September 14, 2013

What is success?

My idea of what it means to be a successful author has changed in the time since the publication of my first novel. Inspired by success stories like Amanda Hocking's, I originally thought that was my measuring stick -- to become an indie author who sells a million copies of his books. Obviously, I was misguided. As reality set in and I realized how hard it really is to make a living as an author, I've now come to appreciate the accomplishments I've already achieved.

They include:
  • Finishing and publishing a novel - I know it sounds like a lame accomplishment for someone who is an author, but I've been writing for most of my life, yet I didn't know if I had it in me to finish a novel until it happened. Now I can cross that off my bucket list.
  • Selling a copy of my book to someone I don't know - My first sales were the result of telling my friends and relatives, but I didn't know if anyone who didn't know me would buy my book. What a relief when it finally happened. I'm not sure when I made my first sale to a stranger because that level of information isn't reported, but I know I did because of the next accomplishment.
  • Receiving a positive review from someone I don't know - As gratifying as it was to sell my book to a stranger, I felt even happier when I received a positive review from one. Someone has actually read my book and likes it! As an author, reading a positive review makes me happier than anything else because I write so that I can entertain readers, and hearing that they like what I write is a reward in itself.
  • Receiving my first royalty check - Not only was the money nice, but my first royalty check made my feel like I was a real author, someone who could potentially make a career out of writing. Of course, I'm far from selling enough to quit my day job, but getting paid for my writing made it more than just a hobby, and I can now justify the time I spend on it to my wife. :-)

While I'm proud of my achievements so far, I'm still not where I want to be. I may have reached some level of success, but I still don't consider myself a successful author. I no longer aim to be rich and famous like Amanda Hocking. However, I do have a more realistic goal -- I want to sell enough books to have the option to write full time. I may not quit my day job when I reach that point, but it would be nice to have that choice. How much longer will that take, assuming it ever happens? I have no idea. But at least I'll be adding to my list of achievements along the way.

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