How Do You Measure Your Success As A Writer?

measure your success as a writerIf you’re an author, do you know if you are having success as a writer?

Seeing your name at the top of a bestselling list, be it on Amazon, The New York Times or Goodreads is a writer’s dream.

The reality is, however, that there is only room for one book at any given time at the peak of what is a gigantic and ever-growing pyramid of published books.

For most of us, we have to accept that our books are probably going to reside towards the ‘fatter’ part of this best-selling pyramid.

But this doesn’t mean that a book is unsuccessful, though. Depending on your goals and aspirations, success as a writer can come in many forms.

If your measure is based only on how much money you make from your book, perhaps you might stop reading here, because I won’t be mentioning in from here on in.

Without a doubt, my most successful book to date for me has been Louis.

The reason is that I just had to write this story about a man who helped shape my understanding of the world around me as a young boy.

That he had died forty years before I finally wrote it gave me a sense, in an abstract way, of saying thank you to him.

But the success of this book for me was that his wife, who passed away only a few years ago at the age of ninety-nine, was able to read my story about her husband.

If I sell not one more single copy, I’m more than satisfied. Maria, the most important reader in the world for me, read my story about her husband, Louis.

In other ways too. One reader told me about how reading February The Fifth during a very difficult time for him brought a laugh while all around him was very grim.

To know you have touched someone like this is worth more than any financial reward for a writer.

Then there are wonderful little remarks such as, ‘you gave me such a good laugh’, or ‘I can really relate to your characters’.

Sure, any praise is gladly accepted, but when words touch people and make them laugh, think or cry, then the effort has been worthwhile.

Yes, money is nice to have but so quickly disappears. There are more important ways in which to measure one’s success as a writer.

Derek Haines

Derek Haines is an Australian author, living in Switzerland.

One thought on “How Do You Measure Your Success As A Writer?

  • If a tree falls, and there’s no one there to hear it. . . .
    If a book is published and there’s no one there to read it. . . .

    Show me the money, and I’ll show you success; because if it doesn’t matter if a book reaches its highest commercial success potential — why go to the trouble of designers, editors, book doctors and beta readers. Just hand someone a spiral and they can jot down their thoughts.

    Have I missed the point? Possibly? Does the headline match the content of the essay?

    An author is one who makes money at writing; it’s a profession. Maybe the headline should be
    “If you’re a Writer, how do you determine that you are fulfilled?”

    It’s a noble thesis, but . . . hmmm. . . not in total agreement.

    Reply

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