Who are We Writing For?

99 out of 100

99 out of 100

Posted by Deborah Atherton

All creative writers, no matter what their genre or area of interest, get a little caught up in the issue of how salable our ideas are. It’s a very tricky and emotional topic, and writers vary widely in their viewpoints. There are writers on one end of the spectrum who say, “I won’t write it unless someone will pay me for it!” And the writers who take the opposite position will tell you, “Money doesn’t influence me at all. I write for myself.”

Although both sides believe deeply in their position, I suspect that even the most successful commercial writer has limits to the tampering he or she will allow editors for the sake of sales. And however pure the intent of the artist who writes not for the audience, but for him or herself, I sincerely doubt that artist would turn down a check for the finished product.

Gail wrote a lovely children’s board book in response to a perceived market need. She went about it really intelligently, researching the market, finding the right prospective publishers, and soliciting one with a very satisfactory query letter. However, probably in the meantime, the publisher had put out a book on the same subject. This was Gail’s first professional submission, and even though she’d done absolutely everything right, it didn’t work out, and she naturally became discouraged.

The very difficult truth is that 99 out of 100 submissions to editors or agents are rejected, which may mean that you have to submit your work repeatedly before it is accepted. That’s a lot of “no thank yous” for our psyches to accept. It’s really really hard to have something you’ve worked on and know is good turned down for purely market reasons.

But because Gail is a good and committed writer, she may decide (with a little coaching!) not only to submit her book to more publishers, but to think about writing a new one – maybe one that comes first from her own passionate interests and ideas.


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