Hey Scriberettes, PJ Sharon here, and after exactly one year into my indie-pub journey, I’d like to talk about how I measure success. I’m not talking about sales numbers, earnings, or rankings today. So, what are we talking about? I suppose to measure success we first have to define it. My little Oxford Dictionary defines success as: The attainment of an aim; or of wealth or status. For some people, attaining wealth or status is very important. For me—not so much. As a matter of fact, the last thing I want is fame and fortune. You might be thinking that my twenty blog tour appearances over the past two months don’t necessarily support that statement. Don’t get me wrong; I like being recognized for my accomplishments, and I’d like to be able to earn a good living off my writing, but what is truly important to me is being able to do something I love to do, and having it make a difference in people’s lives. There is no doubt in my mind that neither money nor fame will ever lead to happiness.
“Attainment of an aim” is more the definition that works for me. In writing the types of young adult novels I write, my aim is to share a message of hope with readers of all ages, but especially teens. In order to do this, I have to find readers, which means I have to put myself out there by whatever means necessary, and let people get to know me. If that means that I gain “fame” as I gain recognition, then I guess I’ll have to deal with that, but honestly, that’s the part that scares me more than failing to accomplish my goals. I’ve heard of people fearing success as much as they fear failure. I totally get that! And it can be just as much of a stumbling block to success. I’ve had enough failures in life to have learned to transform them into learning experiences rather than letting them make me quit trying, but what will I do if I actually succeed in becoming “famous”…eeek!
Someone I hadn’t seen since high school recently contacted me and was so excited to find that my books and my picture were on Amazon. She asked me how it felt to be famous. I said, “hmm…umm…really?” I’m super excited about seeing my books in print and knowing that readers like my stories, but really, it feels like just another job at this point. FYI, I’m currently earning approximately minimum wage as an author, so it’s probably good that making a fortune is not high on my priority list.
If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ve heard me talk about sales numbers and goals, marketing and promoting, creating production schedules and so forth. I dove into the indie-publishing pool a year ago, knowing nothing about any of these things, and worked hard to learn because I wanted to succeed in two things: Getting my stories in front of readers, and earning a steady income from my writing. As far as the success journey, I’m making strides. But there is always more to do—more readers to reach, more stories to write, and an income potential that makes early retirement achievable if I’m willing to work hard for the long haul. As I continue to focus on those goals, the byproduct is exposure. I want that…don’t I? I’m sure there are lots of writers who think that they do, but once you become published and you have to start promoting not only your books, but yourself as well, the question as to whether you really do want “fame and fortune” will hit you square on the nose.
I’ve heard it said that there is a price to be paid for said “fortune and fame.” It comes with responsibility to your readers, hard work to maintain the status you attain, and the risk of losing sight of your true goal, which for most of us is doing what we are passionate about—writing.
Writers who are pounding down those agent’s and editor’s doors, or considering the indie-pub route might want to ask themselves if they are ready for success and all that comes with it.
Are you ready? How will you measure success?