Watching your book flop is never pretty. Believe me, I know from first-hand experience. It hurts to admit it, but it’s true. I set my darling fly like an eagle, free and soaring high above the world, and it took a header into the pavement. No matter how many times I picked it up and tried to set it free, it ended up on the ground, flopping and flightless.
At the same time, a book I hated was soaring to the clouds, flying higher than just about any other book to hit the market since Harry Potter went big.
Enter jealousy and despair.
Jealously, because… well, dangit, I wanted a piece of that pie. My goal is to be a career author. For that to work I need readers, sales and income. Instead I had a book that didn’t seem to grab anyone’s interest. Despair because I’d labored over this book. The process of getting this book written was one of the hardest things I’ve done. Some books are just harder than others, and for me, this was the hardest to date, with over a year of dragging every word, kicking and screaming, from the nether.
I wasn’t alone. Across the industry there were varying cries of the sad state of publishing and the necessity of selling out to achieve success. Not a new discussion, by any means, but one that seems to resonate with many authors.
Which made me wonder what, exactly, success and selling out mean.
It’s something I’ve pondered over the past year. I know I can write things that will make more money, but will that equate success? I’d reach the goal of income, but the goal of writing the books I love and want to write would die. To me, that isn’t success. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not opposed to writing out of my chosen field for spending money, but I can’t see that kind of writing as my career. It would be a paycheck, no different than taking a part-time job to help pay the bills. It won’t make me feel like I’ve achieved a successful writing career.
So maybe I need to redefine success. Maybe success shouldn’t be measured by checks and reader sales. Maybe success is more about the satisfaction i feel when a project is completed, the excitement I feel when I get my first look at that new cover, and the pride I feel when I add that new cover to my website.
Maybe success is born, not in spreadsheets and sale reports, but in the heart.
So, okay. My book is less soaring eagle and more waddling penguin. Penguins are cute, and while they don’t fly, they still get where they’re going.
Waddle on, my precious. We’ll get there.