Me or Thee – For Whom Do I Write?

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Do I write for myself or my readers? There’s only one answer – both, yet it’s a balancing act affected by a number of ever-changing variables. If I only write what my readers want, I run the risk of stifled creativity, boredom, and resentment. Eventually, the personal sacrifices necessary to write in the first place would no longer seem worth it. If I write only what interests me, readers may move on to someone else, and without an audience for my work, what’s the point?

Series are popular, yet I’ve found them both a blessing and a curse. Once the foundation is laid in the first book, I have a clear road ahead for more stories. Readers fall in love with the world and characters I’ve created and they naturally want more. Great! Who doesn’t want happy fans and increased sales? Strangely enough, it may be the author!

I’ve always resisted being trapped into long-term commitments with no exit strategy. I want options, and with a series there don’t seem to be any! Spending years writing about the same world and characters feels like prison, and I have to get away for a while and do something else. There are other ideas to pursue and genre’s to explore. Give me variety or give me death! OK, that’s over the top, but you get my meaning. When I explained this situation to one of my beta readers, this is what she said:

“Most of us hate it when we find a book we love and can’t read a second book for many months or years. If something is popular now, you should keep writing it or they will lose interest and you will never get them back because they won’t remember how much they liked it.

“I understand that when you have more stories you want to write, you would rather go on to something new that has been waiting. But, I think that authors have to write what will sell to some degree, or they won’t make enough to do it for a living. Tough decisions!”

I think she’s right, but even if I did as she suggested, it takes me around nine months to complete and publish a full length novel. So, I’ll still end up disappointing some current readers who don’t want to wait, but satisfying future readers who have the benefit of my backlist! There’s really no way to “fix” this, given my personal limitations and time constraints, but I’m going to see if I can do better.

At the moment, I’m working on a shorter in-between story for my Gladstone Shifters series. Fans have been waiting for over a year since book two came out, but I set the series aside to do something different (insert Rise of the Draman here). At the time, book two wasn’t doing all that well, and along with craving something new, I hated the thought of wasting time on a series no one was buying.

Due to an influx of new readers, and insistent pleas from established fans, I’m back on track with Gladstone Shifters. The plan is to finish book 2.5 and then move directly to book three, which is a concession on my part. After that, who knows? A second volume of dragon stories is possible (creating yet another series!) or I may move on to one of several other ideas bubbling away on the back burner. Tough decisions indeed!

As a writer, do you have a similar struggle trying to balance your needs with those of your readers? As a reader, do you lose interest in an author if the series you like is still in process? Let me know your thoughts!

Author: Alexander Elliott

Alexander grew up in the Midwest, was compelled to attend private school, and ended up with an eclectic career. He’s still trying to figure out what he wants to do with his life. When not working to pay the bills, he loves to read, watch Star Trek, and laugh at Calvin and Hobbs cartoons. He also enjoys long baths, country music, nature photography, cooking and keeping up with his large family. Until recently, his writing included unpublished stories, music, poetry and drama scripts. Writing his first novel in 2016 changed everything, and he struggles to balance a boatload of ideas with very little time. His favorite genres include science fiction, fantasy, paranormal and romance. The author strives to create imaginative, generally upbeat stories with happy endings, making sure the bad guys get their comeuppance. He considers reading a chance to get away from it all and invites you to join him. If you enjoy Alexander’s work, he would love to hear from you. aelliottbooks@gmail.com

4 thoughts on “Me or Thee – For Whom Do I Write?”

  1. God this is difficult! Both my novels are stand-alone, but they are such that I could go back into them and write at least sequels. If they had brought great sales, I suppose I would consider it, but for me they are done and dusted. I want to go on to new ‘places’ as a writer – it stretches me and adds to my skills as well as being more stimulating. If I was a lot younger, and felt I had masses of time ahead, series might be fine, but as it is I want to ‘get out of me’ what I have to express now. As for writing for me or the reader, it’s got to be both, but my needs edge ahead – and then I have to hopefully make it engaging enough in the writing for the reader.

    1. You get it Lynn! Hmmm…let the book stand as it is or cave to fan pressure for MORE? You’re right that age and time are important factors, along with getting some of those stories out of your head and on the page. As much as I want to please my readers, they really don’t understand the time, energy, and sacrifice it takers to write – so, yeah, my own needs get the final say.

  2. Thank you! It wasn’t what I originally intended to do, but in this instance it seemed like the best compromise. Have to see what happens when I publish book 2.5!

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