Do you call yourself an Author or Writer? Should You?
Of all the blogs published recently perhaps the one that’s drawn the most ire of self-published authors is the one questioning whether Indie or self-published authors have the right to call themselves authors. The um, author of the article asked whether writing a book and uploading it to Amazon or Smashwords constituted giving yourself the title of “author”. He then talked about the difference between the words “author” and “writer”. That’s when he lost me. His original question, ludicrously misguided as he may have been, was at least a valid question. His answer and justification for saying that we are not authors was ridiculous and made me wonder whether the, sorry, again, author of the article was perhaps writing a satirical piece but when he started confusing semantics with logical thought I knew he had another intention.
The blog drew lots of comments from self-published authors. They questioned his reasoning, his grammar, and his qualifications. A couple of the commenters also questioned his intentions. Therein lay the reality. Those comments were the money shots. As he blathered on in his responses to the commenters and continued to talk through both sides of his face his blog got more and more clicks. The advertisers on his page who were promoting self-publishing services and the like must have been very pleased. I saw the same tripe shared in several areas as I did my online rounds that day. There’s a picture of the writer of the article and I mentally envisioned him sitting at his desk, perhaps with one or two of his colleagues beside him as he laughed each time a new comment came in accusing him of ignorance. I’m sure he must have loved seeing the steam rising from Indie Land, the indignation, the lack of respect. He drew responses from Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords as well as several other well-respected colleagues of mine. He tore apart and crapped all over even the most polite, sensible comments.
I’m sure each time someone voted up a comment or left a new thought, as he or she attempted to redeem our respectability or justify our excellence, he cackled with glee and stirred the pot a little faster. The lesson, I think, in situations like this is first of all – check the source. Who is saying these things and what’s their angle? What is there for the article-writer to gain? And, if the statements they’re making are extremely outlandish why validate them. Why give them life.
I have a mentor who I mention from time to time. He helps me with little life problems that occasionally crop up. I’ve learned his secret over the years. No matter what the problem is he has five responses that he offers. Really, he does. There are only five answers to every single question. According to kind mentor the answer to this one would be: the best revenge is to live life well. And, in the case of self-published authors we may even add a little bit of Mr. Spock’s philosophy to this too. In addition to living life well we should also live long and prosper. I’m a believer in showing. Like countless others I had a story that I thought readers would like to read. The people who had control over the access to those readers did not agree with me. So, I showed them and sold a lot of books and connected with a lot of readers. And, many others did also.
Article-writing guy (see, he’s no longer an author or writer to me now) can have his chuckle and see his web site move up the Alexa rankings and enjoy the sound of clicks chirping on his page. I won’t participate. I’ll read it and laugh and move on. And, I’ll go write another book and try to become a better writer and continue trying to satisfy my readers. I had an early review for one of my books and the reader had titled it “Martin Crosbie – Author”. That was the first time I’d been referred to that way. I’d written a book that was receiving great reviews, I’d hit the top five overall on Amazon, and I’d quit my job because I was earning so much from my royalty checks but I still hadn’t put my name in the same sentence as the word “author”. Around the same time I was on a little trip to Portland, Ore. We took the train from Vancouver, British Columbia and were having a great time. We met a young man in a restaurant and he went around the table asking each of us what we did for a living. When it came my turn, all eyes and ears waited for my response. I said “I’m, I guess I’m a writer now.”
I didn’t break down crying but the gravity of what I said weighed heavily. I was doing and had done what I’d wanted to do my whole life. And, I was proud of myself. Mister Misguided Blog Writer, I hope you enjoyed your little exercise. I hope you had a good laugh. We were happy to send you a few comments and attempt to show you the light. But, now that we realize what your true intentions are we’re going to leave you alone. We take the art of writing and connecting with our readers extremely seriously. So, we’ll be over here, trying to improve our skills and become better writers and trying to write even better books for our readers. Because that’s who writers and authors like us are concerned about. That’s who’s important to us. Game time is over. We’re getting back to business.