The other day, my sister told me “I’m so proud of you and your success.”
I was flattered to hear such high praise from my cherished, accomplished sibling, but I was also surprised. “Define success,” I said.
“You got your books published,” was her answer.
I didn’t reply that as difficult as publication is to achieve, it’s easy compared to the actual writing not to mention promotion and sales of the published work.
It’s the rare writer who doesn’t aspire to best-seller status. We want to see our books sell. Believe it or not, we need the money. Writing is what we do and we’d like to make a living doing it, instead of having to hold down a “day job” to pay our bills and squeeze writing into our spare time.
Beyond the practical considerations of receiving a paycheck, sales are important for other reasons. Commercial value is a measure of worth in many cultures. Every sale tells me that someone was interested enough in my work to spend money on it. Purchases, especially those of my second, third, and subsequent books are especially meaningful and encourage me to continue writing. Making The Redoubt, the fourth book in The Bewildering Adventures of King Bewilliam epic fantasy series, available for pre-publication purchase was rewarding. I was thrilled to readers were so eager to get my book that they bought it even before it was published.
Yes, I do track my sales figures and put a lot of time, energy, and creativity into publicizing my work and promoting sales. What tells me that I’ve been successful, however, is the feedback that I’ve received from readers who related that not only did my stories entertain them, they changed their lives. One reader of The Lost King felt validated that someone understood what he had experienced. Another reported being inspired to do some writing of his own and reader of nonfiction books related that my novels sparked a love of fiction.
Most recently a reader wrote to tell me that The Redoubt kept him “quiet company” during a stressful hospital stay and thanked me for a story that he could enjoy “with serenity.” What better endorsement could a writer receive?
My sister’s right: I am successful.