Written by A Guest Author

Non-Monetary Ways to Track Success

By Nicky Bond

Everyone will tell you that J.K. Rowling stacked up the rejections, or that E.L. James wasn’t traditionally published at first. Megabucks could happen for you too, is their implication. Yet no amount of Cinderella stories can avoid the harsh truth. You won’t be rolling in cash after self-publishing one book.

Financial success is a hard slog for the indie-writer. Positive vibes and tales of rags to riches can’t change that fact. But it’s not all doom and gloom. Amidst the economic reality are silver linings – even golden, glittery ones – everywhere you look. Measures of success don’t have to focus on money. Here are some alternatives.

  1. The Tingles.

I cannot overstate the glorious feeling of having created a completed book; a purchasable entity, a title in a bookstore. For four years I had a work in progress. During that time, when anyone asked about it, I felt a complete fraud. It didn’t matter that I had thousands of words saved to my laptop. All that mattered was there was nothing tangible, nothing ‘out there’ to cite for the person making conversation. This says a lot about me. Imposter syndrome is real, kids. Don’t let them tell you otherwise. But we’re looking for the non-monetary signs of success. When anyone asks now, I proudly share the name of my book and explain where it’s available. It’s no longer something I’m writing. It’s written. It’s published. Completed. And that always brings tingles and fulfillment. Surely that’s a valid measure of success right there?

  1. The Cheerleaders

It’s tempting to disregard your initial readers – the trusted friends and relatives you carefully selected some time ago. They’ve seen your early drafts and fed back at each stage. By the time they’ve read the published version, it’s easy to assume that their positive critique is simply kindness. Think again. Feedback from people who have stuck with you during the self-publishing process cannot be discounted. Those readers are gold, and any praise they give has to be accepted. And enjoyed! Having a team of people on your side, even those that you assume have to be nice, is invaluable. It’s their word of mouth that will kick start your sales. Be grateful to them and recognize their input. They read multiple edits, were generous with their time, and now they rave about your masterpiece to anyone they meet. A team of cheerleading beta-readers is a definite sign of success.

  1. The Anecdotal Case Studies

A friend once told me he hadn’t read a book since High School. I knew that if my novel ever saw the light of day, he would not read it. Books were not for him. Therefore, I was touched when, a year after publication, I got a message from him with predictions about what he thought was going to happen. Not only had he started to read my novel, but he was engaged enough to care about the characters and plot. It felt good. Here’s an alternative example. During one of those Facebook trends – the kind that asks you to post your five favorite books without explanation – a complete stranger posted the cover of my book. I have no idea who the poster was, but not only had she stumbled across my little novel, but it had made it into her top five reads. Anecdotal responses can be so rewarding. I might not have made a best seller list, or be able to splash the cash just yet, but two unlikely people read my book and got something out of it. Success.

  1. The Scrapbook of High Fives

Feedback comes from all sorts of places and it’s hard to keep track. I have a folder where I save screen shots and documents of any praise I receive. This includes the report from my editor, every good review, screen caps of emails, as well as social media posts. Anything positive that I find gets saved. It’s not what you think. This isn’t so I can massage my ego during the quiet moments. It’s not so I can feel important and feted, allowing my head to swell and my sense of self-importance to rise. I mean, come on, we’re writers. We know we’ll never feel smug and confident. No, this folder is there for emergencies. When I feel overwhelmed with my next work in progress. When it feels like I’ll never rise to the challenge of book two or three. This folder talks me down from the metaphorical ledge. It reminds me that I’ve got this. It’s a mental high five to myself. And when I am calmer and the anxiety has subsided, this folder reminds me that I am a writer. Whether financially successful, or scraping the pennies together for groceries, I am a writer. It’s simply the best feeling.

One day I’d love to support myself financially from writing alone. It would be incredibly satisfying. Yet to regard myself as unsuccessful, simply due to my bank balance, would be woefully inaccurate. I wrote a book. I published a book. People read my book. And the ultimate accolade of all? Some people enjoyed my book. I’ll take that as a measure of success, any day.

Nicky Bond worked in Education for twelve years, until she stopped procrastinating and got writing. Her first novel, Carry the Beautifulwas published in 2017. Her second, Leeza McAuliffe Has Something To Say, will be available on 7th March 2019. Nicky lives in Liverpool, UK, although she is usually found on Twitter as @BondieLa.




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