Identifying a profitable market niche says nothing useful about whether you yourself should write for that particular market. Even assuming you have the talent and drive to compete, any number of external factors will probably keep you from making a sale or attracting an audience. If you’re the kind of writer who loves the fruits of your own imagination, all the obstacles and uncertainties inherent in writing for a market may convince you to trust your gut and go your own way. After all, if you’re going to gamble on anything, you might as well gamble on yourself, right?
Playing the Odds
Because you’re such a nice person I’m going to let you in on a little secret. The odds of striking it rich as a writer by writing to a particular market are a million to one. Yes, there are plenty of people who get published, and a few who make a passable living as writers, but the number of writers who really cash in is extremely small. (By writer I mean writer-only. If you’ve exploited your celebrity for economic gain in the publishing industry, congratulations, but that has nothing to do with writing.)
By comparison, the odds of striking it rich doing your own thing are a billion to one — a thousand times worse. If that isn’t depressing enough, note too that success as a rebel doesn’t scale proportionately. You won’t be gambling on billion-to-one odds in order to make a billion, you’ll be gambling on billion-to-one odds to make a million or less.
If you’re the rational sort and determined to be smart about your writing career, you should definitely write for an extant market. On the other hand, if you’re the kind of cocky, self-directed nut who thinks you actually have something worthwhile or entertaining to say outside the well-worn industry ruts, then by all means do your own thing. Just remember that you’re trading million-to-one odds writing for the man for billion-to-one odds writing for yourself. But the choice is still yours. [ Read more ]