This week, I wanted to repost something I recently shared from my author blog. In today’s mercurial market, it can be a challenge just keeping your spirits up. Even established authors get discouraged from time to time. It’s important we keep our eyes on the end goal, and always remember the reason we do this in the first place. We are modern bards and storytellers. That’s the heart of our craft. And it’s important, whether you’re a veteran or aspiring author, to think about your goals. What defines success to you?
What Defines Success?
Every author, on every release day, makes a wish in their hearts–no matter what their heads tell them–to dream big. We all have pipe dreams that go something like this. It’s very simple really. No matter past experience, or how long we’ve been doing this, the thought inevitably comes to mind:
this could be the one
Sort of like “the one ring,” we think our book is bound to be a success. If you’ve read up on your marketing, if you made a plan, but more importantly–if you wrote a stellar book–the odds may be in your favor.
Every book release I’ve had, no matter how big or small, I have the same secret wish in my heart. And yeah, I’d love to make lots of money from writing. It would be amazing to contribute to my household in such a way. But the more commonality you’ll find, especially with Indie authors: we don’t do this for money. If we were writing for money, we’d be journalists (who don’t even get paid great either…) or freelance technical writers. (I’ve done the latter btw-no fun)
We write books because we have to. Those of us who come back again and again with new books, with that creative excitement that comes from reaching beyond yourself with a story, we do it for love. And sometimes love is blind. Yet we still force ourselves to look at the market, aka: reality. I’m not lying when I tell you reality bites. The chances of you writing a bestseller are slim. A lot of marketing sites will try and pitch you one-liners like: “sell a million copies!” or “the secret formula.” If you see a variation on that theme, run the other way. Better yet, click exit and get the hay out of there. There is no secret formula. You likely won’t sell a million copies.
You want to know how you sell books?
The same way you eat an elephant: one bite at a time. You write an amazing book (do not publish your first draft btw), have it beta-read, edited and proofread. You create marketing plans, study trends, hire a professional cover designer. You trade for services and do whatever you can to make it happen. You do a blog tour, or you don’t. I’m personally nostalgic for them, plus I’m also a book blogger, and we will be your biggest champions if you let us. All this to say, you’ve done everything you can, including building your platform. Then you publish. All that build up and when it happens, there’s a mixture of relief and let-down. If you’re lucky, you hit the market at the right time, with the right story and at the right price. Then it’s up to you to go out into the world and make your book seen. It’s up to you to determine whether your launch was/is a success.
Something I’ve done the past two years now, is really study marketing trends. I’ve bought books on it, followed savvy authors and professionals who know better. And for everything I learn and implement, there’s always more and it’s always shifting slightly on the trend. It’s a lot to take in, and you have to test things out, to see what works for you and what doesn’t. One piece of advice I can give you on this matter: don’t give up a month into it. If you’ve started with ads on Amazon or Facebook, etc., but don’t see any difference, do not give up. Keep on testing your ads. Tweak them, switch things up if you have to. But most of the time, you won’t see any real impact until at least six months down the road. I kid you not. Think about it. I can’t recall the number, but people often have to see something multiple times before they even click on your book page. Even then, it’s a toss up.
So what defines success?
What you make of it. If you’re writing for your passion, if you’re mission is to tell your stories, then roll with that. If it’s to make lots of money, you need different strategies. I can tell you, from my experience with launching Silver Hollow, while not an overnight success, is considered a win in my book. Why? Because I wanted to create something to infinity and beyond any other book I’d done before this. I wanted this to stand above the rest as a challenge to my self. I want Silver Hollow to be my standard and I wanna rise to at least meet that challenge from now on. I put more into marketing this book than any I’ve published in years. Why? Because, for one, I believe in it. Two, I wanted to build my platform off this book. I want to use Silver Hollow, a story that crosses genres and combines all the things I love, to build the next ten years of my career upon.
You want to know what I define as success?
Well, to put it simply, you. You, who are reading this post today, who have read or not read my books but are following this blog. You, who have chosen to take this journey in Indie publishing alongside me. I absolutely loved my recent book tour, because I connected with so many bloggers and readers than I had in a while. So often we just read screens and go about our daily lives and routine. Sometimes we forget to comment or share others’ work. I’m definitely guilty of this. But it is wonderful to read comments and know people appreciate the effort. It’s great to talk with like-minded book lovers, who are happy to gush about your cover art, the story and characters. My favorite part of this business is creating connections, meeting new people with new ideas, with fresh perspective. Also, I’m such a book nerd, especially over the worlds I create for my stories. So I get extra pumped when other people get excited with me.
Okay so now you’re thinking, yeah that’s nice and all, but how do I apply this to me. Well, let me tell ya. When you’re dreaming about publication, don’t be afraid to dream big. Also, don’t be disappointed when you’re disappointed. Take each experience, each failure as a badge of honor. Take it, learn from it, adapt. That’s the only way you’ll survive in this business. Don’t gamble your life on a book release. Write another book. Keep going, keep striving and improving your craft. The only way you can define success is by setting your expectations before hand. I write down lists. One of my top expectations for this tour, was to rebuild and build upon my author platform/brand. And guess what? I more than trippled my newsletter following, I networked with other authors and bloggers until it happened. I consider myself lucky that enough bloggers volunteered to read and review my book for free. Because word of mouth is truly the best commendation you can receive. Set your reality goals, but also set your dream goals. If you don’t meet the dream, you can keep trying, keep going. Write a sequel. I plan to 😉
Which reminds me, if y’all want to go ahead and add Blackbriar Cove to your Goodreads, I’ve created the link!
Post-Silver Hollow-launch, I’ve thought a lot about today’s topic. I’ve thought about my goals for this release, and for my future publications. I’ve been touched by your response and generosity, fellow bloggers and authors, and to everyone who helped me spread the word for this book release. Everyone has lives, me included. So the fact you took time out of your day to give Silver Hollow some love makes me smile. As for the future, know I will give it I’ve got. I’ll keep on studying marketing and testing out trends and services, keep taking workshops and reading books by people wiser than I. I’ll do my best to help you watch out for pitfalls in your own career. I’ll keep working on the craft (not the witchy kind 😉
If you’d like to check out more about the Silver Hollow tour, you can see the Grand Finale “digest” version by clicking on the gif below:
2 thoughts on “A Writer’s Journey ~ What Defines Success?”
Great post, Jen! I love that Churchill quote. I have a keychain with it. It’s been my mantra for a long time now.
I think it’s something to the tune of seven times someone has to see something before they dedicated it to memory. If I remember reading it correctly, it takes seven times for the brain to form enough synapses that a memory forms. Or something to that effect?
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I actually got that quote from you! Thanks so much 😉
Yes I think I remembered the seven (terrible with numbers lol). But so true.