I love this post by Christina M. Abt. I feel exactly the same way about my Bobby Ether series. All writers should define for themselves what success means to them and not rely solely on the measures of fame and fortune. Never discount the impact that your book can have on someone. Similar to the volunteer work I do with kids, one life touched can also mean one life changed. – Scott Boyer
What Exactly Does Being A “Successful” Author Mean?
This particular feedback came from someone close to me who is a part of the publishing world. He told I was wasting my time trying to promote my book, as it had not sold thousands of copies since its publication six months ago. Further, he stated that no reputable publishing house or agent was ever going to be interested in my work at those sales levels.
I have to admit, this well-intended feedback was tough to take. It also was contrary to my purpose and intent in writing and publishing Crown Hill—the thing that has mattered most throughout my life—storytelling.
I mulled over the feedback through a restless night and well into the next day. To be honest, it cast a pretty dark shadow over my heart and soul, to the point that I questioned my writer’s purpose and ability. From there it was a slippery slope towards a vow to never write again. That’s when I knew I needed to take the necessary step upon which all authors rely— writing.
I began with an email to a friend, outlining my quandary. She replied immediately with an inspiring essay titled, “Reasons to Write”, none of which included multi-book contracts or healthy bank accounts. From there I wrote another email, this one to a co-worker, who replied with a reminder that people across the United States are reading and enjoying Crown Hill, an accomplishment in and of itself.
As the day went on I received unsolicited emails and messages from engaged Crown Hill readers offering help and options to advance my novel to wider audiences. I also discovered some new Crown Hill reviews paying the highest compliment—that they would miss the characters inhabiting my story of love, life and the afterlife.
Finally I sat down and had a little chat with myself, sort of an author one-on-one. Me and myself discussed my writing and the “money” feedback. We agreed that the critique was accurate and held truth, in that I have not yet sold ten thousand or more books. At the same, we decided that it was also one-sided, based on the short, six-month time period since Crown Hill’s publication. From there is was an easy leap to acknowledging best seller status is as much luck as talent and definitely out of any author’s control.
We came to the accord that the measure of a writer’s success varies according to individual standards. And while I aspire to author my way to a healthy bank account and a notch or two on the NY Times Best Seller List, at this moment I am thrilled with continual Crown Hill reviews reflecting a love of my storytelling and a fondness for my characters, which readers describe as, “… missing long after the final page.
So here I am, days later, still working through this “success” critique. The good news is that I have figured out the only true and important definition of Crown Hill success belongs to me. I have also determined that my storytelling purpose has always been to have a voice, engage an audience, make a difference. And that purpose is not focused on selling millions of books/making money, rather it’s a passion for crafting words that touch readers blended with a determination for those words to reach the world.
The question is, can one happen without the other?
About the Author:
Christina Abt is an accomplished author, newspaper columnist and radio broadcaster. Her written work has been featured in national publications including an array of Chicken Soup Books and national equine publications, as well as The Buffalo News, Artvoice, Buffalo Spree, Traffic East and EVE Magazines. Her first book, “Chicken Wing Wisdom: Western New York Stories of Family, Life and Food Shared Around the Table” became a regional best-seller (http://www.chickenwingwisdom.com/ “Crown Hill,” is her first novel.