Publishing is a business. I can’t repeat this enough and yet no matter how many times I say it an author will chastise me for only wanting books that make money. Well yes, that’s what a good business person does. We work on projects that make money.
Can you imagine criticizing Coke for not selling anchovy water because it wouldn’t make money? I mean, it really wouldn’t. And yet somehow I think someone will try to argue this with me.
Writing as a Career
If you have any desire to be a career writer accepting the business side of publishing is the first step. It means approaching your writing like the business you want it to be. And that means more than just writing a book.
It means understanding the market. If you want to start any business you need to understand that business. A baker will learn which products are needed or most popular in the area and where their strengths lay. An author needs to do the same thing.
You need to be reading publishing trade news to learn what is hot and what is not. That doesn’t mean you need to write to those markets, but knowing that dark is generally hotter than light might help you choose between the genres you’re debating.
You need to understand your own strengths as a writer. You might dream of writing in every conceivable genre, but if you’re terrible at love scenes maybe romance isn’t for you. I would say the same of the baker who is terrible at bread. Maybe it’s not your market.
Agents, editors, and publishers all look at publishing as a business. We run numbers, we set financial goals and we have budgets. It’s how we become successful. If you want to be successful in the business of publishing you need to think as a business person.