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!


How do you define success?


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!


     About Laura’s newest book, One Night with a Hero:

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?

Buy at Amazon | B&N | Kobo


   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.

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40 thoughts on “Bring A Friend Friday – Welcome Laura Kaye!

  1. Hi Laura – and welcome to the JQs! It’s so true that all the definitions in the publishing world are changing today, and there are so many ways to measure commercial success! Congratulations on yours. 🙂

  2. RobynDeHart RobynDeHart says:

    Welcome Laura, thanks for joining us today. I think you’re so right. This is an exciting time to be a writer, there are so many avenues for publication and success – so many more than when I started. Thanks for sharing your story.

  3. MiaMarlowe MiaMarlowe says:

    You’ve just demonstrated my favorite growth arc for one of my characters–the one where their initial goal changes as they change and grow. Publishing is in such a state of flux right now. Success can only really be measured by how many readers take our stories into their hearts–through ebooks, or brick-and-mortar stores or their local library.

  4. Shana Shana says:

    Welcome, Laura. I’m still working on what it means to be a success for me. I think a big part of it is just being happy where I am.

  5. Laura Kaye says:

    @Margo – thank you!

    @Robyn – it is exciting, isn’t it?

    @Mia – hey, that’s cool! 🙂 And I agree!

    @Shana – that’s so true, Shana. And it takes a while to get to that place.

  6. Laura – Great post and very true. I think we sometimes are our own worst enemies by what we tell ourselves in our heads. We overlook the success right in front of us.

    Thanks for the reminder.

    Robin Covington

    1. Laura Kaye says:

      I really like how you put that, Robin! Couldn’t agree more! And thanks for stopping by! 😆

  7. DT Krippene says:

    An encouraging story, Laura. I defined success first in convincing myself (with the help of others) that I was a writer. How? Write a lot. Write often. Do it because I liked it. Five books into the process,I finally got there. Now I’m agented.

  8. Maddy says:

    Fortunately for me [unpublished] I’ve even failed to define what success means, I just keep writing. After edits and polishing I submit to an agent, get rejected, give up and write another one, because I’ve realized it’s the writing that gives me pleasure – therapy for free.

  9. Laura Kaye says:

    @DT – that’s the first step, isn’t it? It takes a lot of courage to write. And it takes a lot of courage to write and be rejected and keep writing. Congrats on the books and the agent

    @Maddy – realizing that the writing itself gives you pleasure is a huge step! And definitely just keep writing! 🙂

  10. Connie Fischer says:

    Congratulations, Laura! You were determined to reach your goal and you did it! Fabulous! I guess in anything we want to achieve, we have to remember that everything starts with baby steps. You did just that and showed the publishers that you have real talent and staying power. That’s awesome.

  11. Eliza Knight says:

    An excellent post, Laura! I had the exact same visions of success as you–until very recently–and I’m still struggling with it. I have over 2 dozen books out/contracted,reached tons of readers, won awards, all that… But I still wasn’t in bookstores–and then it hit me–I AM in bookstores. Maybe not brick and mortar, but I am a best-selling author on Amazon, I have loyal, amazing readers and like you, I realized, I am happy where I am, doing what I’m doing (epubbed and self-pubbed.) There is a lot of stigma about what a successful author is, and I think we fight a lot within ourselves. I know I am very hard on myself, and I still waffle with whether or not I’m good enough. Thanks for writing this post and helping to reaffirm, at least for today, lol, my new definition of success 🙂

  12. Laura –

    I think you’ve summed up a journey many writers, especially those who started writing under one set of publishing “rules” and have become published under another, are on. Sometimes, it makes sense to revisit why we began writing in the first place. That tends to help us sort out what success is, and for most it’s all about reaching readers.

    Good luck with all you have on your plate!

  13. Tracy March says:

    Great article, Laura! Congratulations on your exciting writing career path. Your story is inspiring, and such a good one to get out there since the publishing industry is changing so much. Thanks for sharing, and happy writing!

  14. Terri Brisbin says:

    Laura —

    Thanks for joining us today — your blog was very interesting and I’ve been so thrilled for you as I watched you moving UP!! Huzzah!

    I think it really shows that every writer’s path is. . . well…theirs. And there is no one way for everyone!

    I hope the readers enjoy seeing what authors experience along the journey to publication…and success!

  15. Emily McKay says:

    Welcome to the Jaunty Quills, Laura.
    You know, one of the things that struck me about your story was that you kept working and kept writing. I think a lot of people write that first book and then slow down. You’ve got to keep the momentum going. You clearly did that and it paid off big time! Congratulations!

  16. Laura Kaye says:

    @Connie – well, starting small worked for me, you know? I’m thrilled for those who hit it big right out of the gate! But for those who start smaller, I think it’s helpful to know that there’s nothing wrong with that and that bigger things can still happen, if you want them…

    @Eliza – you totally rock, woman, so when you’re feeling uncertain about yourself, you shoot me a message and I’ll remind you how great you are! 😀

    @Kelsey – yes, so true!

    @Tracy – thanks so much!

    @Terri – you’re so awesome! And I agree…there is no one right path anymore. And that’s so exciting for authors!

    @Emily – yes, momentum has been very important for me and I think it really is one of the keys to success. Thanks so much!

  17. Great post, Laura! I liked how you had to re-examine your own definition of success and realized that you were actually achieving it. I love self-reflection like that! And I liked how you said it’s not about the path you take but the outcome. Fortunately, authors have lots of path options these days that didn’t exist a few years ago. I’m so thrilled with all your success!

