Warning there is some cursing/swearing in this post.
There’s this idea that people who write books for money, are bad, awful people. We get called hacks, and sell-outs, and other wonderful things. Why?
It seems to stem from this idea that art must be created purely for the sake of art, that to try or to hope to make money from it is disingenuous, that we’re somehow cheating our readers. There’s this concept that we’re cheapening the entire art and we’re not respecting it.
When you get a bit further into it people will tell you that those of us who write with an aim of financial success write formulaic drivel, that we just throw shit without a care in the world. Then you get into the whole, literature is superior because it’s a thinking man’s pursuit or something along those lines.
I of course have a few problems with this.
Why shouldn’t I want to pay my bills with something that I love? Professional tennis players don’t get told they’re cheapening the game of tennis because they aim to win their tournaments and pay their rent with the winnings. Professional poker players also don’t get the same, neither do ballet dancers, actors, bus drivers, scuba diving instructors, etc, etc. So why am I and people like me, so different? Why is it that writing is so precious that it must not be corrupted by considering the reader?
That’s what it really comes down to.
My readers, their enjoyment and experience of my books, are my focus. You cannot be a financially successful author unless you know who your readers are and how to give them the very best experience with your books. Somehow, it’s considered inferior to think of those readers when I write my stories. Somehow, that’s flawed and perhaps even selfish.
If that’s what people want to think of me, then so be it. I’m sorry that it upsets you, that you find me inferior, because I want to make people happy. Because I write the very best stories that I can, not for myself, not for some intangible, ever evolving and fluctuating idea of art. I’m sorry that you find me repugnant because I dare to hope for a life where I’m free and spend my time happily devoted to something I adore, rather than being chained to something that makes me miserable.
Yes, I write with the hope of financial success. That means that my readers come first. That means that I aim to make a lot of people very happy, I hope to entertain them, to help them escape, or maybe even understand themselves and the world around them a bit better. I hope to improve people’s lives, even if only for an hour or two.
If that makes me a hack, a horrible bad person, then I’m ok with that.