Tuesday, August 14, 2012

How to Define Success

Consider Significance Over Success from Chip MacGregor's Blog.

I've been thinking about success a lot lately because my novel debuts this fall. I have many writer friends with varying degrees of success. They range from Alex Flinn, whose novel BEASTLY was turned into a movie, to critique mates still trying to land that first contract. Truthfully, lots of my friends are somewhere in between these two extremes, and finding it just as hard to place that second or third book as it was to sell the first one.

My novel, THE BALLAD OF JESSIE PEARL, just moved from the copyediting phase to typesetting and design. When I read the copyedited version over the weekend, I started to cry. I almost couldn't believe that I had written something this beautiful, (albeit with lots of help from a brilliant editor and a talented copyeditor). In that moment, the enormity that my manuscript was going to become a published book was simply overwhelming, but soon mine won't be the only opinion that matters. Professional reviewers will likely write about my book and to some of them it may not pass muster. Readers may write about my book on Goodreads and it may be a book that some of them don't particularly enjoy. I'm trying to grow a thick skin now and know this is simply part of being a writer.

So what would success look like for THE BALLAD OF JESSIE PEARL?

  1. I want my family to like it. This novel is based on a family story and I hope my relatives will feel pride in our heritage when they read it.
  2. I would love to do an author visit to Forbush High School, my alma mater. 
  3. I hope some young girl, wherever she may be, sees a little of herself in Jessie and writes to tell me so.
  4. I have my fingers crossed that reviewers will like my book so that it'll be used by history teachers.
  5. But mostly, I need for JESSIE to sell enough copies that I'm not a "one hit wonder!"
Soon I'll start marketing THE BALLAD OF JESSIE PEARL. If you have any marketing tips, leave a comment and help me make JESSIE a success!


  1. Not much by way of tips, but I wish you success however you define it.
    My own definition is one my father passed on to me- never 'sell out' (=do something for commercial purpose only) and do everything with taste and integrity.
    Oh, worldly prizes are really nice too. I have no doubt you'll get some of those. Best to The ballad of Jessie Pearl.

  2. Marketing Tip. Ask Namelos to send a copy to Eric Groce at Appalachian State University. He'll know which of the education departments to share it with.
    Meanwhile, I'll give him a heads up.

    Good luck, Shannon!

  3. Thanks, Mirka. I'm not a very commercial writer, though sometimes I wish I were a bit more so. For me, I have to feel passionate about a topic or else I don't have the "stick-to-iteveness" to stay the course.

  4. Eric Groce at Appalachian, eh? Thanks! I will add him to my list.

  5. Forgot to mention it's Dr. Eric Groce. He's so personable that it's easy to forget the formalities.

  6. Give out reveiw copies on LibraryThing. It is another reading/social networking site like Goodreads.

  7. Hi!

    I'm looking forward to seeing the cover and to reading your book, Shannon. Best wishes! I'm sure it will be a success.

  8. Thanks, Sarah and Sheila! I'm looking forward to seeing cover art myself.

  9. Great blog and comments, Shannon. Joyce is onto something. Folks told me to send copies to college libraries that have education departments and library schools. Until I saw this on your blog, I had forgotten about that. Adding to my to-do list now.
    I also can't wait to read it. Lots of hard work which paid off!
    (save room for a blog interview on my blog, please)

  10. Thanks, Augusta. I would love to be interviewed on your blog!