Self-Publishers Should Not Be Called Authors
Mar
07

Self-Publishers Should Not Be Called Authors

By

20LITERARY-blog480

The landscape of publishing has dramatically changed over the last five years. In the past, if you wanted to publish a book you had to do it from a vanity press or land a deal with a traditional publisher. Now, anyone can write a book and submit it to Smashwords, Kindle, Kobo or Nook. So the question is, should we quantify a distinction between an writer and a professional author? I think a line needs to be drawn in the sand so that we know who is the real deal.

Just because its easy to upload your written word, so that it can be downloaded to another machine does not make you an author, any more than me buying a stethoscope allows me to be called a doctor. A “singer” is someone who sings. A “professional singer” is someone who makes a living from singing. There is a stark contrast between being a writer and being a professional author. Many indie writers who publish a title or two on Amazon or Smashwords normally think otherwise. They wear the title as an author as a badge of honor.

Major writing organizations such as the Romance Writers of America, Canadian Writing Union and Published Authors Network all accept indie published authors as members and the Science Fiction Writers of America is currently drafting guidelines to do the same. In order to join these organizations you have to earn ‘x’ amount of money over a single calendar year, where the specified amount for indie publishers is a *multiple* of the requirement for traditionally-published authors minimum income, because it is easier to make money by going indie.

The Published Authors Network has strict requirements on who can join their organization. You have to earn $1,000 in the form of an advance on a single Eligible Novel. Or you have to earn $1,000 in the form of royalties or a combination of advance plus royalties on a single published Eligible Novel. Finally, you have to pull in $5,000 in the form of earnings for a Self-Published novel.

Calling everyone authors who puts words on a document and submits them to the public devalues the word so much, it makes it meaningless. Indie Author, Self-Published Author, Hybrid Author, Published Author, Blog Author, Forum Author. All of these titles mean different things, depending on who you talk to. I would like to see the process simplified, you are either a writer or a professional author. If you can earn your living from your writing, you are a professional author, anyone else is just a plain old writer.

Indie authors and self-published authors who claim they are real authors makes me laugh. The term basically doesn’t mean anything. Being a photographer means nothing either; as soon as you pick up a camera, you are one. By definition, you would be an “author” because of commenting on this post or a “singer” because you sing in the shower. If you put words on a document, you are certainly not an author.

In the science world, things are very different. In order to be taken seriously, not only do you have to write articles or research papers, but other people have to cite them. The more people you have citing your reports in their books or their own reports, your position as a scientist is elevated.

I think a debate in the publishing industry must be made on what constitutes being a writer and an author. These terms are thrown around so loosely that it gets confusing. Some people will say “I want to only read books by professional authors, because I am of the opinion they are of a certain quality, as compared to self-published works.” Others will say “I consider people who have NOT published books by one of the big five real authors. People publishing through the big five just write useless, commercial drivel that sells well. They’re not authors. They just do their job. The self-pubs are doing it for the love of writing, and create original, non-mainstream works. I love that! They’re real authors.”


Michael Kozlowski (4132 Posts)

Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about electronic readers and technology for the last four years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the Huffington Post, CNET and more. Michael frequently travels to international events such as IFA, Computex, CES, Book Expo and a myriad of others. If you have any questions about any of his articles, please send an email to michael@goodereader.com


  • hotdice

    I disagree. Just giving an organization money does not make you an author either. From Merriam Webster online:

    au·thor noun ˈȯ-thər
    :a person who has written something; especially : a person who has written a book or who writes many books
    : a person who starts or creates something (such as a plan or idea)
    Full Definition of AUTHOR
    1
    a : one that originates or creates : source b capitalized : god 1
    2
    : the writer of a literary work (as a book)

  • Disappointed

    So Michael, Beyoncé essentially “self-published” her last album. Do you consider her not a real singer? Yeah, I didn’t think so. There’s no correlation between the method of publishing and quality.

  • Hrafn

    What a ridiculously stupid post.

    Whether an author is self-published or publishing-house-published makes no difference to whether they are an amateur author, semi-professional author or professional author. The issue is solely whether they can earn sufficient from their writings to make a living, NOT whether these earnings are intermediated by a publishing house.

    I would also suspect that many publishing-house-published authors, and Published Authors Network members, probably make insufficient money from their writings to fully support themselves, so are at best semi-professional.

    And regardless of whether amateur, semi-professional or professional, their relationship to a publishing house (or lack thereof) is utterly, obviously and demonstrably irrelevant to whether they can be considered to be “authors” or not. This can easily be demonstrated by the fact that authors existed long before modern publishing houses existed to validate their status with advances. I would likewise suspect that authors will continue to exist even if the publishing-industry-as-we-currently-know-it ceases to exist.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    Apple paid her to do an iTunes exclusive and she makes a living from her work. She is a professional singer. Someone who sings in the shower is not.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    Someone who is self-published and makes a living off of it is a professional author. Someone who uploads a poor title to smashwords is a writer. You commenting on this blog post is writing, not authorship.

  • Hrafn

    You are attempting to distinguish a difference where one does not really exist. “Writer” and “author” are synonyms, and thus largely overlap. Is somebody who writes fan-fiction an author or a mere writer? Then what about ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’, which started out as fan-fiction, was self-published, but went on to sell millions of copies? What about a magazine writer, whose essays are later collected together in a single volume?

    The difference between “author” and “writer” is too vague, and too subjective, to form the basis of any useful analysis. There is no black-and-white difference, merely innumberable, viewpoint-dependent shades of grey.

    None of which has ***anything*** to do with whether the author/writer can either make enough money to support themselves (or any money at all), or if a publishing house puts their stamp of approval on them, topics that you spent a considerable amount of the OP on.

  • http://goodereader.com/blog/ Good E-Reader

    We need a distinction between writer types. An author makes a living selling books, such as the case of EL James. She was a mere writer until she sold a thousand copies. There needs to be a clear understanding of what constitutes a writer from an author. They are not BOTH the same. I can get a Duck Hunt gun from the original Nintendo, but i am hardly a gunslinger.

  • Hrafn

    Apple is a e-tailer, not a publisher, of music — so she is still ***self-published***. And in any case whether “she makes a living from her work” ONLY distinguishes whether she is a “professional singer”, NOT whether she is a singer simpliciter. Somebody who rehearses every week with an amateur choir every week for years, and participates in frequent public performances is still a “singer”, by any reasonable definition of the term, even if they never make a single cent. Likewise an amateur author is still an author. How many authors of antiquity made a living from their works, or had a publisher? Does that relegate them to being mere “writers”?

  • Michael Kozlowski

    Here it is simple. A professional author is someone who can make a living from it. Until you get to that point you are a writer.

    If you want to talk about singers

    you are a singer if you are an amateur, you are a professional singer if you make your living from it.

    you are not a author just because you self-pub. You are an author if your book sells over 1,000 copies.

  • Hrafn

    Wrong, wrong and wrong!

    1a) You have articulated no compelling “need” for a “distinction between writer types”. The fact that you object to some you consider to be mere “writers” being referred to as “authors” is not a compelling need.

    1b) In any case such a “distinction” is largely impossible as the “types” frequently overlap and/or merge into each other. Case in point the claim in your OP title that “self-publishers” and “authors” are mutually exclusive is patently absurd, as is your arbitrary claim that selling “a thousand copies” suddenly makes a mere writer an “author”.

