We all know people who make success in the publishing industry look easy. You know who I mean, the author who hits the NY Times best seller list with her first book, the author who lands an agent with a proposal before even writing the book, the one who insists she does almost no promo yet everyone seems to have heard of her book and loves it.
I’ve always been the first person to say sometimes it’s just luck. Being in the right place at the right time with the right product is the real key to phenomenal success, sometimes in lieu of hard work and determination. I really want to believe that, because that easily explains why some authors can spend lots of time and money on promo and sell next to nothing, and why some authors can charm agents with their style and voice and still not sell the manuscript and why some authors write in trendy genres with timely plots and still get no recognition.
Unfortunately, while there is an exception to every rule, I’ve come to the conclusion that you get out of this business what you put into it. Hard work and determination may not get you to the NYT, but they can’t hurt and there’s some merit to the idea that you make your own luck.
My personal level of hard work and determination has waxed and waned during the time I’ve been writing – and sometimes from day to day, hour to hour and minute to minute. I ultimately believe I’ve gotten out of it what I’ve put in, for better or worse, and any future success isn’t a matter of a turn of the cards, but a measure of how hard I want to fight for it.
The real question most days is, how hard do I want to fight for it? It’s so easy to get discouraged and feel like I’m working twice as hard and getting half as much. When I start to feel that way, I have to stop and remind myself that this isn’t an all or nothing endeavor. If I’m not #1 on the list, it doesn’t mean I failed. If I don’t have agents beating down my door to buy a self-pubbed story, it doesn’t mean the book isn’t any good. Whether I’m making just enough money to buy that Mocha Cookie Crumble at Starbucks that I love so much or enough to buy a brand new Mercedes, I’m still earning money with my writing and I’m telling the stories I want to tell. It’s about loving to write and doing it anyway, even when it’s hard, even when it seems like there’s no reward because the book hasn’t climbed up the charts or garnered a dozen five-star reviews.
If one person out there loves the story, it was worth writing. If I have one more story in me to tell, it’s worth telling.
What thoughts keep you working toward success?