Wednesday, November 9, 2016


Success, to me, is a layered thing. Let me tell you how I view some of those layers.

1.) Knowing the "who, what, when and how's" in order to make a solid and feasible attempt at getting your writing published. 

Seems obvious, right? But don't scoff. Let me tell you a small aside here:
     At a local library signing thing a few years ago and I saw a woman I recognized from somewhere. (You know how that is.) She visited my table and after I mentioned that she looked familiar, she said the same. We figured out that she had been a former supervisor when I was eighteen and employed at a mall anchor store. She was at the signing to sell her books as well and she mentioned how impressed she was with the look of my mass-market paperbacks.
     "How much did they cost you?" she asked.
     I was honestly dumbfounded. I said, "Simon and Schuster's imprint Pocket Books published them."
     "Right, but what did it cost you?"
     "Nothing. They paid me."
     "They paid you?" She seemed shocked.
     "Yeah. They bought the rights to publish them."
     It was her turn to be dumbfounded. "How'd you get them to do that?"
     I'm certain I looked as confused as I felt. "Well, with fiction, you can either submit to a literary agent who may or may not take you on and may or may not sell the book for you, or you can submit to publishers on your own and hope you make it out of the slush pile." I wasn't being snide or condescending at all but she seemed irked.
     "I'll have to try that next time." She walked away.
Knowing that I won't just 'get' published is part of success. Sure, there are some authors who could let their cat type a hundred pages of jibberish and with one call to their agent would 'get' a book deal for that stuff... but that isn't how I define success. Knowing that I need to go to conventions and join groups and still do research on the industry and publishers --especially since I write genre fiction-- to know who publishes that type of novel, knowing that I have to do some work that isn't writing at all and knowing that if I don't or if I do it wrong the chances of getting published are nil, is essential to finding success in this business.

2.) Being published. 

I've never had trouble writing novel length stories, but it took a long time to learn how to write good, publish-worthy novels. That learning should never stop. (Again with the 'knowing' stuff.) No matter who you are, you can always learn more about the craft of writing and hone your skills to be sharper than yesterday. My library of how-to books continues to grow. The constant challenge is what I love about writing, and loving what you are doing is key to success.

3.) Staying published. 

The 'staying' part means maintaining creativity so I have new, fresh tales to tell.

The 'published' part of this is easier nowadays with legitimate self-publishing options available to everyone. The problem with that is, in a world of traditionally published books, small press books, and self-publishing, there are so many stories available for the readers out there that the author's hardest job may not be the actual writing of the novel, but navigating the choppy waters of advertising, media, and generally spreading the word in a positive, worth-while return on investment, attention-getting manner.
a.) I have a new novel coming in May 2017, unrelated to the Seph series. Will announce formally and do a cover reveal (unless you've been to a convention and picked up my sampler and seen it already...) early next year.  
b.) I am working on #7 in the Persephone Alcmedi series and hope to have it out next year. Have had some setbacks and am talking to a small press publisher about it. Details to come as I have them. 
c.) I am also working on two other novels (as time permits, which it often doesn't as a and b get the most of my time, well, and sleep.)

4.) Peers as Friends

The authors of those books I loved, the ones I stood in line and waited for them to autograph my copy, I had the good fortune to be on a panel with them. I've had the good fortune to be on panels with people whose books I read afterward and they have become friends who I can call and text and message, who will give me cover blurbs, who get cover blurbs from me, who brainstorm with me, who have drinks and hang out with me at conventions. Being welcomed into the family at whatever convention, signing or event I attend, those hugs between friends I haven't seen since last year, and that absolute sense of belonging right there among them...that is so awesome.

Writing is perhaps the most solitary art form. Because of that, social inclusion by my peers is incredibly special to me. For me to jump the mental hurdle and allow myself to feel as though I belong there (despite years of imposter syndrome keeping me at the edges) this has become a huge part of how I feel successful in this tough-and-getting-tougher business. 

Linda Robertson is the author of the Persephone Alcmedi series, several short stories and has a new novel Jovienne coming in May 2017. *details to come


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