There is a lot of contention going around about what makes an ‘author’. There are many venues to get work published these days, and let’s face it, some people don’t like that. It’s always hard to let go of a previous way of life, to accept change, and perhaps help that change become something beneficial to the community in which it’s occurring. With most change, there tends to be a lot of resistance, a lot of reasons why not, and of course the degradation of said change to make the traditional way seem like it is the better way. This isn’t true just for the publishing world, but for just about everything. It’s been seen in the past, it’s seen now, and, no doubt, it will be seen in the future. At the end of the day not everyone is going to agree, and that’s okay. As an author, of whatever platform, a tough skin is required to make it in this business.
GoodEReader published a blog by Michael Kozlowski entitled Self-Publishers Should Not Be Called Authors. This has stirred much debate – soap boxes beget soap boxes, etc and so on. One person shouts, a million others shout back whether it’s in agreement or against it. It becomes a whirlwind of people thinking it’s snobbish, people not wanting to let go of tradition, or being just plain ol’ ignorant. All of which could be said to be true, but at the same point there are different types of authors. To put it simply. it seems the blog is stating that Self Publishers should be called ‘writers’ as opposed to ‘authors’, and gives various reasons for the observation. (At least that’s what I got from it, read it, and make your own conclusions.)
So what is an author?
By definition an author is a writer of a book, article or report. It’s vague. However, author and writer are synonymous. They mean the same thing. There are simply different categories into which the term ‘author’ can fall into. Much the same as a chef and a cook. Both whip up yummy food in the kitchen, but yet are considered in two different genres of the field. So too can authors be considered in different genres.
Writers who have gone through a publishing house. Whether these are small or large houses, whether it is via an agent or unsolicited manuscript these writers had to query, get rejected, query some more, write and rewrite to get their work accepted. (Unless one is very lucky and got all of the glorious acceptance on the first shot.) Even then there were probably massive amounts of editing to be done, cuts to be made, and tears to be shed. These written works have to follow a specific guideline that the publishing house is looking for. They are expected to be to be a high quality of work in that the story is coherent, it has been edited by a professional who does editing for a living, and will be put out onto the market by that publishing house. Published authors are required to query, submit, and thus, published authors can be, and probably have been at least once, rejected, but because of the many steps an author has to go through regarding this genre of authorship the work may not be to someones tastes, but is usually legible and thorough.
Self Published Authors
Writers who handle the writing, editing, and publication of their book from beginning to end. They may hire editors or obtain beta readers to look over their work and most often have to find an independent artist to create the cover work. The works produced in this genre of authorship can be strong, compelling, with fantastic characters, and a story line that leaves readers on the edge of their seat. However, because there is no regulation, there’s no standard bar of self publishing to make sure that writers have edited their worked, removed grammar and spelling mistakes, and placed comma’s in the proper place. Works submitted in this genre are often (but not always) subpar. It’s not mean to be a mean statement, or ‘all self publishers suck’ sort of thing. Not at all. In this case, from what I’ve noticed, the writers tend to be impatient or they think their first draft is sweet perfection. It’s not, but many time’s there is no telling them that. In this area, it makes it difficult for Self Published Authors who have done the work, who have great stories, and who want to be in control of their publishing endeavor to be seen in a flattering light. Often they are lumped back into the groupings of people who are too lazy to make sure their work is the best it can be, and there in is where self publishing gets a bad rep – because the work is not expected to be of a higher standard. It’s a common misconception, but at the end of the day, Self Published Author is an author. They just did it a different way.
Writers who create novels, poetry, and other written works but have not been published on any platform. This is the category I fall into. I write daily. I’m editing my first novel daily. This makes me a writer, and thus a synonym for a writer is an author – I just happen to not be published, putting me in the genre of Unpublished Writer. Now, I suppose you could say that I’ve published a blog, and I contribute to a few zines, but as a novel author, no I’m unpublished.
Yet still, I’m debating on whether I want to go the traditional route or self publish. It’s a personal preference, but at the end of the day an author is writer and a writer is an author. It doesn’t mean they’re necessarily good, whether it’s a Published Author, Self Published Author, or Unpublished Author, but they are indeed authors. I think we’re clear on that now.
All that being said, writing takes work.
Tossing out something riddled with spelling mistakes and plot holes is more detrimental to an author and what being an author means than any personal opinion written on a blog.
“The first draft of anything is shit.” – Ernest Hemingway
Authors, writers, whatever you want to call yourself, whatever other people call us, we should always be striving to try and improve our craft. I’m definitely not the perfect writer. This post is probably filled with grammar and spelling mistakes I’ve missed despite reading over it a thousand times. We improve day to day, by taking the parts of the critique that are worth something and applying it.
Screaming and ranting over one persons opinion of what an author is or isn’t doesn’t prove anything otherwise. It’s the same way of receiving a bad review. Even when authors present the best work they can, there will always be someone who has something negative to say. Retaliating and attacking back about how unfair the review is, how bias, how whatever isn’t going to change the viewpoint of someone. If there is something to be taken from the negative review, then take it on move on, but replying to it or having friends attack it only makes the author look bad. A thick skin is required in this business, but hey, wounds heals, scars fade. Lick your wounds and move on.
The best way to disprove someone is to do the opposite of what they are claiming to be true. Ignore it, take what you can (if anything) to learn, and move on. Writing takes work, and all writers should strive to present the best work they can – no matter what genre of authorship they fall into.