You are an author
Calling yourself an author used to be easy. If you were published, you were an author. However, with the advent of self-publishing and blogging, there are now many types of less-formalized writers.
Why are we so hesitant to call ourselves authors? In part, this reluctance is perpetuated by antiquated views.
Let’s take the Google definition of an author:
· A writer of a book, article or report. Okay, this covers non-fiction and anything in book format, but where are screenplays, poetry, blogs and any other creative form of writing that doesn’t fit into “book, article, or report”?
· Someone who writes books as a profession. What if you have a day job and writing is not your “profession,” are you discounted as an author?
· The writings of a professional author. Ahem, “professional” begs discussion.
· An originator or creator of something, especially of a plan or idea. Eureka! I think we have it here.
An originator or creator
It takes a particular type of person to be an author. Someone who isn't afraid to create - ideas, visions, stories – and share with others. This does not have to be mass-publishing and sharing with the public at large, but even letting a reader's group or family member read your work is enough to make you an author.
And once you’ve done that, don’t be afraid to puff out your chest and say, “Yes, I am an author.” No hemming and hawing, just throw it out there. You are an author. You write. For yourself and others.
Format is becoming less daunting
Today's social media and e-publishing allow authors to start out with short works on blog sites, and thereby test their hand at communicating opinions on various subjects or sharing short stories and poetry. This can help a budding author gain the confidence to move forward with more significant works and self-publication, or even with finding an agent and a traditional publisher.
As blogging and self-publishing were not previously available even a few years back, it has created a pit of ambiguity in which many authors fall. Does it count if I blog or publish it myself? Yes, of course. Publishing does not an author make.
Unfortunately, we authors perpetuate the misnomer ourselves. How many times have I heard someone introduce themselves in a group of authors and the first question, almost invariably, is “Are you published?” as if this is the defining grace. It is not.
What have you written?
To move away from the single-minded focus on publishing, I urge us to instead ask the question, “What have you written?”. What is written is much more important than how a work is distributed, even if it’s on a sheets of dead tree with a fancy cover.
There is another benefit to asking an author what they are working on, the genre they write in, or their latest plot. Try it. When they answer, their eyes dance, and their face comes alive with excitement. By encouraging them to share ideas, we help them to call themselves authors more confidently.
Yes, you are an author
I get this question a lot, especially from the new members in our writer’s group: When am I considered an author? If you put your ideas down on any medium, paper or electronic, and share it with others, then you are an author.
Be proud. Share your work. Be an author.