Your book: Should you write your passion or what will sell?

Art or money?

It’s the age-old quandary.

An author client of mine is deep into his first book. Or rather what could be three books, according to his editor.

He asked what book should he start with?

My reply: What topic are you most passionate about?

His reply: Well, I love topic A. But topic B is more commercial. I think it will sell better.

But, I asked, will you enjoy writing it? I don’t know about you, but if I’m not really into something, I get bored and it’s really a chore.  And if I hate it, I really suck at it.

I’ll be curious to see which book he writes first.

What would you do?

6 Responses

  • I honestly think that passion is the difference between a truly good book and a so-so one. Thanks for weighing in, Phyllis. I enjoyed reading Praying Dove and I know it was your passion for your story and your characters that kept me involved and turning the page.

  • I wrote from my heart. I’ve been told that I have multiple audiences and that is hard to market. “Oh well,” I say. It is what I wanted to write. My book has been in print for one week, and I have already had a magnificent start.
    I vote, write from your heart.

  • Did you revise your book because of your “inner voice” or was it on the advice of your editor? I’m just curious.

  • Write the book I was passionate about. I’m in the process of writing a book and I’m on my third attempt. I’m feeling much better about this version -it’s much more related to what I enjoy about writing my blog.

  • Hi Eric, Self-published authors (or as we like to call them now) independent publishers do hire editors to work with them on their manuscripts. In fact, I encourage it! One of my editor friends, Joyce Miller, tells prospects, “You’re a good writer. I can make you better.” The editor’s role kind of depends on the editor and what the author hires them to do. Some will only copy edit for spelling and grammar. Others will get a lot deeper and work with you on structure and even plot.

    Podcasting a book chapter by chapter for free is an awesome way to promote. I have been finding that people will buy a printed book they’ve already listened to for free. Plus, the author gets a chance to send his/her work out for feedback. The sci-fi genre has been really successful at this, and I think even nonfiction authors would benefit.

  • You speak of your author’s ‘editor’. I’m curious about this role. I’ve heard of authors having editors when they work with agents or publishers, but since he is one of yours, I’m of the impression that he is going the self-publishing route. If this is so, has he paid someone to be his editor? And if so, is the role coach/mentor/grammar checker/etc.?

    BTW, thanks for the recent check 🙂

    Also, in case you are not aware of it (and not having read your entire blog I can’t say one way or the other), podcasting has had a huge impact on new authors, at least in the scifi arena.

    I’ve been following some of them and here’s the strategy: podcast your first book for free and get a following. Show up to a publisher with a list of 10,000 followers and say “See, I already have a market of fans.” Also: ask people to gang up and buy your book on Amazon on its release day – that way your sales spike and you look like a big dog, because you were #532 or something on Amazon for a day. Interesting how social media and podcasting (and the internet generally) have changed the landscape…

    Authors that have used this strategy: Mur Lafferty (queen of scifi podcasting) and Scott Sigler. There are others but those are the ones I’m familiar with. Note that this is spilling over into television shows as well – see

    Also, an homegrown audio drama called The Leviathan Chronicles has an interesting business model. They have given away their first season and are selling backstory and subplot episodes. They also plan to sell the whole first season as a package on audible. And of course, there is the inevitable logo schwag like mugs, caps and clothing.

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