How Do You Measure Your Success As A Writer?

writer success

What is the best way to judge the success of your writing?

Seeing your name at the top of a bestselling list, be it on Amazon, The New York Times, or Goodreads, is a writer’s dream.

The reality is, however, that there is only room for one book at any given time at the peak of what is a gigantic and ever-growing pyramid of published books.

For most of us, we have to accept that our books are probably going to reside towards the ‘fatter’ part of this best-selling pyramid.

But this doesn’t mean that a book is unsuccessful, though. Depending on your goals and aspirations, success as a writer can come in many forms.

If your measure is based only on how much money you make from your book, perhaps you might stop reading here, because I won’t be mentioning it.

Without a doubt, my most successful book to date for me has been Louis.

The reason is that I just had to write this story about a man who helped shape my understanding of the world around me as a young boy.

That he had died forty years before I finally wrote it gave me a sense, in an abstract way, of saying thank you to him.

But the success of this book for me was that his wife, who passed away only a few years ago at the age of ninety-nine, was able to read my story about her husband.

If I sell not one more single copy, I’m more than satisfied. Maria, the most important reader in the world for me, read my story about her husband, Louis.

In other ways too. One reader told me about how reading February The Fifth, during a very difficult time for him, brought a laugh while all around him was very grim.

To know you have touched someone like this is worth more than any financial reward for a writer.

Then there are wonderful little remarks such as, ‘you gave me such a good laugh,’ or ‘I can really relate to your characters.’

Sure, any praise is gladly accepted, but when words touch people and make them laugh, think, or cry, then the effort has been worthwhile.

Yes, money is nice to have but so quickly disappears.

There are more important ways in which you can measure your success as a writer.


More reading: How You Can Leave More Than Footprints In The Sand

Derek Haines

A Cambridge CELTA English teacher and author with a passion for writing and all forms of publishing. My days are spent teaching English and writing, as well as testing and taming new technology.

3 thoughts on “How Do You Measure Your Success As A Writer?

  • October 28, 2018 at 2:12 am

    I was most satisfied as a writer when my “father of the groom” speech received applause many times during the six minutes that I spoke. Later comments such as “that was a great speech”, “do you belong to the Toastmasters?” etc further added to my delight. I also receive comments from those who read my blog, not necessarily in writing, but when talking to me. I published my book “Choices They Made” last May. I have not hit the best seller rank, but I am satisfied and convinced that I am writer.

  • September 8, 2017 at 10:47 am

    If a tree falls, and there’s no one there to hear it. . . .
    If a book is published and there’s no one there to read it. . . .

    Show me the money, and I’ll show you success; because if it doesn’t matter if a book reaches its highest commercial success potential — why go to the trouble of designers, editors, book doctors and beta readers. Just hand someone a spiral and they can jot down their thoughts.

    Have I missed the point? Possibly? Does the headline match the content of the essay?

    An author is one who makes money at writing; it’s a profession. Maybe the headline should be
    “If you’re a Writer, how do you determine that you are fulfilled?”

    It’s a noble thesis, but . . . hmmm. . . not in total agreement.

    • May 19, 2018 at 5:24 pm

      We used to get into this debate at NYU as student writers. Ultimately, most looked down on writings that were “commercial” saying it’d probably sell but lacked imagination. Considering the epidemic of sequels I’d have to agree. Successful art moves people. Only after accomplishing that can materialistic reward be even possible.


Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.