FIRST NOVEL: EXPECTATIONS & DEFINING SUCCESS

For practically my whole life, I have dreamed about releasing my first novel. And for the last five years, I’ve lulled myself to sleep at night fantasizing about every step of the process. Now that I am only a hop, skip, and a jump away from this much anticipated day, I find myself thinking about what my expectations are and how I define success. 
(I suppose I should say that for some reason there is a huge difference in my mind between releasing COMPENDIUM and The Way We Go since one is a novelette and the other a full-length novel.)
If you would have asked a younger, more naive and grandiose version of myself what my expectations were, I would have said something like, “I expect to become a best-seller! I expect to make a ton of money! I expect to create a masterpiece and nothing less!” Not that having those goals is a bad thing, as I’m sure they are what motivates a whole lot of fledgling writers, and that’s not to say I don’t aspire for those things *eventually*. I most certainly do. I have only tried to adjust my expectations to be reasonable for a first novel.
Reasonable does not mean settling. Don’t get that idea.
If my goals for this book aren’t lofty and grand, what are they? Well, they’re rather simple, really, and mostly already achieved.
First, I simply want to put the book out into the world. I say simply, but that’s actually the hardest part of all. Just putting the novel out into the world is a monumental task. I think all the novels that come after — the second, third, fourth, fifth, etc. — will come infinitely easier than that first one, the one when you have to conquer every fear and overcome every obstacle for the very first time. Simply putting it out into the world is enough. 
Secondly, I don’t expect perfection. I don’t expect a masterpiece. How could I from a first novel? I’m sure in five to ten years when I look back on this book, I’ll cringe, but for now, I feel like I’ve done the very best I could for this stage of my life as a writer. I feel like I can put this book out into the world and not be embarrassed. I can feel proud of my efforts, and that’s all I can ask of myself. Perhaps when I look back in five to ten years, I’ll have that masterpiece, but I don’t expect it now. I only expect the very best effort possible for a very first try.
Finally, I hope people read it and I hope people like it. Sure, it would be nice if lots and lots of people like it right from the start, but even if only fifty people read it and like it, that’s enough. I have an entire lifetime to one day conquer the best-seller lists. For a first try, I’d be ecstatic just to make a few readers happy with a story I told. And because it’s finally out there in the world, it’s there forever. So while it may only be fifty people at first, perhaps as the years wear on, those fifty people will become five hundred, then five thousand, and so on. Even if that never happens, if only a few people read it and have as much fun as I did writing it, then that’s enough.
And that’s also my definition of success.
I’ve never been in this writing thing for the money. I don’t expect to make any money off this book. Hell, it’ll be quite a while before I make any at all, if I’m honest. I have so many free copies to giveaway (my choice, obviously) that it costs me more money than I might ever make on this endeavor, but that’s okay with me. If I wanted to make money, I sure as hell wouldn’t choose to be an independent novelist, that’s for sure. Money does not equal success for me.
Readers equal success for me. Even if it’s a handful of faithful readers, that’s success. Readers who care enough to pay their own hard-earned money for something I create. That’s a big fucking deal. I know how hard people work for their money, and if someone hands it over for my writing, that speaks volumes. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to express how incredible that feels.
So, if by some miracle The Way We Go becomes a best-seller, of course I would be ecstatic and thankful and happy beyond my wildest dreams, but I’m still going to feel like I’m a success regardless. Hell, I already do. People have already bought the book, and it hasn’t even officially released yet. Readers have already enjoyed it. It’s not in my head anymore — it’s in the world. 

FIRST NOVEL: EXPECTATIONS & DEFINING SUCCESS

For practically my whole life, I have dreamed about releasing my first novel. And for the last five years, I’ve lulled myself to sleep at night fantasizing about every step of the process. Now that I am only a hop, skip, and a jump away from this much anticipated day, I find myself thinking about what my expectations are and how I define success. 
(I suppose I should say that for some reason there is a huge difference in my mind between releasing COMPENDIUM and The Way We Go since one is a novelette and the other a full-length novel.)
If you would have asked a younger, more naive and grandiose version of myself what my expectations were, I would have said something like, “I expect to become a best-seller! I expect to make a ton of money! I expect to create a masterpiece and nothing less!” Not that having those goals is a bad thing, as I’m sure they are what motivates a whole lot of fledgling writers, and that’s not to say I don’t aspire for those things *eventually*. I most certainly do. I have only tried to adjust my expectations to be reasonable for a first novel.
Reasonable does not mean settling. Don’t get that idea.
If my goals for this book aren’t lofty and grand, what are they? Well, they’re rather simple, really, and mostly already achieved.
First, I simply want to put the book out into the world. I say simply, but that’s actually the hardest part of all. Just putting the novel out into the world is a monumental task. I think all the novels that come after — the second, third, fourth, fifth, etc. — will come infinitely easier than that first one, the one when you have to conquer every fear and overcome every obstacle for the very first time. Simply putting it out into the world is enough. 
Secondly, I don’t expect perfection. I don’t expect a masterpiece. How could I from a first novel? I’m sure in five to ten years when I look back on this book, I’ll cringe, but for now, I feel like I’ve done the very best I could for this stage of my life as a writer. I feel like I can put this book out into the world and not be embarrassed. I can feel proud of my efforts, and that’s all I can ask of myself. Perhaps when I look back in five to ten years, I’ll have that masterpiece, but I don’t expect it now. I only expect the very best effort possible for a very first try.
Finally, I hope people read it and I hope people like it. Sure, it would be nice if lots and lots of people like it right from the start, but even if only fifty people read it and like it, that’s enough. I have an entire lifetime to one day conquer the best-seller lists. For a first try, I’d be ecstatic just to make a few readers happy with a story I told. And because it’s finally out there in the world, it’s there forever. So while it may only be fifty people at first, perhaps as the years wear on, those fifty people will become five hundred, then five thousand, and so on. Even if that never happens, if only a few people read it and have as much fun as I did writing it, then that’s enough.
And that’s also my definition of success.
I’ve never been in this writing thing for the money. I don’t expect to make any money off this book. Hell, it’ll be quite a while before I make any at all, if I’m honest. I have so many free copies to giveaway (my choice, obviously) that it costs me more money than I might ever make on this endeavor, but that’s okay with me. If I wanted to make money, I sure as hell wouldn’t choose to be an independent novelist, that’s for sure. Money does not equal success for me.
Readers equal success for me. Even if it’s a handful of faithful readers, that’s success. Readers who care enough to pay their own hard-earned money for something I create. That’s a big fucking deal. I know how hard people work for their money, and if someone hands it over for my writing, that speaks volumes. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to express how incredible that feels.
So, if by some miracle The Way We Go becomes a best-seller, of course I would be ecstatic and thankful and happy beyond my wildest dreams, but I’m still going to feel like I’m a success regardless. Hell, I already do. People have already bought the book, and it hasn’t even officially released yet. Readers have already enjoyed it. It’s not in my head anymore — it’s in the world.