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What does literary success look like to you?

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What Tastes Like Literary Success?

The easy answer for me is seeing that my books are being read. Yeah, all indie authors are jazzed to see our books finally in publication. And, yeah, it feels good to sell a book and make some royalty. A little coin in the pocket isn’t a bad thing, especially since there’s a cost to publishing and it’s nice when your books break even or, gasp, make a profit. I’m a capitalist and, while writing as a hobby is something I’d do anyway, making some money off it is gratifying.

But, unexpectedly, was what happened when I published my most recent book in November 2018. The sales weren’t especially overwhelming, but I’m used to that and it was before I had discovered Amazon ads. The book that comes out later this year will be a full test of the efficacy of that program. No, in November I clicked on Kindle’s KENP Reads beta report and saw this amazing report that showed me which books were being read and I could do the math and see how many books that translated into. I could see that someone (I imagine the same readers) were starting with Book 1 (Life As We Knew It), going to Book 2 (Objects in View), going to Book 3 (A Threatening Fragility) and then finishing with Book 4 (Day’s End) and they were doing it, often day after day … binge-reading my series. While I’d love it if they left a review when they were finished, this is sufficient applause for me.

In fact, it was far better than getting paid when someone buys the book, which could sit on someone’s TRB for years. Instead, I get real-time data showing the books are being read. (KENP has now come out with a royalty estimator so you can see approximately how much money you’re making from those reads). That scratches the literary success itch for me in a way I didn’t even know I wanted.

Would I like to be a best-selling author? Of course I would. Any author who says they don’t want that is either lying or in denial. We wouldn’t publish our books if we didn’t want them to be read. Most of us are, unfortunately, going to languish in the shadows for our entire careers. We have to define success in something other than the dollars our books bring in the door. For me, it’s people reading my books. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t do a happy dance if I broke into best-seller territory, so isn’t it lovely that KENP is now being used to calculate best-seller rankings. And, last month was the first time my KENP royalties outranked my sell royalties, so … yeah … starting to look kind of shiny around here.

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