There’s an ages old debate that happens in writing advice circles between whether you should write what you want or write what readers want.
Writing to market is bad, says one group. You should follow your inpiration and write what moves your soul.
Writing to market is good, says the other. You’re going to die broke and alone if you don’t give the readers exactly what they want.
So which one is right?
Both, but you don’t have to get weird about it…
Both are 100% necessary to incorporate into your process to a degree. If you swing too far to either extreme your stories will flop.
If you publish stories that don’t take readers into consideration at all you will not sell that book. You’ll frolic through the meadows of your imagination (which is important but we’ll get to that) until you’ve written a tangled mess of words and events that are at best puzzling and at worst incomprehensible.
If you only write to the market in a genre you don’t read about tropes you disagree with centered on characters you aren’t invested in, you might be giving readers what they want but they’ll smell your game from the first word of the blurb. These books are at best obviously formulaic to at worst a slap in the readers face.
Here’s my advice, in case any of you asked for it.
Write for you, edit for your reader.
The books that you write have come from your heart in the way of tone, theme, and emotional growth. The characters you write must be interesting to you even if the world may not be. The struggles of the conflict must be something you can sit with over the course of an entire book/series. The story question should be one you want to know the answer to.
The rest should be run through the reader filter. The tropes you use, genre you write in, creatures/world building, the plot events should be geared toward the kinds of readers you are hoping to attract to your author brand.
You love stories about unsure girls transforming into strong independent women? You can write that in many genres using many tropes. A small town girl new to the big bad city for a sassy women’s fiction, a young woman leaving a bad relationship and learning to define love on her own terms with a man she never thought would be right for her in an angsty romance, a teen girl standing up to her mother to make her own decision for the first time for a YA, a young warrior training to take down a rebel army in a Sci Fi, new to magic one girl grows into her rightful place as queen in a fantasy…
You get the idea.