By Joe Moore
Okay, it’s really a 7-letter word. But I know a lot of successful authors that would use a 4-letter word when asked what it’s like to be successful. Why? For a couple of reasons. First, success is impossible to obtain. You can obtain “better”. You can achieve “improved”. But you’re always working to be successful. Success can be nothing more than a carrot on a stick just beyond your nose.
Second, success means something different to everyone. It’s a lot like describing an object as being green. Are we talking forest green, lime green, Irish green, puck green, or foam green? How about that green on the Beatles Apple logo or Kermit the Frog green?
I’ll bet if you asked any author who just sold a million copies of his last book, did it make him feel good? The answer will probably be, “Absolutely!” Does he consider himself a success? 4-letter-word no! Why? Because now his publisher expects him to sell 2 million copies of that next book he hasn’t finished writing yet. No pressure there. That’s not success. That’s a problem, albeit one we would all like to have. Now his sales are a bold number on the publisher’s ledger sheet. Now employees’ jobs rely on his success. It’s not just good enough to write another great book that sells lots of copies, he has to worry about the folks that are counting on him for their salary, their jobs, and their future.
So what is success in the publishing industry? Is it when you sell 25,000 copies, 50,000 copies, a million, become a New York Times bestseller? When can a writer kick up his or her heels and declare, “Mission Accomplished”?
Here’s a tip. Success is what you predetermine it will be. It’s what you decide before it comes. If you don’t approach success in that way, you are destined for disappointment. For some, being successful is walking into a bookstore and seeing their novel on the shelf. For other’s it’s the rush of holding a book signing and seeing the line of fans snaking out the door. And for many, it’s money.
But even if it is money, try to remember that it’s more important to predetermine what you’ll do with it, rather than wanting to be “rich”. For instance, determine the amount you’ll need to quite your day job. Or to pay off your mortgage. Or to move to Cape Cod or Palm Beach, or just a bigger house.
The point is, you determine what will make you successful. Be specific, not vague. And if you achieve it, relish it, celebrate it. Because everything after that is the sauce on the steak. And if you do achieve your predetermined success, always say the two most powerful words in the English language: Thank You.
When do you consider a writer to be a success? Have you predetermined your Mission Accomplished criteria? Have you already achieved it?
Coming up Sunday, June 7, our guest blogger will be New York Times bestselling author Sandra Brown. And watch for Sunday guest blogs from Steve Berry, Robert Liparulo, Paul Kemprecos, Linda Fairstein, Julie Kramer, Grant Blackwood, and more.