The story that motivated today's post is a bit of a stretch, but work with me for a minute. A Twitter pal of mine commented the other day that her husband said pants and a bra don't count as getting dressed. I recognized this for the lie it is, since I willingly leave my house wearing what could be considered pajamas at least once a week. Someone else might not go to the grocery store in anything less than full make-up and hair.
We all have different definitions of terms that work for us. I certainly know my definition of a clean house isn't the same as my mom's. But that's okay. The same rule applies to defining success. What looks like success to me could be considered a horrible failure to someone else.
Maybe as you query, success could be getting at least a 10% request rate. Great, shoot for that. For another writer, that has been down this path before and already knows the magic sauce of getting requests, they define success as finding an agent. And yet another writer, that already has an agent, defines success with a book deal. Each definition is valid for that person.
You can't compare your success to someone elses.
Let me say that again, but in a different way just to be clear.
It is okay for your success to be different from another writer's success. Someone else doing better than you does not diminish your success.
Back to my Twitter friend. She also shared that her husband's definition of dressed includes hair and make-up. He claims his definition matters since they would be out in public together. While the whole "out in public" argument doesn't convince me he's right, it does bring up a good point to consider when defining success.
If you are an indie publisher, then your definition of success is the only one that matters. But if you are going the traditional route, other people will have a stake in your success. Sometimes you aren't the only one with an opinion that counts, you need
to know what those other definitions are so you don't find yourself
confused when you're the only one having a dance party in your pjs. Not that you can't still celebrate your own "wohoo" moments. But it's good to know what your agent, editor, publicist, etc. consider success.
So stop worrying about how many requests this writer got, or how fast so-and-so's book hit the NYT Bestseller's List. Not only is it counterproductive, it's irrelevant. The only success that matters is your own and you'll never achieve it by playing the comparison game all day.