Thoughts About My Novel Being Translated and 4 Rules for Success

My novel Jomsviking is being translated. After I signed with the hard working and talented people at the Northern Stories literary agency, it didn’t take long before they started landing book deals. First, with a German publisher, then a Polish one, and a Dutch one. This is a dream come true, and I must admit I’m feeling quite confident that they will be landing deals in other countries as well. (Edit: And indeed, a few days later, Jomsviking was sold to even more countries!)

Now people are calling my novel a success, and indeed to have first your novel on the bestseller lists and then getting deals with foreign publishers is, by definition, most novelists’ definition of success. But isn’t it strange how we tend to overlook the fact that most successes are usually the result of many years of hard work? I don’t think you can have one without the other, and I don’t know anyone who is both succesful and lazy. All the successful people I know of, are extremely hard working and they don’t seem to slow down after they’ve reached their initial goals. I’m sure there are people who just got lucky, but I think those cases are rare.

I believe working hard is one of four rules that you should follow if you want to reach your goals. I try to follow these rules myself and I must say it seems to work. You’ve probably heard this before and it’s really just common sense, but let me share it with you anyway:

1, Work hard. As mentioned, you’ll get nowhere if you’re not constantly working hard. So if you want success in life, you’d probably want to choose a career that involves doing something you love. Do what you love, and get really, really good at it.

2, Define your goals. You need to know what you want. This shouldn’t be some large amount of money. I guess it can be, but if this is your only goal, you’d probably want to look into a profession with very high wages. For most ambitious people, earning a lot of money isn’t a goal in itself.

3, Tell people what you want. You need to be assertive. You can’t let people kick you around. Believe me, some will try to do just that. In fact, there will be times and situations when you need to be an ass kicker yourself. When you start out, you will probably stand alone and the people you will be dealing with will have more power than you. A great amount of assertiveness and an even larger amount of self-confidence is needed in those situations. I often say that I never respect authorities, I only respect people.

4, Show up. Many tend to forget this one. But you need to be present. I am sure you’ve heard people complaining about someone having success for doing something «everyone could have done». Well, that guy, or girl, did it. Those who bitch and moan about it, probably had their ass firmly planted in their sofa at that time. So show up where people with your talents might be needed. Be visible. Be present.

So there you have it, four rules for reaching your goals and experiencing success. I would like to add that there is a fifth «rule» here, and that rule says that once you’ve reached your goals, you will want more. Let me illustrate this by using an example: I climbed a mountain yesterday. It was not a big mountain, although it is the highest in Southern Norway. Still, once I reached the top, I had already decided I want to find another, higher mountain to climb next. I didn’t care so much about the fog and snow hiding the view from the summit, I was only thinking about that next mountain. And if you’re motivated by reaching goals, that’s how it’s going to be. There will always be a higher mountain in the distance.

-Bjørn Andreas Bull-Hansen