Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Artist and The Salesman

I've been struggling over my last few chapters for the editing/revisions. Many "writers" have said that they write to tell the story they want to tell and I've also read where agents/publishers purchase books that can sell. I can see both points of views "the artist" and "the salesman". So I am caught between the two - which is right and which is wrong.

The artist's philosophy states that you write the best that you can and tell the story that you want to tell. You then hunt down an agent that likes the story. If no agent buys into the story you "trunk" it. The point is that the story is the tale the writer wants the reader to see. Much in the same fashion that a painter creates a portrait and presents it to buyers. If no one buys it then it's their loss. But what he doesn't do is go back and try to fix the painting.

The salesman on the other hand states that the writer needs to write what he can sell. The agent (our salesman) is in the business to make money. He looks at quieries and manuscripts much the same way a car deal will inspect a potential trade-in. If he (or she) won't make money on the car it's passed over. The salesman knows his/her market and knows what will sell.

So the question is does a writer write as an artist or as the salesman. I do believe that we as writers are considered artist in a way. The construction of our prose is our brush strokes, words - the paint left on the canvas. But we have one advantage over the painter - we can correct and change the way the paint sit upon the canvas. It is part of our craft. I'm beginning to realize that we write to tell our story, but we must keep the salesman in mind when write. Writing just to write is indeed a passion but a hobby. Writing with the intention to publish is a bit more involved. Other variables must be considered when writing a story that you intend to publish.

I've been thinking this over during the weekend. I am at the climatic chapters of RABBIT SLAYER and had to face a decision. Do I write (edit rather) the story I originally wanted to tell or do I compromise my original story in order to create a sellable manuscript? It took a lot of soul searching and a lot of advice from others to make my decision. The story was orginally written for my daughter and I think I have achieved what I had originally set out to do. She has her story (even if she doesn't want read it). That goal has been acheived my goal now is to publish. In order to achieve that goal I'm going to have to modify the story (and those climatic chapters) so that I have a product that is marketable.


  1. that's a really good question. I think we all write a MS hoping it'll be read by the masses. It's hard not to let that sway you, bc if you don't keep that in mind at all, you'll never get an agent, publisher, etc. One can't live without the other. I think the important thing is to stay true to your vision and still write what you love. Don't write someone else's novel, you know?

  2. I know EXACTLY what you mean. I'm back to doing edits on my novel, and my first chapter especially has went through so many changes it is absolutely nothing like the original version. fact, it's closer to being like what was the second chapter (in the beginning). I keep telling myself I'll stay true to the story, though--and I think I have. But everything else has been to impress the salesman.

  3. Hmm. Your struggles for the end of RABBIT SLAYER are like my struggle with the beginning of my MS. Just make sure you end up with a product that you are satisfied with too. I'm looking forward to seeing how it turns out.