    2) Likewise, the fact that some kid with a cap-gun is not a “gunslinger” does not render the term unambiguous, nor that many (both contemporaneously and historically) might dispute whether that term, or some other synonym or overlapping category, might better apply to some specific armed individual in the Old West.

    3) Your claim that “an author” must be somebody who “makes a living selling books” is likewise absurd. Geoffrey Chaucer is one of the most famous authors in English literature, but I can find no record that he sold a single book, let alone made a living doing so. The fact that the vast majority of ***contemporary*** acknowledged authors (partially or wholly) make a living off selling books does not make this inherent in the definition. And the fact that many acknowledged authors, even currently, can only make a ***partial*** living off writer, is further evidence of your claim’s absurdity.

  • Hrafn

    Here you are being simplistic.

    Get your arbitrary definitions published in the OED or Merriam-Webster, and somebody might take them seriously.

    In any case your goalpost-moving from “author” to “professional author” undermines your original and underlying thesis — that there is some profound and meaningful difference between calling somebody a (mere) “writer” and an “author”, and that it has anything to do with either a relationship with a publishing house or ability to make a living off one’s writing.

  • trekk

    I have to agree with every word, Hrafn has written. By the way, Michael, many successful classic authors have never been writing for a living and have become essential part of our literary culture. New ways of publishing are surely causing quality issues, but that is not the point here. If English were my native language I would surely have to say a lot more about this – sorry, I have to say that – very stupid article.

  • Hrafn

    To the (limited) extent that there is a difference between the usage of “writer” and “author” in popular parlance, it would seem to be more to do with length and independence of the work, than the issues Michael is raising.

    We generally see the term “writer” applied to shorter works, typically that are collected together with similar works in a magazine, newspaper, or to writing that is only one aspect of a larger production (e.g. play, television series or movie) or similar, and “author” used for longer works that are typically published on their own.

    But even with this there are counter-currents. For example you would generally see somebody who writes science fiction books described as a “science fiction writer” than as a “science fiction author” (possibly due to the relative stature of short stories in that genre).

  • gmaskell92

    I don’t want to be an author, i just want to get some thoughts down on paper, put them in a file and upload it to amazon for the world to see.

    http://www.kindlepassiveincome.com

  • Michael George

    An author is an author when she/he is considered an “author” by another author :-P

  • http://www.smashwords.com/ MarkCoker

    Traditional publishers value books based on commercial potential and commercial performance. This is a myopic value system, and it’s ultimately destructive to book culture. I started Smashwords to change this value system. I hold these truths to be self-evident: Anyone who writes is a writer. Anyone who writes where readers read the writing is a published writer. People who tweet are published writers. Anyone who who writes a book and publishes it via Smashwords, Harper Collins or even their own web site is a published author. Readers decide if the author is worth reading. Authors who earn a lot of readers are popular authors, but they’re not necessarily better writers or more professional writers than the unpopular writers. They’re not any more or less deserving of the title, “author” than the next. Book sales are only one metric of popularity or quality. Reviews, word of mouth, reader satisfaction, peer reviews and downloads are also metrics. We have authors at Smashwords who refuse to price any of their books (they only price at free) and have earned hundreds of thousands of readers. We have authors who have priced at free and received only dozens of readers. Both are authors. Whether an author is successful or a failure can only be determined by the writer’s personal value system and goals. Likewise, a “professional” author is someone who dedicates a significant portion of their time to writing and publishing. They make it their profession in the same way an entrepreneur is making their business their profession. They may or may not honor and apply professional best practices. You can be a professional author and still make little to no income. You can be a professional author and still write terrible books, in the same way you can open a restaurant and serve horrible food. So bottom line, book sales are but one of many metrics of professionalism. I think it’s great these professional organizations are allowing indie authors into their groups, though I suspect over time they too will come to recognize how commercial results alone are an inadequate measure of professionalism because ultimately they’ll shut out professional authors – wonderful writers – who write about unpopular or arcane topics.

  • Hrafn

    Under that definition, there is no way for there to be a first author (as there would be no prior author to “consider” them to be one), so there have been no authors to consider those who came after to be authors, so under that definition there can be no authors.

  • Guest

    “If you can earn your living from your writing, you are a professional author, anyone else is just a plain old writer.”

    You just described hundreds of self-published authors.

  • TheJeebus

    Such title snobbery.

  • Brian Anderson

    I’ve made $30 k self published…beat that with
    a stick.

  • Rich Meyer

    Just another example of snobbishery and indie hatred trying to get a few more hits on a blog post with no real content.

    Does that make him an author or a writer? Or just an asshat?

  • Edward Smith

    Michael, I am trying to make sense of your distinction between a writer and an author, I checked definitions for writer and author in all the major dictionaries plus Wikipedia and can’t find any basis for the distinction based on the literature. Perhaps it will be picked up in a few years based on common usage but no such distinction exists now.

    I coach authors how to do their own publicity and the bulk of my clients are self-published authors. For the most part we focus on getting interviews in the mass media such as network TV, syndicated radio and major print publications. I have worked with over 1,000 authors to book interviews and never has any producer or editor made a distinction between an author and a writer.. These are people that are responsible for clearing the credentials of someone that will be used on their show or in their publication and making sure they will “fly” with their audience. Any distinction between writer and author does not exist for them or their mass market audience.

    So Michael, I have to come down on the side of those that say their is no current distinction between writer and author in the way it has been described here.

    Thanks for your time, Edward Smith.

  • Ann

    In that case, most Traditionally published authors wouldn’t be considered authors at all either. Most of them do NOT make their entire income off their writing. Most of them struggle to even get enough to support their writing.

    Quite frankly, I make more than many Trad published and I turned DOWN the trad offers because it would slow down the process of writing, interfere with my contact with the fans, cost me money and essentially make me a low paid wage slave for the “honor” of having someone else utterly control my work.

    You’re ridiculous works should be retracted and apologies lavishly spread.

  • TurkeyVulture
  • TurkeyVulture

    p.s. You need an editor, bro. Your grammar and typos wouldn’t even fly with us measly indies. Even if you don’t deem us “professional authors” (although I’ve sold 50,000 copies of just one of my books, so…) at least we use professional standards in our writing, which is apparently more than can be said for your writing.

  • http://yvonnehertzberger.com/ Yvonne Hertzberger

    It’s time for you to take your head out of the sand and bring yourself up-to-date. You are about ten years behind.

  • Tina

    As a self-pub netting $25k a MONTH, I’m laughing all the way to the bank. I’ve earned the right to call myself whatever I want.

  • http://diogenes-sinope.blogspot.com Sean O’Hara

    Any definition of “author” that excludes Emily Bronte and John Kennedy Toole is clearly broken.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    more like you started smashwords as a commercial enterprise to tap into the millions of aspiring “writers” who dreamed of self-publishing. I won’t go into another tirade about how smashwords is a den of inequity and one of the worst places online to find “quality” books. All you have to do is go to the front page and look at each title.

