What Is A Successful Author?

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Back in a post, Shawn from Down Home Thoughts had the following comment:

“So is an author a successful writer? You might play off the shades of meaning between the two. I tend to see authors as published and successful whereas a writer is still trying.”

This got me thinking of my own definitions.  Back on December 5, 2012 I even made a post about writer, author, and storyteller title.  I believe I said I jumped among the roles.  Though I might have come to that conclusion later.  My point here is that I think every person who puts dream to paper has a different thought about this.  An author can be seen as a successful writer only when published.  There are different grades here depending on what you consider published.  Other people can say an author is someone who has finished a book.  It’s all about your personal perspective.

The other part of this discussion is success.  It’s really hard to figure out because it depends on your goal.  A person who seeks to make a millions won’t see success with a few thousand dollars, but a person who wants to pay a few bills will claim victory.  One that is seeking reviews or some non-monetary recognition won’t even look at the dollar amount.  That becomes icing on their cake.  Then you have writers/authors out there who see hitting publish as the mark of success.  After all, that’s a terrifying moment the first time you get that far.  Second through ninth isn’t much better.  So people are very proud of that fleeting milestone.

So success is different for each person in the literary world.  What is it for you?

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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24 Responses to What Is A Successful Author?

  1. For me it was the first time I connected with a reader – knowing they enjoyed my work, and loved my characters. That’s my definition of success – achieving what I set out to do; connect and share 🙂


  2. Tonya R. Moore says:

    For me, a successful writer is one who is honestly satisfied with his or her body of work, at the end of the day. It sounds simple but for a writer who is honest with oneself, not necessarily so easy to achieve. I’m certainly not there yet. I don’t know if I’ll ever get there.


    • That’s a tough one. One of the biggest traps for an author is avoiding being a nitpicky perfectionist. I’m not saying be happy with ‘good enough’, but you’ll always find something to change. I spent 10 years doing that with my first book. Eventually, you do have to sit back and say that it’s where it should be.


  3. sknicholls says:

    I feel a strong sense of success when I finish something I’m writing whether a short story or a novel. Completing a project that’s a personal goal. Sharing that with readers who enjoy what I’ve written also gives me that sense of success, whether publishing a book or standing in front of an audience and reading a piece.


    • Finishing a project never loses it’s shine. I completed the first draft of Book 10 and I still felt the same level of accomplishment that I did on the first one. Standing in front of people and reading is a fear of mine. For some reason, I don’t think my books work will out loud.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I feel like I am a writer and an author. Every time I write something and publish it on my blog, I feel that I have authored an article. I am not a “published” author, yet. I still am not sure that being a published author qualifies when you self-publish since anyone can publish their own book now, regardless if it is worthy or not.


    • I would say self-publishing counts. Many people do it and walk away, but that shouldn’t be used as a reason to minimize the effort of those that work hard to promote. The landscape has changed a lot to make self-publishing a bigger force in the industry. I tend to compare it to an open mic night since this is where you can find a lot of talented authors that are out to prove themselves.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You are probably correct in saying the publishing landscape has changed. I see all the self published authors struggle for sales. I fear that part most when I self publish. I do believe that just the act of writing and self publishing a book is the biggest accomplishment there is. Your analogy is a good one. Do publishers look at our self published books and make offers? I always wondered about that.


      • I believe they do or at least look at it if you submit to them. It establishes an audience, so you enter the company with a fan-base. I’m not sure exactly how it works though. Maybe they still wait for authors to come to them?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks Charles. I learn so much from you. I appreciate all your help. 🙂


      • You’re welcome. Always happy to help. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  5. In my mind, you are an author when you have more ideas than time, but actually manage to get something written from start to finish, edited and published.


  6. The knotty problem, for me, is the definition of success so often being equated with money. If you make a lot of money, but write a lousy book or a lousy series, you’re considered successful. If you write a wonderful book or series but don’t get a massive advance, you’re considered a wanna-be. This conflation has caused me to back way off from the goal of being a “successful New York writer.”

    I’m a writer because I write. I’ve written six books and they’re all published by small press. I’m working on at least two more novels. I consider myself successful. No dollar-sign-fixated, would-be arbiter is going to take that from me.

    I am a writer.


    • This is why I think people should create their own definitions of success. Since this is my full-time career, I do have a focus on the money aspect. Yet I see the reactions I get from readers as a bigger part of my actual success. Maybe the entire question has a different answer for every writer.

      Liked by 1 person

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