Success takes on many forms. And it means something different to each of us. For some authors, this may mean a five- or six-figure deal with a traditional publisher. It might mean landing an agent. It might be the moment the writer hits a milestone number of sales: 100, 1K, 5K, 50K.
Nothing gives me greater pleasure than to witness the success of my author friends as they reach the milestones they've set for themselves. When I see their joy, their excitement--it's an amazing thing to witness. And each of them takes joy in even the smallest of feats. This is critical for a writer. Every small success must be treated with respect and honor. Writing is an arduous business to be in, and it's marked by failure and rejection every part of the way. Rapid success and quick wealth is only enjoyed by less than one percent of the literary population. So you can see just what we're up against.
As an author, my definition of success might be unusual, because I've already hit my greatest milestone in my mind's eye. A milestone that I've dreamed of since I was seven years old: I finished my first novel, Artemis Rising. No, I'm not talking about publishing it--though Spirehouse Books did publish that book this past September. I mean I finished it: researched it, wrote it, edited it. For some, that process can take place in a matter of months, and then they're on to the next project. For me, that first novel...well, it took me ten long years to complete. And it was by far one of the most difficult things I've ever done.
Artemis Rising had the most complex storyline I could conceive of. The research resources were few and hard to come by. The story was based on two different myths and most of the time it felt like a giant puzzle I was piecing together while blindfolded. Somehow--perhaps by magic and lots of amazing writers groups--it all came together in the end.
But that journey, you see, and every failed attempt along the way, that was the true success. I learned everything I know writing that book, and I wouldn't trade that time and energy for anything. No matter what sales come today or in the future, I've already made my goal and wrote a book I'm proud to call my own. And now I'm armed with the knowledge to write another. Here's hoping it takes less than a decade this time. =)
A couple tips when talking with authors
When an author shares the news of a success, no matter how big or small, honor it with a kind word of encouragement or a congratulations. You never know how much work went into making it to that milestone. It always surprises me when strangers ask how many sales I've gotten. To me, it's a bit like someone asking how much you make for a living. Rather than asking such a question, ask how the writing is going. Ask whether the writer is working on a new project. In other words, ask about the journey, not the destination.
If you're a struggling author, be careful of comparing yourself with other authors. It will lead you to demean your own successes. Never do that! Your success is your own. Revel in it. Dance on tables and scream at the top of your lungs. Your journey is unlike any other. Be content with what you've achieved.
Cheri Lasota’s first novel, Artemis Rising, is a YA historical fantasy based on mythology and set in the exotic Azores Islands. Currently, Cheri is writing and researching her second novel, a YA set on the Oregon Coast. Over the course of her sixteen-year career, she has edited fiction, nonfiction, screenplays, and short stories for publication. Cheri also has twenty-four years of experience writing poetry and fiction. Learn more about Artemis Rising at http://www.cherilasota.com or buy it at http://bit.ly/ArtemisRisingNovel.