    I WILL say that Mark is savvy with business. Ironing out distribution with Apple, Kobo, formally Sony, B&N, Amazon, Scribd, Oyster, libraries and all of that. I see it as leveraging hundreds of thousands of books with 0 downloads and 0 sales polluting other ecosystems.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    I am saying a line needs to be drawn in the sand. We live in a world where anyone can publish, that does not make you an author, it makes you a writer. We need so meet certain thresholds before you are a professional author.

  • Lucy Varna

    Interestingly, I see this exact same argument used in my day job, genealogy. There’s been an off-and-on-again call by a small minority of professional genealogists to strictly regulate who may call himself a professional. The impetus behind this push is the same there as it is here: restriction of the market to limit competition.

    Such arguments are transparent and smack more of elitist fears of being dethroned than of any actual concern for the state of writing today or of the quality of reading material. As with genealogy, the market does and should determine who actually makes it as an author. Cutting a fine line between “writer” and “author” will have absolutely no meaning to readers and, therefore, should be discarded as the valueless attempt at snobbery that it is.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    You don’t have to attack myself or my writing. I just want to foster a debate about a new classification system. I can upload my article i wrote to KDP or Smashwords. Does that make me a author because no one downloaded it? No, it does not. You indies have a hardon for wanting to be taking seriously, even though your books suck.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    You don’t have to attack myself or my writing. I just want to foster a debate about a new classification system. I can upload my article i wrote to KDP or Smashwords. Does that make me a author because no one downloaded it? No, it does not. You indies have a hardon for wanting to be taking seriously, even though your books suck.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    So the question is, how much money have you fleeced out of indie authors wanting to be taken seriously? Do you do it out of the goodwill of your heart to foster the next generation of great writers? or do you see it as an untapped and overpopulated demographic ripe for exploitation?

  • Michael Kozlowski

    I realize when I am right, you indie morons have to engage in personal attacks, rather than foster an intelligent debate.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    So fine work, if you an live off of that 30,000k you are a professional author! If you can’t and still work a day job, you are still a writer.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    I thought i described over a million? and they are self-published WRITERS.

  • TurkeyVulture

    My mind is blown that there is such a thing as professional-level genealogy. Awesome.

  • TurkeyVulture

    Lol.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    Well, proper job classification is a MUST i think in this world. It is not elitist, as much as you want to protect the entire industry. If i use Ancestry.com does that make me a genealogist?

  • Michael Kozlowski

    Gratz, if you can live off of that you have the right to yourself as a professional author!

  • TurkeyVulture

    You certainly have fostered debate, so mission accomplished, I guess. Though at this point it looks more like a pigslaughter than a debate to me, and guess which side is the pig.
    As for our books sucking, try to tell our readers that. And do recall that readers are the people who matter here, not some little wannabe “author” angrily shaking his fist at what amounts to a net positive change for all three groups: “authors,” “writers,” and readers.
    And comforting yourself with the old saw that indie books auto-suck won’t change all the money we’re making, so keep on sucking on that pacifier if it makes you feel a little less butthurt. We don’t mind.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    All i see is authors clamoring for social acceptance based on the fact they self-published a title. Look at me, i am a real, honest to god AUTHOR! Now i can join writing groups and tell my mom i finally made it! Honey how many books have you sold? Well Mom, you bought the only one! Opps my Meetup.com authors group is starting soon, TTYL!

  • Lucy Varna

    There is, and I have to say, we’re a pretty awesome bunch. :)

  • Lucy Varna

    Not everyone who uses Ancestry claims to be a professional genealogist, nor do all users provide professional services [this sentence edited for clarity]. Apples. Oranges.

    And again, I will reiterate a point you seem to have missed: the market is the proper arbiter here, not a self-righteous group of threatened industry “professionals.”

  • Jeanne Tomlin

    So you think that the term ‘indie morons’ fosters an intelligent debate, do you.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    Was addressing Rich which felt a need to attack me personally.

  • Jeanne Tomlin

    Exactly what ecosystem do they ‘pollute’ if no one downloads or buys them? I have to suspect that your anger is based on the fact that people do buy them.

  • Rich Meyer

    Glad you can keep the discussion to your own level. Moron, indeed.

    There’s not much you *can* debate intelligently about this post. You’ve simply made a sensationalist statement in hopes of boosting your post’s stats. There’s no information there … there’s barely even a opinion, since it obviously hasn’t been thought through properly before you decided to make this little tirade public.

    Anyone can call themselves an author or a writer. That’s a fact of life. Who the hell cares? You don’t like indies, that’s for certain, so naturally they aren’t “authors”, as if that term has some meaning outside the narrow dictums residing in your similarly narrow mind for this post.

    I’ll just work under that presumption that if indies become popular, then it’ll be the traditionally-published that have to earn the “author” monicker with you. Whatever will get more people to look at your sad little blog postings…

  • Jeanne Tomlin

    Actually most contemporary acknowledged authors do not make a living off selling books. It has been one of the most pernicious problems with the traditional ‘writer’s path’ that it was possible for only a select few to make a living doing it, and that includes authors who were or are considered recognizable names.

    It is the height of absurdity to say that someone who can’t possibly make a living, largely because of onerous contract terms such as non-compete clauses, publishing with for example Hachette is an author but someone who self-publishes isn’t. I find the distinction absurd.

    As far as what I call myself, as a self-published author who sells a good few books, it is none of your damn business.

  • Jim Devitt

    Wait, I thought all you had to do was sell 1,000 copies and you’re a professional author.
    “… You are an author if your book sells over 1,000 copies…” (Kozlowksi’s comment response below to Hrafn)

    Your own words in the comment below, or until you delete them. Make up your mind what point you want to make and then come back with an intelligent post.

  • Jeanne Tomlin

    May I suggest that you learn to write a coherent sentence?

  • TurkeyVulture

    Hahaha. You’re ridiculous.

    If that’s all you see, perhaps you need to look a little harder. http://authorearnings.com/

  • TurkeyVulture

    Read it again, champ. I think ANYBODY can comfortably live off of twenty-five thousand dollars A MONTH.
    Not year. Month.

  • TurkeyVulture

    Yep. The market decides ALL. Welcome to 2014, Mike.

  • TurkeyVulture

    Okay, serious times now: you don’t honestly believe that traditional publishers AREN’T fleecing authors wanting to be taken seriously, do you? You think traditional publishers are doing it out of the “goodwill of their heart[s]” to “foster the next generation of great writers authors”? Actually, they see the vast majority of writers as that very same untapped and overpopulated demographic ripe for exploitation.
    Michael, you really need to educate yourself on the current state of the industry. Honestly. I’m not ribbing you here. You’re all backward, and I assume you’re aspiring to be published, so please take off those rose-colored glasses before you allow yourself to be taken advantage of. As annoying as you are, I don’t want to see any writer victimized by publishers.

  • TurkeyVulture

    Where did you come up with your figure of one thousand books? …just out of curiosity. I would like to know.

  • Wayne Stinnett

    You seem to contradict yourself. “If you can earn your living from your writing, you are a professional author, anyone else is just a plain old writer.”

    Then in the very next sentence, “Indie authors and self-published authors who claim they are real authors makes me laugh.”

    My first book was published in October, my second in December. I’m currently earning about $3K a month from those two. My third will be published next month and will vault me past my current day jobs income.

    I’m an independent author. I don’t need to pay a publisher and agent more than I get, to do something I can do just as well.

