(This is primarily meant for authors, but could possibly work for any creatives.)
At what time during the life of your book will you declare yourself to have been successful? Not successful according to others, but according to you – yourself. When will that moment come that you declare yourself to be a success as a writer?
– When your book has sold thousands of copies and is listed everywhere as a big bestseller?
– When you’ve made enough money on sales to have covered any out-of-pocket expenses for publication and compensate for the inordinate time you spent writing the book?
– When your book receives the 50 reviews or 100 reviews required by online sales sites to push it into the next level and generate more sales?
– When many bloggers and online reviewers want to promote you and your book on their sites?
– When you hear privately from friends and family, or even complete strangers, that they have purchased and enjoyed reading your book?
– When you receive reviews and promotional blurbs from advance readers who have enjoyed your book and praise it?
– When you type “Final File Ready For Formatting” and send that off to be professionally formatted, published and made available for public consumption?
– When you push back from the computer after finishing up those final edits of your book and know that you have done everything you could to make this the best book possible … you’ve written the story the way only you can tell it, you’ve had the book professionally edited, the cover has been professionally designed, and your editor and any beta readers who have helped you are in agreement that this is a great book. Is this the moment you consider yourself to be successful?
Now flip my list over and read in reverse order.
If, like me, you can say – honestly – that “when you push back from the computer” is the moment you consider yourself to be successful then you’ll be able to look at the rest of these achievements with great satisfaction, if and when you achieve them. Because while they will show to others that you have reached some level of success, none will ever match that initial success you feel in actually writing and finishing the book! There are so many, many people in the world who, every day, say, “I’m going to write a book. How hard can it be?” You know, after having completed writing a book, exactly how hard it is! But … you were successful in having finished writing and that, to me, is something to celebrate – even if you only celebrate with yourself and in your own mind. No one can ever take away that sense of accomplishment and, once you have completed your great book, there is a terrific amount of satisfaction in having done the very best work that you are capable of doing.
All the rest of the “goals” on this list are icing on the cake, or coloured streamers on the bicycle handles, as JP McLean declares! If you are self-satisfied that you’ve written the best book you can then you will find readers for that book. And the other levels of “success” will follow on. Eventually.
In the meantime, give yourself a satisfied pat on the back!