Move Over J.K. Rowling Cause Here I come!!

Okay, so the title is a supposed to be a joke. But hey, it never hurts to dream big. Right?

Seriously, though we all know about the success of the Harry Potter books. I loved reading the story behind the success, how a modest 1000 copies were printed of the first book because the publisher wasn’t sure it would sell. I mean they were taking a chance on a first time author. Right?

Reading about the success of others can either inspire us or depress us.
I prefer to let it inspire me. The truth is most of us won’t write a novel that will meet or surpass the phenomenal success of the Harry Potter series. But so what!

Shari Green recently blogged about redefining success in our lives (you can read Shari’s post here.) I liked it when Shari asked the question: Might you benefit from redefining what constitutes success as a writer for you?

Before and after my first novel came out many of my friends made the suggestion that wouldn’t it be wonderful if it became the next Harry Potter. Well yah, and while I’m all for dreaming big and being open to endless possibilities, at some point we have to look at life realistically.

But does that mean our success must pale along those best selling authors like Rowling, King, Atwood, etc? Do we all have to have sales that go through the roof in order for that sweet taste of success to be ours? I don’t think so.

Completing a novel is a huge big deal. Having one published is an even bigger deal.

Many people will talk about writing a book, but many will discover along the way that they don’t have what it takes to sit and write every day until they come to ….THE END. Having the desire to do something will not bring our dreams to fruition if we are not ready or able to do the work involved in order to have that dream realized.

Shortly after my novel came out, my family had a get-together at my mother’s house and surprised me with a plaque. Congratulations on the success of your first novel, Bitter, Sweet, it reads. For a split second I thought, success? My book’s been out less than a month. How can they use the word success?

Months later, I now look at this from a totally different perspective. Of course my book is a success, I wrote it, it’s been published, people have read it. I’m not going to turn around now and attach stipulations to this. There are many degrees of success in this world. Why do we think we have to go for something that is SO off scale, so out of balance, something that only a very few will ever experience, before we are satisfied? For a toddler, success is that very first step, not the millions of steps that come after. I’m not sure what will come after Bitter, Sweet. I have no crystal ball. All I have is the knowledge that regardless of what the future holds my book is already a success.

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38 Comments

  1. Judi

     /  January 3, 2011

    You got that right, and it’s gone into the second printing. And with some of your friends going into book stores and moving your book so that the front cover is showing, it might go into the third printing. Who know’s…..

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    • Hehehe…Funny about those friends who try and do good deeds. All it takes is one bookstore worker to put things back the way they were…LOL! I bet the looks on our faces were priceless that day. ;0

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  2. I love Bitter, Sweet. My mom and dad loved Bitter, Sweet. Many, many others love Bitter, Sweet. You have contributed to the happiness and entertainment of others with your story and left a legacy to be enjoyed for years to come. This is success.

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    • Helene, you really are one of the sweetest writers I’ve ever met. 🙂 It’s been truly remarkable watching your career soar! And you know all about success yourself.

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  3. The completion is a success! Years ago, I started five novels…never finished a single one of them. Recently, I started a nonfiction book…stopped. What is wrong with me. I am considering resurrecting on of my manuscripts from years ago. I have a character that I’ve tossed around in my head for 15 years…however, my track record is not very good. I applaud you on your success. Yes, it is success!

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    • Yes, the completion is very much a success, without the completion the other steps would not follow.

      I say if a characters has stayed with you for 15 years there’s probably a good reason for that! Perhaps this will he the year for you..Why not give it a shot?

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  4. Success does come in many forms. Each year, I measure in differently. Several years ago, when I was just starting out, success was getting once article published in a paying magazine. After two years of getting pieces here and there published, the goal I set one January was to have a piece of writing published every week — on average. In other words, 52 pieces published. Success came that December when I achieved that goal. My goals for this year are different yet if met means success for me.

    I love dreaming about being as successful as Rowling. After all, anything is possible. And as I believe, if I shoot for the moon, at least I’ll land among the stars. I’ve always been a hopeful dream.

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    • You make a good point. I think each year we should measure success in a different way. Congrats on achieving you goal of 52 published pieces. That is really a great accomplishment. I’ve enjoyed reading your articles and think it’s pretty cool that you’re commenting on my blog! 🙂

      I do believe we all have to dream. Dreams have been with us from the time we were kids. If we can dream it/imagine it then that is the first step.

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      • Gosh, success today will be writing a comment without a spelling error. Lol.

        Thank you for reading my articles, Laura. It doesn’t matter how many I write, it is always nice to know someone is reading them.

        I am as much a dreamer as I am a writer. Together, these crafts serve me well. I can’t imagine being frozen in time and not thinking of the possibilties. They give me hope which inspires me to reach further. A character in one of my books once said, “Of course, I draw a line for my limits. How else will I know when I surpass them?”

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  5. I’ve always realized that success meant different things to different people, and I thought I knew what constituted success for me when it comes to my writing. I have a goal but I’m enjoying the journey, as Shari says. I’ve been content in the knowledge that it may be a long time before I reach the goal, but I expected the forward momentum would be relatively predictable. I should have known better! I need to keep myself open to God’s leading so that occasional landslides don’t totally derail me.

