Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Milk and honey

How do you measure “business success”? How “successful” have you been in terms of “business” this year?

by Dietrich

Most of us will likely think making big bucks spells success, and I suppose that’s a hard point to argue.

When I wrote my first short story, I just wanted to find a willing publisher. Anybody. And when that happened, it felt like success. After getting a few more short stories published, I started to think of myself as a writer — another step forward. And the same can be said when I put the final touches on the first novel, Ride the Lightning — ha, more success. Then came the search for an agent and a publishing house willing to take on the story. And after all that, I was signing that first contract with ECW, a thrill that actually never gets old. 

Then came seeing the cover design and the first proofs. All of that gave me a good feeling. So did going to that first writers’ conference. There I was, hanging out with other writers, and I found them to be a supportive bunch. I made some new friends, and I got to meet others whose work I had admired for years, and getting hang out with them all was pretty cool.  


By the time I finished the second novel, success could be measured in reviews, the chance of making it on a best-sellers’ list, or being shortlisted for an award, or optioning a story and thinking of the possibilities of seeing it on the big screen. All of that is like candy to an author — the kind one can just keep munching long after book two. 

All that stuff is good, but it comes and goes, and there’s a downside — like the feeling of not hitting those lists or getting the desired reviews every time out, or not seeing one’s name in the film credits. So, not wanting to type with crossed fingers, I realized early on that I couldn’t afford to wallow in how something should have had a better outcome. 

Something else that is needed for success is the right support — agents, publicists, marketers, first readers, writer pals, web designers, and so on. All that and an I’m-in-it-for-the-long-haul attitude means I can just focus on the writing, knowing that the rest is in good hands. And that way I’m able to sit down to do it every day, and just focus on telling the best story I can.