Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Success!

A fellow author commented, "I'm starting to feel like always a bridesmaid..." It set me thinking as I too feel like a wall flower. Tough to sit on the sidelines when everyone else is dancing, it seems.

Or are they?

It's so difficult to know if the others are really dancing or if they're shadowboxing, hoping no one else realizes how inadequate they feel. Where is the truth and reality?

For myself, I've decided the first truth is my definition of success. When will I be a success? What is my goal? Five years ago, my goal was to be published.

Check.

Is that it? I have twenty books published. By anyone's definition, that is a fine thing as it proves I'm not just a one hit wonder.

Check.

I'm multi-published with more than one publisher to my credit. That, too, is a defining point of success. More than one publisher has found my work worthy.

Check.

But what about the royalty aspect. Sigh. There's the rub, isn't it? In the fast shifting world of publishing and the tanking economy, the monetary measures of success are moving so swiftly it's hard to tell where the success levels truly are. Can I live on my royalties? A resounding NO. Do I have sales every month? Well...yes. Some, though small. So how will I choose to define success?

Perhaps this is the most difficult thing to decide. How do we define monetary success? For everyone, it will be different. For some, selling two books a month is a major triumph. For others, selling less than two hundred books a month is an unmitigated disaster. So this one is decided by the individual author.

What no one mentions in the first flush of success is that sales are directly related to a continual string of new releases--timed just right. Too close together and your fans can't afford you. Too far apart and you get lost in the life shuffle. If you're a slow writer or if your publisher's timing is off so your books are released too far apart, it directly affects your sales.

Life interferes sometimes. Maybe it interferes more than that. If no writing is done, no book is published, no royalty check arrives. Perhaps more than in any other occupation, income is directly dependent on constant new production.

My first fourteen months I wrote eleven books. The next year I wrote five. There was a significant difference in my royalty checks. This year I have finished one book. Life is pushing back with a mighty shove.

But I've decided something about my career. I am a success. Whatever I may do in the future will not change that. I can check off multi-published author on my bucket list!

Now, where did I put that darned list...surely there's something else I need to check off.

anny

10 comments:

  1. I teach a writing class and this is one of the first things I stress: YOU decide what constitutes success because best-seller lists and royalties and other stuff like that aren't really a good barometer of success.

    For me, it's this: am I still having fun writing and publishing?

    Yes.

    Then I'm going to keep on going. Maybe the royalties will improve, maybe they won't. In a lot of ways, that's just out of my hands. What is in my hands is the story.

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  2. Hi Anny. Beautiful post. I may quote you tomorrow.

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  3. JL, That is soooo the truth. And if your success is based on that basis, then it's not nearly so difficult to face forced "downtime" when life interferes.

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  4. Julia, Thank you, dear. As always, I would be honored...

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  5. Congrats on all your successes, Anny :)

    Writing success can be found in so many areas now: small presses, epublishing, self publishing...and the stigma is falling away. This makes it doubly hard to measure.

    My goal is to walk into a book store (for there to BE book stores, sob) and be able to pick up my book. I don't care how it happens; I just want that.

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  6. Well...Lucy, I've met that one, too. A local independent bookstore stocks my print books. Cool, eh?

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  7. I agree - you're a success.

    Your insight is fascinating. I had a pretty good idea more published books equals better sales, but I didn't realise the need for a well timed series of releases. Thanks for the insight.

    Hopefully sales will pick up and your royalty cheques will get bigger every month.

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  8. Thank you, Tony! I appreciate your comment! And yeah, timing is everything.

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  9. Writing is fleeting. You're a success if you are happy with who you are no matter what anyone thinks

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  10. YOU are successful in so many ways. Any wonder I look to you for advice? I do hope you keep writing though, if only for me. :)

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