"Create value!" say the pundits. According to conventional wisdom, that will attract your customers in droves.
I look at my life and wonder what value people expect of me. I haven't taught in about 10 years, so I am woefully out of touch with the educational system. I've studied and dabbled in half a hundred arts, crafts, and sciences, so I am not a 'professional' in anything but craft clutter. What do I have that no one else has?
I've written 8 books in the To Be Sinclair series, with three in progress. Many people would consider that a great accomplishment, especially of a sufferer of an insidious chronic disease like depression, although thousands of people think 50K words and slapping a title on a photo is enough to be a self-published author. Yet I value my work highly, which is why most of my books are over 100K and have been professionally edited. My value is that I go way beyond those superficial details to craft my stories.
First, they are very readable; Tracy insisted I not make the reader fight to understand anything, so they flow with precisely chosen words with nothing to 'guess'. Second, they are true-to-life; for being science fiction romance, I have nevertheless had a huge proportion of my reviews say how life-like and utterly realistic the stories are, as if you can truly imagine yourself in the story.
But the truest value of my work lies in its symbolism, especially in contrast to today's political realities! The titles represent noble virtues, which I have set as the theme of each book. You truly believe that the Imperial Family consists of benevolent, hard-working, honest men and ladies who hold the best interests of their people at heart while interfacing with the galactic community. Yet they are also very human, with their doubts and their struggles to be understood. Compare any of my Imperial Family members to the average lying, hypocritical, debased politician in the world at this moment, and you will find characters worthy of their birthright.
Most of all: I present a future in which there is hope for humanity, at a minimum to get off the planet still sane. No dystopias here! I see no need to start from the most horrifying possible future in order to write a story of compassion and achievement, and I reject pure Good-Vs-Evil in favor of conflicts between characters who all think of themselves as 'good'. The underlying question for my series is, "What will the greatest ruling family in the history of the galaxy be like?" Therefore, the Imperial Family consists of people who grew up with qualities of true greatness: clear thinking, honesty, sincerely striving to help others, and always progressive attitudes toward education and the future.
We see enough horror of a day, and call it 'news'; I prefer to write about how good-hearted people survive with their ability to love stronger than ever before. I see no reason to write grotesque scenes whose only purpose is to 'stand out' in the mind of the reader. Although there are a few scenes you could call 'horrific', they are always intended to be central to the plot, not gratuitous violence.
Thus the value of my body of work: great stories about a family you can feel you belong to, with all the ups and downs of a regular family. You just happen to be a member of the Imperial Family of Sinclair Demesnes, 600 years in the future, with all the trials and glories involved in being a link in the most important chain holding humanity together. With the mind-bending Easter egg short stories as lagniappes, the value of my books is that you can stare at humanity once more, and have hope for the human race.
http://www.evacaye.com has psychological profiles on the main characters