Success is highly personal, and for some people, a wild goose chase that never ends. For me personally, the first step of success is that I re-read the story and it makes me happy. Second would be positive feedback from readers. Third, and much less important, would be monetary success. Critical acclaim (ie: people whose profession is to have opinions) would be nice, but it doesn't pay for a retirement home. Ditto for awards. Nice, but not very important.
People can have all that -- personal satisfaction with past work, fans, and a good deal of monetary recompensation, and STILL not feel that they've fulfilled their potential. I guess that's the way we are wired. Good enough is good enough for right now, but not really.
if you finish it.
You don't., other people tell you . That realization may not even happen in your lifetime as was the case with Van Gogh and many others.
I'm a writer so if I can picture everything going on in the story vividly, or try getting feedback from multiple people who don't know it's your work that way you get honest responses.
I usually gauge my success on if I think it's good. If I've put forward the best effort that I can, then eventually the right people will come along and like it too.
For me, I love to draw and I determine if I've succeeded if I enjoy my final product, if when I look at it I'm willing to show it to another person then I know I've succeeded in my task of drawing something asthetically pleasing while enjoying it along the way. I think the idea that you only succeed if others like what you do is wrong, everyone has different tastes and likes. Even if someone else doesn't like my work it doesn't affect me. If I like it then I have succeeded.
I write plays. It's not so much a matter of publication as production. Sometimes just a staged reading. I've appeared in and even staged a number of staged readings of new plays. Usually an invitational audience of maybe thirty people. I have a couple of plays that are handled by a publisher out west and I get a royalties check every year, now every other year (I wrote them 25 years ago) from those. Basically, I do this for fun. I did something else for money. So if I had fun, it was successful.
Successful in what sense?
Successful in having achieved the desired result:
- For my art, I see it by looking at it - and unless it's a commission piece this is all it takes. Should my customer not be happy with it (which hasn't happened so far), then I'd of course alter it, but it wouldn't change my view on whether it's successful - of course I'd then, personally, been unsuccessful in meeting the customers goals the first time round.
- For my writing, it's a combination of whether or not I'm happy with the result and whether it has the effect on my readers that I'd hoped for. My current WIP has a twist at the end (think Shyamalan movies) and until I sent it to my beta-readers, I had no idea whether I'd managed to pull it off or not.
Successful as in earning me a fame and money:
- When the fame and money starts rolling in (and per this definition none of it is terribly successful)
You may not be able to.
"Success" in art is as hard to define as anything else.
Many artists were unknown while alive.
Even Shakespear did not become a national treasure for a hundred years after his death.
Other writers and artists are famous while alive, for a few years, and then you never hear from them again. Take a look at the New York Review of Books from 10 years ago and see how many authors. with #1 selling books, you have ever heard about now.
Easy: did my work generate a million dollars in profit (sales over expenses.) If it didn't, I'm a failure. If it did, I count that as a success. I've failed 42 times and succeeded thrice.
Success is relative to goal. Is your goal to make money, to win acclaim, or to satisfy your personal need to create something that you like? Depending on how you answer that question, you should look either to your bank account, the opinions of fans or critics, or to yourself.
When I enjoy reading what I've written, then I know I have written well. I think it's the same for musicians, the best ones can create exactly the music they themselves would like to hear.
Glen Gould's version of Bach's Goldberg Variations was exactly the way Glen Gould wanted hear Bach's Goldberg Variations. Therefore, when he was happy with a given recording of his music-he knew it would go over well.
use your best knowledge, see that you made it not only for yourself but for the public is it what they will want to see or hear it try to be original and very creative
I'm a fanfic writer, and I judge my success by how many likes it gets on tumblr
I guess if a lot of people like it. If someone notices your work and wants to do MORE with it.
If I can sell it.
I think there are two ways to know it is successful. The first is personal satisfaction. If you are happy with the end result and you feel pride in your accomplishment then it is successful. This is the most important type of success which leads to the next type of success. The second is the reactions of others. If more people like your work than don't like it (through sales or reviews, etc) then it is successful (on the business side).
I prefer folding green thank you notes. Also known as pictures of dead presidents. If my work means something to anyone, that's the way to tell. They'll invest in it.
It would be nice if I made money on it. But, even if I don't, at least I can say I wrote something.
If someone wants to publish it.
I believe that you can gauge how successful your art is once enough people start praising it.
By where you can afford to go on holiday as a result.
By how much money you've made from it. It's a crass answer but it's also true.