Success is in the Eye of the Beholder

So, I’ve gotten into a few ‘debates’ with people on this side of the computer.  This ‘debate’ is about what constitutes success for a self-published author.  Back in the day, you were successful when you got a contract and got your first royalty check.  That doesn’t seem to be the case any more.

I remember reading that 500 eBooks being sold is the sign of a moderate success.  I still don’t know if this is true.  This is only the sales level. It doesn’t mention anything about royalties.  Supposedly, there is a difference between 500 eBooks at .99 cents and 500 eBooks at $2.99.  The later is a sign of more success than the former.

What am I getting at here?  Every person is going to look at an indie author’s progress differently.  Some will look at amount of sales, others at amount of reviews, others at royalties, and any number of things.  I’ve been called successful solely because I’m working on my 5th book instead of sitting on my haunches.

So, don’t let anyone tell you if you’re a success or a failure.  That’s not their call to make.

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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66 Responses to Success is in the Eye of the Beholder

  1. tjtherien says:

    agree whole heartedly with you Charles… there is more to success than numbers…


  2. Seán Cooke says:

    Success is definitely different to everyone. I know people who are happy with 10 free sales and others who aren’t happy with 10,000 free sales. Then there’s those who would be unhappy with 10,000 sales at .99 each.

    Personally, if I was going to self-publish, it’d be quite sales/profit driven because that’s a part of my brain that I just can’t switch off!

    Just like there is no definite “perfect” price, genre or number of sales to hit – there is no definite “perfect” success. To each their own.


  3. katemsparkes says:

    Good point. I think we all define our own success, and determine how important it is to us to move to whatever we think the next level is. Getting your story into interested hands is definitely a sign of success, whatever price it’s at. 🙂


  4. Not only is success different for everyone – and defining it for yourself very important – but it’s also wise to remember not to compare your version of success with someone else’s version. That path leads to madness – or at least a lot of worry and hair-pulling.

    I think we build our expectations of success, too. For instance, right now success for me would be to finish all three books in the series, since I stalled out on #3 way back when. As I go through it though, having book 1 published while I work on the other two will be another layer of the success cake. Getting all three published will be frosting and the money – that will be the sprinkles.

    Great, now I’m hungry.


    • The comparison trap is so hard to avoid. You look at others to gauge how things are supposed to work, but you get caught up in comparing numbers. Maybe that’s why so many authors are crazy.

      You bring up two good points with the cake analogy. First, I really want some cake. Second, there are tiers of success. Hitting one milestone can help us gain the motivation to reach for the next one.


  5. I have met people who seem to be “successful” but are miserable. I have met people who appear to be down and out and are happy. I think each person needs to define personal success and then set the goals to achieve.


  6. One more thing. here is an interesting blog on the subject of success.


  7. Sahm King says:

    Reblogged this on We Drink Because We're Poets and commented:
    Are you a success or a failure? That’s up to you. Check it out, people!


  8. True words my friend!
    In my opinion you are successful as a author when you write something that entertains other people.


  9. every author has different personal goals. if you meet yours, that’s successful, no matter what they are.


  10. renxkyoko says:

    Sorry but my LIKE button doesn’t work at the moment . Anyway, LIKED ! And you’re right, success doesn’t depend on figures. Each person has her/his own notion of success./


  11. Excellent post as always and I will keep reading through all your helpful posts! Looking forward to your book as well!

    You are such a joy to have as a friend and in my Reader, I have nominated you for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award.

    Follow this link to see my post about the award, congrats and keep writing! 🙂


  12. 1WriteWay says:

    I think as long as you are writing, you are successful.


  13. 1WriteWay says:

    Reblogged this on 1WriteWay and commented:
    What is success? Number of sales, size of royalties, the mere act of writing?


  14. ioniamartin says:

    You can’t measure a squirrel by how many nuts he has?


  15. kingmidget says:

    Completely agree. As much as I hoped my novel would sell millions of copies, at the end of the day, I didn’t expect much. Whether it’s at 2.99 or .99, that I’ve surpassed 1,000 downloads is success to me. Problem is, that’s the marker. What comes next needs to top that for me to consider it a success.


    • I was thinking the same thing. The second has to do as good as the first, but there is another level of success. The second book could boost the first, so it could create a system where the first book always has more sales. That makes sense since you’ll have more people trying out the series with the first book than getting the second.


  16. Ellespeth says:

    Passions can’t be measured by any human calculations.


  17. lilicasplace says:

    As long as your books bring pleasure and joy to the readers you wrote them for, that’s your greatest success. Of course, the sales and royalties are good too… 🙂


  18. Shining Dawn says:

    Reblogged this on Your Ways To Success.


  19. If I like what I’ve written and even one other person has enjoyed what I’ve written…then I am a success! I didn’t get into writing for the money or sales figures..I write because I have to! If my book sells when it’s’s just a great perk, but I don’t need to be vindicated by high sales or high royalty checks.

    But, I’d be less than honest if I wouldn’t a happy dance if I got either one! 🙂


    • True. No matter what, you get happy when that added bonus turns up. I think the conflict of success happens more often when people try to gauge an author’s success solely by the numbers. I know a few people that do that to me and they really try to make me feel like I haven’t succeeded because of one number or another.


  20. jadereyner says:

    Absolutely! I suppose that it’s human nature to measure our success by tangible means, that is after all how we are measure throughout our lives, but we have to understand that as you rightly say, success means different things to different people and it is keeping our own personal definition of success in perspective which is sometimes the hardest thing. 🙂


    • I think it’s impossible for some people. They look at someone and want them on a different path than they’re on. So, they watch the other person for a level of success that either won’t happen or isn’t something that other person is going for. If that makes any sense.


  21. I agree. Trying to impress other people never makes someone happy. But following your own path and determining your own qualifier to success can. 😀 Nice post!


  22. L. Marie says:

    Sigh. I know what you mean, Charles. Some people cling to names like Amanda Hocking, J. K. Rowling and others as their definition of success. Anything less than New York Times bestseller list is not considered “successful.” But by whose standards? Trying to meet that elusive standard can be damaging. We’ve all heard stories of bestselling debut authors who are so paralyzed by the pressure to equal the “success” of their first books that they have trouble produce anything.


  23. melissajanda says:

    I read a post ( on Kristen Lamb’s blog about the odds of success. Read it and I think you will realize how rare you are Charles. You are like 5% of 5% of 5% of 5% and on and on….which makes you like one in a gazillion. You have accomplished a great feat. Give yourself some credit, dude. And not only have you written one book, but you are working on the 5th book in a series. Based on another book I’m reading (doing a lot of research lately), having a deep back list is another trait of successful authors. You can tell the “debaters” that it’s a marathon not a sprint and those with the endurance cross the finish line with their arms held high. So just relax and enjoy the view, my friend


    • Thanks. I need to remember the marathon line. Or I can just slap down my notebooks full of ideas and point out that I have a lot of work to do. I keep thinking the odds are better than that for some reason.


  24. Pingback: Blogger Spotlight | When I Became an Author

  25. Pingback: Post Revisited: Success is in the Eye of the Beholder | Legends of Windemere

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