I measure my professional life in terms of goals. Some are big, like getting published within five years of taking my writing seriously. Some are small, like getting more visitors to my website than were there last month. Or starting a newsletter to inform my readers of what's around the next bend.
RWA (Romance Writers of America) has a built-in set of milestones for each member. You can become a PRO member if you have completed a manuscript of 40,000 words or more and can provide proof that you have submitted said manuscript to an editor or agent. This is the first step on the road to becoming a published author, and is fairly easy to attain once you've written a manuscript. (No easy task!)
Then, there's PAN. The Published Authors Network. Rarified Air. To get there, you not only have to write a manuscript and send it out. You also need to have a publisher accept that manuscript and pay you royalties when a reader purchases a copy. You need to reach the threshold of $1,000 in royalties from one title ($5,000 if you self-publish) in order to achieve PAN status. Not so simple these days, when the going price for an e-book is only $2.99. The author's share of the cover price is indeed miniscule.
I joined RWA in 2007. When I moved to Ohio and found the Northeast Ohio chapter of RWA (Cleveland Rocks!) in 2009, I applied for PRO status as a result of sending out my first manuscript, which now has a permanent home under my bed. Fourteen months ago, my debut novel, The Reluctant Debutante, was released by Crimson Romance, the new kid on the block who was willing to take a chance on a good story that didn't happen to fit into a cookie-cutter line. I've had to sit through two royalty statements before I could take the next step, but it's now official.
I applied for PAN status on Friday!
You may look at this milestone progression and think "She's done what she set out to do." I look at it and think "What's next?" My writing career reminds me of why I never could settle down in one house, one state, one part of the country, for too long. I always wanted to see what was over the horizon. Yes, I reached a milestone last week, a big one. Now, I can't wait to see what's to come. If you sign up to receive my newsletter, you can travel the journey with me. It'll be fun.