When you are catering to a certain audience you have to play by a certain rule and style. Some styles yield less appreciation. Others bring in HUGE appreciation. But when you are writing how you wish because that’s your style, you need to understand what that means.
Your style may actually be one that such a small number of people would like that you might as well say you’re writing for yourself. The rule of thumb is there is an audience for every kind of writing style. You just have to find it. It’s true. But if you want to move in a career path of writing and wish to live off of your work, you’ve got to cater to the large masses. Even something that’s not considered in audience searches like country matters. Different countries have different taste. For example…
In to YA? Make it center around children and teenagers with a touch of romance and a conflict with adult authority. Make sure it is important the kids/teenagers struggle with feeling different and not belonging to what is considered the norm. Make being different a gift and possibly the key to why the protagonist gets so far.
You’re into fantasy? Don’t try and stray too far from the clichés and stick to what is grounded and has worked. Wizards, dragons, trolls, vampires, magic etc. Make clan rivalries and have an expanding world built and layered in magical and lost lands almost parallel to our own. Have a conflict that brings multiple species together for one big baddie. Maybe many baddies.
Is sci-fi your game? Don’t try and be like those before you in an openly obvious way. Don’t be another George Lucas Gene Roddenberry. You can’t. Be a Gene Lucas. Grab ideas from those you succeed and pinch it into something that seems different enough. Express the advancements of the world you built. Expand on unexplored science and push the possible outcome of undergoing scientific experiments in our time. Move technology alongside this like it should and dip into the darkest parts of it and shadow the conflict around it until your readers reach its core.
Nonetheless, do you see the problem here? Being original isn’t a good and safe bet when you want to pursue a career of writing. The Way To Dawn is a shining example of that. Though it’s fantasy, it isn’t in the realms of how traditional fantasy in America is told. That alone will lose over half your potential reader base.
The cast is large. Another no no. The elements of clichés is low or just not there at all. You always need to hook your readers in with something familiar first before hitting them with a roundhouse of chaos. In other words, rope them in with what they know. Keep them with what new things you can offer. The Way To Dawn doesn’t do that. It begins in such an unorthodox way that it’s not worth a second glance and can easily lose its readers. To them I’m spinning gold around a block of lead while telling them I have a diamond. It comes off as amateurish and lowbrow.
What makes the series different is what’s also destroying it. You go and make something unique and it will stand alone, but not in the way you would like. These are the dangers of trying to step too far from what works in order to make a name for yourself.
So why haven’t I changed my format for the better? Because I can’t. Or more like I won’t. My stubbornness is exactly why I am where I am today. Below what I could be. I can’t proudly say something is my doing, knowing I don’t like or respect what I made. I love this series. I can say it every time and mean it. But it’s hard to respect myself knowing I conformed into what works instead of what I set out to do. I wanted to bring something new. Something less than common. Something that can maybe open the doors for others wanting to find their own voice in writing.
Why do something you “love” just to turn it into something that you “have” to do? Sounds kind of like your fast food job when you where 16. It pays the bills. Never compromise if you feel it loses what made it special. If it doesn’t work, tweak it. If it breaks, you went too far.
But if you want to make a living doing what you love while not respecting your work like you did before you “made it”, then you’ve lost the point of pursuing your dreams. And that my friend, is even sadder than when nobody knew your name during the times you would smile and laugh at the pleasure of squeezing those words from your pen during those dark, cold winter nights.