What does your idea of book success look like?

witanddelight.tumblr.comOne of the most challenging–but most helpful–things a writer can do before getting into the book business is deciding what success looks like to them.

This is a topic close to my heart because it’s all about being honest with yourself, making the most of your time and energy, and helping visualize where you want to be. For some people just getting a novel on paper is the whole point of writing. For others, it’s about getting an agent and that’s their first step of success. (Getting an agent means beating serious 1:2000 odds!) And I know some of you dream hard and won’t stop until you get your agent, editor submissions, publication offers, and book tour.

I’m a proponent of never stop dreaming. Only the ones who stick to their guns will have the gumption and strength to make it in this crazy, creative, subjective business. I can rattle off all the cliché quotes and you can plaster them above your work desk, but only those who internalize them will have the tenacity to achieve their idea of success–whatever it is.

Agents are here for one type of success: traditional publishing, foreign and subsidiary rights, and consultation on other paths, like digital publishing. If your idea of success is 100% creative control, an agent isn’t for you.

If your idea of success is writing a memoir for your family as a keepsake, an agent isn’t for you.

If your idea of success is self-publishing to great acclaim, an agent can only help in certain ways. We can help you pick a publicity and marketing company to assist you, and sell foreign and film rights. But an agent is there for the long haul.

And if your idea of success is writing one book, an agent isn’t for you. We invest a lot of time and energy in clients and are looking for authors that want a career.

If your idea of success is having an agent negotiate a contract–and that’s it–what you want is a contracts consultant, not an agent.

Agents are here to help our clients achieve long-term print and digital publishing success. And what success means to me and my clients is great publishing contracts, working with amazing editors, financial stability through writing (which takes years!), subrights expansion with foreign sales, an honest relationship with me, social media proficiency, and looking into the future for all the great digital opportunities that arise.

I’m not saying one type of success is better than another, what I am saying is that agents are here for one type of success and it’s a collaborative one.

And because it’s MLK Day here’s one inspirational quote:

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” – MLK

Q: Writing isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. What does success look like to YOU?

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