Last week, Brandon Sanderson released his latest book Oathbringer. It shot to #1 in the Amazon store and Brandon held the spot as the #1 author in the Amazon store (and the world) for several days. He has since been eclipsed by JK Rowling, but is holding onto #2. Both of these author's personal stories are familiar to fans of Fantasy, so I won't go into details, but I think it's worth thinking about where they are now and thinking about what is possible.
Every author is somewhere on the mountain of success. Some people are struggling to get into the foothills, some people are at base camp, some people are making the climb higher. A few people, like Sanderson and Rowling, appear to have reached the top of the mountain.
Except, in the last few weeks, I've seen online ads for JK Rowling's books and Brandon Sanderson has been on a major book signing tour. They're still marketing, they're still climbing, they don't think they're at the top. I've come to realize, as I think they have, there is no top of the mountain. There is no final place of success. You can always climb further. Whether you've got a manuscript not even mom has read, or whether you've got sections of Disneyland dedicated to your story, you can keep going.
That's exciting to me, and motivates me to try harder. Chances are, I won't be Sanderson or Rowling, but I can climb higher than I am today. Tomorrow, next week, next month, next year, I can be more successful than I am now. Importantly, there is no limit to that success - there is no limit to MY success, or YOUR success. Maybe someday we will get to their level, maybe we'll go higher.
A little over 20 years ago, neither Sanderson or Rowling had published a book. Neither one of them knew the level of success they would achieve. Where do you think they'll be in 20 more years? Where will YOU be in 20 years?
My goal - 20 years from now I want to be publishing your books, and writing a blog post about how you are motivation for the next generation of writers.
We'd better get climbing.