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Why you need to define success for you

Welcome back to another Monday Marketing post! Today’s post is about working out what “success” means to you. 

Everyone’s level of success is different and if you constantly use someone else’s definition of success rather than your own, that could cause problems.

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On Your Terms

Success in writing is different for everyone.

Some will not consider themselves a success unless they are on the NY Best Sellers List.  Others need to have published several books to be considered a success.  Others still might only consider their writing a “success” if they are able to do it as a full-time career.

So what does your level of success look like?  Take some time to sit and daydream about what you would consider ‘success’ for you personally.

  • Is it doing world book tours?
  • Is it being a renowned author in your genre?
  • Is it having a core group of fans who love your work?
  • Is it being able to complete and publish a book?

Big or small, your personal image of success is important.  So take the time to define it.

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Why you need to make this definition

There is a lot of information out there in the world.  There are lots of people telling you what “success” looks like and how to achieve it.

The problem is, if you don’t hit their level of success it can leave you feeling jaded and frustrated.  Maybe you can’t reach their level of success because you have to have a certain ability or attribute that you don’t have.

For example, someone who is confident, a great conversationalist, excellent at networking may see having a large group of contacts as ‘success’.  If you are shy or an introvert, you may struggle to hit this “level of success”.

I’ve seen courses that state you can “reach great success” and then defined success as a 6-figure business.

Err, that’s not my idea of success.  I have no interest in driving myself towards that goal.

If you are viewing someone else’s success and aiming for that, does it leave you jealous or make you driven?  I’ve discussed the dangers of comparing yourself to others before.

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Consider your Strengths & Weaknesses

One way to help you define your success is by learning and analysing your Strengths and Weaknesses.  For example, say you are not a great public speaker but you decide you want to do book readings as part of your “success”.

This would be a weakness, but weaknesses, once known, can be worked on.  Maybe this means taking time to build your confidence, to practice reading to get the pacing and tone right or hiring a speaking coach etc.

Use keywords to identify your strengths and weaknesses.  Are you driven, patient, practical, inventive, innovative, friendly, approachable, timid, shy, uncomfortable in crowds, unable to deal with pressure, unable to think off-the-cuff? etc

To work out your Strengths and Weaknesses, use the SWOT analysis.

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Be Inspired

Okay, obviously, there is nothing wrong with looking at authors you admire and seeing their level of success.  In fact, this can be a great way to inspire you as to what you consider your own success to be.

  • Do you want their level of fame?
  • Do you want to be as prolific as them?
  • Do you want to dominate a genre?
  • Do you want to be so popular they make a movie/long-running TV show?
  • Do you want to inspire the next generation of writers?

But remember those writers might have different strengths and weaknesses, they may have more time, or more assistance, or working knowledge of marketing or the publishing industry.

Lots of things beneath the surface that you may be unaware of could be contributing to your favourite author’s success.  That’s why we don’t compare ourselves to others, we are rarely on the same playing field with everyone else.

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Make the Change

When you have our idea of what success looks like for you, tailor your plan to fit that goal.  Take the time to amend your Marketing Strategy and even your Writing methods to fit your success.

For example, if you decide you want to be a prolific writer and produce dozens and dozens of books, then you need to make writing the priority and maybe spend less time connecting with people and marketing on social media.

If you want to build a fan base, you need to spread your time evenly between writing and finding the people who would like your work, connecting with them, building a rapport.

Once you know what you are aiming for, make an effort to stop doing things that aren’t helping your goal, your success.

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The Importance of Goals

Obviously, I’m biased about having goals because I’ve been a goal-setter most of my life.  I’ve changed tack a few times, tried annual goals, quarterly goals and weekly goals.

Eventually, I found monthly goals to be the best fit for me and that’s what I use.

Why (I personally) think goals are important is that they help you measure and track your success.

If you want to be published by the end of the year, you need to break down the writing process into chunks and have a goal for when you complete the draft, a goal for when you complete the editing, one of when beta reading is done and must be completed by etc.

Goals with deadlines are the best as they help to keep your focus and allow you to shift your schedule as needed.

For example, maybe you think you can complete your novel in 6 months so you put that as a goal.  But then it takes you 8 months.  Maybe next time, when you set a goal, you give yourself 7 months and aim to hit that knowing it might take a bit more time and focus on your part.

Creating goals is a great way to help you plan and listing your goals in public (like I do at the beginning of every month) is good for holding you accountable.

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My Personal Success Definition

When I started writing as a child, I wrote for the sheer love of telling a story.  When I became a teenager, I wrote for the same reason but also to write as a full-time career because other jobs just never seemed as fun as writing.

In my early 20s I thought I wanted to sell loads of books and be famous… not sure why.  I was (and am) still a big introvert with serious social anxiety issues.

I think because it was pushed on me that you “can’t be a real writer unless you’re a big name writer”.

Thankfully, that idea of success faded quickly when I realised it would make me physically sick to reach such a level.

Now, my definition of success for me is more clearly defined.

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I have no major urge to gain riches in my writing, making a comfortable sum would be nice.  Nor have I any desire to be so well known that I’m expected to do TV interviews and for gossip columns to discuss every nuance of what I said or did.

I don’t want to be the next George R.R. Martin or J.K Rowling.  That’s not my aim and not my desired success level.

I want to complete at least 3 of my book series’ and had them published. I want to find a core fan base who love my work and are inspired to reach out to me about it.  I might even be up for the odd book signing (but this one is optional).

If I achieve that I will consider it a success.

PS: Thanks for your patience with me in regards to replying to your comments.  I will get back on with that the moment we get connected at the new house.

So what’s your personal definition of success?

Share your Thoughts image.

Happy writing

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Why you need to define success for you. Tips for Writers. Monday Marketing advice

9 comments

  1. I want an agent, to be traditionally published and have my book in stores. I want to do book signings and have a decent reputation in my genre. Not the best, but able to run with the crowd.
    I wonder if my aspirations are to big? I’d like to be the next Stephane Garner, Leigh bardugo maybe even Sarah J Maas?! 🤗

  2. This is something I’ve thought about a bit. Eventually, I split it into stages/goals:
    1) Finish the trilogy (yeah, just finishing it is a success of a way)
    2) Break even with the cost
    3) Have a group (even if small) of passionate readers

    I’m an introvert (which is why I’ll publish it under a pen name) and the idea of wide-spread publicity sounds scary to me. Hence, fame is not my goal at all.

  3. It’s something I really had to tackle when I decided this would be my chosen profession. I’m not an introvert, but I do value my privacy and in this day and age anyone famous is scrutinized until they’re infamous. I suppose I dream of a success that’s sustainable–a work-a-day writer who can be counted on to deliver imaginative stories by a large audience that cares more about my writing than finding out my deepest secrets. I also want career that lasts–being able to come up with new stories that still surprise and delight my audience well into my gray years! Oh, and J.K. Rowlings’ bank account! 😉

    1. I know what you mean. The idea of being under scrutinydoesnt appeal to me. I guess at least there s some privacy with the use of pen names. Lol yes, her bank acct woukd be nice.

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