Wednesday, November 6, 2019

How Should Authors Define Success?

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Of the questions I’m most often asked by potential clients (for the book public relations firm that I work for), perhaps none is more common than this one:  How should we measure success?

The answer, to me, is obvious:  In many ways!

It all comes down to why you wrote the book and what you hope to accomplish with a campaign to promote it.  You set high goals, have reasonable expectations, and set a minimum bar of what absolutely must be accomplished. Then you go out there, give it your all, maybe get lucky, and…find success, however you definite it.

Obviously there are certain things almost all of my clients would want – book sales; leads generation for other services, books, or products; impacting others with an empowering message; and growing one’s brand.  Some of this has an immediate pay-off while a chunk of it yields long-term bonuses.

Book publicity can’t guarantee success alone.  It’s a collaborative effort. Some combination of publicity, marketing and advertising will contribute to your accomplishments. Some mixture of author-publisher-publicist-marketer will produce your results. The secret sauce consists of something not so secret. It’s perseverance, creativity, time, money, and luck that gets you somewhere.   

For some authors, they feel successful for having written and published a book.  The rest is gravy. For many others, that’s just the beginning and the hard work first begins after the book is done and the PR begins.

When it comes to sales, all kinds of numbers dance in an author’s head. If he or she received an advance against royalties, they may not be satisfied until the book earns out, reaching a point where enough sales were generated to cover the advance and allowing for royalties to kick in. 

Others are concerned with hitting specific best-seller lists. Some even hope to convert their book into something bigger, like a film, TV show, or consulting business.  Self-published authors want to recover costs and maybe land a real publisher. 

Everyone has their definition of success, depending on where they started out from – and where they hope to get to.

PR can be measured a number of ways, including:

·         Total number of impressions (how many people saw, heard, or read about you).
·         How many media outlets covered you.
·         Which specific outlets featured you.
·         The advertising cost-equivalent of your media coverage.
·         How many good pull quotes you got from media coverage.
·         More clicks to your website or connections to your social media followings.

It can also be looked at, but maybe not exactly measured, as follows:

·         If it yielded more people to know who you are.
·         If it changed the hearts, minds, and actions of others.
·         If it influenced influencers to encourage the right action of their followers.

Did your effort to promote your book lead to:

·         Someone hiring you for a job/consulting gig?
·         You being utilized as a paid speaker?
·         Invitations to be a contributor to a media outlet, like a columnist for a newspaper?
·         Getting another, bigger book deal with a top literary agent or book publisher?

Success may be about website clicks, numbers of downloads and book sales, or about video views and FB likes and emailed shares – but it’s about influence, impact, and inspiring others.  Your words mean something and so does your book marketing and PR.

You can define what success would look like – and you can be successful by anyone’s definition. It’s okay to dream, hope, and demand more of yourself, but enjoy the wins you achieve.  It’s not okay to just be happy you have a book but it alone is something to still marvel at. Now go on out there and reach beyond what you can touch.                   

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Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are his alone and not that of his employer or anyone else. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2019. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by as a "best resource.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America.

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