The Ever Rising Bar of Success in Publishing

I remember being in the query trenches while in the agent hunt - for 10 years - and thinking that if I could just get an agent, I would feel validated. Once I'd landed an agent, it looked like the book I hooked her with - Not A Drop to Drink - might not sell. All that validation evaporated over the six months it took to get picked up. And then it sold, in a two book deal - and hooray! I'm a successful writer.

Except... my sales weren't that great.

(Oh, to be that naive debut author again. My opening sales week for Not A Drop to Drink were my highest ever. My subsequent titles haven't come close).

That's okay though, because I had full confidence in the sequel, In A Handful of Dust. While Not A Drop to Drink didn't blow any doors off their hinges on its opening week, it had steady sales, and I assumed readers who were finding it now would look forward to picking up the sequel when it came out.

(Oh, again to be that naive. Readership drops off drastically for sequels, sometimes as much as 40%).

I can take you through the hills and the valleys for every title I've published, but I won't. Mostly because I'm very aware that this blog is for pre-published writers, and what I'm saying can easily come across as whining. I remember reading posts like this when the only thing I wanted in the world was an agent, and thinking that the author ought to count their blessings.

And I do, every day. I get to write for a living. That's an amazing gift. But the truth is that as in all aspects of life, there is always something more to aspire to.

I recently did a signing with a New York Times bestselling author who consistently hits the list with every release. She told me she's jealous of my Edgar Allan Poe award. I told her I'm jealous of her sales.

That's how it goes. No matter what you attain there is always something more that you see on the horizon. Something that makes you say - That. If I had that I would finally be happy.

I recently blogged about 6 Ways To Support Writers Without Spending A Dime. One of the noted ways on that post is to reach out and tell the author what their book has meant to you. It doesn't have to a life-changer, or a watershed moment. Did you like it? Did it pass a hot afternoon for you? That's awesome - and it's one of the things that never gets old in a writer's life.

Tweets, emails and comments from readers (positive ones, anyway), are one of the things in an author's life that has no bar, no greater aspiration - because it is the top. These messages remind me of why I write - so that people can read my books.