    It’s a brave new world. Join it or get left behind.

  • Rich Meyer

    “Asshat” wasn’t an attack. It was a generality about what you were saying. If you don’t know what one is, especially in the publishing community, you may want to put your fingers a little closer to the pulse.

    “Fear-mongering Among the Indies” is what you are doing. I’ve seen it done nearly every month … sometimes every week. It’s always something to annoy, or scare, or dissuade people from joining in this technological revolution. Let’s get those awful indies up in arms! Let’s let those self-publishers know they live on the precarious edge of a very sharp blade that could decapitate them at any moment! Snicker-snack!

    You should write a book on that. Be one of those “authors” that are so important in your worldview. In the meantime, the rest of us will continue to do what we’re doing, be it making money, having constructive discourses, or being authors. Or writers. Or just creators.

  • Ron Jaeger

    I think the problem here is not so much with “writer” vs “author” as it is with the writer of this post’s general confusion about what “professional” means. Generally, professionals get paid; call them what you want. Of course, the contradiction in this piece is also that, in one part, selling a certain number of books (or making somewhere between $1000 to $5000) satisfies the requirement, whereas in another part “making a living” is the defining qualification. So I’m afraid this is a bit of a muddle.

  • Edward Smith

    Fleeced? Wow. My clients don’t pay a cent to pitch the media, they don’t even pay for press releases and they get massive coverage that doesn’t cost them a dime. I have been in business for 25 years without a complaint, I even get thank you notes from producers for getting them good guests. I have a blog that has page after page of FREE advice, check it out at americasleadingmediapitch.com and see if anyone is getting fleeced. Edward Smith. .

  • RickCarufel

    More anti-indie filth. A disgusting piece written by a traditional publishing sock-puppet.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    Maybe just read the article and don’t hop on the comment bandwagon.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    So it still sounds like you a mere writer. You are not earning your sole income from writing, which means you are a rookie/neophyte, writer. You are NOT a professional author, its a hobby.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    Nope. I just have a problem with indie self-publishers claiming they are professional authors.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    Great to see more personal attacks. This is one of the reasons indie self-publishers aren’t taken seriously. You debate the fact that are just mere writers and out come the pitchforks.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    Did I say that a publishing contract automatically makes you an “Author” or “professional author” ? If you can live off of your book sales, solely, you are a professional author. Everyone else is a “Writer”

  • Herbie Hindstinx

    In your staff bios you refer to Peter as an accomplished actor, yet IMDB lists no credits for him. Please change his description to amateur thespian ASAP

  • Michelle

    Since my income rivals most people putting in 40 hours a week from writing does that now make me an author? Let me refer you to the Websters Dictionary for the definition author:

    1author noun ˈȯ-thər

    : a person who has written something; especially : a person who has written a book or who writes many books
    : a person who starts or creates something (such as a plan or idea)

    As I’m sure you are writing this to anger people to get your five minutes of fame, consider your time up.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    “I am an author” does not carry any meaning or status, because everybody can be an author whenever they want.

  • Jeanne Tomlin

    What about traditionally published ‘writers’ who don’t make a living at it? For some mysterious reason, you don’t seem to object if they call themselves authors.

    I hate to tell you this,but being an author has no connotation of making a living by your writing. The definition is simply: “a person who writes a novel, poem essay, etc.; the composer of a literary work”. That you want to introduce a new, revised definition doesn’t really impress me very much.

    And I still wonder how what we call ourselves affects you. Just exactly how are you affected?

  • TurkeyVulture

    Okay, so…if “author” doesn’t carry any meaning or status, then why do you have such a bug up your butt about “drawing a line in the sand” to distinguish between “writers” and “authors”? What is the point, if “author” holds no special meaning or status?

  • TurkeyVulture

    Okay, so…if “author” doesn’t carry any meaning or status, then why do you have such a bug up your butt about “drawing a line in the sand” to distinguish between “writers” and “authors”? What is the point, if “author” holds no special meaning or status?

  • TurkeyVulture

    Why? Are you overwhelmed with being so thoroughly called out in your own comments section? Bummer.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    I echo the sentiments of Chuck Wendig
    “I tried to browse Amazon for new books and found myself plunging into a nightmare of noise and garbage. Amazon — the primary vector for online book sales — is a fuuuuhuuuhuuuuckin’
    mess when it comes to browsing books. It didn’t used to be. I rememeber
    a time where browsing Amazon felt like a lazy, pantsless version of
    browsing the shelves at B&N. I could pick a genre or an upcoming
    releases list and check it out. Now, it’s less like wandering the aisles
    at a bookstore and more like wandering a labyrinth made of old, frozen
    diapers. Sure, I’m trying to find David Bowie and his Magical Yam Bag,
    but all I find instead is a drunken minotaur who just wants to make out.”

  • Jeanne Tomlin

    Life is tough when the entire world doesn’t do what you want.

    So what you are really saying isn’t that you don’t like what we call ourselves but that we could please go away and die (metaphorically speaking). Ain’t happenin’, baby.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    Self-published writers don’t have access to all the same channels of discovery afforded to other authors because
    of the quality level — and that’s a problematic quality level that
    exists both in the books and in the demonstration of marketing
    and basic professional conduct.

  • Rich Meyer

    That is the most ludicrous statement you’ve made yet. What’s the cut-off level? $3,001 a month? $5,000 a month? What narrowly and moronically defined parameters do you use for in this definition of a “professional author”? And why is it completely money-oriented? There are far more useful measures of success, many of which you, as someone who is not much of a writer or author, will never be able to gauge because they are personal to the people involved.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    Rich, you have to admit Self-Publishing is growing and more eBooks are being pumped out on a yearly basis, from a myriad of writers. In the next few years we may see self-published titles eclipse traditionally published books. If we don’t have an intelligent debate on what exactly constitutes an author, I feel we will be in trouble.

  • Jeanne Tomlin

    Professional conduct… Would that be like Normal Mailer headbutting Gore Vidal after Vidal’s highly inflammatory review? Just wondering.

    And what are all these wonderful channels of discovery–other than being in a catalogue sent to bookstores which is about the extent of the marketing that the vast majority of traditional novels receive. I can live without that, thanks. I also am wondering what that has to do with your whingeing that there are too many books on Amazon.

    In the meantime, I’ll just keep doing that indie author thing that upsets you so much: writing and publishing, sans a New York publishing house. And actually being paid a decent amount for my sales instead of pennies or being tied up in a contract with a non-compete clause.

  • JenC

    If there’s going to be an intelligent debate on what constitutes an author, you’ll be stepping out, right?

  • JenC

    If there’s going to be an intelligent debate on what constitutes an author, you’ll be stepping out, right?

  • Self Publisher

    Writer, author…whatever. Semantics games don’t interest me much. I came here expecting to be outraged but I’m really not. I like to cook but that certainly doesn’t make me a professional chef. I get it.

