I was participating in one of those on-line sales groups games and the question was “What would someone be surprised to know about you that they wouldn’t guess on sight?” I was about to post when the person holding the party posted “She’s a successful horror novelist.” The follow-up question could have gone one of two ways; 1) what kind of horror do you write and 2) have you written anything I would know? I was surprised though when it was neither of those things. Instead, it was “how do you know she’s successful?”
It’s a fair question, how does a novelist, get deemed successful. It used to be success was measured by getting a “contract.” Or making the NY Times bestseller list. But I can’t claim either of those. Well, I can claim the first, but I didn’t accept the contract and “coulda” doesn’t seem accurate. I no longer have those acceptance and rejection letters for agents and publishers. I got rid of them during my second year as an indie, because I didn’t feel like they were important anymore.
So, then how? Is it that I make more than $31,000 the average yearly income from royalties an author in America makes. Is it the number of books sold in the last 7 1/2 years? Or because I can claim “Amazon Bestseller?” I’ve been told I should slap that on D&R book covers, but I haven’t because it seems weird to me.
Do any of these count as success though? And while the average US author makes $31,000 a year, most indie authors in the US make $10,000. So is that success? This is something I’ve thought about in the past, but not in-depth.
So then, how does someone like me measure success? Is it monetary? Or is the fact that I continue to write and publish books the marker of success?