Defining Success, Or Not

Loaded title, right?  But I’m in one of those moods — contemplative, questioning the meaning of everything, wondering where I fit into the cosmos, etc.  Well, maybe not that last, but you get my drift.

Thieftaker comes out in forty-eight days, and if you think I’m not counting the hours, too, you’re wrong.  I want it to be huge; every author wants every one of his or her books to be huge.  Nothing new there.

But what does that mean, and what sort of “success” will satisfy me?  Bestseller?  Yeah, that would be great.  Just making it onto one or another of the lists (New York Times, USA Today, Locus — whatever) would be terrific.  And yes, the higher on the list, the better.  I would love for the book to win an award — I dream of someday receiving a World Fantasy Award or a Hugo or a Nebula.  But these are dreams.  Pipe dreams, some might say.  If the book doesn’t make a bestseller list and doesn’t get a major award, does that mean it’s a failure?

Of course not. But again, that brings me back to the question:  What is success?  Good sales?  Yeah, sure.  Whatever that means.  Good enough that the series continues for a third and fourth and fifth book.  Yes, that would be great.  Nice reviews, too.  It would be very satisfying if Publisher’s Weekly and Locus and Library Journal and (dare I hope it) Kirkus said positive things about the book.

But now it feels like I’m aiming too low.  Good sales vs. bestseller; nice reviews vs. award-winner.  There has to be some comfortable middle ground, some level of achievement that feels ambitious without feeling pie-in-the-sky.  I just don’t know where that middle ground lies.  I’m searching for it, but it’s not obvious yet.

I guess this post is a bit aimless; sorry for that.  Sometimes I try to provide answers and advice in a post.  At other times, like today, I can only raise questions and hope that with time the answers will become apparent.

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