“Real” Writers and “Real” Authors

{steps on soapbox}

ahem-hem.

I am a real writer because I write. 

I’m a writer because I have to write on a regular basis in order to stay sane. 

I write as my chosen form of creativity. 

All of the above qualify me for the title Writer.  Yes, in the past, I’ve been paid to write things down. They are websites, press releases and articles, and I was paid relatively little. But I’ve been paid to write.  I don’t think that qualifies me nearly as much as the above statements.

Most people in my position – somewhere between having written a novel and wrapping them up for Christmas – most of us have a difficulty with our titles.  I’ve seen “aspiring author” and “pre-emergent author” in Twitter bios.

No, I’ve not been published yet.  I still consider myself an author. No qualifying adjectives necessary.

Dictionary-wise, an author is simply “a writer of a book, article, or report,” for which I more than qualify.

In my mind, the difference between a writer and an author is the difference between a hobby and a profession.  I think an author is someone who moves forward with the act of writing as a career.  So, in the act of agent queries and submitting stories, I enter the professional side of writing. I’ve stopped writing for myself, and I’ve entered the commercial machine.

That makes me an author.

Now we get back to that word in the title: Real. What makes a REAL author?  Is it holding a book in one’s hands? Getting paid money for a book? Amazon sales and reviews? Being able to make a living writing? Quitting your day job?

What measures reality?

Is it money? Time spent? Is it some landmark milestone?

I think it’s fully subjective. Everyone is going to have a different definition of “real”, and it’s going to get all Matrix-y up in here.

My personal definition of success is seeing my book on a shelf at a bookstore and holding it in my hands. That means e-book only imprints are probably not going to satisfy me. Self-publishing a book isn’t going to get me into shelves in stores.  That’s not true for everyone, but I think it is true that we all need to know what makes us “real”.

When does it stop being a hobby and start being work? A calling? A vocation?

What’s your definition of success?

When is an author a “real” author?

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