You Know You’ve Arrived

Scrolling through a list of Goodreads books, I noted several authors who have Christmas novels or novellas coming out. I said, “I guess you’ve arrived as an author when they ask you to write a Christmas story.”
Writing Tip for Today: How do you measure success as a writer?

  • Advance Money. Most writers dream of a huge advance that will propel them into stardom. The fact is, advances are simply gambles. A publisher bets the high advance against major sales they hope for when the book releases. Granted, it’s a surer bet when the author is already famous. But one doesn’t necessarily follow the other. I know one writer who got a great advance and whose book tanked.
  • Great Reviews. Again this is subjective. If some reviewers gush, others may gag. The 1-5 star ratings on Amazon are an example of how fickle reviews can be. Some reviewers give every book 5 stars, others are stingy, never giving a top rating. And reviews don’t always reflect quality writing. Bring up Da Vinci Code and most say the writing is mediocre to poor, but the story is captivating.
  • Spin-offs. If you sell a movie option or your publisher sells foreign rights, audio rights or other peripherals, many authors consider themselves successful. While a book may sell modest amounts in the US, those royalties from these peripherals can bring home the dough. I know one author who is the most popular author. In Latvia. Go figure.
  • Books with Legs. Some writers find accidental success, after their book creates “buzz” and word of mouth spreads awareness exponentially. Whether your advance is large or small, we all hope and pray that our books grow “legs” and end up on more reader’s nightstands.
  • Different Strokes. Success is different for different writers, although I suspect even the most humble writer wouldn’t mind a bestseller. But it all begins with one reader at a time, writers doing their best to spread the word about their book. Nobody can read a book if they don’t know it exists. That’s why we must all help each other. Now, if some publisher would just ask me to write a Christmas book, I’d be a success. Wouldn’t I?

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About Linda S. Clare

I'm an author, speaker, writing coach and mentor. I teach both fiction and nonfiction writing at Lane Community College and in the doctoral program as expert writing advisor for George Fox University. I love helping writers improve their craft and I'm both an avid reader and writer of stories about those with wounded hearts.

2 comments on “You Know You’ve Arrived

  1. Maybe this sounds over simplified but I dont consider monetary considerations equal with success. I would feel successful if I got positive feedback from those I admire and trust. Touching lives is so much more important to me, yet I know the writing has to be good and get out there – it’s still a biz!

  2. I agree, Jan, that touching lives is a great measure of success. I often wonder if there was no “biz” to the writing biz, would money even be in the picture. Positive feedback is good too. Thanks for the comment. ~Linda

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