What Makes an Author a Success?

I’ve been thinking more about the writing process and public reaction this week, and as often is the case, one thought leads to another. Maybe it’s just me, maybe it’s the ever-growing use of social media and how connected we all are, maybe it’s that the world’s perceptions have changed. Still, I can’t help but wonder.

What makes an author (or any creative type, really) a success?

For authors, is it selling a lot of books? Is it having a huge media reach? Big ideas that are well-executed? Does selling books still count if you’re self-published? Is it getting in with a big publisher? Is selling books really successful or have you not made it unless a huge mega movie franchise has been made of your work?

With how many different authors that plow through my timeline and twitter feeds and everything else, is just writing a book and getting published enough?

Admittedly, I took a little bit of a break last year, not only because the death of a close friend hit me hard, but also because I changed jobs, and, honestly, I needed to evaluate what I was doing and where I wanted to head. The past couple weeks I’ve started writing again, starting slow and just pouring out whatever’s in my head at the time, and I’m feeling really pleased with myself again.

However, every time I look around there’s an ongoing debate about the direction of the industry, what word counts sell, what genres sell, what really “makes” an author.

So, today I want to hear from you.

What makes an author a success? Is there anything they can do to hedge their bets to get to that version of success? Is meeting, breaking, or shattering expectations necessary these days, or is simply writing consistently and finding personal fulfillment there enough? Authors, do you feel like a success? Readers, what are your thoughts?

What makes an author an author, and then what puts them into success territory?

2 thoughts on “What Makes an Author a Success?

  1. For me, a writer weites, while an author not only writes but is published. WAY back when, as an idealistic teeny bopper, I thought all I would have to do is write, snap my fingers and boom! Instant money, lol. Now, many moons later, I still cherish each acceptance, but I’m working on finding a model where I can support myself and my son with my writing and loosening the threads that bind me to one area. I’m giving myself a 5 year goal. Success to me, right now, means being able to support what we want to do. Not lavish, by any means, but there it is.

  2. I think success is all of those things, dependent on each individual’s personal goals.

    I don’t believe there’s a single yardstick to measure success anymore. We’re not working 50 years ago where the path was clear, where a writer paid their dues in the magazine market, and all that. And with changing times, our definitions change.

    I know my definition of success. I’m not there yet. I may never make it, not to my own definition, but others already tell me I’ve done it. And others who’ve accomplished less than me tell me they’re successful, and I believe them.

Leave a Reply to C. Bryan Brown (@cbryanbrown) Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s