Uncle Seth (Godin) has some excellent words of advice today:
Like many authors, I was briefly addicted to the Amazon bestseller list. Every hour, you can check how you’re doing. The problem (other than the insane non-productiveness of it) is how tricky “you” and “doing” are in that sentence. A number isn’t who you are, and your status compared to other people isn’t how you’re doing.
This got me thinking about a couple of things.
First, how writers often complain about ghostwritten celebrity memoirs. Don’t get me wrong, I completely understand the frustration, but nothing productive comes from bemoaning the success of other writers, whoever they might be and whatever the perceived value of their work. It’s irrelevant. Focus on your own bits and pieces. Write the best book you can.
Second, the media reaction to Amanda Hocking self-publishing and selling a whole heap of books. All too often, the focus of the story has been how much money she has made, not that she’s embraced a new way of working – through social media – to make it happen. I find that frustrating. I’m uncomfortable with the notion that new writers might read Hocking’s story and make choices about their writing that are primarily driven by money.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to make a career out of your writing. I’m all kinds of down with that. But success stories on this scale are one-offs (as Hocking stated herself). And to clarify here, I’m not making a comment on self-publishing, I’m saying don’t establish your idea of success based on the success of others.
Again, write the best book you can. And listen to uncle Seth.