    When my self-publishing income surpassed my full-time salary, I quit my job. I guess I fit whatever arbitrary qualifications are needed to call myself an author, but I still feel weird about answering the dreaded “what do you do?” question. It inevitably leads to more questions. Personally, I’ve never tried to go to traditionally-published route and between the loss of control over marketing decisions and lower royalties, I doubt I ever will. But of course that’s not the sort of thing one explains to people in passing, so I just let them assume I’m broke and delusional. =)

    I think a lot of people assume that just because something isn’t traditionally published it’s utter crap and isn’t profitable. Sometimes that assumption is correct…but certainly not always. I understand why self-published authors are getting their backs up over what probably feels like yet another attack. Keep in mind that there has been a lot of this lately, particularly because traditional gatekeepers’ very livelihoods are being threatened by the rise of self-publishing in recent years. I think those who pay attention to that sort of thing are likely getting tired of it by now.

    I could be mistaken but I think the issue here isn’t with your message, Michael, but rather with the delivery. It does come across a bit elitist…which is interesting considering that I see you have a self-published book or two thrown up on Amazon. All I can deduce is that you didn’t mean for your post to come across the way it does. Or maybe you meant exactly that because you knew getting people’s backs up would result in a lot of views and comments.

    If your intent was the latter, I commend you! After all, I’m here reading and replying to your piece. Well played, sir…well played.

    May I ask why you care if people call themselves authors as opposed to writers? You say “Calling everyone authors who puts words on a document and submits them to the public devalues the word so much, it makes it meaningless.” But I’m sure we can agree that there are some traditionally published works that do the same thing, no?

  • KarlBunker

    Your rule seems to be that if a person makes their living from their writing, they are allowed to call themselves an “author.” Presumably that rule holds for traditionally-published writers as well as self-published, correct? Because a large majority of the most critically acclaimed writers alive today make some or most of their income from teaching, not from their writing. So according to you those people aren’t allowed to call themselves “authors,” despite the Pulitzer, Booker, and Nobel prizes that may be sitting on their shelves. Perhaps those writers should learn to be better at economizing and living off a small income — then they’d be able to cross the line from mere “writer” to “author,” in your estimation.

    If you want to redefine a word according to your own rules, I guess that’s fine. But you don’t make it clear why you would expect anyone to agree with this particular redefinition of this particular word.

  • Wayne Stinnett

    “So it still sounds like you a mere writer. You are not earning your sole
    income from writing, which means you are a rookie/neophyte, writer. You
    are NOT a professional author, its a hobby.”

    LMAO!!

    Where to start? The missing “are” after you? The improperly used comma after neophyte? The missing apostrophe in “its a hobby”?

    But, you’re right, of course. I’ve only increased my income by 60% in four months by writing two novels. I should just give up and not publish the one that’s nearly complete, nor write the next three I have planned for this year. Who am I to think I could ever be an author of your caliber?

    LMFAO!!!

  • Guest

    Nice of you to delete my comment that was not a personal attack, was not profane or anything else but to quote your own words that contradicted itself. But of course I’m sure what you said wasn’t what you meant, right?

  • Wayne Stinnett

    Um, you need to check the stats. Self published titles eclipsed trad published long ago.

  • http://www.smashwords.com/ MarkCoker

    Michael, self publishing is going to save publishing and save books. Yes, self publishing will lead to the release of more poor-quality books than every before, but anyone who fixates on this fact is missing the bigger, more important picture. Self publishing will enable more better books to be published than ever could have been enabled by traditional publishers. Self publishing will lead to more better books, and more books that are priced affordably and accessibly to more readers than ever before. The online discovery systems for ebooks are much more flexible and robust than was ever possible in the print world, and these discovery systems will only get better. The books that are desirable to readers bubble up, and the poor-quality books will become invisible. You will find yourself awash in a glut of high-quality books, and it’ll be thanks to self publishing.

  • David Beers

    Moron.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    What type of dream world do you live in Mark? Do you actually randomly read eBooks writers submit on your site? I bet if you went to your front page right now, selected 4 books at random, read them cover to cover you would be signing a different tune.

    Running a self-publishing company has you drinking your own kool-aid so much, that you see it as truth. After all, if you tell a lie so many times, you delude yourself into thinking its the truth.

    Being a self-publishing evangelist i realize you have to champion amateur self-published titles. After all, all of your Huffington Post guest pieces give people the impression you are a luminary in publishing.

    Self-publishing is RUINING the bookselling industry more than its helping. eBook discovery, check, erotic content in kids sections, check, no quality and control, check. Yes, you will say, the cream rises to the top, but that is dubious at best.

  • Author M. Lauryl Lewis

    I made a small blog entry on this topic myself a few days ago. Feel free to check it out. No that I’m a “professional blogger” or anything. A professional author, yes. A professional blogger, no. http://mlauryllewis.blogspot.com/2014/02/giving-indie-authors-good-name.html

  • Jeanne Tomlin

    And that is your real beef… anyone can do it. How can it be terribly, terribly elite for the literati if just anyone can do it?

  • Rebecca Hamilton

    As a professional author (by your standards) and a writer (also by your standards), I disagree. I am published traditionally in Hungary and Germany and self-published in the US. The US is where I have the film dew, on my book. Why is it singer and professional singer, then writer and professional author. That is not a parallel example. A parallel example would be an author and professional author. Also, some traditionally published titles don’t sell–this the author does not make enough to live off of. Are they then no longer professional? Some indie authors make thousands a months. Enough to quit their day jobs. Is that not the equivalent of a professional? The problem with the argument you present here is you have presented ideas as being mutually exclusive that are not, in fact, mutually exclusive. If your blog post as a book, it would have a major plot hole. Time to rewrite–as all professional authors do.

  • Heather Heslip Alexander

    I’m not a writer/author. I’m a reader. I read traditional and indie published books. Both have good books and not good books, Both have editing issues at times, but I’ll say this. Your responses to, what these authors, yes authors, are trying to say, are coming across like you have a personal grudge against indie authors. To say that their books aren’t good because they self published is ridiculous. I have read wonderful self published books, some of which have been optioned for tv and movie deals, they didn’t start out at that level, they worked up to it by self marketing. I also personally know several traditionally and well known authors, that are self publishing new series rather than going through their publishers. When you self publish it takes more time to begin seeing a profit, that is because you don’t have a publisher advertising your book, you have to do that yourself. Yes, there are self published books that aren’t very good, but i have read some traditionaly published books that were awful as well. Self published or traditionally published doesn’t matter, nor does profit margin, What matters is whether the book is a good read and that’s it. The problem is that publishers are getting nervous because they are being pushed out of their own industry, may be time for them get with current times and re think how they do things, or become obsolete. Your opinion is just that, as opinion, just not a very educated one.

  • Dee Harrison

    The writing world has always been dominated by snobbery; the writer of popular fiction versus the ‘literary’ author etc etc. This is just another such example. Wait till we start to get books ‘written’ by AIs and see how they are regarded. Suddenly any ‘human’ writer will be the real deal.

  • Michael Kozlowski
  • http://www.athwebber.com/ A.T.H. Webber

    I *think* I know where the essence of the Michael’s argument is coming from, I am just not sure that it is either a worthy argument, nor a particularly interesting one. Or Michael is a troll, tapping into the zeitgeist in the current indy-publishing world.

    Whatever the motivation behind the post, it, and the ensuing “you are”-”NO, YOU ARE” comment stream touches upon much that should be on every writer’s mind:

    The best thing about independent publishing at the moment is that anyone can write and publish a book.
    The worst thing?
    That anyone can write and publish a book.

