Moira here! When I first started out in indie publishing, Joseph Lallo was one of my inspirations. His debut, Book of Deacon, was a hit, and he was one of the ones who paved the way for other authors (like me!) to take the leap. Today, he’s tackling one of the really big misconceptions in life: that success just means one thing. The truth is, only you can decide what pursuits are worth it to you, and what your measure of success is. As Joseph points out, when you find your marathon, a lot of other people will look at the effort you put in and think it’s not worth it. But that doesn’t matter. it only has to be worth it to you. -M
You Define Success (All the Rest is Gravy)
Success is important. In every activity, whether it is financial or recreational, we have a goal in mind when we set out. Many of us are motivated by the success of others to pursue the same goals, each day filling our minds with tips and tricks to better achieve what we seek. Lately, however, a curious flipside to this coin has revealed itself.
In a recent article, an aspiring author hoping to traditionally publish poo-pooed self-publishing because “in order to make five figures a month, you have to spend 90% of your time marketing.” My own brother, who I will freely admit is a more creative and insightful storyteller than I’ll ever be, explained seeing me hammer away at the computer each day to stoke the flames of the self-publishing furnace has convinced him never to pursue writing. “If that’s what it takes to do what you’ve done, I don’t want to do it.” In each case someone has taken a look at a marathon and chosen not to take the first step out of fear of how distant the finish line is. This, in my opinion, is silly. In reality you are the one who chooses where the finish line is.
It’s true that a five figure a month salary takes a great deal of time away from your writing in favor of what I call “book biz.” But who said you have to shoot for five figures a month? And certainly, to put out the sort of books I like to write at the rate that will pay the bills for me requires a certain level of dedication. But why measure yourself against me? Success isn’t some universal constant. It changes for each individual, with circumstances, and with time.
If you want to write a story, and you do write a story? Guess what, you succeeded. If you want to self-publish, and you get your book on a bookshelf—real or virtual—that’s success too. A walk through the park isn’t a failed hundred-yard dash, it’s a successful stroll. Ambition is wonderful if it drives you forward. But if the shadow of your towering expectations leaves you shivering in the darkness, you may have missed the thousands of stepping stones sitting right in front of you.
Want to hear a secret? As I write this on computer paid for by books, on a desk paid for by books, in a house paid for by books, do you know what my goal was when it all started? “I hope this doesn’t ruin my life somehow.” I wasn’t shooting for the moon. I was shooting to not fall off a cliff. And do you know when I first considered myself a success? It was the first time I searched on Deviant Art and found someone had created fan art of one of my characters. Everything else since then has been icing on the cake.
We are all surrounded by opportunities each day, a thousand ways to succeed. If you’ve got a story in you, write it. Maybe you’ll earn enough to retire, maybe you’ll just earn enough to buy a milkshake. But in the end the important thing is that you’ll have made something, you’ll have achieved something. All the rest is gravy.
For more about Joseph, and to check out his books, head on over to his website! In the meantime, if you’d like a weekly roundup of posts (including a post like this one every week!), you can sign up for the mailing list here. No spam ever! -M