I was asked the other day if I thought I was a successful author. Instead of a simple yes or no answer, I found myself rather perplexed by the question. If by definition a successful author supports themselves wholly by their craft, then the answer is no. If by definition a successful author is one who has legions of fans and gets world-wide recognition, then the answer is no. If by definition a successful author is one who enjoys the writing process, the editing process, and the birth of a complete book… then the answer is yes.
I define the measure of an author’s success by how happy they are while writing their books. I write books. I sell books. People tell me they like my books. Though I have not received tremendous sales they have been steady these last two years and with the virtual bookshelf in existence forever, who knows how far I could go?
Success is defined and measured differently by different people. Just a few short years ago (since 2007 when Kindle first came out) a struggling writer’s success was measured in just two ways; traditionally published or not. Self-publishing and indie publishing were sure signs of failure, even though the author never even had his work tested in the mainstream readership.
I had a powerful, NY agent who loved my books but after four years of trying and wooing the big houses he still couldn’t sell a single one. Does that make me a failure? Since that time, I’ve sold thousands of ebooks through Kindle, Nook, and Kobo and gotten some really great reviews. Does that make me a success?
One’s own perception of success and failure are deeply personal issues and different for all of us. Though I haven’t achieved rock star/writer fame (yet), the mere fact that my stuff is out there and gets read is enough for me to label my twenty-plus writing career a success. Though I may never achieve the heights of Stephen King or Clive Cussler, with the advent of digital publishing at least I (we all) have a fair stake in the publishing game.