Welcome to an entire month of Top 5 Tips for Authors!
Every day this month my friends and I will bring you a new set of Top 5 Tips to help you along on your author journey. 2017 was a year of change in the Indie author world for sure. So many happenings. So many new things to learn. So many old things that didn’t quite do what you’d hoped. Well, every day is a new day. And every year is a new year. So we hope that this month’s worth of tips will get you the kick start you need to make 2018 your best yet and please feel free to ask questions and leave comments.
JA Motherfucking Huss is the NYT bestselling author of 321 and has been on the USA Today Bestsellers list eighteen times. She writes dark shit that isn’t for everyone but once in a while she gets a joke in her that comes out as a romantic comedy. She’s a workaholic who lives on a ranch in Colorado. (This is her blog, BTW, so her links are all over the goddamned place so I’m not gonna post one here.)
The indie author business I hard to quantify as far as success goes because everyone has their own goals and not everyone is in this to make a shitload of money. So I’m gonna try and give you some benchmarks to figure out if you’re “successful”. As always, this is just my opinion and it’s only five tips, so take it for what it’s worth.
1 Define your goals
Sound easy and most people are gonna say money. But I’d be careful here because an author is an artist. And successful artists aren’t always conventionally successful. So what do you want out of this career?
It can be money. And if it is, how much do you need to feel like this is worth it? Do you have a lifetime goal? Meaning, will you consider yourself a success if you make $10,000? $100,000? A million dollars?
It can be reviews. And if it is, then you need to decide what kind of a review defines success. Is it a high review ranking? Meaning number of stars? Or is the thoughts expressed inside the review? Is it a review form a major magazine or publication like Publisher’s Weekly or the New York Times? If so, that’s a whole other set of criteria, ya know?
Maybe success to you is number of readers? You don’t really care how much you make, just how many people you reach.
Maybe success is making a list like NYT or USA.
Maybe success is being invited to a book signing?
There’s lots of ways to DEFINE success, so you gotta know that before you can measure it.
2 Success might just mean “making progress”
For instance, maybe success to you is the difference in sales between your first book you published and the last book you published? Maybe success is that you can write a book in two months now, when two years ago it took you eight? Maybe it’s the number of fans you’ve gathered over the last year? The key point here is that you started at one place an ended up in another. Progress.
The way I see it, progress in and of itself, is success. No matter what increment the progress comes in.
3 Are you happy?
This is a big one for me. I’m not gonna call myself successful if I’m not happy and as someone who’s pretty much hit all the benchmarks I’ve ever dreamed of in this business, I can tell you, none of those things make you happy for very long. Even making NYT, while great and all, that moment lasts for A MOMENT. That feeling of success doesn’t stay with you. Take my word on that. If you’re not happy, and I don’t mean happy with sales or happy with reviews. I mean HAPPY WITH YOU. Then maybe you’re not as successful as you think.
4 Once you have a benchmark, don’t change it too often
You need to let yourself be successful and stop changing the goal post, ya know? So if you tell yourself you want to make $1000 a month, then you hit $1000 a month for a whole year and are disappointed that you’re not making $2000 a month, then you just changed your goal for success and suddenly you’re no longer “successful”. That’s not to say you can’t change your goal, but if you DO, then you gotta change your habits to make that goal– like your production schedule or your marketing. So if you make the same money and you don’t change anything, well, that’s not failure, that’s stagnation. Learn to differentiate the two. Because it’s not fair TO YOURSELF to expect more output when you’re giving the same input.
5 Do others think you’re successful?
I admit, this is hard to gauge. I have no idea if I’m successful to others. I hear it often enough that I sorta believe it, but not really. When you go from nobody to somebody it’s really hard to tell because often the change isn’t apparent. Sometimes it’s gradual, sometimes it’s overnight. But either way, this is based on other people’s perception of you. And I know you shouldn’t care too much what others think of you, but it is a professional benchmark. I’m just throwing it out there for your consideration.
I don’t really pay much attention to this. I’m not into fame at all. So whether or not someone thinks of me as “famous” is just not on my radar. I don’t care. But some people do. Some people aim for fame. So… just another way to measure.