There was just one problem. I had no clue how to become a real writer.
|Step 1: Text Step 2: ? Step 3: Rich and Famous|
Others weren't so convinced. Here are some of the reasons why.
Where Can I Buy Your Book?
This question is actually two fold. The more direct question being asked is "are you an actual writer, the kind I can find in a real book store?" The second, more subtle question is "Did you write a novel?"
When I started getting my fiction published I had to answer in a double negative. I had written short stories in response to open calls for anthologies, which meant I had some short stories on the market but no novels. As such people shrugged me off. Because I published electronically and with small presses no, my work is not on the shelves at Barnes and Noble or Books-A-Million. This conversation gets repeated a dozen times a day when I'm having a signing or speaking at an event. This leads to the second issue a lot of writers face...
Who Published This?
The world of publishing has changed phenomenally just over the past few years, but if you're not involved in it you'd never notice. With the advent of electronic fiction and Amazon's Create Space (among others) authors who either don't want to deal with the rigmarole of traditionally publishing or who prefer to have full control over their work can go out and become independent authors.
The problem is that the common reader is still very likely to dismiss you if you're an independent author.
|Who did you say published this tripe again?|
For those who want to examine this issue more deeply check out Lauren Jankowski's blog here. A dedicated independent author, her trials with this issue could make a book all their own.
How Much Do You Make?
|Not so much that I don't want you to buy a copy of my books. All of them.|
So What's It About?
Let's assume for a moment that you are an author with a big contract from a well-known publisher. You've written several novels, and you've been on TV for how much money you've made. Maybe you've even got a few awards and one of your books was made into a hit movie, just as the icing on the cake.
There will still be critics who question your legitimacy based on what your work is about.
This is the last bastion of the ignorant, the biased, and the judgmental. While I might not accept with grace that there is a monster erotica series based on the premise of bigfoot raping female campers and hikers, I do not deny that the person who created it and makes a living off of it is a professional author.
You don't have to be a fan to acknowledge someone's professional status.
So What Makes You a Real Writer?
Othering is a big problem in our field. Everyone is so eager to get his or her piece of the pie that a lot of authors, and even publishers, are more than happy to throw others under the bus if it means getting a shot at a bigger market share. As you can see there are at least half a dozen bullshit qualifications that have nothing to do with whether or not you're a real writer which people still try to use.
I have two standards of my own, and I think they're two that most of us can agree on.
|Are you listening?|
Number Two: Professionalism. The major difference between someone who is a real writer and someone who isn't is best summed up by author Agatha Christie. She famously said:
“There was a moment when I changed from an amateur to a professional. I assumed the burden of a profession, which is to write even when you don't want to, don't much like what you're writing, and aren't writing particularly well.”In short if you want to be a writer then you have to do it like it's your job. No spacing out on Youtube, no starting over just because you're bored or not having fun any more, and no skipping the hard work of sharpening up your blade and making stories so sharp you're going to cut every reader who opens your cover. Real writers write, and they do it regardless of whether or not the muse is whispering in their ears, or if it's raining outside, or if the kids are screaming, or they didn't get a good night's sleep. They do, and that is what matters.
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