I told this to my agent recently. The first draft of every story I write is for myself. There are fans and readers to consider, of course. There are critics and reviewers and bloggers. There are retailers and consumers and all that sort of stuff. There are family and friends. But the first draft is always for me.
Why is that?
First off, I think it's because it's so difficult getting through a book. You pour everything you have into the story, so you have to love it. You need to feel it. You need to live a chunk of it. So if you don't love the story or can't feel it, the magic won't happen.
Once the first draft is done, the story can be reworked and tweaked and honed and cut for everybody else. Yes, readers need to care, need to be entertained, need to love the characters. So a story that I dearly love might be changed and reworked, and that's okay.
I'll always have the first draft. That will always be for me and me alone.