I've heard the argument that an author should focus on his creative vision rather than on what will sell. My personal opinion is a bit complex and nuanced. I believe that every author has a message they want to express. Maybe they feel a certain way about bullying vs. real leadership. The author might not _consciously_ inject their views and opinions into the story, but as the author's writing is personal and heartfelt, those views and opinions are going to find their way into the story because they are part of how the author views the world. This creates theme. Theme is important to the author and it is probably the strongest organizing force in the story. The book will better if the theme is clear to the reader (not beating the reader over the head with it and not necessarily _consciously_ clear to the reader). So, the author is faced with the challenge of making the theme appeal to the reader. The author must take the theme to where the reader is living, metaphorically speaking. The ability to take the theme to where the reader is living will make the book appeal to that reader. If he can do that well, the reader will want to read the book. So, the author's mastery of expression creates market success. Literary merit and market success are joined at the hip (though a book can endure while society changes, so they might not sustain their market success). Despite what dusty old English professors believe, I do not believe that a book has literary merit if it doesn't have market success (unless the author intends to appeal only to a thin slice of readers). What are your opinions regarding literary merit vs. market success?