What Does Success Look Like?
How ambitious should you be as a writer? It amazes me the number of people who believe that the only way to become a highly successful and/or respected author is by securing a publishing deal with one of the Big Five publishers, or one of their innumerable imprints.
You can indeed measure that as success; why wouldn’t you? You’ve got a book deal with a huge publisher! Maybe they’ll even throw a marketing budget at you—it’s not guaranteed, but when it’s there, it’s lovely.
But what if a Big Five deal doesn’t arrive? Or what if the deal you’ve got doesn’t translate into that many book sales? Does that mean you’re not successful? No. It doesn’t mean that in the slightest, and if anyone tells you otherwise, you have permission to slap them round the face with a wet kipper.
Success comes in many forms. With the diversification of the publishing sector, writers have different avenues to explore. Self-publishing is coming slowly out the closet of shame (well, good self-publishing is, anyway—the awful ones and vanity-publishers should retreat further inside the closet of shame and take residence in the mouldy corner of disgrace) and small presses are getting more recognition and opportunity.
Here in Thanet, we have micro-publishers (Thanet Writers being one, Whisky & Beards another) and a thriving creative scene. If you’re a poet, there are more opportunities for you to perform and present your poetry than I’ve seen in a long time, though maybe I’ve just not been looking. If you’re a writer, Thanet is a place to work and thrive. You’re not alone, and success—you will see—comes in so many forms.
Blogs can connect you directly to an audience, small publishers can form niche communities of writers around a genre, and communities can come together to support, listen, and cheerlead for each other. There’s never been a better time to be successful. If, instead of considering metrics, you start considering success as simply being good at and enjoying writing, all the other things will come when you’re part of a community.
© 2020 Matthew Munson
Available under the Thanet Writers Education Policy
Thanet-based author Matthew has three novels published by Inspired Quill, is an inveterate blogger, and writing is his passion.