A lot of writers like to sit down and write out their story without a thought for who will want to read it or what they want to say or even where the story will go.
There’s nothing wrong with that.
Really, there isn’t.
Think of it this way, though. There’s a process. A story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. There’s an order to it, and only the most expert storytellers can tell a good story out of order, regardless of whether they write it in order. The final product usually has to be in order, unless you’re just that good.
Getting your writing into the hands of readers has a process to it, too. You start by understanding the market, producing a product or service that satisfies a need within the market, reaching out to customers with that need, and giving them the opportunity to buy your product or service.
Sure, you can produce the product—your book—before you think about the market. You can even begin to reach out to readers before you have your book. But, before you give people the opportunity to buy, you need to understand how your book fits into the market, so you know who to reach out to and how to go about it.
Expert marketers, like expert storytellers, can go out of order. For example, if somebody gives me their book, I can help them figure out where it fits in the market. Only problem with that is that it might not be where they wanted it to fit.
Let’s assume you’re not an expert marketer and you can’t afford or don’t want to afford the services of an expert marketer. That’s fine, too! But, if you’re not an expert marketer and you already have your product and it’s already finalized and you haven’t thought about who will read it, then, sadly enough, you may discover that nobody really wants to, because your book doesn’t really fit anywhere in the marketplace.
You don’t want to be that writer. You want to be a writer whose book has a home in the marketplace. That doesn’t mean writing to the market, i.e. choosing what to write based on what’s hot. That means knowing and building your market niche, and giving the readers within that niche what they want from a story. It means knowing your genre and your genre conventions. It means actually reading what readers who might like your book read and knowing how your story measures up.
It’s not a cop out, it’s strategy. It’s research. It’s empathy. It’s camaraderie. It’s marketing.