Is one man's success another man (or woman's) failure? Of course. We all have different expectations, and more often than not, those expectations change over time. Early on in my writing career, success meant getting published. Simple. Straightforward. A tangible goal. I jumped up and down with joy when my first book was accepted. I can still remember that feeling...but my goals have changed over the last five years. Some authors see success as getting a Big 5 contract or having their books on shelves in brick and mortar bookstores. Some people believe self-publishing doesn't count. It means you failed to get a real publisher to accept your book. There are all sorts of different opinions about success in this business.
A friend once made a comment that stuck with me--probably because it irritated the hell out of me at the time. She asked wasn't my writing a hobby not a career since I'm really not making much money? There it is, the dreaded M word. No one wants to talk about it. Is that the definition of success? Is making money--whether it's with a small press or a large one or by self-publishing--the definition of success? When it comes right down to it, that's my current goal. I'm not retired. I have a day job, but I want to keep writing so I'm willing to try every avenue available to achieve success.
There's one more way to look at success (okay maybe more than one, but one I'm going to talk about). Reviews. Do the people who read our books like them? Are we satisfied we're producing the best book we can. If the answer to those two questions is yes, does that mean we're successful authors? Again, it's all about expectation.
There are a couple of things that make me feel successful. A few days after the free period for my most recent release, Asking For Trouble, I checked my Amazon rankings and noticed all 9 of the books on my back list had dropped at the same time. My conclusion: someone who had downloaded my new release when it was free had read it and liked it so much they bought all my other books. THAT felt like success. These little moments make what we do worthwhile.
Another milestone--I just signed a contract with Kensington (ebook and POD but with the option for mass market paperback) for a three book suspense series. It's an excellent feeling. Will I be successful with this new venture? I guess we'll see. What I truly believe is we have to keep pushing ourselves and trying different things to discover what works for us as individuals. Have I given up on self-publishing where I did see some degree of monetary success? Nope. I plan to self-pub a historical this summer. I'm looking forward to the challenge of promoting a book all the publishers said had great characters and writing but was set in a time period too difficult to sell. Maybe I'll use that as my catch phrase. This book is so odd you have to read it!
So, now you've heard what I think about success. What's your definition? Inquiring minds want to know!
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