Success for me is in helping like-minded visionaries enroll audiences, attract business, and create community. I succeed when more people are freer to find their tribes, discover joy, and play at life.
Each day that I live life like recess is another success.
Define Author Success in Your Own Words
As an author, see if your goals can be framed in a similar way: as something more under your control than traditional targets. And as something that mirrors your life goals instead of warping them.
I can’t imagine that you really have a life goal of “Optimize my Facebook ad’s click-through rate to get 35% more qualified leads as a result of A/B testing the button color of my call-to-action.” But if your goal is: “Write a short story so compelling that readers ask, ‘what’s next?'” then, Sister, I’m listening.
Instead of “Get a $10K advance,” see how much more in control you are when your definition of success is, “Finish my WIP within three months, revise it to my trusted editor’s satisfaction, and develop a pitch that I believe in.”
Instead of the workaday, “Make a living writing novels,” consider how much more meaning there is with:
“Create a life I love by writing every day.”
Instead of a target to sell 20,000 copies, what if your efforts were to find people who love the kinds of stories you write, and do them the service of letting them know about your work?
Instead of “Find an agent this year,” perhaps, “Use my genre association or next conference to make three authentic connections.”
Instead of trying to hit the USA Today bestseller list or see your book on a Barnes & Noble shelf, work to be the fresh voice in epic fantasy romance that readers can’t stop talking about.
What If Your Goals Weren’t About Sales?
Or even, instead of hiring a publicist and dutifully appearing wherever she sends you, how about you spend more time in your backyard, playing with your grandchildren. Or walking your dog. Learning guitar. Embracing the quiet.
Or instead of anything at all that smacks of promotion because you’re supposed to, you substitute: “Write the next story.”
Or choose to write because you love it and can’t not write. All for its own sake. On your own terms. Because creating and expressing what matters to you brings you deep joy.
With goals like that, you might think twice about throwing your time and money at the next publicity stunt to get attention. Because then, instead of thinking, “How can I get more eyeballs or impressions or sell my book to the people I’m with?” – your attitude is: How can I find and serve people who get joy from my writing? How can my days be filled with what makes me happy?
How can my craft feed my soul?
Because if your definition of author success answers that, there’s no way you can lose.
What defines author success for you? (And how much is that under your control?) I’m listening.