J.M. Williams

A home for all things fantasy and sci-fi.

What is success in writing?

Jan
23

What makes a fiction writer successful? No really, tell me, I’d love to know.

I’ve been at this writing thing for several months now and it’s a question I still cannot answer, particularly in reference to myself. I’m not new to writing. I have been writing since childhood, studied creative writing in college, and have produced complete pieces here and there. But this is the first time I’ve tried to make an occupation out of it.

In that case, does success merely equal money? If a writer manages to get a great book deal, or reel in a bunch of royalties, is that success? Is making enough just to get by and continue writing success? If so, I am an abject failure. And on a side note, there are a lot of writers with regular jobs that still produce, get published, and develop a following.

Is the answer then popularity? A lot of people seem to think if a books sells a million copies is the greatest mark of success. Even if the book isn’t technically good. I have been gaining some followers here on this blog, but nothing like other popular writers. One of my favorite fiction bloggers, Esther Davis, has over 3,500 followers! Man, I’m jealous. Though I do feel better since her blog says I’m “amazing” for following it. It’s nice to be amazing at something!

A big part of me feels like the mark of success for a writer is being published. To this end I have three works so far that have been accepted and/or published by professional magazines. But that’s less than one per month. In my defense, it’s hard when it takes most places a month or more to tell you anything–that anything usually being a stock rejection letter. I have been focusing on this view of success quite a bit, and have more than a couple dozen other stories out with publishers at this time.

Because of my focus on professional publishing, my blog does not get a whole lot of new material these days. When I write a new story, if I feel it has any chance of being published elsewhere, I keep it off the blog. Is that a bad habit? Should I be posting more here, focusing on creating an audience?

Success, and how to achieve it, is a question that still baffles me. I welcome any ideas or suggestions you may have. Please leave a comment if you think you have an answer for me.

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