Friday, April 26, 2013

Defining Success

This topic came up at a recent conference I attended and I thought it was certainly worth looking at, especially considering that we are fast approaching the big time conference season.

When we talk about defining what success is, it really does depend on one person to the next. Success is also on a case-by-case basis. I think, however, that Jeff Hayden, in an article posted on Linked In said it best, "Determining whether you are successful is based on answering one question: How happy am I?"

I bring this up because a lot of people seem to equate success with something numerical and quantitative. In other words, we have to be able to measure it. Again, this all depends on what you believe success is.

The issue of success really seems to float around a couple of key areas in publishing. Obviously the first is whether or not you can be "successful" with self-publishing or if you have to be in traditional publishing. In this case, it is not a matter of the amount of books you have sold or the amount of money you have made selling the books. The question is whether or not you are happy with the work you put into the book and the outcome of that work. If that means you sold 5 books and you are happy with that, then you are successful. If you are making a career out of it, and you are happy, then you are successful.

The problem a lot of writers have when arguing the success of their self-publishing career is when they are trying to move into traditional publishing. In this case, the criteria for success has to be within the context of the traditional publishers. This, unfortunately means that we cannot use the "Happy" model of Hayden, but we have to look at the quantitative element.

But what does this have to do with the conference season? The answer is simple. You do not have to be published to be a successful writer. You can be successful if you simply were able to make it though your book and got to THE END. When you attend those conferences, you can be happy with just writing. This is your success.

As you approach your writing this weekend, I want you all to take the time to think about you would define your personal success. Use the Hayden model for this. We aren't talking about things that would make you "more happy" but simply what makes you happy.
  • Are you happy with your writing without the need to be published?
  • Would you be happy with something self-published or do you have to be traditionally published?
  • Does your happiness have a $ figure attached to it? A total number of books sold?
  • Are you happy with "The End"?
Knowing what your success level is should determine where you want to go to with your writing and what you need to do when you start looking at those conferences. Remember, you don't have to pitch if it isn't in your game plan.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for putting this in such an objective, yet personal way. I feel great satisfaction and happiness with the books I have self-published. But, not only the finished product gives me pleasure but even more so, the process of being caught up in my own writing to the extent that I don't notice the passage of time. What more could one want?