    Whether we who are out in the wilds of Indy-land are authors, or writers, or poets, or creators, or word-curators, or *insert preferred tag here* is irrelevant.

    What is pertinent is that we all write.

    I call myself a writer, because I write. I have written hundreds of thousands of words, some of which made it into the two works I uploaded to the indy-pubbed-amazon-another-book-in-a-million-books, self-publishing machine.

    Am I the author of those books? With out any doubt, by any definition. Does that make me an author? Sure it does. If someone wants to call me an author, then fine, whatever floats their boat.

    What if I was involved in one of the other creative arts? Like painting for instance?
    It is a talent I have no ability to access, but stick with me for the purpose of argument.

    A person who paints art is regularly called and artist. Regardless of whether they draw their primary income from the sale or commissioning of paintings. No one debates or shouts from any figurative rooftops that they aren’t a real artist. No matter how awful their paintings might subjectively be.

    SO, I am both a writer and an author, by definition it is impossible to not be both.

    Further to Michael’s primary point: He might have a shade of a point when it comes to titling. I am currently part-way through a degree in professional writing, and within the degree there is an unspoken resistance to calling people authors. Sure, it might be that as a professional writer the scope of work is about reports and marketing and such, but many of my alums are working toward a major in creative writing as an adjunct to their studies in the pro-writing world.

    NO-ONE speaks of themselves as an author in any discussion. Even though they are; if they’ve written anything, then they are authors of the thing that they have written.

    Is this just basic elitism? Pushed by academics who have sweat and blood and coffee-stains on their keyboards from harrowing PhD theses? Probably.

    I think that Michael is drawing a line between what is good and what is not-so, and I understand to some extent what he is frustrated about – BUT – No one responds to a Doctor at a dinner party by saying “Oh, a Doctor you say? Have you managed to not kill anyone? How’s your malpractice coverage?”
    Or to a soldier: “Oh a soldier you say? Ever missed a head shot?”

    Those responses wouldn’t be offered because the standard party question “What do you do?” is NOT “How good are you at what you do?”

    Perhaps the post comes from Michael’s frustrations (that many of us share) that, as authors of written work, it is unbelievably hard to achieve success in this thing we do. Particularly when any written work is swamped by tens of thousands of books that in another time would only ever be bought by friends and family – purely out of charity for the writer and the knowledge that once all those short-run books are no longer clogging up the author’s parent’s garage, the parents might actually be able to park their car undercover again.

    It isn’t in the interests of aggregators like Amazon and Smashwords to dissuade writers from uploading books that might only ever sell fifty copies. It is their stock in trade. Fifty copies of a book that is not thought out, poorly written, badly edited, don’t-get-me-started-on-cover-art, multiplied by one hundred thousand books makes for a pretty good incentive for the companies to list them.

    To resolve this, I put that self publishing should no longer be free.
    I would love to see what happened if there was a one hundred dollar insertion fee for every book uploaded – repayable once sales reached one hundred dollars in profit.
    I suspect that reaching into one’s pocket for a crisp hundred dollar bill at upload time *might* make people think a little more about what it is that they are uploading, and whether they have done everything that they can to make it the best that it can be.

    OR, if that all seems too pay-to-play, keep it free, but raise the minimum price for a novel to something that will make people consider whether they are going to shell out for the product. People will gamble on ten x $0.99 books – but would they gamble on the same books if they were $2.50 a piece?

    Perhaps. Perhaps not. In a competitive market place though, it might make authors ask whether their books are competitive if the “it’s only a buck, I get what I pay for” mentality were to be removed.

    OR Keep the “price it whatever you want” thing going, but base the book’s place in the best sellers list based on profit-per-book rather than number of sales. A book selling well for five dollars should be placed higher in the rankings than a book that sells 50% of the five dollar book’s volume at 25% of the profit. (I’m implying that the $5 book is likely to be a considered, word of mouth/marketed purchase, rather than the $0.99 cent kindle crapshoot)

    OR Top sellers lists can be separated – “books under $2.50″ and a separate list for books above.

    It is frustrating that we are all in what is essentially a market with no quality control. It is frustrating that my books cost me money to produce/edit, and were thoughtfully prepared before upload.

    It is frustrating that I am not a marketer, and as a full time student I have no budget spend on marketing, and am mistrustful of the cottage industry that has popped up as “support” to the indy-folk trying to make their way in the world.

    It is all so frustrating.

    But I chose this as my path, and I am glad I did.

    I am yet to see anything that looks like a profit, but my unpaid-for, non-sock-puppet reviews encourage me to stay at it.

    Some authors are doing well, some are doing okay, some are covering costs and some will never see a profit – I understand that…

    …but it is also my understanding that whatever the feeling about authorship is, it doesn’t remove the fact that is: if someone calls themselves an ‘Author’, then, fine. The market will decide how good they are – I just wish the mechanism for that market was better at cultivating its fields – rather than having an active desire to harvest profits from a low quality crop.

  • http://www.smashwords.com/ MarkCoker

    Michael, I’m a big believer in dreams. My bio at Twitter has always included the words, “dreamer and doer.” I’d like to think I do both. Here’s the dream world I live in, and it serves as the foundation upon which I and all the team members at Smashwords built our company: I believe every human being has something positive to contribute to the world. I believe every writer has a right to publish. I believe in democracy, fairness, freedom and freedom of expression. I believe there’s amazing talent and creativity locked in the minds of ordinary people, and it can only come out when someone gives them a chance, provides them the tools and encouragement, and shares the knowledge of how to apply these tools. When someone believes in their potential and gives them a chance, great things can happen. People have been laughing at my crazy ideas about the potential of every writer for the last six years. The truth of which I speak is black and white. I see it every day. There a yin and yang to self publishing, just as there is to anything in life. There’s the good and bad, the positive and the negative, the informed and the uninformed, the educated and the ignorant. All serve a purpose. Even your negativity here serves a purpose. I’m not sure how you can say self publishing is ruining bookselling when clearly it’s going to save it.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    You are a FINE MAN

  • Michael Kozlowski

    This is what fundamentally separates us.

    1) You think everyone has a voice and everyone should be able to self-publish
    2) You think that everyone should have their books listed online, side by side traditionally published authors.
    3) You don’t think there should be any force that determines a good book or a bad book but the public
    4) You have built a company based on submitting user generation content to all major online bookstores, libraries and eBook subscription sites.

    My problems are thus. You are almost single handily destroying every book ecosystem you currently do business with. Your sheer tidal wave of poorly edited, ill-thought-out, bot generated and sex-tastic catalog of books (but formatted correctly under smashwords guidelines) are everywhere on the internet. These books are put side by side traditionally published books. You are creating the largest barrier in digital adoption for the mainstream to participate, book discovery.

    Book discovery used to be easy. Before self-published books took over, you could easily browse a genre and find a solid read. Amazon, Nook, Kobo or Sony recommendation engines would email you out other titles that may interest you. Now, with the copious amount of books you pimp out, recommendation engines can’t cope with it, there are too many new books being issued, which makes looking at the “recently released list” an exercise in wading through a pool of kid poop. You are effectively forcing companies you do business with to change their searching and book discovery engines to help FILTER YOU OUT.

