"You don’t need mass appeal or millions of customers to be a success. But your definition of success needs to be a keystone of your brand. You decide what success is, then show the world how magnificently successful you are by that light... You’ve got to create the fame and fortune in your own outlook first. Claim your position."
I read this quote in Robin Good's Newsletter several times because this is exactly what I've been feeling and trying to explain in the business book I've been writing, but I struggled with the words to express that feeling. What is success, or more importantly, what is success to me? Is being a publishing success really selling a million copies of my books? Is it having one of my authors discuss her book on Oprah? Or is success simply transforming a manuscript into a book so that the author gets her moment in the sun and I earn enough to pay the print bill? Right now, my success is closer to the latter than to Oprah, but do I really need Oprah to call Medusa's Muse a successful publishing company?
Success is a tricky thing. Too often we allow others to define what success is for us, from our parents to our spouses, our boss and our friends. Everyone seems to agree success is related to cash: the more you make, the more successful you are. I keep seeing new self-publishers and authors beating themselves to death with the wish for fame and fortune, spending more money on their books with the belief that one more advertising campaign will snare that longed for recognition. Too quickly, they give up in disgust, convinced they were failures because they could only sell one hundred copies of their book.
By whose definition are they failures? Is success entirely about money? What else defines success?
I think that success is linked to your long term goals rather than to your bank account. If you dream of getting rich on your books and retiring from your boring day job, then yeah, you need to sell a million copies to create that type of success, and unfortunately the odds of that happening aren't good. But why not try?
My long term dream is to be a Muse for future generations. I want a big house or a plot of land where artists of all types can come and stay and be fed and nurtured while they create their art. Seeing as I can't afford a house right now, I started a publishing company so that a few writers will get singular attention and share their words with the world. In the short term, I need Medusa's Muse to break even and pay for itself, otherwise I'll never get to that big house with all those writers and musicians. I don't expect the press to pay for my house, so I'm back in school to be an Orientation and Mobility Instructor like Laura Fogg. Success for me right now means being able to create art which I am passionate about and that pays for itself. Oprah Winfrey is welcome to visit if she'd like, but it isn't a requirement.
Before you head out into the world of publishing with your trunk full of books, write down what success means to you; not what it means to your mother or best friend, but what it means to YOU. Keep that piece of paper with you to help you stay on track. Are you following your own dreams of success or straying into what your grandparents expect?
And head over to Sonia's blog for more excellent advice about Marketing, Small Business, and making your dreams come true.