I’ve got some hard truths for you. First, fifty thousand random words saved to a file on your computer does not equal a book. Second, selling this eclectic collection of nouns, verbs, and adjectives on Amazon does not make you an author. Got a problem with that? Stop reading this article right now.
There’s a real difference between “writing,” and being an author. The first is nothing more than putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). The second is a title, at least to me. It means something more, and carries with it expectations regarding behavior, work, quality. If you want to attach the “author” tag to your name, you should think about what’s expected – and what professionalism means.
For your reference (because I know how much you all love my lists):
1. Authors do not automatically deserve sales or reviews just because they hit the publish button. If I decided to sell a compilation of drunken emails that I’ve written over the years, are you obligated to buy, review, and promote them for me? Uh – NO!
2. Authors do not expect freebies. Yes, there are times when a new artist or editor is willing to give their services away for little or nothing, and that’s awesome – but it’s not the norm, so it sure shouldn’t be expected. Writers want their books sold, for cash, because they’ve worked hard for (I’m assuming) a long time. Is your work worth so much more than a cover artist’s? What about the editor who spends thirty hours cleaning up your manuscript?
3. Authors are the bottom line of the work – and real authors don’t offer excuses for poor quality. They apologize to the person who shelled out five bucks (or whatever) and fix it. They don’t expect that reader to take on an unpaid editing job to “help them out.” Sorry, but that’s BS.
4. Authors are businessmen and women. They do not have public tantrums over criticism. They do not write blog posts about mean readers. They do not stalk customers. Seriously. Much as I love Stephen King, I’d have a real problem with him following me all over the internet.
5. Authors have thick skin. They are not defensive and argumentative. They accept that not everyone will love their book, and they are okay with that – because no one reader is the end of the road. We don’t have the power to unpublish your book, and our opinion will not bring about the end of the world.
If you are right now glaring at your computer screen, thinking about all the reasons I’m wrong, you are not an author. You are a person who writes things, and still has much to learn.