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    • I think we all need a goal, something to shoot toward or else we’d simply be getting up each morning and going through a routine, aimlessly wandering from one place to another. It is so easy, Carol, for us to become impatient and yearn for those goals to come quicker than they are meant to. It is something that I need to keep in check myself. I am, at this moment, content to wait for my goals to become reality. Hopefully, I won’t become impatient during the wait.

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  6. Yes, completion is success of the “I did it” variety.
    Publication is success of the “I really did it” variety.
    And then they start to ask: “How’s it selling?” because, to most people, that is success. I have no idea how it’s selling. They wonder at my not knowing, at my lack of curiosity. Now, thanks to you, I have an answer to: “How’s it selling?” I’ll just say: “I’m not exactly sure. I just know it’s a success.”

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    • In the beginning I was asked SO many times, “How’s it selling?” that I began to feel a bit like there was something wrong with me for NOT knowing. I felt fortunate that, awhile before Christmas, my editor emailed to let me know that over half the first printing had sold out. That sounded promising but I had no idea how many copies had even been printed. I felt like such an amateur! LOL! I actually think I was a bit fearful of knowing, that perhaps it wasn’t doing so well even though I didn’t have any concept of what was reasonable when it came to sales. Truthfully, it was just wonderful enjoying the whole experience for awhile without putting numbers to it. Numbers kind of takes the fun out. I know most people, unless they have been published, do not have a realistic view of what those numbers would be anyway. I now like my new definition of success. I wrote it and it’s been published!

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  7. Yes, Bitter, Sweet is a success, and you are the author! Congrats, Ms. Best. I call that success. Who wouldn’t? Blessings to you, untold, multiplied…

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    • Thanks for being so supportive, Carol Ann.Knowing that there are people out there, like you, cheering me on makes me feel even more like a success!

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  8. Book finished? In print? Being read?

    I can speak for all of us who are down here trying to break in…

    I’ll take that!

    Congratulations!
    http://timkeen40@wordpress.com

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  9. This was so well put Laura. Success simply means reaching a goal (set by yourself) and reaching the goal of being published is a huge success! Enjoy.

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    • Yes Darlene, this is something you are very well aware of. Your book is up next on my list of reads once I finish, “Is that you, God? It’s me. Margaret.” Can hardly wait!

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  10. I loved this post. It’s all about defining our own success not comparing ours to someone else.

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    • Thanks, Patti! I think it’s important to concentrate on our own success and what we come to realoze that success means for us.

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  11. I love your family’s definition of success! And that fact that you have such a beautiful support system? Enviable personal success. 🙂

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    • I am glad that I have come to think of success in the same way as my family. In the beginning I wasn’t quite sure what success would mean. Sometimes it takes someone else to bring us to a certain realization.

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  12. What a great perspective! 🙂

    I think it’s so true that we can let others’ successes either inspire us or depress us. But defining success for ourselves and being focussed on our own journey will go a long way to helping us be truly happy for others’ success, and inspired by it, too.

    Thanks for the mention & link to my post. 🙂

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    • Thanks Shari! Your post really got me thinking, and one thing lead to another. I love it when we inspire each other as bloggers! 🙂 Sometimes it takes much concentration for us to stay focussed on our own journey without watching someone else’s footsteps!

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  13. Congratulations again, Laura, on your achievements so far…I’m sure there are still more great things to come!

    Wendy

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    • Thanks, Wendy! I’m thinking that regardless of what the future holds in store I have to be content and happy at the place I am now. That’s where I’m putting my energy right now!

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  14. Nice post! Good job reminding yourself that you ARE a success! Not everyone can write and publish a book. Congrats!

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    • Aww thanks so much. Welcome to my blog and for your comment!! That’s exactly the way I’m looking at it and it feel marvelous!

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  15. I LOVE this post, Laura. Thank you for putting things in perspective. And yes, you are a success!

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    • Thanks Ciara! I think we all need to put our lives into perspective, be willing to accept all the wonderful things that enter our lives but also feel wonderful about what we already have.

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  16. You are so right, Laura. Writing a novel alone is a success story. But I have to admit that part of me would love to know what it must feel like to be hounded by Hollywood. The other part wants to maintain my quiet life. I guess I see success as having my writing grow in strength and credibility. If my passion for writing can pay a few bills too, that would be wonderful! LOL.

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    • Ha! Yes! Well we do need to dream, don’t we? Hollywood would have us dancing on our toes. Nothing wrong with that!

      There’s definitely something to be said for finding our passion and running with it!

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  17. Very well said. Too many people compare their lives and their accomplishments with others. You’re right when you say that we each need to define our own success and celebrate each step along the way, big or small. Bravo on this post!

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    • Thanks Tracy! I like the thought that success does not have to be the same for all of us. It is such a diverse world we live in and we all have our own unique place in it.

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  18. You are so right. Success is meeting our own personal goals, regardless of the external outcomes (though your outcome–to be published, to have readers, is pretty sweet too).

    The plaque your family gave you is such a lovely reminder/affirmation of that fact.

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    • Got to agree, the being published part and having readers is pretty sweet!

      The plaque always makes me smile when I think of what it really represents to me. 🙂

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  1. Happy New Year – Dreamers! « Darlene Foster's Blog

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