I’m thrilled to welcome Laura Kaye to the Jaunty Quills today. Laura has been burning up the lists and contests with her books recently – currently writing for The Wild Rose Press, Entangled Publishing and Harlequin (and making me feel like a slouch!) and will be writing for Avon, too! Please welcome her!
Thanks to Terri and all the Jaunty Quills for hosting me here today! It’s great to hang out with such an awesome group of women! Today I thought I’d talk about success, and the many paths open to authors to achieve it.
When I first thought of trying to get a novel published, what I imagined was seeing it on bookstore shelves. As I researched the industry, I quickly realized bookstore shelves would only happen if I got an agent and sold my book to a New York publisher. So from the beginning, my definition of success as an author was being traditionally published. But a year later, all I had was a pile of rejection letters. Twelve months after I started querying, I submitted my novel to e-publishers, and the very first one bought the book. I was thrilled. And they bought my second book, too. I was very happy to get a foot in the door and to know my stories would be out there for readers to read. But there was still a big part of me that defined success by an agent and traditional publishing, which meant I hadn’t really made it yet.
As I worked through edits on those first two books, I kept writing new ones. In the year between selling those books and when they released, I wrote a full-length novel, a category-length novel, and two short novellas. At just about the time my first two books released, I sold three of these four new stories, one to a e-publisher, one to a new e-publisher, and one to Harlequin, but “only” in one of their digital lines. Closer, but still not my ideal. The full-length novel I once again queried to agents, hoping this would be the book that got me in. I got close with two different agents, one of whom asked for a revise and resubmit. At almost the same moment, two of my new publishers asked me to turn my original single book submission into a series. I was thrilled. And very busy. I had no time to complete the revisions the agent had requested. But I was also very happy working on the projects I had in hand.
It was then that I realized: I’m very happy working on these projects. I’m very happy doing exactly what I’m doing.
I was reaching readers. One of my books was starting to sell really well. Two of my books won a couple of awards.
And my definition of success was starting to change.
It was at that moment that I let go of the idea that I had to have an agent to be successful, that the only definition of success was a book appearing on brick-and-mortar bookstore shelves. Two years after I’d sold that very first book, I had four books published and four other books contracted but not yet written.
I was busy. Really busy. Still too busy to revise that blasted manuscript that kept niggling at me. But I was less and less worried that I needed that manuscript to “make it.” So I focused on writing the books I’d sold and promoting the new ones as they released. Six months later, I’d published three more books and sold another seven. I counted all that up and WOW! I’d sold 16 books without an agent, two of which had sold very well. And changes at one of those publishers was going to land at least a few of my books on bookstores shelves.
That was the moment I realized what a disservice I’d done to myself at the beginning of my career by defining success as only happening in that one way.
Many of us do this to ourselves, don’t we?
I’m only a “real” author if I have an agent. I’m only a “real” author if a New York publisher says so, etc.
Without question, those ARE markers of success. But what I realized is that they’re not the ONLY markers of or paths to success. Especially today. If hitting the USA Today or New York Times bestseller lists are markers of success (and I’d say they unquestionably are), then all you have to do is see how many self-published and e-published titles have hit these lists to know there are more avenues to success for more authors than ever before.
Redefining success didn’t mean that I was ruling an agent or New York out—I still wanted those things, eventually. Instead, what it meant is that I was ruling everything else in. Traditional publishing, e-publishing, self-publishing, agented or not, it’s not about the path an author takes, it’s about the outcome—good stories produced, books sold, readers engaged with, satisfied, and begging for more. By those measures, I was starting to see success, and it made me happy and content with where I was in my career. I’ve often said that a writing career is more a marathon than a sprint, so I was no longer anxious for the “real publishing” to happen—it already was.
Ironically, not long after I’d achieved these insights into my career and my own feelings about it, I got an agent and a New York publishing deal. It was amazing and thrilling, and it had totally been made possible by the success of my e-publishing career.
So take heart with wherever you are in your writing career. If mine has taught me anything, it’s that I have absolutely no way of predicting what the future of my career will look like, because I never would’ve predicted all the wonderful things that the past year has brought. Find your own definition of success, and don’t worry about how others define it. Be true to you and your writing and your stories and your readers, and the rest will take care of itself.
What is your personal definition of success? One commenter who answers will win their choice of any of my ebooks! Open to international! Good luck!
Thanks for reading!
He wants just one night…
After growing up with an abusive, alcoholic father, Army Special Forces Sgt. Brady Scott vowed never to marry or have kids. Sent stateside to get his head on straight—and his anger in check—Brady’s looking for a distraction. He finds it in his beautiful new neighbor’s one-night-only offer for hot sex, but her ability to make him forget is addictive. Suddenly, Brady’s not so sure he can stay away.
…what they need is each other.
Orphaned as a child, community center director Joss Daniels swore she’d never put herself in a position to be left behind again, but she can’t deny herself one sizzling night with the sexy soldier who makes her laugh and kisses her senseless. When Joss discovers she’s pregnant, Brady’s rejection leaves her feeling abandoned. Now, they must overcome their fears before they lose the love and security they’ve found in each other, but can they let go of the past to create a future together?
About Laura Kaye:
Laura is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of nearly a dozen books in contemporary and paranormal romance. Growing up, Laura’s large extended family believed in the supernatural, and family lore involving angels, ghosts, and evil-eye curses cemented in Laura a life-long fascination with storytelling and all things paranormal. She lives in Maryland with her husband, two daughters, and cute-but-bad dog, and appreciates her view of the Chesapeake Bay every day.