Yes. I’ve made it. Today, I realized that I’m now (in my own head) a success. Am I a full time writer? No. I’m not. I work three jobs. I rarely get more than six hours of sleep a night. One of the things they don’t tell you when you start out on this writing career path is that it’s going to suck for a while. Because unless you’re lucky enough to be independently wealthy or have a spouse who can support you, the first few years are likely going to be full of late nights, few vacations, and a lot of coffee.
But despite the fact that I’m in this cycle of sleep deprivation and caffeine intake, I’ve done what I set out to do. I am a successful author. After ten books, I’m finally ready to declare myself a success.
Now, the whole start of this post might sound…I don’t know…cocky? It’s not meant to be. I’m not basing this on any sort of sales numbers or even reviews. I’m basing it on my gut feeling. My overall mood when I look over my books or my next plot. My comfort level with the proposed publishing schedule I created for myself tonight.
Your measure of success might not be the same as mine. And honestly, I don’t even know exactly what mine is. But I think it has several parts.
- Not panicking about reviews. When I released my first few books, I would check for new reviews every day. Every. Single. Day. After book four, I dropped that to every few days. Now, I check at most once a week and usually that’s just because I’m heading to Amazon to grab a link or a book’s description for pasting into promotional content.
- Not obsessing about sales. I used to check KDP (the Amazon sales engine) every few hours. Sales and reviews were the FIRST thing I did every morning and the last thing I did every night. Now, I check every few days, depending on whether I have a promotion running.
- Not freaking out about my edits. I used to panic every time I sent a book off to my editor. Now, I know it’ll be okay. I know I’m a decent writer. Can I still improve? Yes. I hope I’ll keep improving for the rest of my life. But I’ve gotten pretty good at this whole outlining thing so I know that while I will always need an editor (every author needs an editor, even ones who are professional editors, like me), my plots are basically solid. I also have a strong network around me to help if I get stuck on a plot point.
Those three items definitely contribute to this whole “success” thing. But I think the main thing is this: I know who I am as a writer. I know the types of scenes that work well for me, the types of characters I enjoy creating, and I have a style that feels right.
There’s no magic number of books or months that it’s going to take you to get to this point. And, of course, your measure of success might be different than mine. But tonight, as I look at another late night and early morning coming up, I can rest easy (once I do rest) with the knowledge that I’m proud of the writer I’ve become. I can’t wait to see what 2015 brings to me as an author.