What is Success to You?

Photo credit: m kasahara on Flickr

It’s no secret that a war is waging over the impossible question of which is better: indie or traditional publishing?

After laying out the pros and cons, I still didn’t really give you guys a straight answer about where I stand, and the truth is, it’s because I don’t have a stance. Not the kind that backs one side, anyway.

Hear me out. It’s not that I’m indecisive (ok, maybe it’s a little that) or that I’m dodging the question (although I’m good at that, too), it’s that I truly don’t believe that a one-size-fits-all answer exists.

So now you’re wondering what in the sugary, confetti-laden blazes this has to do with the title, and the answer is everything.  

I want you to stop and think for a moment about how you define success. Maybe success to you is just to be read. To get your work out there in the hands of some readers and see where it goes. Maybe you don’t care about having an agent or speaking at book conventions or having author signings or any of that. If that’s the case, then going indie might be right for you.

Or maybe success to you is walking into a bookstore and seeing your book on the shelves. Being able to hold a copy in your hands or see others reading your book out in public. If that’s the case, then maybe you want to go traditional.

Maybe your version of success something else entirely—maybe it’s when you make x-amount of dollars or sell x-amount of copies or write x-amount of books. Maybe success to you is having an agent or a publishing contract or going out and doing it alone and knowing that you’ve achieved something incredible on your own.

My point is that it’s different for everyone, so whatever decision you make should be based on your vision of success. It doesn’t matter what anyone else says or thinks, it’s your responsibility to decide what’s best for you.

But how can you tell? Well first, answer the question: What is your version of success?

Have an idea? Good.  Now ask yourself: How can I get there? The answer may not be clear, but eventually one (or a combination of the two) will emerge. Eventually you will know what you want to do—what is best for you, and that’s when you can act.

Instead of arguing over who has a better publishing model, we need to support each other and realize that the right answer for you isn’t necessarily the right answer for everyone else. In the end, what does it matter which side you choose? We’re all writers with different ideas of success and the petty fighting needs to end.

So let’s hear it, guys: what is success to you? 


Ainsley Shay said...

What a great post! This is something I just recently thought a lot about. I have invested so much of myself into my writing and decided I want the world to read my books. Do I expect my characters to be turned into Lego figures and placed next to Harry Potter on the shelves- no. Just for my readers to love my books as much as I do and be able to make a comfortable living doing what I love!!

Robin Red said...

Seeing my book on a bookshelf is one level of success for me. When I pass a bookshelf in a store, I'll visualize my name there to motivate me. However, when I find fanart of my characters on Tumblr hopefully in the near future, I will definitely define that as success. This means I did something right, and touched someone's heart in a way that compelled them to share my story in visual form.

Ava Jae said...

That is such an interesting way of looking at it, Robin. I hadn't even thought of fan art, but you make a great point.

Ava Jae said...

Apparently I missed this comment? Hmm.

Anyway! Two years late, but I think that last sentence sums up a fantastic vision of success. Thank you, Ainsley!

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