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  1. #1
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    Defining Book "Success"

    Hi everyone!

    I'm new here. In fact, I just published my first book a few months ago, so I'm new to the publishing world in general... And I have question for all you who have been doing this for a lot longer than me: how do you judge if a book has been successful?

    I know "success" means different things to different people, and it can't *really* be defined in any one way that everyone can agree on. But let's put that aside for a moment, if you will. I'm not looking for one right answer - just some generalizations, ballpark figures, gut feelings... basically, whatever completely subjective criteria that you might use to try to gauge a book's progress. For example:

    "I consider a book successful when it has...

    Sold X number of copies in X amount of time
    Generated $X in profits/revenue/author-takeaway in X amount of time
    Earned X% of its break-even cost in X amount of time
    Earned X number of reviews on Amazon averaging stars
    Ranked #X on X list for X amount of time
    Gotten X number of Likes/Adds/Follows on Facebook/Goodreads/Twitter
    Some other intangible (e.g., "I saw a complete stranger reading it.")
    Something else entirely?
    Etc."

    Any takers? :-)

    I understand that the people in this group come from all different backgrounds, and I'm interested to hear what EVERYONE has to say - authors (published and indie), agents, editors, publishers, publicists, you name it. Any advice you could offer would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance for sharing your wisdom!!

    Sincerely,
    Samantha Durante
    (Author of Stitch)

    PS - Please be aware that I plan to publish a compilation of these responses on my blog as a reference for other new authors, BUT I promise to make everything anonymous. So please be candid! Thanks again!

  2. #2
    For me, it was the desire to publish it. As simple as that. Anything else is bonus.
    I am planning to make it fiscally successful, but I'm aware it will take time.
    Igor

  3. #3
    Speaks fluent Bawehrf zachariah's Avatar
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    Nobel Prize for Literature.

  4. #4
    Registered User JimF's Avatar
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    I think success comes in stages. I self published a short story as a free ebook on Smashwords and got 69 downloads 4 very positive reviews, only 1 was from a friend. To me that was a success because people enjoyed what I had written.

    Right now I am working on a much larger story that I plan to publish and charge for to determin that a success I think I will need more than just a few downloads and positive reviews.

    Jim

  5. #5
    Greymane Wilson Geiger's Avatar
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    I think just the act of getting a book published is no small feat, so that in itself could qualify as success, especially since I've not met that goal yet.

    I would define it a bit differently, though. Success to me, when it came to having a book published, would be:

    You know, I had a lot of cool, neat things typed up here initially, but then I had to be honest with myself. Sure, it's great that strangers may read it, great that others might review my work, even if they didn't love it. But if I'm honest, I have certain markers for my own personal success. Mass publication, solid reviews, and enough of an income to go full-time.

    Now, is that rational? I dunno, but who else will believe that I can be as successful if I don't believe it?

  6. #6
    We Read for Light Window Bar's Avatar
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    It all depends on what day you ask me. Mostly, I feel I succeed if I wake up each morning with a smile on my face, a kiss and a kind word for/from my wife, and the will to keep trying. But when something positive that's unexpected happens (i.e.-- a small award or honor) that puts me over the top.

    It's good to remember the adage: "If it were easy, everyone would be doing it." As long as we keep our attitudes pleasant and constructive, and as long as we see life as a path not a win/lose event, we'll be fine.

    Irish: "I eat when I'm hungry, I drink when I'm dry, and if whisky don't kill me, I'll live till I die."

  7. #7
    G.L. Lathian G.L. Lathian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wulfen View Post
    I think just the act of getting a book published is no small feat, so that in itself could qualify as success, especially since I've not met that goal yet.

    I would define it a bit differently, though. Success to me, when it came to having a book published, would be:

    You know, I had a lot of cool, neat things typed up here initially, but then I had to be honest with myself. Sure, it's great that strangers may read it, great that others might review my work, even if they didn't love it. But if I'm honest, I have certain markers for my own personal success. Mass publication, solid reviews, and enough of an income to go full-time.

    Now, is that rational? I dunno, but who else will believe that I can be as successful if I don't believe it?
    I'm in this boat. Writing and creating stories is what I love - more than anything else, so why wouldn't I want to do it full-time. Being able to create a large enough readership that I can spend days in front of the computer just typing is something that keeps me striving towards 'success'.

    For me, everything else is just an accomplishment. Real success: being able to write for the rest of my life.

  8. #8
    sf-icionado / horr-orator Andrew Leon Hudson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by My tweak of Cononomous's reply:
    Real success: being able to just write for the rest of my life.
    No shame at all in bluntly saying what you want on this point. Whatever the details might be, when I can write to the exclusion of all other concerns I'll consider myself successful. It won't take millions, of either readers or dollars (and I'd take the first over the second any day of the week), but if I could pay all my bills just by writing I'd be a happy man.
    Last edited by Andrew Leon Hudson; November 16th, 2012 at 07:26 AM.

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