Success–what exactly is it?

I need to say before I start, that at the last minute tonight, we decided to run off to the mountains to dig for rocks for a couple days. So any comments I will respond to when I get back. Hopefully we come back with cool rocks.


I’ve been talking about self-publishing for awhile, and now I want to wrap that up with a discussion of success. How do you know if your book is successful? How do you know if your career is successful?

Here’s the truth: there’s no single target that you’re trying to hit, all the targets move, and only you know what they look like.

Let’s start with that third one, because the other two will become clear in that discussion. Only you know if you’ve succeeded because only you determine the metrics of success. Is it to be published by one of the Big […]

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Remember Me

My husband’s mother died last Monday night.

It wasn’t a shock. She’d suffered from dementia for several years, and was living in a nursing home, because she needed full-time care. On Monday, July 27, the nursing home called to let us know she’d been sent to the hospital with pneumonia, and that it wouldn’t be long. She lingered for a week. In that time, I went to a funeral home and made her arrangements. One of the duties I had to handle was writing her obituary. She was a good woman, but she hadn’t accomplished anything that was going to make her well-remembered to the world after she was gone. I even went online today and searched her name, but all I found was her obituary. Yes, the one I wrote. I went two pages in before I stopped hunting. The only result I was finding on this woman was […]

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David B. Coe: Release Day and Defining Success

Today is the official release day for Spell Blind, the first book in my Case Files of Justis Fearsson. I’ve already blogged about the book in some detail, and so I think that at this point a description of it would probably be superfluous. Instead, I’d like to use this post to revisit the idea of defining success.

Spell Blind will not be debuting on any bestseller lists. It’s possible that the book will do well enough in these first few weeks to creep onto a list or two (and if you would care to help in that regard by purchasing a copy for yourself and perhaps sending one to a friend, I would be most grateful), but even that is a long shot. The book will receive some good reviews, I’m sure. It already has gotten a few. But if I define the success of this book in terms […]

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Delilah Dawson: Paying It Forward

There are many rewards to being a writer, although most of them aren’t the six figure deals and Tom Hiddleston movies we all dream about. I didn’t write my first book until I was 32, and one of the first things I did was hop on Twitter and start meeting other people treading the same path. I found agents, editors, bloggers, famous novelists, and other people following their literary aspirations, people just like me. Little did I know that I had stumbled into one of the most thoughtful, generous, supportive communities on the internet.

The best writers, to me, are not only amazing storytellers but also relatable and generous teachers. They understand that wherever you are, there’s someone else who wants to be there, and you’re uniquely qualified to help them get there. From big-name authors who blurb debuts (thanks, Nancy Holder and Cherie Priest!) or offer blog space to […]

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D.B. Jackson: The Writing Life, part II — Living With Success and Failure

As I’ve mentioned before — and as Faith and others have mentioned as well — the release of a new book can be incredibly stressful. Of course there is satisfaction in seeing the finished product in print (or ebook format). Writing a book is a big deal. That completed volume represents a tremendous amount of work; it required a huge investment of time, and of emotional and intellectual energy. It represents as well, an admirable accomplishment, and there is nothing wrong with taking pride in that. The problem is, releases are fraught with additional significance. Right or wrong, the success of a new book is judged on a collection of external factors that have little or nothing to do with the work itself, and everything to do with how others receive that work.

Every writer, aspiring or established, knows what I’m talking about. How many of you have finished a […]

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Trying To Land

I have a piece of wind art hanging from my front porch roof. It’s got two sets of scimitar-shaped arms made of enamel-coated steel, painted red and black. The arms spin opposite each other around an axis of a pirate skull when the wind blows. I can see it through the window when I sit at my desk. Yesterday a bird decided it looked like the perfect place to sit down and sing for a while. Every time he tried to land on one of the arms, it would spin and throw him off. The bird was undeterred, though. I watched him try at least seven or eight times before I had to leave the room to do something else. As far as I know, he kept going a while longer after I was gone. He didn’t have to work so hard for a place to sit. The gardenia bushes […]

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More Musings on Success

Stuart’s post on the relationship between success and money has been ricocheting around in my head for a week now. Clearly, I’m not the only one thus affected by it, since David posted an excellent rethinking of the nature of failure on Monday. I wanted to add another strand to the debate which is supposed to compliment both shrewd and provocative posts, and it picks up on a comment Ed made about success being a moving target. For me, success doesn’t just move, it morphs, becoming different things entirely, things which don’t always play nice together. Let me offer a few examples and the (admittedly rather pompous) lessons I’ve extracted from them. When I started writing, success meant finishing a novel. Once I accomplished that, it meant getting an agent. That achieved, it meant getting a publishing deal with a traditional house. Then it meant big sales. Then awards. Then […]

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