This week’s ‘Ask Inkitt’ question: My story isn’t as popular as I’d hoped. Should I keep writing?
Yes, you absolutely should keep writing!
I have a friend whose debut novel made the NYT’s bestseller list and stayed there for over two years. People raved about her ‘overnight’ success, to which she replied that she had piles of manuscripts collecting dust in her drawers! She wrote, pitched, trashed, and wrote some more. For years. She was forty-eight when one of those manuscripts finally became a published book and hit the coveted lists. Bottom line, there was nothing overnight about her success. It took years of hard work and a never-give-up attitude to find her version of success.
So, is there a secret recipe to achieving success in the writing world? My own experience says, like anything else, there’s no one right way to navigate this path and no one definition of success, but here are a few tips to help you achieve your version of success.
There is always someone we can learn from. Attend workshops, find a trusted group of beta readers, be open to constructive criticism. When your work is posted on Inkitt, you have a built-in group of beta readers at your disposal. Use them! Here’s an in depth article on how to work with feedback and criticism: Get the Most from Beta Readers.
Understand the rules and best practices of fiction writing, even if sometimes you choose to break them. With every manuscript we finish, we learn something valuable about the writing process, even if that particular story doesn’t reach as many people as we’d hoped.
Define what success means to you.
Many people have “write a book” on their bucket list. Finishing the draft of a novel is a worthy milestone, a success in its own right. If you’ve done this, congratulations! Maybe success means critical acclaim. My novels have won some big awards, and those moments sure felt like artistic success to me. Maybe success means you’re able to make a living as a writer, or maybe it means you have a loyal fan base who can’t wait to read your next book.
Sure, getting a publishing contract or hitting a list is an excellent marker of traditional success for a writer, but it certainly isn’t the only one, and it’s one many excellent writers will never achieve. So, instead of setting your sights on goals which may or may not happen…
Focus on the things you can control.
Your most important job as a fiction writer is to tell the most compelling, well-written story you can. You can show up every day and do that work. You can write, edit, and re-write. You can behave professionally with all the people you meet in the writing and publishing world. You can learn as much of the business side of the profession as you need. You can attend signings, keep up to date with the latest marketing trends, build a platform, and engage with your readers. Here’s more on how to build an author platform and use it to engage with readers: Author Brand and Platform – A Lifeline You Can’t Ignore.
And, the one thing you can always control is your own work ethic. So, at the end of the day…
The more you write, the better writer you become. Focus on process not outcome and make a commitment to keep going. You may not reach as many readers with your first work as you’d hoped, and that’s okay. It takes time to build your skills as a writer and to find and engage with your audience. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and there’s no such thing as overnight success!
Do you have a question for us? We invite you to ‘Ask Inkitt’ via email: [email protected]. We’ll post answers to the most frequently asked questions every Thursday right here on the Inkitt Writer’s Blog.
Interested in learning more about how to succeed as an author on Inkitt?
Check out our last few Ask Inkitt articles, for insider tips, secrets and advice.