Do they want what I want? This question came to my mind quite often within the last few weeks, and I think I should spend some time on writing about the issues that I’ve experienced in that context. To sum it up, it is all about perspectives, about different views and differing angles from which you could consider certain facts. But these different points of view often lead to a misperception and a resulting misscommunication of – observed from a more neutral participant – actually very similar interests. Communication specialists tell us that these misunderstandigs are quite common and that we could improve conversations by improving our own wording, argumentation and so on. If you communicate on an eye-to-eye base, I agree that most of us could improve our communication to some extent. But what about the situations, when you are not in that comfortable position of equally distributed strength? You might think that you, in a inferior position, have no choice at all.
Let me give you an example: When I started my master’s degree, I tried working as a Graphic Designer. I had real customers and promised great visions to them. But when it came to realization, my optimistically rising plane of promises crashed quite soon. It was not that I was not able to deliver, but it was my own misperception of my customers needs and imagination. So I ended up with designing stuff according to the customer needs, but I felt like selling my soul. The customers were happy with the final layouts, but the designs were differing a lot from what I had initially in mind. At that point, I decided, as tempting as the promise for some extra money was looking, that I would not continue this kind of business. I had to do a trade-off: My own ideas of design vs. the customer needs and future money.
Another thing that I could observe quite often in literature and movies is about squeezing every last penny out of a good story. Look at Pirates of the Caribbean: The first three movies were oundoubtedly great, or at least a big deal better than the fourth movie that did not have to do a lot with the original series. Now a fifth film is coming, and I am sceptical that it can hold against the expectations raised because of his successful predecessors. Looking to the book-market, things are a little bit different. Books rarely generate as much money as movies (of course exceptions exist), so authors have to do their own trade-offs:
Do I sell my story to make a movie out of it? Or do I stick with the paper-based world that I invented according to my own imagination?
If your main goal is generating maximum revenue, I think it is clear which choice would fit best. But if you want your story to keep its own special spirit, you might consider this choice twice.
As for myself, I am of course tempted by the possible outlook for money that I could gain with my books. But even without having found a publisher yet, I have one principle that stands above all else:
It is my story that I tell. My ideas, my plot, my decisions.
I might fail with my book, because the audience might not like whatever aspect. Or I might be successful. But above all, I want to tell the story. in the way that I think is best.
Of course, this does not mean that I would be resistant to feedback. On the contrary, I consider feedback as one of the most valuable inputs in all aspects of my life. My point is a different one: In the end, I want to make the decision about what I write, even if I might brush of some of my audience.
As a consequence – do not do things for others or for money without considering your personal beliefs first. Because if you do not, your final satisfaction with your idea, product, concept, theory or story might suffer. In the end, you have to be happy about what you are doing, and the commercial aspect should not be your main driver. It is yours, and if you are convinced about it, you have every right to hold your ground.