As it turns out, every step in the direction of being a published author means very little. And yet, each step brings you that much closer.
In the process of writing, producing, and marketing Things Grak Hates, I’ve found that every event I would have previously described as a notable achievement is actually quite dismal in the larger picture of novel success. Of course, don’t get me wrong; I’m thrilled every time I get a four-or-five-star review. It’s just that the thrill only lasts so long, and then I return to the never-ending task of trying to push the rock of my debut novel up the eternal hill of general reader awareness.
Which got me thinking. If new authors out there are interested in writing a novel, how many of them have the same misconceptions I once had of what success means? Do you? Do you currently hold the notion that a handful of rave reviews will mean the difference between success and failure? Do you hold to the idea that twenty sales means your book is doing well? I once answered, “Yes,” to both of those questions, but now I’m not so sure.
I mean, here’s the thing. Twenty sales for a self-published author is quite good in comparison to most self-published authors. It’s even pretty good for most traditionally published authors. And a handful of rave reviews, without any dissension, is even better. But what does that do in the grand scheme of your writing startup?
Sure, those twenty people might become true fans, but will they spread the word? Will they remain twenty true fans, or will they grow of their own volition? Will they leave reviews or even talk about my book? It’s hard to say in the moment, and that’s what makes each of these twenty sales a baby step.
You see, success rarely happens overnight. You and I both know how painfully true that is, yet we still secretly yearn for that winning lottery ticket. In my case, that ticket is in the form of just one reader who loves my work so much that they get another–let’s say hundred–readers equally inspired about it. But that isn’t likely to happen. In reality, getting a rave four-or-five-star review is actually phenomenal. But also near the height of what I can reasonably expect. So I’m forced to wait and keep pressing for every sale in the hopes that I can eventually build up enough momentum that this boulder will begin to push itself up that hill.
So, all that to say, don’t lose faith, fellow authors. Ours is a game of patience and perseverance.