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The Feasibility Test for Writers

You work hard at being a writer.

You try to follow all the advice.

You write book after book and even manage to get something published.

But you make no money.

‘Writing is my dream life,' you might say, 'but I have to make a bottom line in order to survive. I can’t afford to keep going like this.'

The glib retort would be 'You can’t afford not to' but that’s not that helpful. Instead, let’s ask nine questions to see if there is a way forward. These are questions designed to make you shift your viewpoint somewhat on your writing and to adopt a more ‘commercial’ approach. Horrible word, ‘commercial’ - it gets a bad press. But the word arose in the mid 16th century from French, from the Latin commercium ‘trade, trading’, from com- ‘together’ plus mercium ‘merchandise’. Whatever else your book is, it is an item of merchandise and if no one is willing to exchange money for it, it needs to be looked at as such. It’s not the only way of looking at a book - it’s not even the best way to look at a book - but if money is the issue, it is a vital way.

Ask yourself the following questions:

'What are the effects or emotions that my book currently offers to readers, without any adaptation or change?'

'What basic changes to these effects or emotions might my book need to make, as far as I can see, to be more attractive to my kind of readers?

'Who are the basic readers I currently target?'

'Who are the basic readers I’ll need to be targeting to get wider interest?'

'How do I currently get my effects or emotions into the words of readers? What obstacles exist on these lines?'

'How will these methods need to be modified to get more readers?'

'What are the current benefits of the effects or emotions generated by my book? In other words, does experiencing those effects or emotions more deeply affect or change the direction of someone’s life or thinking? Or are the effects or emotions merely passing sensations?’

'What do the benefits of my effects or emotions need to be to more closely match the innermost needs of my readers?'

'How do I currently position effects or emotions in my work? In other words, is the creation of effects or emotions a paramount concern?’

To learn more about how to create effects or emotions with fiction, there are plenty of resources on this site. Similarly, there are plenty of materials here to teach you how to give effects or emotions greater force and make sure they impact on readers to the degree necessary to prompt a reach for more.

Once you understand the mechanics of these things, your ‘bottom line’ recedes in urgency and importance and your dream life is secured.


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