Monday, August 19, 2013

The New Author Success Story

One of the things (among many) I learned as an independent author is that your book does not have a shelf life.  Thanks to the new publishing dynamics, the days where a book debuts, takes off or doesn't in six to eight weeks, and lands either on the bestseller list or the discount tables of bookstores are about as dated as a landline.

The shopworn publishing adages about success or failure have also been upended.  Promoting your book, fostering connections, blogging about writing, building an audience, getting out in the community and sharing the genesis of works-in-progress are all ways to keep the momentum going - for however long you, the author, desire. 


This was more than apparent yesterday when Slants of Light  collaborators  (Edda Pitassi, Ginger Murphy, Candice Swick and myself) joined other authors and entrepreneurs at a state park complete with views of lake and wooded hillsides.  Promoted by local author and psychotherapist Michele Paiva who was launching her book Rescue Your Relationship,  the event allowed each of us to showcase our businesses and books by decorating a blanket with a theme. 

Our theme centered around the Women's Writing Circle's  joy of collaborating, the elegance and romance of red roses; the "fruits" of our labor - baskets of lush purple grapes and gold plums, an apt metaphor for our work, were also displayed  by our books on a bright yellow blanket.

Our small gathering at the book launch "picnic" slowly got to know each other. Together we learned about each  other and felt that spark that synergies were evolving - a woman offering Reiki, wellness workshops and angel card readings also has a book club.  Our book with its writing as a way of healing theme got her thinking it might be a perfect choice for that club.

Recently, I came across this article by blogger Joanna Penn which sums up ways of viewing author success in the new publishing world.  http://www.thecreativepenn.com/2013/08/14/successful-self-publishing/

Titled "Redefining Success," the article makes the case that this is indeed a new world - a rollercoaster ride -  a metaphor I have used before on this blog for self-publishing.  There are ups and downs, highs and lows, disappointments countered with elation just around the next turn. One of the sentences in Penn's article particularly resonates:  "Now, if you sold even a single book to someone you didn’t know, then you, my friend, have beaten some serious odds.

I believe the "odds" of  selling more books to strangers than you ever dared hoped or dreamed can be beaten by embracing some of the following:

  • Don't just dream the dream, live it and publish that book.
  • Believe in your book and its value to readers.
  • Share your joy of being a published author over a cup of coffee with a friend, a chance encounter with a stranger, a community gathering, a picnic in the park.
  • Have fun with your marketing endeavors.  This isn't life or death, this is only one day, an experience to be relished and remembered. 
  • It's not about sales, it's about connections.
  • Stay in touch with your creativity and keep imagining new ways to foster and present your work.
  • Don't focus on how many books you sold or didn't sell.
  • Concentrate on the people standing in front of you.  Each person has a story to tell.  Value each other's gifts and talents.
  • Be aware that synergies and alchemy are ever-present.  When you least expect it, someone you met months ago, calls or emails about your book, an upcoming writing workshop, a read-around.
  • If you like to write, start a blog.  I love this blog and the interaction it gives me with my readers and writers interested in the Circle and finding their voices through writing.
  • Don't get hung up in comparisons or "hype" of how much you should or should not sell to be considered a publishing "success." 
  • EVERY book you sell says you are a  success.


Meeting new people, sharing stories, finding in them the human connection is what this "business" of authoring is all about. Be filled with deep gratitude for each and every reader.

Remember this if nothing else: Success is how you want to define it.

As always, your thoughts are welcomed.

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