How does one know if their book is a success? I guess it begins with how one defines “success.”
Some may judge a book purely by its sales, but how many sales make you a success?
Some believe hitting a best-seller list is the grand definer of success, but which list means the most? How often did you make the list? How many lists did you make? Where exactly did you rank on that list?
Others believe a book is a success because it gets a message out there that the public needs to hear.. How did the public react to it?
Some want the book turned into a movie, a play or TV series.
Others think the mere existence of their book is a success in itself.
Some use a book to get publicity, which helps them serve their real goal of building their brand and possible, positioning them to charge higher fees for their consulting and seminar business.
There clearly are different standards of success-and different measurements and degrees to take into account. Success, ultimately, is defined by the author and probably takes into account expectations vs. end-results reality.
Books can sell well and never make a best-seller list. Books on a best-seller list may not sell well overall but for the one week they made the list. Books can generate a ton of PR but not sell well – and books that sell well sometimes have no PR going for them other than strong word-of-mouth. So many things can influence --and define -- a book’s success.
Perhaps the question should not be asked of an author if their book is a success, but if the public thinks it is. Most consumers would judge success based on sales and how much money the author earned as a result. Many would also judge a book by the size and depth of media coverage a book received.
But I think a book is a success if it makes a positive impact on the reader – even just one reader. Did you inform, enlighten, educate, or inspire another? Or make them think, laugh, cry and feel alive? Who can argue with a book that impacts the life of another?
Then again, it doesn’t hurt to be a best-seller and be reviewed by the New York Times.
Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person.