    Honest to god, smashwords titles and indie titles in general have driven me from buying eBooks to almost exclusively shopping at brick and motor bookstores. I honestly can’t handle all the indie content, and i am not alone. At least i can trust that most bookstores can curate their content based on what they THINK WILL SELL! Can you simply imagine if Smashwords offered a true Print on Demand system that would enroll authors into Ingram Spark or Lightning Source? Then give indies the options to get on the Ingram catalog sent to major bookstores? This is the bleak future that Mad Max, Judge Dread, Fallout told me about.

    You basically have built a business, appealing to the lowest common denominator, with dreams of being a literary superstar. After all, you are constantly referencing Smashwords writers that had a best seller in the Australian iBookstore, or somewhere else. Its almost like Smashwords is your own personal casting couch, and the authors are young people just trying to be a star.

    Mark did you see the second Hunger Games movie? The one where there are thousands of mocking-jays flying around katniss, with thousands of different voices all going on at once. She almost goes into a catatonic state? The jays remind of Smashwords entire catalog. BUY ME BUY ME, .99, free to publish, distribute worldwide, ISBN numbers, be a star, go indie, have your voice heard, CA CAW!

  • Janet Nicholson

    Beatrix Potter self-published her first book

  • Sebbie

    Actually A.T.H from everything I’ve read the best thing about self publishing is that there’s more money in it for the author. And that’s from everything I’ve read. I’m published with a publisher and have not self published anything, but I see very large numbers of professionally published author jumping ship from trade publishing to the new self publishing for the money. That’s the reality. Publishers aren’t willing to offer fair enough contracts, or decent royatlies, or advertising etc… and they are losing the commercial writers by the bucketload.

  • rm

    When you run each day around the park, you are a runner. You don’t need to be in the Olympics to be called a runner.

  • L

    Even millionaire Stephen King said you could call yourself a professional if you’d ever written something and paid a household repair bill with it, which is a bit of a cry from demanding that we are able to make a full time living from it. (fyi I’m not self publihsed. I’m published with a respected publisher, but no I’m not making enough to live on yet, so I was also offended by your article. )

  • Sebastian Shores

    What is that supposed to mean?

  • Sebastian Shores

    Um are you really not aware that thousands of authors published by the Big Five are now self publishing instead, for the money? Has that escaped your notice?

  • Sebastian Shores

    You know I am NOT an indie author. I have a novel publsihed with a publisher. Frankly I want to tear my hair out because I’m seeing dozens of indie authors selling more than me and making more money that I am. They can sell their books for 99cents, they don’t have publishers being stupid with meta data and putting them only in one catagory on Amazon, self publishers will put themselves in five which is only sensible. Self publishers are topping the best seller lists all over Amazon, it’s annoying to me. You seem very out of what’s actually happening out there though Mike.

  • http://www.athwebber.com/ A.T.H. Webber

    I agree – to a point.
    The comparison though is hard to distinguish.
    If book ‘x’ is trad published and successful enough to sell, let’s say, 20,000 books (or whatever, just a number I grabbed at), and book ‘y’ is indy published and sells the same amount, there is no doubt that the author of the indy book is going to be FAR better off.

    By a long shot.

    I am glad that there are more trad pubbed writers jumping ship, it can only mean that their success will help shake the stigma from works that are indy published.

    I would also suggest that a traditionally published author will also have access to their existing fan-base to draw from, as they already have a foot in the market place.

    I am not for a second suggesting that traditional publishers haven’t been the benefactors of the creative sweat of countless writers for, well, ever.

    But the state of play at the moment sounds like an either/or proposition, and that indy publishing is the way forward AND that as a model it is perfectly fine, when it really isn’t.

    Indy publishing is a business, like anything else, and a profitable one – but not because of the quality of the work, instead it is about the sheer quantity of the stuff available.

    What has happened in the big shift to indy is that someone else is holding the dice in the same crap shoot, but the betting options are so wide, and so hard to play that the only winners are the people who own the table.

    SO yes, I agree, on paper (no pun intended) indy is financially the stronger option for the author IF the book is successful.

    What hasn’t changed is the luck factor. You had to be good and lucky with trad-pub, but in Indy it seems that you have to be really lucky first, and talented second.

    Or sell a chunk of books for ninety nine cents and hope that raise in rankings get people to buy based on rank at a higher price.

    Publishing has been blown pieces by indy authors and the mechanism that allows them to be independent.

    The problem is that the new model is broken – or not yet evolved enough to make much sense.

    No-one wants to say it either. It’s a bit like walking into a WWE “professional wrestling” show and whispering to the face-painted, bought-everything-including-the-tshirt fan next to you “You know that this isn’t real, don’t you?”

    I think indy authors need to start demanding more of the platforms that their works reside on.

    By “more” I don’t necessarily mean cash. I mean quality control. I mean for the aggregators that make the money to take responsibility as curators of their libraries, rather than raising their hands and saying “Look, we know that most of this stuff is below par, but what can we do?”

    HOW that is to happen is the harder bit, but unless indy authors put pressure on the aggregators they won’t have to consider their business model.

    That said, I like the freedom that indy-world offers, so this isn’t some sour-grapes “I want to be successful too” tantrum. I am just big on questioning, and looking for ways that things could be better. For as long as indy-world doesn’t speak critically of the aggregators, nothing will change.

    I suspect that some of this is to do with some fear belief that speaking out puts the author in jeopardy, and somehow places them on a black list on a server in a dark corner of AmaSmaKobo-land.

    I am concerned that this fear is not at all dissimilar to the fear held by authors against traditional publishing in the time before the indy revolution.

    The question we all need to ask as independent authors/writers/whatevers is this:
    Are we replacing an old system of gatekeepers and page-sweat for a newer broader , far more profitable version?

    The new indy revolution was supposed to tear down the walls of the establishment, not build another one that is even harder to assail.

  • Glynn James

    A writer – someone who writes.
    An author – someone who has written.
    A professional (of any kind) – someone who earns a living doing whatever it is they do.

    Any mixture of the above would work.
    I consider myself a professional liar.

  • Glynn James

    King said he considered you talented, not professional, (Sorry, don’t mean to nitpick)

  • Glynn James

    The program doesn’t actually write anything, it grabs open source materials and compiles them. So I guess not.
    I want a robot that writes novels for me, so I can play computer games all day.
    I don’t think that will happen!

  • RickCarufel

    I said a lot with only 12 words for an indie writer who shouldn’t be called an author didn’t I?

  • Guest

    There are hundreds of traditionally published authors (authors with the Big Five and other well-established, respected and recognized publishing houses) who cannot quit their day jobs because 1) their advances were too meager and 2) their royalties too low and 3) non-compete clauses prevents them from “traditionally publishing” any other work. Therefore, by your definition, they are not “real” authors. Only “writers” because publishing is not their primary source of income. See holes in your argument yet?

  • Guest

    “I thought i described over a million? and they are self-published WRITERS.” – a comment you made earlier.

    You keep contradicting yourself. Wouldn’t Tina be a professional “writer” and not a professional “author” irregardless of her income because she self-published?

    If you’re going to make up rules, you can at least show some consistency in them.

  • S Cu’Anam Policar

    I’m an independent PUBLISHER.. You want to tell my ten AUTHORS that they aren’t “real” authors simply because my Publishing House, which is licensed as a legal business in the United States, isn’t part of the Big 6.. yeah.. there’s SIX Big Publishing Houses not 5. So kudos on insulting whichever one you failed to number!

