Monday, October 7, 2013

What Is Publishing Success?

So, I had an interesting experience recently.

Three of my writing friends and I finished the short story anthology we were working on together, and it is now officially published on Amazon. (Yes, here's the link to buy Dark and Dangerous Things, eight short stories of dark fantasy for 99 cents, because I do have to market myself.)

But marketing isn't really what I want to talk about today. What I want to talk about is how we define "success in publishing." And here's why:

Here's the book cover. Done by a friend who fit
it into his schedule for free. Works for me.
I happened to see someone tweet about wanting to see what people were publishing on Amazon. I didn't bother to check out the Twitter feed, and just assumed (yes, you know what that makes of me) that the person wanted a reading suggestion. So, I sent the person a link to the book. As it turned out, this individual is actually on a crusade about why self-published books are bound to fail. I basically got a bitter sounding tweet back about how my book is ripe for the trash heap.

Here's what is interesting about this:

I never asked this person to define success for me. Or failure, for that matter. I've defined it for myself, and here's what it looks like.

Success right now is finishing a project that I started. Done.

Success is getting the book up online and seeing what the process is like for self-publishing so I can learn from personal experience what I think about the process and whether I want to keep it up. Done as far as getting the book up. In progress as far as seeing what I think of it all.

Image for one of my short stories
Success is meeting my publishing budget for this project, which my three friends voted to put at zero. Done. I proofed it myself. There are probably some things I missed, but I'm okay with that. My friend Donna did the layout. We know that's not perfect, but since this is the first time we've done this, we're still playing around with best practices. So we are both okay with uploading another version if we need to. Amazon lets you update your files. Works for me.

Success is at least asking a friend to create the book cover and related images rather than attempting to use clip art myself. Done. It's not a Michael Whelan professional cover. But it's better than what I can put together on my one. I'm okay with this.

Success is getting at least a few people to buy the book. Done. I've already had some people buy it, and I already have a review. One review is better than no reviews, and I know lots of self-pubbers with no reviews yet. This kind of thing happens. You put it up, and no one responds. You put it up, and some people respond. You put it up, and you become the next big thing. What can you say? You can't predict it. I've already beat the odds, in a way.

So, for me, this endeavor is already a success.
And here's the image for my
second short story.

I suspect the Twitter individual who was so negative to me defines success and failure differently than I do. But I have no grand delusions. I don't think I'm Ernest Hemingway. I don't expect to be the next JK Rowling (whose writing is okay and whose story ideas are inventive). I don't expect to be the next EL James either (whose writing isn't so okay but whose story ideas get women hot and bothered so she sells well). I expect to be a person who wanted to get my stories online so that when I meet people via Twitter and blogging who ask me if I have something they can buy, I can actually say, "Why, yes I do. Here's the link."

By that definition... Success.

Sure, it's disappointing to know that there are going to be some bitter people out there, who wanted self-publishing to make them rich and famous and want to tear the rest of us down because they didn't get what they wanted. But then, that's life. There are bitter people in all professions. But there are nice people out there too. You're the ones I'm going to focus on.

To those people who will be supportive of me even though Dark and Dangerous Things is probably not going to turn me into the next Amanda Hocking, I say thank you. You get it. It's not about making me rich and famous. It's about making connections. I like being connected to you, even if you don't buy my book. And I like hearing what you have to say, even if you think my writing can use some work. And if you do buy the book and like it, yes, I'm going to ask you to leave a review on Amazon. But hey, who wouldn't ask that?

But that's not why I blog...not to get reviews...not to get sales. No, I'm here because I like writing, I like people, and I like the Internet.

Buy the book here, or at least visit and say hi to it. I won't mind.

Happy writing!

Copyright (c) 2013 by M.A. Chiappetta. All rights reserved.