to category at the moment) for the sake of (some distant day) publishing your “not high-concept enough” novel. But will you have peace along the way?

“I always figured the ‘write what you want to read’ isn’t publishing advice, it was writing advice. Getting published would be a dream, but that’s not the reason I write. I write because I want to tell a story — a story that, yes, is one I would want to read,” says Bethany Elizabeth, technical writer/editor, blogger

What say you? Share in the comments.

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Image: Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Cup of Chocolate (La Tasse de chocolat), c. 1914. Oil on canvas, Overall: 22 15/16 x 19 7/16 in. (58.3 x 49.4 cm). BF40. Public Domain.



One thought on “Does “Write What You Want to Read” Equal “Never Get Published”?

  1. I’m a voracious reader and write what I want to read…but I recognize that I am not your ‘average reader’. That was one reason I chose to self-publish.

    In hindsight, however, I’m pretty sure I would have clung to my romantic notions of publishing a lot longer had other Indies not been so forthcoming with their knowledge, experiences and advice. Through them I learned about predators such as Author Solutions. Through them I learned about the reality of being a debut author in traditional publishing. And through them I learned that DIY was actually a lot easier than I could have imagined.

    Why give away my work for peanuts when the publisher still expects me to spruik my own wares? Of all the DIY tasks I’d cheerfully hand over to someone else, marketing is top of my list. In fact it’s the only task on my list. I’m technically inclined so I enjoy the book ‘creation’ side of DIY. I’m also fairly visual so the cover creation side is kind of fun as well.

    Will I ever be rich and famous? Probably not, but even with a traditional publisher [these days], a two-book contract guarantees nothing. Sadly, even successful mid-list authors are turning to self-publishing because their publishers are doing little to nothing to support them. What hope then for a debut author without a huge following in social media?

    Apologies for turning this response into a testimonial for self-publishing, but traditional publishing is no longer the only choice when writers ask those questions of themselves.

    Liked by 1 person

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