Write what people want to buy. It seems like a no brainer... but when you're a writer that's murky. (Or we want to pretend it's unclear... otherwise aren't we compromising who we are as writers to sell books?)
I've had this conversation a number of times this past week. Partly because I was struggling with a work in progress which caused a logic loop: you're a writer >>> you wanna sell books >>> WRITE WHAT SELLS >>> but these aren't my characters/my plot/ME and I also had a number of discussions with my writing friends who were beating their head against low sales.
My advice is figure out what your top priority is and direct yourself to that goal.
It truly is that simple and that complex.
I want to please my publisher with decent sales but my top priority is to validate differences in people should not just to be tolerated but celebrated. I worship the edges and adore the variations within each of us.
I know contemporaries sell... shifters sell... things with Alpha males sell. I tried two write about two 'regular' guys and my characters wouldn't talk to me... I struggled because I was fighting against my style against my core: I write a yaoified version of love (and usually there's BDSM undertones). I can't help it... or maybe I chose not to...
If your top priority is to make $ from your writing: WRITE WHAT SELLS.
Then I realized I don't have to... Z. Allora writes characters who are on the edges and aren't average, some of my characters will be Alpha (like Alex from Zombies Suck >>> he's a virgin who wants to be a Dom by the way due to an abusive past he's afraid to orgasm) So most of my characters won't be Alpha males, my stories will tend to be a little over the top...
Maybe it's my own place on the fringes I need to validate... I don't know but I want to push the boundaries to create more safe space for everyone.
Instead of changing what I write I need to focus in on getting my books in the hands of people who love a bit of Yaoi with their romance. They get characters like Jordon Davis (appears in Finally Fallen, Happy Holidays and Lock and Key), Boon-nam (from Illusions & Dreams), Robin Strider and Angel Luv (who both appear in With Wings, Tied Together, Finally Fallen, and Happy Holidays). I'm looking for readers who can suspend their disbelief and want hot rockers with issues and zombies who need come not brains to survive (Club Zombie 1 & 2).
I believe books are contracts between writer and reader. Readers should know what they are getting. If you sit down and open a Z. Allora book: smexy fluffy graphic yumminess. Yes, I deal with some harsher topics at times but I'm yaofying my romance... cause I was written that way!
(BTW: This was written at 4am before Pride cause it's 2 days late... sorry and if you need clarity on wtf I'm talking about find me on Facebook and ask!)
Big Hugs, Z.