Would you pay $12.99 to read your book?
In a way, that’s the central question of the entire publishing equation (though the amount may vary depending on book format and discounting). Although there’s a lot of talk about whether the story grabs the editor or the publisher, the bottom-line consideration is really a bottom-line consideration.
Most of the discussion on this blog deals with the craft of writing, with some attention to the marketing side–getting an agent, writing a query, pitching, publicizing your book. All of these things are necessary steps for most people in the path to publication. The ultimate goal for everyone involved is to get as many people as possible to pay money to read your book. If enough people pay enough money to read your book, you make money for everyone involved. If too few people pay money to read your book, you lose money for many of the people involved, you don’t make much money for yourself, and you probably don’t get invited back for another crack at the whole thing.
Understanding the basic economics involved with your baby is a double-edged sword. It’s important to understand that while everyone involved with the process is probably passionate about books, or should be, they all have mortgages and bills to pay just like everyone else. An agent earns a living by getting enough publishers to buy enough books so they can earn a living of their cut. And publishers have to be able to cover their expenses and make a profit based on the revenue generated by the books they select. (We can argue over the sanity of the business model another time.)
But while you have to understand the industry’s economics, you don’t want to be too influenced by them. For instances, everyone seems to dig sexy vampire and mommy porn stories. That doesn’t mean you should abandon your Christian romance for a mommy porn novel with vampires in it (though I hear it’s a fun genre to research).
As you write, it’s important to be aware of the business considerations and make smart decisions based on them, but don’t try to catch them with your work.