August 19th 2019
"What Does Literary Success Look Like To You?"
This week on the OpenBook blog tour, we’re looking at what different authors consider to be literary success. I have a feeling some of the answers might surprise you.
I’ve had different answers to this over the years. But that’s just a reflection of how much has changed for over the years, and how I’ve developed as a writer.
So, let’s take a look at how my views have changed since 2014.
Here's What I Used To Think...
Before I was first published, I believed that literary success was being picked up by a publisher, signing a contract, getting a payment up front, and then waiting for royalties came in.
Well, something like that happened to me in 2014, when I submitted “Under A Hunter’s Moon” to an anthology publisher.
- The story was accepted in early 2014
- I received a contract, and read it very carefully, before signing it
- The story went into print, and started promoting it on my blog
- I ordered some copies of the book for family members, plus a few spares
Here's What That Success Looked Like
My local bookstore, Fireside Books (in Palmer, Alaska), was kind enough to host me for a book signing and ‘meet the author’ session. They even purchased a full case of books for the event, which some stores won’t do.
Working retail in the same town, and knowing a few of my customers were avid readers, I invited them along. Thankfully more than a few turned up, and bought books.
In fact, the store brought copies sold out, and the paid for some of my spare copies.
I’d made some money as an author, so the royalties should have started coming in, right?
But Things Happened...
I received a request from the publisher for a second short story. This time it was for a science fiction anthology, and I jumped at the chance to stretch my creative legs.
I wrote “Evaline Transcendent” as a result, got picked up, received the contract, signed it, went through the editing process, and went to publication.
I ordered more books, arranged the signing event…
And sold a handful of books, but nowhere near as many was first time.
But, then the royalties for both books amounted to barely anything…
And I did some investigating…
- The publishers did very little promotion
- The other authors had all purchased larger quantities of the books, at author price
- Author priced copies didn’t count toward royalties
- In fact, this happens pretty frequently, because authors can sell the copies at full price during appearances, and make more money that way
- But that requires money up front, which I didn’t have
And Now I'm Wiser (I Think)!
Following those difficult lessons I started to look into self-publishing, and learned that it had a lot of benefits.
Not least of these benefits is that I’m in complete control of everything. I have final say on covers, editing decisions, and promotion.
However, that also means I’m responsible for all of the above too. But I’ve met some great people in the process (including the wonderful folks from the #OpenBook tours), and now have edits, cover designers and promoters that I can turn to for help, advice, or even services.
What Is Literary Success These Days?
I’d like to think that I have a much more realistic answer to the question these days.
For me literary success will come when I’m able to earn more money from royalties and sales than it costs me to publish and promote a given book.
If I can make enough to keep supporting my writing habit, I’ll be happy.
The real goal would be to be earning enough to give up my day-job and write full-time, but that’s a goal for another time.
I’m planning for the smaller success, and hoping for the larger. After all, I’m a realist, who dreams of other worlds.
Check Out The Rest Of The Entries
Several authors take part in these weekly blog challenges from the “Open Book” group. So, if you want to see what they consider to be common traps for aspiring authors, click the link below.
About The Open Book Blog Hops
“Open Book” is a group of writers who get together each week to answer some of the questions that people pose about our work.
Each week they ask the writers to write a blog post on the same topic, and then share their post with each other’s readers.
It’s a great way to get some insights into how different writers attack the same challenges in different ways.