Yesterday my first novel, Alex, hit an incredible milestone: 1,000 reader reviews on Amazon.com.
When I published the book three years ago as an independent author, I never would have guessed that I could hit this level. There are authors out there selling significantly more books than I am, that have a bigger backlist and more readers than I do, that don’t get half this number of reviews on their best-selling novels. I certainly never expected to get the kind of review volumes normally reserved for Stephen King books.
If there’s one thing that writing has taught me, it’s that the definition of “success” is fluid. To one person it might mean sales, to another it might mean connecting with people on an emotional level. To another the definition might morph, constantly taking on whatever shape is necessary in order to disqualify that person’s achievements to date. I’ll admit that I’ve struggled with that last one in the past.
But man… it’s hard to argue with that number. I’m still astounded by the idea that 1,000 people have even read a book of mine, let alone that that many were affected enough by what they read (one way or another) to leave a review. Yesterday my son saw Alex’s product page and asked what the review number meant. After I told him, he said, “What?? A thousand people?? I never knew my dad was famous!” In that instant I realized what my personal definition of success was. I also realized that I’d hit it.
I want to write a lot of novels. My plans have been disrupted over and over again since the moment when I had planned to focus on writing more heavily, which is a constant source of trepidation for me and a fact that I am always beating myself up with. But today, I’m cutting myself a little slack.
One thousand? Wow.