How Do You Measure Success?

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There are many measures of success, especially in writing. Readers may look at whether or not an author has made any of the best seller lists. Authors may look at the number of books published, or number of sales, or even positive reviews. For rising authors, who are trying to get a foot in the door, like me, finding a publisher willing to publish even one of your books may be all that is required to consider yourself a successful. That’s where I’m at right now, as I just signed a contract for my western novel Delilah. But the point is, that success is subjective and there are many different levels involved.

You can see what I mean. My little contract for Delilah wouldn’t be a big deal for someone like Stephen King or Anne Rice, who sell books faster than they can write them, but for little old me, it’s a very big deal, even though it isn’t with one of the big five major publishers and there is no advance that comes with it. Although those things would be nice, signing with my small independent publisher, Dusty Saddles, makes me feel plenty successful.

What’s great too, is that it doesn’t end there, because of those different levels I was talking about. Sure, I feel successful now, with book contract in hand. But, I also have a feeling of success when I check my blog stats and discover that my readers are increasing. I feel it every time one of my poems, or short stories is published. I felt it when I earned my M.F.A. in Creative Writing. I’ve no doubt I’ll feel it again if Delilah starts selling copies and I find people are reading it, or when the next book contract comes along, or if I sell a screenplay.

Success is what we, as writers, all strive for, although your definition of success may be just finishing the book. That was my definition while I was earning my M.F.A. in Creative Writing, but after completing two novels, working on both simultaneously, I know I can finish a book, so I’ve moved on to the next challenge. Selling the book, and now it looks like I have achieved that success, as well.

But we have to be careful not to want that success so bad that we allow ourselves to be taken. There are a lot of scammers out there, who will try to steal your book right out from under you. Although I was excited about being offered a contract, I didn’t just jump into heart first, but used my head and went over it with a magnifying glass, being on the look out for all the fine print. I questioned different clauses and negotiated on any that didn’t serve my best interests, until the publisher and I came to an agreement that was fair and served both our interests. Although having a knowledgeable attorney or agent look over all contracts is always recommended, as a striving artist, I had no access to that type of professionals, but I did have someone knowledgeable in the business look it over. He confirmed that I was reading it correctly and helped my identify a couple of problems with it. Fortunately, none of them were deal breakers and the publisher was willing to be flexible.

Now, I’m ready to embark on a new publishing adventure and looking forward to in anticipation. Signing the contract holds a certain level of success for me, but the next level of success may be just over the hill, so I must press forward. My readers can help by buying the book, because the ultimate goal for me is for people to read what I write, (and the money from the book sales will be nice, too). Of course, I’ll keep you updated as to when it will be out. After all, I strive to create Writing to be Read.

How do you measure your success?


Want to know more about Delilah? Visit my Delilah Facebook Page

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13 Comments on “How Do You Measure Success?”

  1. Nancy Oswald says:

    Congrats on you contract for Delilah. It will be another thrill of success when you actually get to hold your “baby” in your hands. Happy for you.


    • Thanks Nancy. I tried to write the post too make it sound like it’s just another event in the day to day world of the writer, but the truth is, I’m elated. I’m finally going to see “Delilah” published. I started the book in 2012, and the manuscript finished since 2015, so it sure didn’t happen over night. Your good wishes are appreciated, and as always, thanks for reading. 🙂


  2. Congratulations. Good for you. I hope your book does well.


  3. Phyllis E says:

    Congratulations on your contract for Delilah.

    To answer your question, as a self-published author, I measure success by the feedback I receive from readers. Not by the number of reviews, not even by the number of sales. Success, for me, is when a reader asks for more.

    Wishing you many requests for ‘more’.


  4. So who is your publisher? If it’s all legit and the contract is signed, there shouldn’t be any problem saying who. The “no advance” makes me wonder. I hope you didn’t pay THEM any money, which would be the mark of a vanity publisher.


    • No secret. My new publisher is Dusty Saddles Publishing. They are a small independent press and they offered me a contract that is quite fair to both parties, I think. It’s not uncommon for smaller presses to not offer advances. They don’t have the resources the big five do. We made negotiations back and forth, but they were quite willing to work with me on the terms. What we ended up agreeing upon is not a bad deal.

      I do understand your skepticism, David. I had a publishing deal go sour on me with one of my children’s books. It was a wild goose chase for six years that yielded nothing but a cover and three illustrations. One must be cautious when entering any contract, and book contracts can be quite complicated. Fortunately, this one was written pretty straight forward and I had someone who has been in the business a long time to look it over for me.


      • Glad to hear you are doing your due diligence. I give talks on self-publishing and I’m always shocked at how many people do–or already have–fallen for the vanity packages, and I try to spread the word against these predators.

        Good luck with your new book. I hope you sell a million.


  5. Congratulations on the new contract. Hang onto the first contract high. Nothing feels as food as that does. Good luck with your first book. It’ll be an awesome experience for you. Nothing like it.


  6. artrosch says:

    What a triumph for you, KL. I’m so pleased. Your absolute dedication will bring you success, that and your talent, though I think talent is over-rated and persistence is the key.


    • Thanks Art. I’m nothing if not persistent, although some may say bull-headed or just plain stubborn. I prefer to call it determined. But the only reason I am so determined is that I believe in myself and my work. It’s been a hard road at times and it is by no means over. This is just one milestone, the beginning of a journey down one possible path. There are sure to be other forks in the road.


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