Sunday, August 5, 2012

Measuring Success as a Writer

by Maria Geraci

I know we're supposed to be blogging about our trunk novels. Those are the manuscripts we have hidden somewhere, that never saw the light of day. But since I have a new release coming out tomorrow, I thought I'd blog about something else. I want to talk about how we as writers measure our own success.

When I first got the "call", I thought, this is it. I've made it! My agent sold a two book deal to Berkley based on a romantic women's fiction novel, which would become my Bunco Babes series. Friends and family predicted I'd soon be quitting my day job, because, let's face it, my books were sure to be a big hit and it wouldn't be long before I was signing 6 figure contracts and making all the big lists.

Boy, am I glad I kept that day job.

The reality of my first sale was that not only did I not make any big lists, the book didn't do as well as expected. The print run for my 2nd book was dismal. I really thought my career would be over before it barely began. I'll admit, it was hard to not be depressed. I'd worked a lot of years to get an agent, and then to make a sale. The whole thing seemed unfair, somehow.

Luckily, my agent was able to sell a 3rd book to Berkley. I busted my butt to write that book (The Boyfriend of the Month Club) in record time because I was convinced that I needed to get it out as quickly as possible. Although I loved writing that book, I was stressed out the entire time. When the book came out, I spent hours (yes, hours) on the Internet, Googling my name, my book title, checking sales numbers, etc... All to find out exactly nothing. Nothing that helped me determine how successful I was, anyway.

I met my agent over lunch and we discussed my future. I told her about a new book I was writing, warning her that it was a bit different than my first 3 books. This one was told in 1st person, present tense. And I didn't have an outline. No idea how the book would end, etc... She told me to send her the first 50 pages. So I did. She loved what I had and encouraged me to finish the book. We had no idea who would want it. Or if anyone would want it. But that didn't matter. She told me to focus on what it was I did best and that was to write. To write something I loved and to not worry about anything else. So I did.

Halfway through writing the book, my editor at Berkley called my agent and told me my sales figures for The Boyfriend of the Month Club were good enough that she could buy another book from me. My agent sent her the first 50 pages of the new book and she loved them too. And bought the book. Which comes out tomorrow.

Now, I'd be lying if I said I hadn't Googled my name in the past few days. Or gone over to Goodreads to see what readers have been saying about the advanced copies of my new book. I am, after all, only human. But I can honestly say that I no longer measure my success as an author in terms of my sales. Or print runs. Or making lists. Or anything else that is simply out of my control. Today I measure my success in terms of my own personal happiness. Am I happy with my new book? Damn straight I am. I love the characters, the story. Everything about it. I wrote a book I wanted to read myself. And it's published. Which means it's getting in reader's hands. Because after all, stories must be shared.

What's up next for me? Well, I'm writing another book. Is it sold yet? Nope. I guess we're waiting to see how my sales numbers are for A Girl Like You. But you know what? There's nothing I can do about that. I wrote the best book I can and I'm marketing it the best way I know how. The rest is up to the readers. And to the fates. The one thing I do know is that in today's publishing climate, I now have choices. Success for me, is writing a book I love and having the opportunity to get it into the hands of readers. Whether it's through a traditional publisher or some other method.

How do you measure success? Or happiness as a writer?

Want to win a free copy of A Girl Like You? Go over to Goodreads and enter there. My publisher is giving away 8 copies, but the deadline is August 7, so hurry!

 From the author of the The Boyfriend of the Month Club, A Girl Like You promises humor, entertainment, sympathetic characters and a heartwarming romance.

What if you found out you were the ugly friend?

Emma Frazier is smart, hardworking, and loves her job as a journalist for a Florida lifestyle magazine. Emma knows she’s no great beauty, but she’s pretty certain she has a shot with her handsome new boss, Ben Gallagher—until Emma overhears a mutual acquaintance refer to her as the “ugly friend.” In an effort to reclaim her battered self-esteem, Emma decides to impress Ben at work by promising an exclusive interview with NASCAR legend, Trip Monroe.

Emma and Trip went to high school together and although it’s been fourteen years since they’ve spoken, Emma is certain she can score an interview with the elusive super star. But connecting with Trip turns out to be harder than Emma imagined. Her quest for the interview leads her back to her tiny hometown of Catfish Cove, where old secrets and a new romantic interest shake up Emma’s views on life and teach her that maybe the key to finding true love is as simple as accepting yourself for the person you were always meant to be.

Maria Geraci writes contemporary romance and women’s fiction with a happy ending. The Portland Book Review called her novel, The Boyfriend of the Month Club, “immensely sexy, immensely satisfying and humorous.” Her fourth novel, A Girl Like You, will be released August, 2012 by Berkley, Penguin USA. For more information, please visit her website at


  1. What a great attitude, Maria. Measuring your success by how happy you are? What an idea!!

    Wishing you tons of success-- and happiness!-- with the latest release.

  2. Hey Maria, I loved your honest story! Had to go and tweet about it.

    Blessings to you -

  3. Maria, I loved your post. In the end, what matters most is that we are true to what made us write in the first place, the desire to give ourselves up to a dream world ... and all the worries about externals are just distractions. I'm going on Amazon right now to order A Girl Like You! Yay!

    1. I couldn't have said it better myself, Sheila. thanks!

  4. Hi Maria,

    Great story. New novel sounds wonderful. Send us a all a line of text so we can tweet about it.

    1. thanks, Karin :)I really do love the new book and hope that readers will as well. Here's a sample tweet. Thanks!

      @MariaGeraci's A GIRL LIKE YOU offers humor, sympathetic characters and a heartwarming romance.

  5. I love this post Maria. You are so inspirational and I can't wait to read A Girl Like You. Wishing you much success!

  6. Great honest post. It's not all bestseller lists and 6 figures. Congrats on the new book.

  7. Maria,
    I'm cheering for you here in Chicago!!!!! I know all about the rollercoaster of sales figures, etc., and love that you're focusing only on what you can control -- writing *another* wonderful novel. I haven't missed one of your books yet, and I can't wait to read A Girl Like You! Thanks for the inspirational post ;).

  8. New book sounds great!! I'm going over to sign up, but plan on downloading it on my Nook tonight anyway. If I win, I'll pass it on to a friend and get you a new reader!

    You hit home with me, girl...your story is mine!! Two book deal with Berkley and I thought my path was lined with gold. :-) But 1st book didn't do so great...all 5 star reviews but as you know, it's hard to get known when noone knows you. I'm trying to set everything up for book two to do better when it comes out in 3 months, but no guarantees. And I'm working diligently on a third book that my editor loves so far and "wants" to buy, but with my numbers being low, is still hesitant.

    It's hard not to measure things that way. Especially when friends you started with are succeeding and you want to cry "What am I not doing right?"

    But you are correct. My agent tells me weekly, that it will be a slow build but it will build. Just keep writing great books. And I do, because I love it. I write the stories I love with all my heart.

    And every morning I get up and go to that detested day job. LOL. One day, you and I will both be on those lists, because we are writing for the right reasons.

  9. Aw, Sharla, I believe we are literary soul mates! Thank you so much for your inspirational words :)

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