It’s a gray area question with a gray area answer. As an observer, I think this question is at the heart of every kerfluffle (yes, kerfluffle) wtfery acts as seen on the Interweb. The author has decided to serve the author and the reader, forsaking the publisher.
Long, circling thread ensues. The author decides to serve the author and the publisher, screw the reader. Long, circling thread ensues. The author decides to serve the author, screw other authors and publishers. Long, circling thread ensues.
The heart of the problem is that the author is supposed to meet craft and genre expectations all the while write something marketable. All the while have a marketable persona. All the while have business smarts. At any given time the author is supposed to meet the publisher demands, reader demands, peer demands and self made demands…. and deal with life outside of writing.
Everyone has an opinion, more like a belief how the author should go about this juggling act. A belief that shifts depending on who answers and when that person answers.
The more I observe, the more I believe only one person can answer this question–the author. Not for all authors everywhere, but for themselves.
Who will I serve?
Check all boxes that apply:
[ ] Author
[ ] Publisher
[ ] Reader
Once you do this, probably several times during your career, expect the backlash and/or accolades. Hell, probably both. There is nothing you, as the author, can do to sidestep it. Don’t believe me? Just give it five minutes and some other kerfluffle will hit the Interwebs to prove my theory.