An author who's sold 12 million copies of his books says he doesn't consider himself more successful than someone who hasn't sold one

Ingrid Christie‘Calypso’ author David Sedaris.

  • Author David Sedaris doesn’t consider himself more successful than someone who’s never published a book.
  • Sedaris has written 17 books, has eight tracks on SoundCloud, and is a contributor to The New Yorker and Public Radio International’s “This American Life.”
  • Sedaris said he’s made a career by being true to himself.

Bestselling author David Sedaris doesn’t measure success on how many books he’s sold or how much applause he’s received. He just loves to write and make people laugh, he said on an episode of Business Insider’s podcast “This Is Success” (formerly “Success! How I Did It”).

“I’m just compelled to write … And success doesn’t have anything to do with it,” Sedaris said. “Like, if I’d never published a book I would still write just as much as I write now. I don’t know if I would be better.”

Sedaris has written 17 books, most recently “Calypso,”and is a contributor to The New Yorker and the radio show “This American Life.” Sedaris is best known for his hilarious, and often poignant, personal essays.

But he said he credits his career to luck – not talent or skill.

Sedaris, who has sold about 12 million copies of his books, says “I don’t consider myself more successful than a writer who hasn’t published a book… It was really lucky,” he said, adding that he “made a career out of being myself,” despite a fear of rejection.

To Sedaris, success means finding what you’re interested in and pursuing it.

Sedaris says he found his inspiration from a slew of odd jobs, like being a Macy’s elf for Christmas; growing up in a big family; and observing people on a daily basis.

“If I’m awake, I’m judging. That’s how I do it,” he said. Sedaris writes down “extraordinary” events, whether he is told them or observes them personally, and turns them into material. Ultimately, Sedaris says he found the best path to success is being himself.

“But the fact is that the truer I remained to who I really am, the more people seemed to go for it.” Sedaris said. “And I don’t know, I’ve got believe that that would work for anybody if it could work for me.”

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