  18. Incredibly well said, madame! Kinda made me tear up a little reading through your journey and remembering most of it unfold across the many awesome blogs out there.

    My idea of success? Being able to do exactly what I want and not having to work a “day job” to be able to do it. Still working on that. 😉

  19. Melissa Fox says:

    Great post, Laura. I was particularly struck by what you said about not ruling previous but as yet unachieved definitions of success out, but ruling others in. Powerful stuff, there. Keeping yourself open to all good things and recognizing them as such is so important. That, and continuing to write, write, write! Thanks so much and congrats on all your success no matter how it’s defined!

  20. Hi, Laura! Congratulations on all the success your hard work has brought you! And good for you, girl!

  21. Hi Laura, Such a great message, and so true. An open mind, a positive attitude, and focus on writing the best stories we can DOES lead to success. Loved reading this. And looking forward to the new book!

  22. Welcome, Laura! So glad you could join us today. Congratulations on your success!

  23. bn100 says:

    Nice post. Achieving what you set out to do

  24. Laura Kaye says:

    @Laurie – aw, lady, you’re so sweet! Thanks so much for stopping over!

    @DVK – I know, you all were there through all of it from the very beginning!!! xoxo! And I like your definition of success!

    @Melissa – I think it’s very easy for people to get frustrated by not achieving whatever their goals are, and therefore they throw the goals out the window. I think this sometimes also gets caught up in the either-or debates that sometimes go on about traditional versus indie publishing. Thing is, we really don’t have to choose between these paths, which is an incredible opportunity for authors now. Thanks so much!

    @Kristan – Meep! Thanks Kristan! 😳 😳 fangirls 😳 😳 LOL!

    @Christine & Nancy – thanks very much!

    @bn100 – thanks! And I agree with that definition, but going back to what Kelsey said – revisiting why you’re doing what you’re doing in the first place. My desire for bookstore distribution was about wanting to reach readers–I just didn’t realize when I first started how possible that was through e-publishing.


  25. Great story, Laura. I’m convinced it is never a good thing to always be looking way ahead because we often miss what’s directly in front of us. I’m glad you realized your joy and personal success before your big NY sale! (because you were working your butt off, lady!) 😆

  26. Annie Seaton says:

    Hi Laura
    My first measure of personal success was actually writing a whole book and finishing it. The icing was actually getting it published, and the cherry on the top was making an Amazon best seller list with my debut novel. Loved your post and I agree if you are happy doing what you do… that is the best sign of success!

  27. Laura Kaye says:

    @Lynne – that’s a really great point! Sometimes we get so caught up in reaching whatever “finish line” we forget that many amazing things happen along the way! Thanks so much!

    @Annie – you’re so right. It is a huge accomplishment just to finish a book! How many people start and never finish! Thanks for stopping by!

  28. Eliza Knight says:

    Thank you, Laura! I will! You’re pretty dazzling yourself 😛

    1. Laura Kaye says:

      Eliza, I love you maaaann! 😉

  29. Sandi in OH says:

    I not a writer except for writing one page stories to send to my grandchildren. I guess my accomplishment was being determined that my special needs son would be able to become independent and live on his own. He will be 40 next month. He is married to a special needs woman. We bought the house that they live in but they make the house payments. They both work at a sheltered workshop. John is high functionally retarded. I wanted to make sure that when we aren’t here, he will be okay.

  30. Sharlene Wegner says:

    I would say that the biggest success would be raising your children to be good people, kind & empathetic. And hopefully successful.

  31. Barbara Elness says:

    My personal definition of success is freedom from want. I may not have a super high paying job, but through careful management I’ve managed to have a home and car that is paid for, a small retirement fund, and enough money to be able to do things I want with some planning ahead (saving for a trip, a special purchase, etc), and a fairly stress free life. I’ve seen other people that are supposedly successful in their careers, but that are deeply in debt, stressed and unhappy. I don’t consider that a success.

  32. Laura Kaye says:

    Thanks for sharing your stories and thoughts, Sandi, Sharlene, and Barbara!

  33. sourris25 says:

    Great post and I found myself nodding as I read it. I also wrote my first novel and entered it in a competition in which it finalled. It releases next month with a NY publisher, digitally. I hope one day that my other works will perhaps be available as hard copies but, hey…next month, I’m a published author! Definitions change with changing times. All the best.
    Susanne Bellamy

    1. Laura Kaye says:

      That’s great! Congratulations, Susanne!

  34. Lisa Rayns says:

    Wonderful story. Congratulations on all your very impressive successes. The cover and blurb look amazing.

  35. This post has come at a good time for me. I define success for myself as in a book in a brick and mortar store. I am published, having four contemporary/romantic suspenses in both e and print book.

    I am receiving great feedback from editors from traditional publishing houses, one today saying my work is excellent, but they don’t have a space for my work at present, that could they contact me further down the track regarding future works. This is in Australia.

    Your story has defined a part of my journey and has put me back on my path. I have been asked to put more romance into a story by a larger e book company who absolutely love my writing and the suspense. Now I feel this is where I will head and let the rest take care of itself.

    I love your cover and blurb… it made me smile. He only want’s one night… and I said, Yeah? 🙂

    1. Laura Kaye says:

      I loved this comment, Suzanne! Hope everything’s working out for you!

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