In my Part 1 Post about “How do Writers Measure Success”, I ended by asking myself:
Why am I doing this?- or What do I really want?
One of the best ways to know if you have succeeded is to have a good idea at the beginning of what the finish line looks like.
In the business world- and many would argue that writers should treat their writing as seriously as any career- one way to know is to have a business plan and set goals. That way you know when you have met them.
That’s great. I’m a writer, what is my goal?
The usual shy answer at the beginning is “to get published” which most often translates into “to convince a publisher to publish my book.” By the way, these words have led to some of the worst contract agreements in history. Many authors have signed contracts full of clauses that are against their own best interests because they are afraid that if they raise even the tiniest question about any point of a contract offered by a Real Live Publisher, that said publisher will take their golden-goose contract and hit the road. One newbie (future NYT) author actually naively signed over the use of her legal name to a publisher! She couldn’t use her own name on any books sold through any other publisher for YEARS.
Of course, publishers of various sorts are no longer the only path to publication. But there is still something to be said for achieving the recognition of a professional publisher as a measure of having written a “good” book. Personally, I chose to shop my first work to small press publishers rather than go to self-publishing first, because I wanted to know if my work was marketable. If someone in the business of making money off of books thought mine was worth acquiring, well, that said I was on the right track.
So, getting published is a great goal. Am I done yet? Am I a success now?
It’s a funny thing about goals, but one is almost never enough. Once you reach it, you find another one waiting for you.
So, now I’m published. And I’m still asking “What is my goal? But now the answers start changing.
My next goal could be “I want to sell more books.” Or “I want to get good reviews on my books.” Or maybe “I want to make the New York Times or USA Today list.”
But about now, I have some real decisions to make about what goals I’m willing to pay for. Because success, as we all know, most often comes at the price of hard work.. So I have to ask myself, what kind of success can I afford?
Tune in next time for Part 3!