I've been following an interesting discussion on one of my author loops over the last couple of weeks. It started as a discussion of how to measure sales based on a novel's Amazon sales rank and morphed into a general discussion of marketing, sales, and reasons for writing.
And this is what I found most interesting: many more people than I realized write for money. That is to say, many of the people who chimed in on this discussion are very successful authors (in terms of sales and hitting various best-seller lists). Over and over again, the common thread was that these authors spend as much time marketing themselves and studying which promo efforts translate into the most sales as they do writing their actual books. The feeling among most of them was that this is a job, I'm making a living, and thus I have to study the business side of it just as much as (if not more) the creating side of it.
I found that soooo interesting, mostly because I and the writer friends I know personally do NOT make a living from their books. They write on the sidem at nignt, on weekends, whenever they can, because they love it. If they make money, great. If not, they're still creating something they love.
This is not to say that the authors mentioned above don't love to write, but they don't seem to get lost in the creative efforts and experiences because they can't afford to. At least two of the authors in this discussion confessed that they wrote in the genres they did because those were the genres that sell best, not the ones they love best. They have deadlines, so they don't agonize over finding the perfect word or creating the perfect scene. They write the book for the audience that's awaiting it. They know what sells, and that's what they write.
This whole discussion was somewhat eye-opening for me just because I've heard so often, "Write what you love" but let's face it: there are many successful authors out there who write what sells - and they know how to sell it. I envy those authors to a certain extent, and I start to wonder if I'm going about this all wrong. Certainly, I don't need to pay the bills with my books, but maybe I should be thinking more about the end result of sales than I am right now.
What do you think? Are you an author who spends a significant amount of time studying marketing and sales? Do you tailor your writing and your promo efforts to make the most $$? Have you shifted what you write to take advantage of market trends, even if you're not in love with the genre? I'd love to know...