Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Success Does Not Happen Over-Night

It is a known fact that new things take time to succeed. When we plant an apple tree, it takes several years for the tree to establish before we see fruit. When we start a new business, it often takes anywhere between 3-7 years before it becomes a success and we have a following. The same goes for writing and publishing.

I have talked recently about the need lately for many writers to see immediate gratification regarding their writing. As soon as the first book is finished, they want to see money flowing in and not just a little either. Unfortunately, for many writers, they become extremely disgruntled about that lack of over-night success and will either end up doing stupid things with their careers, or simply just give up.

I was talking with an author a while back who was very upset with the fact that things were not going the way she had thought in terms of her book. I asked her about her career and she stated that it was indeed her first book and it had been out for a little over a month. To her, she couldn't understand why sales weren't through the roof, why editors weren't fighting over her and why on Amazon she was still in the 5 digit numbers in terms of ranking.

The issue with this author isn't unlike a lot of other authors out there. What we had to discuss was the fact that for those first several books, it is simply a building process to acquire a following. People had to know who she was to get to the point they would say "Oh [author] has a new book out!"

I have to say, this is one of the things I really love about the Harlequin editors. They know building an author takes time. This is why in the early stages of an author's career, they really do all they can to get the author's name out there. Online reads, short novellas and a succession of books one after another just to make sure the readers keep seeing that person's name. That push pays off.

I would also remind authors that the work is not just about the writing time, but also the hard work the author puts into marketing. It may seem like nickle and diming your way to the top, but it does pay off. That book signing that sells 6 books might seem little, but think of the people who might not have bought the book, but saw you and your name? The amount of money you spent on contests and give-a-ways increased your mailing list. Heck, when people see they have a chance to win something, they will sign up for anything. The point though, is this takes time and doesn't happen overnight.

Look, writers. Don't rush it. Work your butts off now and watch the rewards come in later. You will enjoy it. I promise!



  1. A good friend of mine just got a wonderful agent. Funny how when we were in the throws of writing our first drafts, a good agent was that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow...and though this agent is beyond competent, kind, and dedicated, there's so much more to do. Writing is just the first step in a long, slow process of building an author's career, and it's amazing many smaller journeys there are on the longer road to that ultimate goal of overwhelming success.

  2. I read once that one thing the most successful people (in any field) tend to have in common is that they accept delayed gratification. They know the value of working hard without any immediate payoff because in the end it'll come back to them.

    With self-publishing on the rise, I've been seeing more and more first time authors slapping their books up on Amazon way too early. The best part of e-pubbing is also the worst: there's no middle man. It's great because you have a lot more control and you don't have to pay anyone else, but it's dangerous because there's no one to tell you you're not ready yet.

    People see Amanda Hocking, Stephen King and others and forget that they didn't publish their first books. They forget about the years of hard work that went into building their careers.

    They forget that delayed gratification is worth the wait.

    Really great post. Thanks for sharing this with us. :)

  3. Delayed gratification is the hardest lesson I have learned so far as a writer. I wanted my writing to be perfect now rather than put the work to make it so.

    The marketing end of the writing business pays better dividends than the book. In long run, a wealth of relationships with readers, writers, publishers, and agents mean more than the bottom line.

    Thank you for writing on this topic. Great post :)

  4. Delayed gratification is a good way to put it. I look at is as success being cumulative for most people. You might not sell 10,000 copies your first week, but you could sell a few, and then word would start building from there, and eventually you've got even greater sales.

    With all the resources out there on blogs and other websites, I hope most people will do the research and realize the instant millionaires are rare. That's why we hear about them!

  5. To be fair, there's a lot of pressure on many authors to have a strong showing right out of the gate. Some authors may fear that future book deals may be curtailed by less-than-blockbuster numbers on their debut novel. Not every publisher has the patience to stick with slow-building authors.