Tuesday, December 5, 2017

What is Success?

By R.J. Harlick

If you knew that anything you wrote would be published and successful, what would you write?

It depends on what defines success, because money isn’t everything.

I have had many markers defining success along my journey as a writer. The first measure was to complete the writing of a full-length novel.  I tell you there was much hooting and jumping up and down when I finally wrote THE END on the first draft of my first attempt. I had actually written a book, all hundred thousand words of one. I was very proud of myself, because when I had started out I didn’t know if I had it in me.

My next measure of success was to get it published. Many rejections, many re-writes later with considerable amount of persistence on my part, I finally had a publisher say yes. They would be happy to publish my first book, Death’s Golden Whisper. Once again there was much jubilant hooting and jumping up and down with the added addition of a champagne toast to mark the momentous occasion. And when I finally held the printed book in my hands there was even more celebration. I could call myself a published author and here was the proof.

Once it was tossed out into the big wide reading world, I had many measures of success. My first email from a reader who was neither family nor a friend, who told me how much they loved the book. Seeing the book on a bookseller’s shelf and then learning that it was on many booksellers’ shelves across Canada. My first book review in a major newspaper and amazingly she liked it. More yipees.  Learning that it had been picked up by libraries across Canada. Lastly, Death’s Golden Whisper sold enough copies to satisfy my publisher that the second book in the series, Red Ice for a Shroud was worth publishing.

Since then I have achieved other marks of success. A nomination for the Arthur Ellis Award for Best Crime Novel, invitations to literary events and book clubs, radio and newspaper interviews and most importantly the continued publication of the Meg Harris mystery series. For as we know, few mystery writers go beyond the 3rd or 5th book in a series. I am now onto my 8th.  The 6th, Silver Totem of Shame, was selected as a top ten summer read by the Globe & Mail and  the 7th, A Cold White Fear was recommended by CBC All in a Day. The latest book, Purple Palette for Murder has been selected by Indigo, Canada's largest bookseller, as a local book of interest which means it is being stocked in greater than usual numbers in all Ottawa area bookstores. The reviews have expanded from Canadian media outlets to American review publications such as Booklist, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and Kirkus Review.  

Perhaps one of the greatest marks of success for me are the fans. Nothing makes my heart leap for joy more than when a reader comes up to me and says I’ve read all your books. I love Meg Harris mysteries.

And you know what, I’ve achieved all this success by writing the book I wanted to write from the outset, a very Canadian mystery, set in the great Canadian outdoors that tells Canadian stories.


Unknown said...

Love your milestones, Robin. More celebrations to come!

Dietrich Kalteis said...

I'm sure your writing will bring you lots more to hoot and jump up and down about, Robin.

Terry said...

Reading this late. What a wonderful post!