I recently came across an award-winning writer I'd not previously heard of, who had written a dozen books or so, and who was published with a variety of reputable book publishers. Add to that being a professor at an Eastern college and you'd figure this author had arrived, right?
Well, why not, with a literary reputation and a position in acadamia. Back in the day before I worked in publishing, I'd have been envious of his accomplishments.
Since viewing Kindle rankings is an everyday activity of mine in my work with WiDo, I'll often check out author or publisher Kindle rankings, to see how their books compare in sales tours. Some of my own books' Kindle rankings aren't that great-- but compared to this particular author's, they were absolutely impressive.
What's the definition of writerly glory these days? It's definitely changed from when literary accolades and a scholarly resume were part of the formula. Clearly money enters into the equation. I imagine bestselling novelists like Danielle Steele and Stephen King, or self-published success stories like Amanda Hocking and Hugh Howey, make more in one month's royalties than my anonymous writer/professor here will get in a lifetime of book sales.
But surely it's not just about money or fame or Kindle rankings.
Success is ever-changing, depending on where one is in the journey. When you get a publishing contract and/or an agent or even just finish the darn book: this definitely feels like success. I'm a fan of celebrating every step along the way. A finished manuscript. A contract. A launch. A positive review. Whatever it is, celebrate!
I use a pattern of personal goal-setting and forward movement to avoid envy, vanity, frustration, discouragement and such discomfort that comes with comparing oneself to others. It helps keep me on an even keel with my writing career. So wherever I am at the moment can feel perfectly okay, while continuing to work toward what's next.
As a writer, do you feel like a success yet? If not, what would need to change to make it happen?
"Never give up. And most importantly, be true to yourself. Write from your heart, in your own voice, and about what you believe in." ~ Louise Brown
"Write something to suit yourself and many people will like it; write something to suit everybody and scarcely anyone will care for it." ~Jesse Stuart
"A writer's job is to take one thing and make it stand for twenty." ~ Virginia Woolf