Lena Diaz & the Golden Heart

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THIS WEEK soon-to-be-published authors are gathering in Orlando to see who wins the RWA Golden Heart award. I met Lena Diaz in 2010 when we became GH sisters. Lena and I became friends...and I'm so grateful for her constant, uplifting support.

I asked her to share today about being a finalist and how it changed her career.

How Does a Writer Measure Success? And How SHOULD They?

Over 2,000 romance writers will soon converge on Orlando, Florida for the annual Romance Writers of America® conference. I’ll be one of them. I was there in 2010 too, as an unpublished hopeful, the last time the RWA conference was in Orlando. But since then, EVERYTHING has changed. For ALL writers. 
In 2010, the publishing industry was all about traditional New York publishing houses. The only viable alternative was “vanity publishing”, where you paid to produce a book. Vanity was considered second-class, taboo, the route taken only by those who couldn’t get a trad contract. Ebooks were considered a fad that might never really catch on.
Skip ahead seven years.

Print as a format is suffering. Borders is gone. Barnes and Noble is struggling. Amazon has blasted through barriers, allowing an explosion in the digital realm. Ebooks are here to stay. The stigma of paying to publish your book is gone. Now it’s called independent-publishing, or Indie. The tiers of newbie, mid-list, and mega-star that have always existed in traditional publishing now exist in the Indie world too, including Marie Force, Bella Andre, Barbara Freethy, Lilliana Hart.

But with change comes uncertainty, confusion, and fear. Both the path to success and the definition of success continue to evolve. In 2010, my goals were to get published with a trad house, hit the New York Times best seller list, and earn enough money writing to quit my day job. Did I achieve them? I’m published with two trad houses. But the other goals remain unattained. Am I a failure? Let’s look at what I’ve done in the past seven years and see.

·         Became a Golden Heart® finalist in 2010
·         Signed with an agent
·         Sold my Golden Heart book to Avon Impulse and saw it published in 2011
·         Sold to Harlequin Intrigue in 2011
·         Got a very lucrative print deal in Germany through Avon Impulse in 2011
·         Avon and Harlequin translated and sold my books in many countries
·         I “graduated” to Avon Books in 2014 (moved from digital-first to print)
·         Won the Daphne du Maurier award 3 times
·         Won the Booksellers Best Award
·         Won the Tara, the NERFA
·         Was a finalist in other awards like the Carolyn Readers Choice and the Holt Medallion
·         Had a Top Pick in RT
·         As of today, I have 18 books published with two more slated for release in 2018

So, am I a failure? If I measure success against my goals from 2010, the answer is—yes, I’m a failure. But looking at that list of accomplishments, I have to say, I did pretty well. Maybe the problem isn’t what I did or didn’t do. Maybe the problem is that I set some really sucky goals. And because of that, I have a hard time taking pleasure in the things that go right in my career. I know I’m not alone here. Imposter syndrome anyone?

Writers, whether they’re published or not, Indie or trad, newbie or megastar, all struggle with some of the same fears. We can be insecure, especially with the industry changing so much, so fast. We can be negative and feel like nothing is going our way, and really put ourselves down because of it. We can look at others, who seem to be doing so much better than us, and feel like nothing we’ve done really matters. There’s a lesson in there somewhere. What’s the lesson? We need to cut ourselves some slack and set better goals!

Instead of being our own worst detractors, let’s work at becoming our own best champions. I challenge all of you to examine what’s really important, something that you can control. Then define new goals to measure your success. Here are some suggestions:
·         Finish a manuscript!
·         Take craft workshops to improve your skills.
·         Read craft books.
·         Learn about the industry.
·         Network! Meet fellow writers and learn from their experiences (like at this upcoming RWA conference.)

But don’t stop there. Look at your non-writing goals. Make them measurable and attainable. Here are some of mine. Feel free to borrow them.
·         Make someone smile today
·         Help someone in need
·         Read that book you’ve been wanting to read for ages
·         Be nice and open to other peoples’ points of view

Being successful is really as simple as living life to its fullest and not being so hard on yourself. To all of my writer friends going to conference this week, I strongly urge you to set conference goals that you can achieve, and ENJOY the experience.

Smile. Don’t worry. Be happy.

Easier said than done, I know. But we’d all be a lot better off if we could go easier on ourselves, and each other, and just have fun. After all, life isn’t a destination. It’s a journey. Enjoy the trip!

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  1. Welcome back to GLIAS, my friend !

  2. My goal this week... to read as much as I can squeeze in! :)

  3. Thanks for hosting me, Angi! You're awesome. Can't wait to see you at the conference. Thank you Colleen and BN for stopping by. Reading is ALWAYS a good goal to have!

  4. I think Lena is a very hard working author. Even though she won the award she still had to push thru and that is tough.I really enjoy her books and wish her the best this week. My goals for this week are making a major change of a few things in my life and hope that i have planned them out right one is a change of drs and go from there!

    1. I hope you achieve your goals, PT. But that even if you don't, you focus on being happy and healthy and not beating yourself up when things don't go as planned. Thanks so much for your kind comments. And I'm so glad you enjoy my books. :)

  5. Replies
    1. And you're awesome! Thank you so much, Lynn!