Too many writers are waiting to be handed "success" by somebody.

They struggle their way through all the hope and pain and frustration and finally end up with some semblance of a finished novel... only to find that they might not get the agent, publishing or movie deal that they were dreaming about on the other side.

Even the lucky authors who actually do manage to get a book deal are rewarded with a huge cut in their profits and no creative control over their book cover or the trending genre their book is placed in. Not to mention an advance or book sales may never be enough to justify leaving the day job.

While I'm not here to talk you out of whatever you want, I want to discuss this issue. Because all of this would absolutely suck to find out the hard way, especially if you'd done all the work.

So what else is there for an author to do these days? Are there any other options to help you continue on your creative path without having all your hopes, dreams, and visions of success being crushed along the way? But of course.

You have to define success for yourself.

Your version of success doesn't have to be the cookie-cutter version everyone else is striving for.

Your ideal version of success may just be getting your novel in the hands of friends and family and the people you really care about. It might be simply to do it for yourself. Or it could be to make large amounts of money (but do you really need a publisher to do that?)

Your idea of success might simply be to teach, entertain, or inspire, and if it is - don't wait around while your message gets stale, waiting for some magical deal to come and make it happen for you. Don't let your ego trick you into believing that your success always has to be something you have to posture about to be worthwhile.

Your version of success should include the idea of impressing other people.

If your current version of success is based on trying to impress other people, rethink your version of success. - (Tweet this!)

If your version of success really really is to get that publishing deal with a top company, then by all means pursue it with all your heart. But do you want it because you want it, or is it something you've been led to BELIEVE you want? (Because "self-publishing is lame" and "the real money is in the deal", right). Please!

Tell that to people like the wonderful Regina Anaejionu, who used her books as essential tools to build credibility, then to create the ultimate infopreneurial empire.

Or Mariah Coz, who didn't sit around waiting for anyone to publish her works - she self-published them herself then went on to make millions with the book + her incredible courses.

Then there's also my good friend Kayla Hollatz, the community-building superstar who fulfilled a goal of hers by publishing a personal poetry book that is touching thousands of people's hearts around the world, right now. 

You don't have to wait for anyone's permission. 

Times are changing, the lie of there being authority over our creativity is crumbling before our very eyes.

These days, the right author with the right mindset and creativity can make millions from their living room; with no one breathing down their backs from a publishing house, telling them what is appropriate and what is not, stifling their creativity with their outdated laws and practices. No one dumbing down their message for fear of limiting their target audience, or blaming the lack of sales on them, despite providing little to no support with marketing. 

I don't know about you, but that sounds like the real "vanity publishing" these days.

For the majority of authors, being published by one of the top five is an empty fantasy, and charging blindly towards it causes nothing but large amounts of stress, frustration and resentment. So if there's anything I can tell you, just to save you from would be to think outside the box and realise that there are other opportunities.

Your ideal version of success may be way closer than you think - just around the corner, or within arm's reach. And the more personal it is to you, the happier you'll be when you achieve it.

Go get it.

Stephanie Lennox is an award-winning author, keynote speaker, holistic writing coach and wellness advocate. She’s also the founder of The Authorship Program®, a 12-week immersive experience that helps writers conquer fear in their creative lives. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Please share this post: