Identifying Writing Success

From https://i2.wp.com/public.wsu.edu/~hughesc/1990.24

That is one fine lion coat, sir.

Since writing my first novel two years ago, I’ve learned a lot about the publishing industry. I’ve learned that writing a book–while a Herculean task in its own right sometimes–is barely the beginning. (Don’t forget, Hercules had to deal with 12 labors, including mucking out a seriously grody stable and killing or capturing a bunch of murderous monster-animals. But he did wind up with a nice fancy lion-coat! So that’s something, right?)

I’ve learned about query letters, networking, meeting agents and publishers, and the several varied paths to publishing. I knew it wasn’t as easy as “write book, get published,” but even with the wonders of the Internet and mass communication, the actual process of getting published is mysterious. It’s been hard for me to figure out which way is up, who is honest, and how to avoid hucksters.

That’s why I was so excited when I found this post (Measuring Success via IndieReCon) so reassuring: it’s a pretty clear road map for what it means to be a financial success as a self-published author.

Author Susan Kaye Quinn breaks down indie success with actual dollar amounts. If I decide to self-publish someday, I’ll be grateful to have this as a guide to understanding what I should be aiming for. Heck, even if I find some success in the traditional publishing route, I find these numbers reassuring. I’ve read many resources, in print and online, and most of the time, dollar amounts and sales targets have just been hinted at. While making my own goals is essential, having a sense of the industry’s markers helps me feel grounded, and I hope it will help me make reasonable decisions.

I’ve yet to decide which publishing path is right for me (though I am currently seeking agent representation!), but I will be using that Measuring Success post to help me suss out my personal writing goals.

What are your goals for your writing?

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10 Comments

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10 responses to “Identifying Writing Success

  1. Adam M.

    To be honest my goals for writing are as simple as being proud of what I right. As proud from the moment I put the pen down to fifteen years later when I reread it.

  2. My writing goal is to actually finish a book to a really polished level, find an awesome editor, find a great cover artists and explore the self-publishing rabbit hole.
    Nice post – thanks for the info. And thanks for checking out Novel Travelist.

    • Thanks for visiting here, too! What makes you sure you want to go the self-pub route?

      • So many author friends of mine complain about the loss of control during the publishing process and the frustration of losing an editor, or having to make changes over and over again, only to return to the original draft and then have the project dropped. Other young writer friends, attempting to enter the publishing world are suffering letters of great praise, “Love your book, but we’re not taking on any new authors this year…” but with continued disappointment.
        I write for fun. I’m not trying to make a living with it. However, I’d like to produce a professional product I can be proud of. But I don’t have time for all the frustration and run-around that my friends are being tortured with. So that’s why I’ve chosen self-publishing.
        If all goes well, I might open an indie press for all my frustrated writer friends. Their books are fabulous!
        How the agent hunt going?

      • Slowly. 😉 But that’s the way of it now. Plus my novel (a zombie apocalypse CYOA for adults) may be too genre-bending. Hard to know. Do let me know if your indie press gets established!

      • Zombie Apocalypse is very popular right now. Do you participate in National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo.org? 300,000 people around the world attempt to write a 50,000 word novel in one month, April, July and November. Last year’s November theme was Zombie Apocalypse. 🙂

      • I wrote it in NaNo this November… But I had no idea there was a theme, zombie or otherwise! The challenge of a hard deadline was enough for me.

  3. It’s very smart to realize that writing “success” can mean different things at different times, and much smarter to be able to identify what writing success means to you. Years ago I had a fixed-in-stone idea of what that meant. Now, having suffered writer’s block for a painfully long time, I measure success in a much different way, usually by a word count of nonfiction by blogging, my baby step to edge my way back into fiction where any success there will also have to be measured by a word count. Thank you for the good post.

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