Are you ready for success?

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?



15 thoughts on “Are you ready for success?”

  1. Great post, Paula. I’m published by royalty-paying publishers, but since they’re very small companies my writing journey–especially the marketing/promoting part–isn’t vastly different from what indie authors deal with. And that marketing/promoting part isn’t easy!

    My definition of success is hearing from readers that they enjoy my books; financially, I’ll consider myself a success when I earn as much per year from my books alone as I currently earn from my books combined with my part-time job.

    1. Hi Jo! Welcome to the Scribes. I think that ALL authors, indies or otherwise, are faced with the challenge of M/P. It’s a tough business, for sure.

      I think the same about my “paycheck”. I love my massage practice and will likely never be able to “abandon” the clients who depend on me, but ideally, I’d like to cut back to doing that only two days a week, so I can have more time to write. If I can make enough steady income from my writing to make as much as I do working my other job full time, that would be great.

      Having said that, I try not to limit my financial goals. I see the awesome potential to create a passive stream of income with writing, and the sky’s the limit. Of course there is nothing “passive” about it at this point, but I love to imaging that by the time I “retire” in about fifteen years, I’ll be able to keep a leisurely writing pace, travel, and not have to spend so much time and energy promoting.

      Thanks for stopping by. I’ll see you at YABeyond!

  2. I consider myself a success because I’m doing what I love. Writing! I won’t know financially until this time next year how I’m doing there (my first book, If I Fail, A Jake Carrington Mystery) will be released in September. I’m naturally hoping for great sales, but even if its not on the first book –I’m still a success because I followed my dream!

    1. Absolutely, Marian. Following your dream, doing what you love, and taking pride in your accomplishments is what feeling successful is all about. You’re a rock star, my friend!

  3. Love the post and it’s very cool you enjoy your massage practice as much as you enjoy your writing. That’s the best of both worlds, even if the time isn’t quite divided the way you’d like just yet. For me the money is important because my hours were cut at work and I needed my writing income to replace that. At the same time, I’ve never been happier working at writing and if I could make enough to completely replace my income from my part-time job, I’d be thrilled. Anything above and beyond that is gravy. I don’t want to get rich doing this (wouldn’t complain if I did), I just want to be able to afford to write and do what I enjoy. Not everyone gets to do that so I consider myself very lucky!

    1. Totally agree, Stacey. My father in-law always used to say, “Money doesn’t make you happy, it just makes you less nervous.” I love that! Most of us recognize that having more stuff isn’t what life is about, but earning enough to pay bills and have the privilege of doing what you love and sharing a healthy life with the people you love, is as you said, “gravy.”

  4. I’ll be honest with my release of Real Virtue next week, I’m feeling pretty squeamish. 🙂 I’m not really sure how I will define it a success yet. I don’t want to put numbers on it, and I don’t want to judge it by the reviews, because those are subjective. I guess, at this point, I consider myself already a success, because I took the risk of writing it and putting it out there.

    1. Yippeee! And congratulations to you, darling! I’m so proud of you. We’ve both come a long way from our days at the rink. I still believe it was divine intervention that we met up at the Nationals in DC a few years back. I remember you pitching REAL VIRTUE and wondering if it would ever sell. Your perserverance and hard work has paid off…which to me is what makes people successful, no matter what the final goal is. Some people say that success is a journey, not a destination. I would have to agree.

  5. Life is full of surprises Paula. I have fulfilled a couple of dreams and have enjoyed success. This one, this book I’m writing, I am concerned about success. It is hard, hard, hard work. Once the book is out there, you have responsibilities to yourself, your publisher if you have one and your readers. Is that right? It is tough to be successful. Great post.

    1. Hi Gail! As you said, there is a lot of responsibility and hard work that comes with putting your work out into the world. One of the reasons that I decided to indie-publish was because I didn’t want to be held accountable to anyone but myself, but I had not anticipated the accountability I feel toward readers (to keep producing great material in a timely manner), or the accountability I feel toward myself (for getting out of bed every morning, running two businesses, blogging, etc., and producing and selling a high quality product). Whether you go the traditional route, or dive into the indie world of publishing, being an author takes hard work, committment, and some intestinal fortitude. All of which I know you are quite capable! Cheers, my friend!

  6. Fame, I could not care less about. Truly. For me success would be making a living at writing and related activities. I’d love to be able to travel more, and to work from home (or anywhere). Interestingly, as I’ve recently taken some babysteps in that direction, new opportunities have begun to present themselves. In fact, one appeared today, from a very unexpected source.
    (I was approached to put together a procedures manual related to my day job, and get paid for it) If we could just get affordable health care in this country (yes, yes, I know that’s a can of worms!), so many more people could live their dreams without being “nervous,” as your FIL would have said. Here’s to success for all of us, in whatever form it takes!

    1. Excellent, Suze! Funny how the Universe just drops things in your lap when you are open and ready for them. That’s awesome.

  7. It’s funny, I’m having a similar conversation today over at Dreaming in Ink today – about pressure. Once I stopped trying to use my writing as a way to escape from my day job – my writing life got a whole lot easier. I know that sounds counter-intitive, but there it is. I have to agree with Katy (CONGRATS on Real Virtue!) about success is actually finishing a book and then submitting it. Publication, for me, has been the proverbial, icing on the cake. That’s not say that I wouldn’t love to be a full time writer and that is a long term goal. Success is kind of like a sliding scale for me. First, finish book. Check. Second, submit book. Next, sell book. Check and check. You get the idea.

    1. I like the “sliding scale” idea. It’s definitely not about reaching the end of the road for me either. But as a writer, reaching “The End’ that first time was a huge milestone. Writing something printworthy was a whole other ball of wax as they say.

      Even Dorothy had to take baby steps along the yellow brick road to get to OZ, and even then, she realized that what she needed was with her all the time. Truly successful people are not the ones searching for some fame or fortune or accolade outside of themselves, but are constantly striving to live life to the fullest, appreciating the steps–and the people–along the way.

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