Success! Are You Ready?

The word success and thoughtful businessman standing back to camera against futuristic black and blue background

Recently one of our faithful readers asked, since there are so many blogs about handling failure, if I would write a blog on how to handle success. Here are a few of my thoughts, in no particular order:

Once you are successful, prepare to…

…be gracious. Whether you struggled for years to be published or if you’ve never heard the word “no” from an agent or editor, when writing in public forums or speaking in a group setting, always temper your enthusiasm about your success. No doubt and you simply want your friends to celebrate with you. We all want that. But in a public forum, there will always be the person your success makes feel small, and words that can be interpreted as boasting can hurt, no matter how pure your heart.

…deal with backbiting. Since we live in a fallen world, even if you are the most gracious and lovely person you can be, someone will be envious of you. Someone will say your writing stinks. You may never hear this. Or you might. Either way, keep walking with God, and realize that writing touches the gamut of emotions. We cannot control responses to our writing. No one is immune to criticism. Don’t believe me? We just celebrated Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice for us, His crucifixion brought about by His actions — and His words.

…realize that people who were never on your team still won’t be. We’d all like to think that if only we could appear on TV and become rich and famous, we could finally prove our critics wrong. Nope. They’ll just hate you more. Don’t worry about them. Enjoy your true friends. You know who they are.

…adjust your financial plan. You may receive no advance, a four-figure advance, or an advance large enough to make a real difference in your life. But please remember, you will be taxed on that advance and any royalties so hold back at least 30% for when the tax bill arrives. And if you are using an advance to live on, make sure to budget so that the money will last well past the date you can expect your next payment on your contract. Unsure of how to handle your new finances? Your local bank should be able to help you find professional help so you can form a plan. Bottom line: it’s easy to spend a fortune so don’t get caught short on money if you can avoid it.

…be watched. People who never looked your way before may suddenly notice you. You may gain more friends than if you had just issued a public invitation to a vacation home on the beach. Enjoy the popularity, but keep a balance of how much to let others into your life so you don’t become overwhelmed. This is a good time to solidify friendships you already have with other published authors and get a few tips from them on how to form boundaries with fans.

…expand your social media presence. Now more than ever, you will need to communicate with fans. Set up a schedule for Twitter, Facebook, and your newsletter and/or blog. Remind fans that you are still writing, and keep them up to date on important events in your life so they will feel as though you are a friend. Don’t hawk your books, though. Let readers find you and your books, although letting your fans know when your publisher is offering a free download can be a great idea.

…be asked to speak. Speaking engagements may start coming your way. If you need to hone your public appearance skills, many people recommend Toastmasters.

…master time management. You will no longer have the luxury of taking as long as you want to write a book. You will have relentless deadlines — several with each book. Be prepared to meet them all and schedule your time accordingly.

…be with those you love. Make spending time doing fun activities with everyone you love a priority.

…enjoy your success!

Your turn:

How would you recommend handling success?

What is your favorite success story?

What are you looking forward to most when you are successful?

18 Responses to Success! Are You Ready?

  1. Susie Finkbeiner April 24, 2014 at 5:14 am #

    I haven’t found enormous success, but I have learned from the minor ones I’ve enjoyed. I think one of the things to remember is to banish the idea of “having arrived”. There is always room for improvement, always room for advice, always room for a slice of humble pie.

    • Tamela Hancock Murray April 24, 2014 at 7:26 am #

      Very good point, Susie. Besides, once you “arrive” where else is there to go on your adventure? :)

  2. Heather Day Gilbert April 24, 2014 at 5:25 am #

    Great post today, Tamela–especially about being prepared for people to say they don’t like your work. No matter what the level of your success as author, your book can’t “float” everyone’s “boat.” Also, I love the one about the people who are really on your team coming through for you…if you become better-known, you will inevitably draw a lot of new friends. Some are real, some are not. Social media can blur the lines. Your true friends will be there for you when you’re an unknown AND when you’re known. And they will be praying for you, as you hopefully are for THEIR success, as well.

    • Tamela Hancock Murray April 24, 2014 at 7:28 am #

      Exactly, Heather. And sadly, some old friends may not respond well to your success. But God will send the friends you need, when you need them.

  3. Janet Ann Collins April 24, 2014 at 7:05 am #

    At least successful authors don’t usually have to deal with paparazzi and fans following them everywhere. That kind of fame would be a nightmare.

    • Tamela Hancock Murray April 24, 2014 at 7:28 am #

      I’m so glad I don’t have to worry *too* much about what I wear to the grocery store!

  4. Jeanne Takenaka April 24, 2014 at 7:28 am #

    What a great topic, Tamela. The word that kept coming to mind as I read your points was: Humility. Maintaining a humble spirit and attitude through the ups and downs of success helps keep things in perspective.

    One other thing I keep hearing from published authors is that just because you’re published, it doesn’t solve all those internal issues we all struggle with. Finding my identity in Jesus, rather than in how well my writing is received (or will be one day) will make for more peace inside me, I’m thinking.

    • Tamela Hancock Murray April 24, 2014 at 7:29 am #

      Absolutely, Jeanne. Anchoring our identity in any fleeting worldly thing is never a good idea. Only Jesus.

    • Jim Lupis April 24, 2014 at 9:09 am #

      Jeanne, I love your “finding my identity in Jesus” comment. At the end of the day, that is what real success is.

  5. Terrance Leon Austin April 24, 2014 at 7:28 am #

    Thank You Tamela.

  6. Deborah H. Bateman April 24, 2014 at 7:47 am #

    Thanks for sharing these tips. My advice is that there is always something to learn. There is always another step to climb. Keep reaching and moving forward.
    Deborah H. Bateman

  7. Cristine Eastin April 24, 2014 at 8:54 am #

    One of my favorite author success stories (that I know of) is Liz Curtis Higgs. What an ambassador for the Lord. She shares her testimony, God’s messages He gives her, and has a heart for pointing others to Christ.

    When I’m successful, I’m looking forward to the opportunity to do the same. I hope I can be half as humble and accessible as Liz is, since I see those traits as key to success for the Lord.

    • Tamela Hancock Murray April 24, 2014 at 9:32 am #

      I own several of Liz’s books and I’ve have the privilege of seeing her speak. She is indeed a marvelous person.

  8. Sondra Kraak April 24, 2014 at 9:06 am #

    Tamela, thanks for encouraging me, an unpublished writer through these words. Even unpublished, I feel blessed to have had the opportunities I have with writing and am thankful that God has used my gift and will continue to mold it. Even with success, there is always room for growth.

  9. Jim Lupis April 24, 2014 at 9:06 am #

    Tamela, your post is loaded with wisdom, not just for writers but for everyone. Thank you.

  10. Kimberly Wright April 24, 2014 at 7:37 pm #

    I always enjoy your posts, but this one was very timely for me. It is always hard to experience criticism and backbiting in any circumstance. Sometimes more so in something we have poured and sweated over for months on end.
    Thanks so much for always sharing your wisdom and encouraging words!

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