A sign posted on the door of a library conveys they’re looking for successful authors to take part in an event.
“The pay is rotten, but the readers aren’t so bad.”
Authors in our CleanWIP group for authors and other artists who prefer the clean end of the spectrum were quick to respond when we asked their thoughts on this. “How do you measure success as an author?”
Arthur Daigle – If you want to be rich, become a banker. If you want to be popular, be an athlete. I seek neither. My goal when I first published was to help people at their lowest and make them laugh, make the world look a little better and brighter. I knew the competition was fierce in the publishing industry and many people just don’t read (I blame the books English teachers assign in school), so getting rich was a long shot.
But I’ve heard back from readers who have not only enjoyed my books but found them greatly helpful. I heard from a sick man recovering from surgery who laughed when he read my books. I heard of a young boy whose parents were divorcing, and he calmed down reading my books. A woman I know read a chapter a night to her two young sons, and every night they begged for another chapter.
To me this is success. If I can make the world just a little happier then I did my job.
Scott R. Rezer – It’s not dollars or fame. Success for me is whether I am happy writing. It’s the freedom as an indie author to write and do as I please, without deadlines and hassles or the constant stress of trying to please someone, whether reader or editor or publisher or my bank account. I only have to please me. That, for me, is success. To enjoy doing something I love whether a million people read my work or no one does.
Laurean Brooks – My greatest joy comes from learning that readers enjoyed my book–whether by telling me personally, email, Messenger, or through good reviews. My goal is to entertain and inspire readers, and let them know whatever they are going through is not hopeless. That they can laugh, in spite of it. I want my readers to chuckle, rejoice, become a little upset at times, and also cry. If I can keep them on a roller coaster ride that makes them want to hang with it, I’ve done my job. And as a last note: If I was well-fixed financially, I’d gladly give my books away to those who would appreciate them.
Debbie Brown – Define successful…
You wrote a book, that’s a success in itself.
You published it! Kudos.
People you haven’t begged, bribed or guilted into it have actually read your work. SCORE!
Wait… most of them said they truly enjoyed it?!
I’m out… too much to handle on an emotional level… so don’t you dare tell me you’ve written more than one.
Jessica L. Elliott – I measure my success by the reactions of my readers. Their messages of encouragement and appreciation are worth more than any salary. That said, I do like to make sure I’m staying in the black.
“You start reading the Grace Mystery Series for the mystery and you continue reading them for the personal touch, real life issues being brought to light, and the sense of healing it brings to the reader. Loved it!” ~ Amazon reviewer on Murder Takes a Bow
Other reviews for different books I’ve written have said similar things. To me? It’s about touching people. Did I impact them? Did I make a difference? My words touch people’s lives. That’s what matters to me.
M. L. Farb – Success as an author is bringing light and joy into someone else life. I love it when a reader says they couldn’t put the book down. But I love it even more when a reader says “It’s a book that has lingered after reading” or “Surprisingly relevant to troubles of today.”
Katy Huth Jones – I used to measure success by how much money I made (when I made it writing nonfiction) but nothing can compare with touching lives and sharing encouragement with others going through dire struggles. This is “fan art” a former student with a traumatic brain injury sent me after reading my book as part of his therapy to relearn how to read. He wrote in calligraphy the first page of Mercy’s Prince with medieval illuminations even, and before his injury he was not artistic at all!
Lea Carter – It’s difficult to measure success when there are so few metrics: sales; works completed; reviews. I try to incorporate all of them because I’d starve emotionally if I had to wait for sales or reviews by themselves.
Joanna McKethan – I remember at camp telling scary stories at night to my cabin mates, and the feeling of power I had when they shuddered and pulled up the covers and looked really scared. “I’m on the first step, I want my toe!” And my editor told me I had her looking over her shoulder. And in my latest book, reviewers were saying you’ll pull for this unlikely pair to get married. That’s success to me. Success to multiply and repeat. It’s addictive.
Keith D Guernsey – I judge by critical acclaim (reviews and ratings).
Successful author Frank Luke shares the following related anecdote.
Robert Bloch was the guest of honor at a roast. When given the opportunity to roast himself, he said, “I grew up in the great depression. Upon graduation, my father told me I had to either get a job or starve. I decided to combine the two by becoming a writer.”