I’ll make one thing clear first. Getting published at all would be one huge item off of the ol’ bucket list. From that perspective, I really don’t care whether whatever I get published is a smashing commercial success or a critically-acclaimed piece of literature. Ideally, you’d want to have both, but that’s not what’s being asked here.
“You can become either an obscure novelist whose work will be admired and studied by a select few for decades, or a popular paperback author whose books give pleasure to millions.”
I’m going to qualify the situation given by The Daily Prompt. If I choose the latter, it means that the book is a literary lightweight. For this purpose, I’ll use the current darling of the shooting gallery, 50 Shades of Grey. I don’t know E.L. James, nor have I read the book. I’m going off the reviews, which are polarizing. (I could have gone with the Twilight series, but with the 50 Shades movie coming out it’s top of mind.)
The alternative is to be a midlist author. Write well-received books that aren’t commercial failures, but you’re not raking in J.K. Rowling money either.
Honestly I’d take the money and write the next sparkly teen angsty monster novel. I’ll even expect that the movie that’s made off it will get butchered like Eragon (which wasn’t amazing for a YA novel to begin with). Sure, I’d love to be L’Engle and write A Wrinkle in Time, but I’ve never really cared that much about public opinion anyway. Write for yourself. If your work finds an audience, then hooray. If it finds a huge audience, then congratulations. Who cares what the critics say? They’re all just jealous that they didn’t figure out that blood-sucking sex would make millions.
No, I have no idea why I’m stuck on YA stuff. I could have gone with Dan Brown vs. Umberto Eco. Oh well.