You have a greater chance of achieving your goals when you state them. And when I came across
And when I came across this post written by super successful indie author Joanna Penn, it got me thinking about what goals I am setting as an Author Entrepreneur and what success means to me.
Being clear on your goals will inevitably determine what and how you publish. And most importantly, whether this Author Journey is right for you.
I had been struggling to define what type of success I was aiming for so this article fell into my twitter feed at the right time (thanks Joanna!).
To get me thinking about this topic, I took the questions Joanna Penn asked in the article and slotted in my own answers.
I suggest you give this a go no matter what stage of the Author Journey you are in. In fact, if you are right at the start of this adventure (like I am), then this is the perfect time to be doing an exercise like this.
How you define success will impact the decisions and choices you make.
There are four three key questions you should be asking as you start on your author journey. What does success look like for
- This particular book
- Your writing career as a whole?
- How will you track and measure your success?
- What do you want to do with that success?
Here are some of the most popular reasons / success goals for why people want to write a book, with my personal take on each of them:
(1) I want to create something I am proud of and hold my book in my hand
This definitely applies to me. I am still very much old school when it comes to books and love to hold a book in my hand. It took me over a year to start using my Kindle when I first bought it because it felt like I was doing a disservice to my physical books! But this is all about mindset. Since I started down sizing my material possessions, I now prefer to purchase e-books rather than physical books.
I can’t wait to hold my book in my hands. But for me, writing is more than that. I want to create a business around my writing.
(2) I want to see my book on the shelves of a bookstore
Before I discovered self-publishing as a viable option, I always dreamed of having my own book on the shelves of the main bookshops like Waterstones and WH Smith. For me, this was validation that I had made it. This is what success looked like for me.
But I achieved this goal earlier this year with the Fintech book. It was a traditionally published book and I was a co-author. The sense of excitement I felt when I actually saw the book in the bookstore was incredible, I can’t deny it.
But, my book was still very much lost on the shelves with hundreds of other books and I questioned what impact or reach my writing had even when it had gone through the traditional publishing route.
So for now, I’m quite happy to have my future books to be on digital bookshelves. Getting a traditional book deal is no longer my aim or goal. But producing and publishing good books are.
(3) I want to reach readers with my words
This is an important goal for me. I want my books to inspire and equip people to live purposefully and creatively. But how do you quantify this?
Success for me at this point in time is 300 x 4/5 star reviews on Amazon and selling 1000 books by within 6 months of launch.
To be honest, these are arbitrary numbers. What matters to me the most is being able to positively influence someone’s life which is difficult to quantify. I also want this book to change my own life, in that I learn about writing, publishing and about myself.
(4) I want to sell 10,000 copies of my book/s
I would love to be able to say I sold 10,000 copies of my book. I guess it’s because this carries the assumption that the book is good.
But if I know I have produced the best book I possibly could have written, then surely other people’s opinions should not matter?
This is also true, but I am in this business for the long haul and I do want to be able to make a living from my writing which inevitably means I will want to sell many copies of my book.
(5) I want to win a literary prize and receive literary/critical acclaim
Before I knew self-publishing was a viable route to publishing, this was something I aimed to have. I believed winning a literary prize would mean by the book was good. But this means looking externally for validation and I no longer seek that.
For me, the joy truly is in the writing and a single email from a reader who says my book helped them is more valuable than a trophy sitting in the garage collecting dust. True story: A few years ago I won a trophy for some community work I did. I was so happy holding the trophy and thought I had really achieved something. But last year I found it collecting dust in the garage and just ended up throwing it away. Why? Because I no longer seek external validation. I don’t need anyone else telling me I did a good job.
I write because it brings me joy and satisfies my never-ending curiosity. I feel writing is aligned with my higher purpose, and through it, I can help people. I write because I love to write and want to spread my message through words. I want to show people they too can do work they love. And collecting trophies is no longer a requirement in that process.
Perhaps it’s also got to do with the fact that I am also downsizing my life so am also just getting rid of a lot of ‘stuff’ that no longer serves me.
My thinking is that if you are constantly looking outside of yourself for validation then you will never be happy.
I ‘waited’ for years to be told that I could write. I was waiting for agents and publishers to help me. Now I know I can help myself. I can give myself permission to write. And the ultimate judges are my readers, not the gate-keepers.
(6) I want to make a full-time living with my writing
Yes yes yes! This for me is a key goal. I DO want to make a full-time living from my writing. What this specifically means is that my writing should create an income from which I can live comfortably from. This means being able to pay for basics (rent/ food) as well as other small luxuries like nice meals out, a few holidays.
More importantly, my writing career should allow me the freedom to write and never go back to a boring corporate desk job. So I need to make enough money in the first instance to reach this goal.
After I reach that goal I do want to make millions from my writing and hit the Forbes Author rich list. Stephen King and Bella Andre have both made millions from their writing. They have made this doing something they love whilst creating value for readers.
(7) I want to create a body of work I am proud of over my lifetime
This is a key goal for me. As a child, I used to love to create painting and drawings. I used to start and complete projects and have something to show for. But over a decade spent in the corporate world prevented me from creating anything of value. After 11 years of banking, I feel I have nothing to show for.
That is why writing books and creating related products is important to me. For every word I create, I am contributing to the work of my lifetime. After I am no longer here, my books will outlast me and serve as evidence of what I did with my time on this earth. My legacy will also extend to the people whose lives have changed from reading my books.
What is your definition of success as an author?
With thanks to Joanna Penn whose article on the definition of success inspired me to write this post. http://www.thecreativepenn.com/2014/03/01/definition-of-success/