Your writing is a work of art. No one would tell an artist, “I think your art would sell better if his nose was bigger.” OK, maybe they would. I’m not an artist, so that’s just a guess, but I am a writer. And I know that some literature sells better than others. So do sculptures.
I recently beta-ed a friend’s work. The first chapter was from the X genre, but the rest was from the Y genre. Two opposite genres, btw. So, people into X will get mad come chapter 2 or 3, and people into Y won’t have the patience to get to their desired writing.
Now, my friend’s sculpture was beautiful. It was perfect. It was a glorious piece of art! But it won’t sell. So, he has to make his nose bigger. Is it fair? No, of course it isn’t fair! How dare his piece of art be treated as nothing more than a common piece of merchandise. Sadly though, that’s the way the market ball bounces.
So, how to do that? Listen to what others say. When an agent tells you to change it, consider that. When a beta says to change it, consider it. When your editor (providing you’re lucky enough to have one) tells you change something, consider it. Notice I said consider, not do. Every human being is different, period. So their opinions are going to be different. And you want to appease the masses. The bigger the mass, the more the sells, the bigger the income.
“But I don’t care about sells!”
Then this post is not for you. Don’t get me wrong. That’s great! The fact that you don’t care about sells means that you can produce high quality art without the pain of pleasing anyone but yourself. Wonderful! But for the rest of you, sculpt your beautiful art book, and then place it on a shelf in your house. Take a copy of this beautiful piece of art and change it. This copied sculpture is not yours; it belongs to the masses, and your job is to make them happy, not make great art. See the difference? I hope so. It’s probably the most painful lesson of authorship, but it’s necessary to rise in the market.