Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Indie Life: Success?

What does Success mean for an indie author?

I'm a little embarrassed to admit where my mind goes first on this one, but here it is:

The first word that jumps to mind is: sales.

Then: recognition.

Then: growth.

I think I might have this backwards a bit, but I admit that is where my brain goes when I first think of that question.

There are some amazing, extremely successfully indie authors who have all three of those words easily applied to them.

Am I one of them?

Well, by strict definition . . . no.

Sales: my books are selling slowly, one by one, not hundred by hundred or thousand by thousand.

Recognition: um, here with my blog buddies - yes!!! (Thanks!) In my smallish community of homeschool and church friends and a few bookstore owners -yes! Plus, I did garner one somewhat local newspaper article - yes! And I've had some sweet reviews!
Recognition beyond people I know: Um, maybe one or two people out there who don't know me via blog or personal life or meeting at the bookstore with my books in hand.

Growth: (in writing and readership) Slow growth, very slow growth, but hopeful growth.

So, what does success mean for this Indie author?

I hope someday to hit higher sales and garner a little recognition beyond my circle of friends.

However, until then, success is about growth in writing, and a growth in readership. 

Plus, when I have one of my "I'm not very successful" bummed out feelings, I remind myself of something an excellent writing teacher told me,

"Don't expect success as a writer until you have 5-6 books published and on the shelves. Until then, don't quit your day job, and even after then, don't quit it right away." (And she was talking about traditional publishing many years ago, before the indie boom)

So. Two down, four more to go. And the day jobs are un-quittable, so I'm safe there.

Also, there's another great article about self-publishing here: Ron Vitale - and I found that post by reading C. Lee Mckenzie's post here.

How do you measure success?

And for the Wednesday Movie Quote via Alex J. Cavanaugh:

"Lipstick Taser!" (from Despicable Me 2)


Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

My definition of success has changed over the years, just as I've changed. For me, at this point, it's about challenging myself as a writer and as a person and striving for growth.

Can't wait to see Despicable Me 2! :)

Laura Pauling said...

As we grow our career, it's important to revel in the small successes! Even if it's one sale a day. :)

Thanks for participating!

Tyrean Martinson said...

Madeline - I like your definition!!!

Laura - that's true! Thanks Laura!

Laurel Garver said...

I hear you. I just keep reminding myself that the big thing was actually putting work out there to be seen and enjoyed by others, rather than giving up and stuffing my work in a drawer.

Hang in there. Building audience does take time. So does building a body of work. But God doesn't call us to be successful, but faithful (thanks, Mother Teresa for that one!)

Tyrean Martinson said...

Laurel - Thank you for this reminder to be faithful, and to keep building. :)

Samantha May said...

I think that the longer that it takes to be successful the sweeter it is in the long run. No good seems to come from those who get it immediately :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Most people measure success by something tangible, so it makes sense sales would come to mind first.
My success was just having that first book published. And since then, everything I've been able to do here online, like the IWSG.
And very funny movie quote!

Unknown said...

It's frustrating to think that I have to go out there and sell my book. My dream is to be a highly successful recluse. Writing is hard, but pimping yourself is needlessly demeaning.

Unknown said...

Success is such a slippery thing, both in definitely and to obtain. Your writing teacher's advice is very, very good. I just keep plugging along try to recognize the good when it happens.

Tyrean Martinson said...

Samantha - I need to remember that. Thanks! :)

Alex - yes! Being published is awesome, and IWSG rocks!

JM - I know what you mean.

Janeal - Yes, success is a slippery thing, and there are many ways to define it. And I like your attitude! :)

Morgan said...

Love this post, Tyrean. Spot on thoughts here. I respect Indie authors SO MUCH. It seems like a scary world--one I haven't been brave enough to dive into! Love your writing teacher's advice.

Christine Rains said...

I'm in the same spot as you. I get frustrated with my sales, but looking at my writing over the past five years, I see how much I've grown. I'm happy with that, but it's tough not seeing sales sky rocketing.

Unknown said...

I've read over and over from many "famous" authors that it took many books before they were well known and had the big sales. Seems to me you're doing everything exactly right. You are far ahead of me, for sure. YAY YOU!

J.L. Campbell said...

Hi, Tyrean,

I guess most of us measure success in terms of sales. I first measured my growth by the fact that a publisher said yes and that I won medals in competition. I think though that my growth as a writer is nothing to be scoffed at since I've come a long way since writing my first novel.

M Pax said...

You're certainly now alone. As long as we're moving forward, it's all good. The tiniest little toehold is good. Cling. I heard one writer say, we're building a beach one grain of sand at a time. So true.

Natalie Aguirre said...

No matter what way we get published, I think we should measure success by the things we can control, like growing as a writer. And I totally agree with the advice to not quit the day job. It's one I definitely follow.

Mark Means said...

I would probably go in the order you gave, Tyrean. Being that 'sales' is what the average (non-writer) person thinks when they gauge success.

If I had my druthers, though, I'd go for recognition...even if I couldn't quit the day job :)

mshatch said...

I think it takes a lot of work to be successful and it sure doesn't happen overnight for most of us. My motto is, keep writing!

Tara Tyler said...

first, from iwsg, its okay to make thesemistakes, as long as you diligently try to fix them, you will easily be forgiven!

next, CoNgRaTuLaTiOnS!! just in time for my vacay to read!

and here, i am kind of glad i cant see my sales yet. keeps me from worrying and dwelling. i hope if i just keep writing, my success will surprise me!!

so keep writing, girl!

Tyrean Martinson said...

Morgan - Thanks!

Christine - I think our growth as writers is going to be the best measure of our success in the long run, and will hopefully lead to the other kinds of success.

Julie - Thanks!

JL - Sales are good, growth is even better! Good for you!

M Pax - one grain of sand at a time for a wide, wide beach . . . that sounds about right. Thankfully I love beaches. :)

Natalie - Writing growth is the one area we can control and it's best to focus on that - you're right. :)

Mark - recognition would be nice too. :)

Marcy - I like your motto! :)

Tara - Thank you!!! Your success is coming - you've got a great book!

Anonymous said...

It's all about perspective. Sometimes success comes slow or fast, but I believe what's important is building a career. More books out there and more exposure will lead to sales.

Heather R. Holden said...

I don't think there's anything wrong with including sales as an indicator of success, as long as you remember there are other things that are proof of that as well, which you have. As an artist, I know I can't help but feel a little more successful when someone purchases a commission. It's validation that I am improving and that I'm not deluded in thinking I have some skills, haha.