Defining Your Own “Success” As An Author

As an agent I always wanted to know an author’s expectations and goals for their writing, and now as an author’s consultant my conversation begins with “What are you trying to do?” There are usually layers to the answer.

  • Layer 1:  “I want to finish what I have long wanted to write, and I want it published.”
  • Layer 2:  “I want to publish something of value to people, to pass on what I have learned in my life.”
  • Layer 3:  “I want to transition from my current work and profession into writing full-time, and I want this to include books and speaking.”

Logo ABC.Tiny

And so it goes, digging until we figure out what the book in front of us is really all about.  Until you know why you are writing, you cannot answer the next questions like:

           Who is this book for?  What is the take-away message for the reader (nonfiction) or What is the experience for the reader (fiction)? What is the correct structure?  What is the best point of view? The right voice? etc.

How you will eventually define SUCCESS for yourself has to do with knowing your goals and motivations, as well as being able to articulate your dream and hopes.

“Success” in publishing is always possible, although less likely if your goal is “To be published by Random House and sell one million copies of my book.” If that is, in fact, your dream and goal, then there is a way to achieve it; just not while having a full-time job, family, other obligations, and so on. If this is your goal, it will need to be the single focus of your life, much like an athlete setting out to win Gold at the Olympics.


Your  publishing options today are (1) Traditional, (2) Independent self-publishing, or (3) Combination hybrid publishing. There are many ways to reach your goal although the strategies and processes have changed over the last several years. The marketing aspects have shifted such that the author needs to look at his or her part in it slightly differently now. The marketing “tool kit” for the author includes  mastering the myriad skills of Social Media. It isn’t enough to write a good book, and it hasn’t been since corporate publishing took over decades ago. Now, however, social media has actually replaced all publishing marketing as we ever knew in the ’90s.

And yet, you can simply decide that all this marketing, social media, learning a gazillion new things is just not how you want to spend your life; you simply want to finish your book and publish it well. Then decide this earlier rather than later. There are perfectly good options in self-publishing to accomplish this, and talented freelancers to help you with editing, final formatting, conversion for publishing online, and getting your book listed on Amazon. You can do as much or as little as you like if you have a budget for the freelancers to do the parts you don’t want.

For those who aspire to have an agent and publish with a respected publisher, you are committing to learning a lot of things besides how to write a damned good manuscript. And you are committing to the time (years), patience, and multifacted efforts it requires to build this future career one brick at a time. Learn to use Social Media as an efficient “calling card” to draw the people you want to you instead of having to hunt for them.

building_blocksIt is one thing to want to write a book. It is another thing to want to be published.

Define your goal(s) as specifically as you can, and the next steps will become clear. Success will follow.

To your success–




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