Monday, February 02, 2009

Your Definition of Publishing Success

If you're hoping to become a published novelist, what does your success look like? Will you be happy just having the book published, no matter if it makes any bestselling lists? Would you be happy just having a career publishing books in the mid-range list? Would you consider yourself a success if you just had one book published?



  1. As someone who just finished her first book, my definition of success would be seeing my book with its very own book jacket! I want to walk into Barnes and Noble and pick up my book off the shelf and show it to my friends. To me, that is total publishing success.

  2. My idea of success is the same as Jamie's, and to earn my living by writing my books.

  3. I think you have a pretty good idea where I stand on this topic.

    I'm not asking for Nora Roberts numbers, the stuff I write is not destined for that kind of publication success. However, my goal is to be publised my a major NYC house. I want to be featured on a center display in B&N. An HBO series based on my novels would be good too, but that really isn't in my goals.

  4. I would say if I get the book published. That is it! We will see.

  5. I think my definition would be on wheels, moving along with me.

    At first, getting published at any range would be success.

    And then of course, the bar would raise and I'd want to be on that display at B&N with Rene! And after that, having multiple titles published...and displayed at B&N!

    Right now, just getting an agent would be success!! LOL!

  6. Success for me has so many faces.

    One would be to be published and on the shelves.

    Another would be to actually make a living writing novels.

    Hitting the bestseller lists would be a huge validation and, I think, would feel like the pinnacle of success.

    I don't think what I write would win any awards but I would feel super successful if a reader contacted me and told me my book spoke to them or made a difference in their life in some way.

    With that said, I would feel like I succeed as a writer even if I just wrote one book--hey look at Harper Lee (I ain't no Harper Lee but you know what I'm saying :).

  7. My dream is to have a writing career that spans not only years, but decades. I want to be the kind of writer that leaves a legacy.

    I have to admit I'd be disappointed with myself if I turned out to be a one-book wonder. I'd rather have long, enduring success than be a hot-shot, here today, gone tomorrow type of writer.

    That said, I sure would LOVE to be on a bestseller list at least once. That's in my wildest fantasies, though.

  8. I'm trying to take it a step at a time, one small success will lead to another - I hope.

    In my dreams I'd like to earn a living writing, whatever that means. If it means one mega-hit and subsequent mid-list books, fine. If it means many mid-list books, fine too. If it means some books and a thriving freelance career, that's good with me too.

  9. Gosh I think I start small and then get ever grandiose in my desires! But ultimately, I really hope that I publish a successful book allowing me to continue writing for a long time to come.

  10. Jamie - Agreed. I think once I hold that book in my hands, I will be very happy. :-)

    Debs - Oh, how I hope I can earn my living from my books! I don't even have to be rich - just comfortable and able to pay my bills. That's not asking too much, is it?

    Rene - I don't think what I write is destined for glorious, Nora-type success, either. But yeah, I sure would like to have one of those cool cardboard box displays just for my book in the bookstore.

    Brian - Get to writing! ;-)

    Sharla - Great way to look at it. I think once you keep moving along, your definition of success will change.

    Jenna - I like your way of thinking. I want to be successful in the way that I touch readers' hearts and minds somehow.

    L.C. - Yes - a legacy to leave behind. I like that idea, too. Strangely enough, I've never wanted to be on the NYTimes list. Maybe that will change...

    Amy - Absolutely. I really want to earn my living as a novelist. If I could travel to do research for my books and write the rest of the time...oh boy. I think I would LOVE it.

    Ello - I think that's the whole thing - to be able to continue writing and still publish that writing. I hope I can do the same. :-)

  11. Echoing Jamie, Rene, Ello & Amy.

  12. So in other words, you want it all, Angie? ;-)

  13. Melissa, I forgot to say earlier that I gave you and the JWC a shout-out on the blog today. Take a look if you like :)

  14. L.C. - Wow, thanks so much!

  15. To me, it is getting it all down how I envision it and producing a masterpiece. I don't care about money the part, although it would be nice!

    Is it too late to join the writing challenge for Feb? I just got back but would love to sign up!

  16. Hmmm. After thinking about it for a bit, I have to say that I think that my definition of success would be along the same lines as Sharla's...the goalposts would move depending on where I'm at.

  17. Heidi - Nope, not too late at all! Be checking your inbox for an email from me!

    Jen - I think that's a pretty good way to look at it. I think your definition of success would change the more you were in the game. I don't know if I could ever be satisfied with just publishing one novel. I think I'd want to keep improving my craft and reaching more people.

  18. I am still on the fence about what it would mean to me to have a book published. I love the excitement and thrill when my first article showed up in print so I think the excitement would be in that the story I really wanted to tell would be good enough that others would read it.

  19. I think the goal posts move too often. I thought I'd feel successful when I had my own name beneath a story in a magazine ... and then my name on a proper book. Now, I want to be on the bestseller list. :o)

  20. Terri - I remember when my first short story was published. WOW. It was an awesome feeling. I know it will probably be double that when I have my first book published.

    Shirley - I'm glad you jumped into the discussion since you've had several books published. I hope you make that bestseller list!

  21. Here are my feelings on the matter.

    I would absolutely love to get my book published and go on to have a long successful writing career after that.

    BUT - I also think we all need to take a step back and appreciate what we've already accomplished.

    For me, I am just so proud to say that I wrote a book! I completed a novel, and I love it. How many people in the world can say that.

    I say, celebrate each little step forward as well as when you reach your goals! :)

  22. Jenn - Great attitude to have. And I agree - we need to celerbrate each step we take. I think the journey is just as important, if not MORE important, than the end goal.

  23. Great post, Melissa. Love reading all the comments.

    For me, getting published has been like climbing a mountain; fabulous to get to the top, but then I look out and there is a whole mountain range out there I never knew existed! So yes, the goalposts have definitely moved. I don't focus on bestseller lists or awards; I don't have control over those. My goals are to keep getting published, to make each book better than the last, and to keep widening my readership. Those are things I can work toward.

    And I echo Jenn; you've gotta cherish the journey!

  24. For me I reached my success goal, before I even got an agent. I had become penpals with my most favorite author (Judith A Lansdowne) and when i finally got brave enough to tell her I was rewriting Pride & Prejudice for teens, she asked to read it. When Judith wrote me back telling me that she absolutely LOVED It! And that she hoped I remembered her when I was famous (and then asking if she could write a review for me) I flipped out--totally cried! To have your greatest writing hero tell you they loved your work... yeah, i hit success. Everything else has just been icing on the cake from here on out.

  25. Christine - I love what you said about climbing the mountain and then seeing a whole mountain range that you never knew existed. What a great analogy!

    Giddy - What a neat story! To have one of your idols give you such awesome feedback on your work must have been amazing. :-)


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