Sales Saturday: Evaluating Success

As a business person you must at some point sit down and evaluate your successes and your failures (there will be both!). The question that comes to mind is how we evaluate success. Is success driven by money, time or fame, or something entirely different? I am from a money driven business world where the big R (revenue) is always prevalent and thus, can blur the lines of success–especially personal success. Revenue teaches you that money is the bottom line, and that is it. In that world the only way to measure success is numbers that equal dollar signs. It’s a harsh world and a harsh transition when you are a people minded person. However; being in the world of self-publishing and entering the marketing world has taught me that revenue doesn’t drive success–relationships do. Successful business people, ones who are happy and their customers are happy, are driven by developing relationships that eventually create revenue, but may not at first. As an author developing a following should be more important than fattening the wallet. Small successes like inspiring another writer are what should count. You inspire a person and they will talk about you to anyone and everyone. That’s when things start to fall into place. Success in the publishing industry, despite powerful stories like Stephanie Meyer and Veronica Roth, takes time and patience. It takes marketing and branding. It takes trail and tribulations–not everything that works for other authors is going to work for you, but as a self-published authors or indie authors we have the opportunity to make those choices and not have someone make them for us. That in itself is a small success.  Yes, most authors say they write for themselves and no one else. The writing for yourself should remain true, in my mind, your stories should stay your own and not be driven by what others want. However; your readers can create inspiration to you in their own ways–a success! For example, In Between Seasons was supposed to be a standalone. Now it’s not, why? The readers spoke–they wanted more! Success! Being an author is about taking the time to make an impression on your readers, to brand yourself, to make yourself available to those that will create the big R for you. Yes, in measures of success the ultimate bottom line is going to be money, but relationship building should remain the number one priority without being blinded by the money. In this new world services drive the economic market, and although a book is an actual product, I thoroughly believe it provides a service. A book is like a mini-vacation, a way to disappear from the world and envelope yourself in another, so it does provide a service to the reader. Service marketing puts its efforts on developing and continuing a relationship with the customer instead of focusing on a sales transaction. This way strangers become acquaintances, then friends, and finally partners. The focus on this steady developing of the relationship ends with a partnership. This is the main goal because as a partner the reader becomes a personal advocate for you–they can speak of you as a person and in doing so they put your name out there. They run with it–they tell all their friends about you, and thus, become a mini-marketer for you. Now, this isn’t to say that you have to really develop a personal relationship with every reader, while this would be amazing, it will end up being impossible, but what you should do is utilize tools like social media to create the feeling that they do know you. Let them into your world and they will let you into theirs. Yes, write for yourself but remember readers are the ones who give you continuation. They are the ones who hold the ability to help you make your dream a reality–every single one of them, even the haters! When I have a reader comment, or a fellow writer, comment on my blog that they enjoyed what I have written, that it’s inspired them, it makes me feel successful–even if I haven’t sold one book that week. They might buy my book now, they might go tell a friend to, or they might just continue to read my blog–either way it’s a success. It’s hard to not look at the numbers and envy those that say they can write for a living when I work 40 hours a week, go to school for at least another 15, and then write the rest of it. This week the 12-15 hour days got to me. I felt myself snapping, then I remembered why I do this–so thanks for reading, and someday when I can just do this (because I am one determined son-of-a-gun and I WILL) I will remember the reason for the end level of my success–my own sweat and tears–but also, yours.

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