Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Measuring Success & Failures

by @kakrantz

As the token unpub here, let me tell you a little something about success and failures... people succeed, projects fail.

I don't fail. 

I may have to return to the starting blocks rather often, but it's not because I failed. I took the wrong project to the wrong track on the wrong day. I dressed it in the wrong shoes and the wrong spandex. My mistake but not my failure.

Think my ego is larger than my living room? Perhaps the Moscato loosened my grasp on reality? No, no.  Having the right mindset for an artistic endeavor keeps me from imploding. Part of anchoring that healthy perspective is knowing what to measure, how to measure it, and who does the measuring.

Important Point One: I define my success. Third parties do not.
Important Point Two: My successes are unique to me. They are not the perceived successes of others. In this, I avoid envy and jealousy among many other self-defeating distractions.

So what do I measure? Things & Timelines. How many of you remember "SMART Goals"?

Applies to writing, applies to querying, applies to marketing, applies to ... pretty much every aspect that is within my control. Achieving my goals is what I measure. That is how I judge me.

Things I can't control? Agent interest. Editor interest. Reader interest. Amazon rankings. Best Seller lists. Do I track those things? Sure do. Why? Because I might be able to learn something from them. Maybe my query needs work. Maybe similar stories were just acquired. Maybe I need to boost my work's visibility.  However, all that info is just raw data waiting to be put to use. Data may help me revise a SMART goal. It may spawn a new goal. What it does not do is get me down. What is does not do is measure me as a person.

Metrics are not me. Metrics are data.

Sure, your editor may want 5,000 pre-orders. The local bookstores may want your books to come from a NYC publisher before they'll host a signing. Amazon may want 56 reviews before they put your book on a recommended list. Those numbers and those goals belong to other people, specifically they belong to other businesses.  Their goals are not yours. Unless you plan on taking their job, don't volunteer to own their goals.

When the rejections, lost contracts, or low sales get you down, remember, 98% of the time, it's not you, it's factors beyond your control. (If it is YOU, then you're probably not aware, and need a 3rd-party to hit you with a 2x4.)

Once I have a book hit the market, the numbers still won't define me. Those numbers will still be raw data waiting to be put to use in a new goal.

How many SMART goals do you have, dear readers? Care to share one?

Image originally found here: http://www.kevinmashburn.com/goal-setting/

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