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L.T. Suzuki

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Member Since: Jan, 2009

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Blogs by L.T. Suzuki

How Do You Measure Success:
1/25/2011 7:52:50 AM
The writing business is a tough one to break into whether you’re an aspiring author looking for literary representation or a seasoned writer trying to make a full-time living doing what you love.
Yes, it’s one hard business to survive, and so, too, is achieving a level of success in this business. But how does one even begin measuring success?
For most, one of the joys of writing is being able to share their stories with others. Once the public begins reading, reviews will start to come in.
Does one measure success by the number of glowing reviews we receive?
We all hope for rave reviews, but the reality is, no matter who you are, you know there will always be detractors of your works. Even if you’re a best selling traditionally published author like J.K. Rowling, Anne Rice or Stephanie Meyer, you’ll never be able to please all of the people, all of the time. It’s all very subjective after all.
Some writers say success comes only when they land a multi-book deal with one of the big five in the publishing world that will happily fork over a six-figure advance. To other writers, success means something as simple as just having people read their stories, even if it means giving it away for free.
For me, my career went from writing corporate correspondence to researching and writing educational training manuals, and then writing fantasy novels as well as scripts for biographies and a weekly adventure travel show. I enjoy this variety and the challenges of writing whatever I’m called on to create.
Some will say this is not true success, for true success in this business only comes with writing a ‘serious’ work of literary fiction that is recognized in the publishing world and receives great accolades and awards.
By the reviews posted on my website, you can see I’ve received praise my works, but because I’ve turned down books deals with traditional publishing companies and chose to remain an indie author, this alone makes me less of a writer in some people’s eyes. Yet, these same people have pointed out to me that there are lots of books out there that are traditionally published, but they have questioned the quality of the works, wondering how these authors even got published to begin with.
Others will say that even though I’ve received wonderful reviews for my novels, this success cannot be taken seriously because I chose to write fantasy, a genre many literary snobs turn their noses up at.
Some will say that because I am an indie author without a literary agent, I have not achieved success in the true sense, for real writers struggle to get literary representation to validate their works and their worth.
Since I began writing in Feb. 2002, I’ve had two agents, one based in New York; the last based in Los Angeles, but having had representation (both agents I met at a writers conference, and both, when I was not looking for representation), does not guarantee publication via a traditional publishing house. In fact, I released my latest agent, relying on my excellent entertainment attorney to negotiate and finalize the option agreement for a major motion picture trilogy (pre-production begins soon).
There are those who will stand by their belief that the literary agents of the world are the gatekeepers of the publishing world, separating wheat from chaff. By foregoing the traditional route, some will say I am merely chaff that fell through the screen to mingle with the grains of wheat.
If the judges of The Writers Digest International Book Contest said my ‘chaff’ was ‘one of the best fantasies’ ever read; is there not some chance I am one of those writers who truly does know how to write and how to keep my readers entertained?
Some writers feel the fact that I’ve had two agents must speak for my skills as a writer/storyteller, while others will say, “yes, but if she was that good, she would be published traditionally by now.”
When a writer is offered a book deal through a traditional publisher, big or small, I applaud their good fortune, because lord knows, it is an incredible battle to stand out from the crowd when there are literally 75,000+ titles coming out each year, each vying for readership. It is a huge achievement. But is my achievement less meaningful because this is the option I chose?
In my little world, success means having people who are more than happy to pay for one of my novels; reviewing wonderful reviews and recommendations from readers and professional book reviewers; seeing my books being read in the local libraries; having people seek me out, offering to pay me to write scripts, biographies, etc., and having several film producers approach me to option movie rights to my fantasy novels.
If you have any one of these reasons to be grateful for, you love what you do and it makes you happy, then I think I’m doing pretty darn good, even if I fall short in the success department in other people’s eyes.
So, how do you measure personal success in the writing business? Why not share your thoughts with me on Twitter (.LornaSuzuki)?


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