I made a huge mistake the other day.
A friend shared a link to a blog about authors and advances and the general truth about how much we make (since everyone always wants to know). I followed this link, read some very helpful posts on the breakdown of a royalty statement, and relearned what I already knew about giving well-earned percentages to our agents and being stuck in a crappy tax situation because being an author puts you in the self-employed lot.
But after that, I clicked on, reading about seven-figure deals for two books in particular that I just plain old don’t care for… and that, my friends, is how I slipped into the terrible trap of comparing myself to other people.
It’s not that I’m complaining about my deal! I did way better than a lot of first-time authors out there, and I’m very grateful for what I have! It’s just now I’ve had to think about how I define my success, because, really, what is it? How do I ever know if I’m good at my job?
I mean, these books (both trilogies) got at least a million for their ideas. So they’re rich… wahoo! BUT! I thought they were kind of lame… so, boo?
Is money success? Is it books that are really popular? Maybe hitting the New York Times Bestseller List or having a small but cult-like following? Selling the movie rights or being translated into every language on the planet, even those people out in the middle of nowhere who communicate in series of clicks?
For a long time, I said the only thing I wanted was to catch someone I didn’t know reading my book in public. But I might not ever get that one. There are no subways to ride in Blacksburg, and since I’m home with Toddler Guy a lot, I don’t see people in coffee shops and the like very often. I suppose there’s always the airport, but if you catch me anywhere close to one of those, something miraculous has happened.
I also have a secret ambition that I don’t talk about a lot, but… I REALLY REALLY REALLY want to write a banned book. Oh! The glory of it! I want some punk to try and censor me SO BADLY! Aggggghhhh!
Ok. I’m done.
I say all this to say I don’t know. Maybe The Selection will explode and people will start naming their kids Tuesday and Amberly, camp out for midnight movie releases, and make incredible t-shirts proclaiming their love for my characters.
So, for now, I’m just trying to think about that little spot on the YA shelf between Kristen Cashore and Kay Cassidy that is going to be mine in about a year. That’s a lot to be excited about! And I’m hoping that bit of shelf space will drown out all the other worries, because I really don’t want them to hang around. Seriously. And things will look so much different in a year that I’m betting all of those thoughts will be completely obsolete anyway. So… so yeah.
I’m curious in your thoughts on your success as a writer, wherever you are in the process. Please share!