Success, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. It means something different to everyone. Success to me may be failure to someone else, and that’s okay. We all have varying scales on which to measure our success, whether it’s the amount of books sold, likes on a Facebook post, or lists you’ve made. Perhaps we should take a moment to think about that.
To some, success is only achieved when their book ends up on the New York Times Best-Seller list. To others, success happens after the first book is sold. And many feel successful when they write “the end.” But how I measure success has nothing to do with how you measure success, and person A shouldn’t think person B is a failure if they don’t rise to their idea of success. Feel me?
The point is that we’re all different. Some of us may measure success in the same way, and that’s wonderful. We do have similarities in this crazy world. But in the end, we’re all trying. And that’s something to be proud of.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I’m gearing up to release my debut novel next month, and I’ve been wondering how it’s going to do. My pen name is relatively unknown, which was by design. So, without an established readership or network, will my book be successful? When I finally asked myself was “success” would look like, I realized that I already was successful. I sat down and wrote my book all the way to “the end.” I’ve had it edited three times. It has a beautiful cover. And I’m fully proud of the work I’m going to publish-thanks to the team of people I have behind me.
Ultimately, though, it started with that first idea, that first word, that first sentence, that first paragraph, that first chapter, that first scene, that first “the end.” Whatever it sells or doesn’t sell, however it gets reviewed, however many reviews it gets-that’s all the cherry on top. I finished it, people read it and enjoyed it, and I’m going to publish it. That’s success to me.
Of course, success can change. Perhaps if I sell 100 copies of this one, my new version of success will be that target. Maybe if I hit NYT or USA Today lists, that’ll become my new definition of success. Honestly, though, with my horrid anxiety, putting a book out into the world should be my aim for success. Everything else will be the icing on the cake.
That’s not to say that I wouldn’t appreciate those things. I most certainly would. And maybe success has a sliding scale. Maybe multiple achievements need to be met in order to consider yourself successful. Whatever it is, it’s your own. So when I only sell 10 copies of my book to my friends and parents and I feel successful, that’s perfect-because that’s for me. I don’t think anyone should get down on themselves if they aren’t hitting their “success” targets when you’re putting your best work out there for the world.
THAT is a huge success. Good for you. <3
And there’s nothing wrong with reaching higher, aiming for a new, better target. Go for it. Set goals, do the work, and make it happen. But remember that your version of success is different from mine and we’re all in this together.