Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The End User

(Who gets the milk - the farmer, or the four year old?)
One of the things the indie movement has done is that it has helped us keep in mind who the book is for.  One of the things I hate about traditional publishing is that the system of gatekeepers hampers the way we write.  Writers are forced to tailor what they write to the agents and editors of the world rather than the reader.  This is ostensibly so that these gatekeepers can screen out the bad stuff and make sure we only get quality on the shelves.  Unfortunately, anyone who has ever browsed a Barnes & Noble knows that a great deal of garbage makes it through, throwing into doubt the quality control portion of the process.

So thanks to indie, we can write for who the work is really intended - the reader.  This means writing for the audience rather than an agent or editor(in reality, some unpaid intern hoping to score a job when he or she graduates with a degree in creative writing).  This helps in my own editing process by reminding me that although going over each word is important, I get to stay with the effect the word might have rather than whether an agent will consider it extraneous.  Don't get me wrong - there are lots of words in many books than can be unnecessary, but the extra words sometimes add to a story, and I've seen a number of editors say, "Well, I get what you're trying to say, but we need to keep this under 60,000 words, so cut out the parts here and here that convey the mood."

It's critical that we remember that what we write has to have wide appeal, but the readers' tastes can be vastly different than that of your high school English teacher.  I believe writing for the end user allows freedom and a more prosaic style.  If readers don't like your work, they won't buy your books, so you'll know quickly if you need to tweak.  If a faceless editor or agent somewhere doesn't like it, even though their tastes may be waaaaaayyyyy off the mark, your readers will never know what you did.

Whenever you sit down, keep in mind who your stuff is for.  The readers will appreciate it.

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