I hate my book

I’ve been writing a book since last year. It’s a fictionalized memoir loosely based on a brief period of my life with a different ending. I completed the original draft in a month. Then I started looking into editing and marketing and buffered with learning about marketing and didn’t learn as much about editing. Now I’m finally rewriting it, (getting so much done with focus time, thank you!) but I still feel I don’t really know what I’m doing and I’m not sure I understand the editing or story structure etc. I really enjoyed writing it at first, but now I’m starting to dread and buffer when I sit down to write. I keep thinking, I still don’t understand how to write proper fiction, I can’t exactly tell what genre this is, I need to make this marketable, etc.

So I’ve rewritten parts of it multiple times. I’ve sent it to test readers and gotten mixed feedback. It was kind of gritty and graphic originally, and I cleaned up a lot of the language. Unfortunately my readers don’t like the cleaned up version as much and say it feels less authentic and engaging. They really liked the original.

I have a following of people who’ve been reading my writing for years, though this is my first full length book. The test readers come from this group. They’re the ones who like the original. They’re the ones most likely to buy the final product, recommend it, read any follow up novels. However my writing style draws kind of a “cult” following and I feel if I write just for this audience, I may not get the distribution and sales I ultimately want if I were to tone it down.

So my question is who do I write this for? Do I make it more commercially appealing or keep it weird and keep my current people happy while seeking out more people my style resonates with? I feel formulaic books and books that follow common story structure sell better. This thought makes me want to write it differently, however if I have ride or die fans already, why am I thinking I need to change? Do I just need to expand my reach and sell the weird romance book idea I first came up with?

Since the question of how to write the book came up, I’ve not gotten as much quality writing done either way.