Measuring Success as a Self-Published Romance Author

I’m a self-published romance author. To be exact, I’ve published my novel, The Summer of Annah: A Midsummer’s Wish, a contemporary women’s fiction. I’m in the similar sub-genre as Nicholas Sparks (although not as successful), which, interestingly enough, brings me to the topic of this post–how should I measure my success as an author?

 

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How does a person measure success? Money? Fame? Glowing accolades? Affording a new boob job? Having Ben and Jerry name an ice cream after them? Hmm, how about Sexy Shortbread Author or Tinthia Toffee Nutty Swirl? I’ll have my marketing manager work on that as soon as she figures out how to market my book. (Don’t rush me, I’m still trying to figure out how to market your damn book.) Sigh, the voices in my head are starting to annoy me. Where was I? Oh yes, success. There isn’t a yardstick that a person can use to determine success. It would be great if there was. I could say, ‘Yup, I’ve reached success. See here. I’m at this little bold line. Sure thing. I’m successful!’ And success isn’t a one-shot occurrence. A person will have many successes and, sadly, many failures, in her (or his) lifetime. For simplicity sake, however, I’m focusing on my success as a debut author.


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Allow me to reword my original question: How will I, a newly published author of contemporary women’s fiction, determine when I’ve reached success with my debut novel, The Summer of Annah? My son posed this question to me just the other day. I almost blurted out, ‘When I’ve sold a million copies!’ But then reality took hold, I paused, allowed his question to register, and pondered it a while. How will I gauge my success? What will be my yardstick?

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While contemplating his question I thought about birds and flowers. Here on the Concord River I have an abundance of both and I often draw wisdom from watching how Mother Nature uses them for her own success. So, as I sat and considered my son’s question, I thought about a robin’s nest I found this past spring. Like all birds, American robins will lay more eggs than can survive. It’s just one of the many laws Mama Nature set in motion eons ago. (Stay with me, I’ll get back to books in a moment.)

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This particular nest contained four eggs. A few weeks later, by the time they were ready to hatch, only one egg remained. Two eggs had been eaten by a pair of grackles and, sadly, one resembled Humpty Dumpty. Not even the king’s men could have helped it. The parents were left with one egg, resulting in one fledgling. Were they successful? Think about it for a second. Seventy-five percent of their progeny died!

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However, as far as Mother Nature was concerned, the parents were successful. Evolution granted them a large clutch to allow other animals to continue their own survival while allowing the robins to continue their genetic line. Get it? It’s a number game.

Now, let’s consider plants.

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A single dandelion can produce over a thousand seeds in a growing season with each flower generating close to 200 seeds. If even one tenth of the seeds germinate, that translates into loads of dandelions, which will probably find their way onto my lawn however, that’s another story for another blog. Back to success. Even if one dandelion plant produces two additional plants, that’s success in Ma Nature’s eyes.
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Most sunflowers will generate up to 2000 seeds from a single flower! Again, if a one sunflower plant results in two additional sunflower plants producing their own seeds, success has been achieved. Have I lost you? No? Good, because not it’s time to come back to the whole reason for this post–measuring my success as an author.
My book, The Summer of Annah, which is available on Amazon in ebook and paperback, (Granted, that was a shameless plug but since I’m paying for the web hosting of this blog and this is my blog, I can damn well plug anything I want. This blog post is full of shameless plugs.) is, as already mentioned, on Amazon, the largest virtual book warehouse in the world, possibly even the universe.

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Placing The Summer of Annah on Amazon‘s virtual bookshelves is similar to scattering thousands, no, tens of thousands of seeds into the wind. How many do I need to germinate to represent success? Well, if one person buys my book, that could be construed as success. Correct? Does the reader who purchased my book have to enjoy it? Well, dah! So, my success will not only be measured by someone buying my book but actually enjoying the story I wove. Okay, how about leaving a review? Does the person have to leave a positive review on Amazon before I’ll admit to myself that I’m a success? Yes… No… Perhaps…Wait, most people don’t write reviews. The reader could still enjoy my story, so… no. Then how will I know she enjoyed the story without the review. So… yes. Emphatically, yes! The reader must buy the book, enjoy the story, AND leave a review.

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According to Amazon, six people purchased my book and they’ve left great reviews.
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Therefore, more than one person has purchased my book, enjoyed the story, AND left a review. Translation–I’m a success. Hooo Yeah, time for a happy dance.
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Then I thought about it some more and came to a different conclusion.
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When I saw my son later that day I told him all I needed to be a successful author was to write a story as best as I could. If my readers like the story and leave reviews, that would be gravy on the mashed potatoes of life (or ice cream on the cake). I’m 60 and I want to start a career as a storyteller. I may not be as successful, financially speaking, as Nicholas Sparks, or as popular as Nora Roberts, but if I write true to my heart, I’m a success.” (By now my son’s eyes glazed-over and he was probably thinking about his next snack.)
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In closing, The Summer of Annah is my first book. Oh, I’ll grow as an author. (Goddess willing I have enough years left in me to remember the difference between a dangling participle and modifier.). For now, though, I’ve written the best I had within me.
I want to thank those of you who have journeyed to Copedale, New Hampshire, to share the love story of Annah and Eric. Thank you to the readers who have left reviews on Amazon. In addition, thank you to my future readers, whoever you are, for taking a chance on a debut author of women’s fiction. You are my yardsticks to the success of my journey into storytelling.
I am a success! Blessed be :}

 

 

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