We all know the big indicators of success for authors, like hitting the NYT Bestseller’s list. Or achieving Amazon’s 100 Bestselling Books List. A novel-to-film adaptation, multiple print runs, selling foreign rights, high profile awards and book sales in the 100,000’s…these are all well known markers. Other indicators might include Indies being courted by agents or being offered a traditional deal (both of which the author may or may not want), and we can’t forget the boon of having a publisher invest in a book tour or other large marketing campaign.
Each of these takes time, a lot of effort, and some luck to happen. Most of us will never experience any of these, which is why it can sometimes feel that success lies beyond a glass ceiling impossible to break through. And for those who do hit one of these achievements, it seems as if success suddenly happened overnight.
The truth is, there are many indicators of EMERGING success, not just these biggies. They are smaller, more subtle. Many of us don’t realize what they mean when they happen. Here’s seven you might recognize:
7 Signs of Emerging Success
1) A tweet, letter or email thanking the author for writing a book
It is no small thing when a complete stranger takes time out of their busy day to write to the author, letting them know how much they enjoyed their book. For most of us, these small, genuine connections are why we write! Hearing how a book touched someone or helped them in a significant way…this is rewarding music to a writer’s soul.
2) Selling books every day
I think as authors, we get caught up in the benchmarks: 100 sales, 1000 sales. 10,000 or 100,000. The fact is, slow and steady is victory in itself. While Indies have access to their true numbers, it can be difficult for those with a traditional publisher to access sale information. However, the Amazon Bestseller Rank is a good way for both types of authors to get an idea of how their book is doing. If your book sells consistently, even when it’s not on sale, you are holding your own in a clogged market!
3) Requests for interviews, guest posts and/or invites to lead workshops or join collaborative projects
Yes, as in people approach you, rather than the other way around. This means you and your book are gaining the notice of others. When people want to learn from (or work with) you, it means they recognize you and your book are carving out a solid path.
4) A nomination (or win) of a book award
It’s an honor to be considered for an award, whether we win or not. If a book of ours is nominated, is a great marker that we are on the right path. Awards sometimes get a bad rap because they can devolve into a popularity contest. We’ve all seen authors rally their friends, family and online connections to vote for their book, regardless if they’ve actually read it, just so they have a chance at winning. (I personally don’t get why someone would want to “win” this way—books should stand on their own merit, or what’s the point?) So, I’ll add the qualifier that nominations/wins should be the result of true reader appreciation, not achieved via author manipulation.
5) Requests to review or profile your book on a website or in a newsletter geared to your audience
Again, when people approach you because they like your book and want to share it with others, this is a great indicator you’re not only reaching your audience, but creating fans of your work!
6) Word of Mouth Hits
Savvy authors create Google Alerts for their name & book title, and create twitter search terms for both as well. Then, when people talk about their book, they’ll see what is being said. Word of Mouth is the highest currency in our world, and personal recommendations are the jewel of the day. If people are talking about you (assuming its good of course!) it’s a great thing.
7) Placing in Amazon’s top 100 Bestsellers in a specific category
This is worth a nod—making the top 100 (paid) in one of Amazon’s bestselling categories is a good sign. Of course, some are easier to make than others. A mainstream category may have stiff competition, and new releases to contend with every week, while other niche categories have less books & fewer new releases vying for the top 100 spots. So, achieving and keeping a spot (especially when a book isn’t on sale) is definitely noteworthy!
Seven signs. Seven things that, when they happen, bring us a flush of satisfaction. These are all great indications of emerging success, so when they happen, enjoy them, because you worked hard to make them happen.
(Then, get back to it. More success will come…with a little elbow grease!)
YOUR TURN: What other markers indicate emerging success?