    Anne Rice, Stephen King, among several other of what you call “professional” authors all call us indies, authors and not just writers. It’s people like you that cause the problems that we have with your like-minded sheep.

    Indie AUTHORS pay more out of pocket for professional editing, to promote their books, to gain their fan base, than traditional authors do.

    Further more… YOU need an editor.. “hybred” isn’t a word.. the correct spelling would be “hybrid”. So please do tell us how you have any business trying to trash what we do for a living? Many of us are not only Best Sellers, we also survive off what we make.

    Numerous Traditional Authors have left traditional houses because they get tired of being jerked around and only getting a small cut of their royalties while indies either get ALL their royalties if they self publish, or a far larger portion of their royalties if they publish through an indie house.

    Let me ask you something oh know-it-all of the writing world, have you ever formatted a manuscript? We indies have to format THREE times MINIMUM to publish in all those places you named. We have to format for print, we have to format for Amazon, and we have to format for Smashwords since none of them can be formatted the same way.

    So while you call us writers, we KNOW we are AUTHORS.. we don’t need one of the big 6 to justify our work, our thousands upon thousands of fans do that for us on a daily basis. >~.^<

  • Pamela Cummins

    Opinions vary on what the term author means & in the end ~ it is the readers opinions that really counts. Keep writing!

  • Wayne Stinnett

    Let me see if I have this straight. According to you, when I’m working at my day job (which provides more of my annual income than my writing), I should call myself a professional. That’s true, I’m a professional truck driver by day and that has been my sole income for ten years prior to publishing my first book. Some time in the next few months my income from writing is going to surpass my income behind the wheel. My income behind the wheel hasn’t changed, in fact it’s gone up. When my income from writing surpasses it (in essence doubling my total income from last year), I’ll then have to start calling myself a rookie/neophyte truck driver even though it brings in over $60K a year? You’re a special kind of stupid, aren’t you?

  • jon

    The only people who hold these insane views are those who have been published traditionally and they are jaded at the fact that self-published authors are having major success without having jumped through the same hoops as they did. THREE words for you buddy. GET OVER IT!!! It’s here to stay

  • Andrew Gordon

    “Indie authors and self-published authors who claim they are real authors makes me laugh.” As one of the authors of the Kate Daniels series, I am going to call shenanigans on this. Michael, I don’t recall voting to put you in charge of who is or who is not an author. If you write a book, you’re an author; if someone is willing to pay you for it, you’re a working author. Author is defined as someone who has written a book or several; also one that originates or creates. If you are being read, you’re an author.

  • me

    Does anyone else think it’s hilarious that the ad at the bottom is “we will publish your book. $199″?

  • Dean Jameson

    You just called an entire group of people “morons” while complaining of “personal attacks”, Captain Irony.

  • Dean Jameson

    You DO realize that you don’t ACTUALLY get to decide that, right?

  • Andrew Gordon

    “You debate the fact that are just mere writers,” wow, you must be like a professional author or something with dynamite prose like that.

  • Dean Jameson

    There are FAR more cogent points being made in the comments section than there are in this muddled mess of a rant/article.

  • Nick_Stephenson

    Kind of like bloggers aren’t real journalists?

  • Dunk

    So you think you are qualified to criticise when you use the construction ‘AN writer?’ Learn some grammar. And some manners. And some humility. Then you may criticise

  • Dunk

    Well blogging isn’t real writing, is it?
    I’m kidding

  • Dunk

    Yes indeed. It’s rubbish, badly written, ungrammatical, and simply biased. I have a distinct taste of sour grapes here.

  • Nick_Stephenson

    Too right. How dare they!

  • Dunk

    Made me chuckle, I have to say.

  • Dunk

    Oh yes, I like this. Get over it. And learn some grammar. ‘An writer’ is a schoolboy error.

  • EricWelch

    This is pretty funny coming from a self-published blogger. By his own definition he’s not a journalist, nor an author, nor a writer, but then most of that is apparent from this self-published article.

  • Geri

    Well
    Michael, seems you opened a real can of worms here – and not gotten a lot of support
    for your theory. We already have plenty
    of categories to contend with- traditionally published authors, self-published
    authors, indie authors – and I think this says enough, don’t you? Because I work with self-published authors at
    indieBRAG, I can tell you that many have been traditionally published so do
    they have to become a new category of traditional authors/self-published writers? They don’t care. I hate to break the news to you, but most
    readers don’t care either. In our
    experience, we find that very few readers ever bother to check who published a
    book. They care about content, editing
    and even the cover, but not the publisher.
    I bet to the vast majority of readers, the words writer and author are
    interchangeable. Write a good book, edit
    it to perfections, find your audience and you are very much an author doing
    what author’s do.

  • lottabaloney

    It’s easier to draw facile distinctions than it is to actually read a novel and decide if it’s “professional” quality.

  • lottabaloney

    hey wait… one of your staff members is described as a “young-adult author” (why the hyphen?), but doesn’t appear to have been published by any traditional publisher. All of her stuff is self-published. Good on her – I bet she’s had a few words with you about this.

  • Andrew Gordon

    “Now I’m not an author, I’m a writer, that’s all I am.” Mickey Spillane

  • http://serenityofabottomlesspit.wordpress.com/ Joseph Ewen

    I fail to see the value of redefining the term “author” to imply some sort of social stratification. Maybe you could be more punctilious and redefine the word “writer” to imply someone who actually handwrites their work onto paper with an ink pen or graphite pencil because someone who uses a word processor is actually a “typist” and doesn’t get to be called a “writer” until they have handwritten at least one novel totaling at least one hundred thousand freehand words. Awkward mechanics and inflammatory invective aside, your post is useless at best, and profoundly so.

  • Bill Ward

    According to the Oxford dictionary we are authors but I’m sure you know better! So you would call a celebrity who for no reason other than having been in a soap opera, and thus able to get a book published tradionally,an author? I see no reason to distinguish between the different types of authors other than to describe some as good and others not so good! Unless of course you are trying to be controversial because you write a blog and need attention!

  • Misa Buckley

    Perhaps this article might have more merit if the author spelt “hybred” correctly…

  • Dahlia Adler

    “If you can earn your living from your writing, you are a professional author, anyone else is just a plain old writer.”

    I’m so confused. Do you not think self-published authors earn money from their writing? Do you not realize how many of them make enough to write full-time? Do you not realize how few traditionally published authors *don’t*? I don’t have a problem drawing the writer/author distinction with where one actually makes money from it, but how on earth does that translate into self-pubbed vs. non-self-pubbed?

  • Kyle Brittain

    If you’re publishing works, you’re an author.
    You, sir, are a fucking snob.

  • julia derek

    love it, Andrew!

  • Jade Mile

    It IS Big 5. It was the Big 6 until Penguin and Random House merged. Now it’s Big 5. A legit indie publisher would know that.

  • Sam

    I love how he has spelling and grammatical errors throughout his post.

  • http://www.istyriabookblog.com/ Bookaddict Bieke

    This is ridiculous…

  • Rachel

    This article is confusing. A professional singer is someone who makes their living by singing, yet they don’t have to be signed to a record label to be a professional. Same with an author. Someone who makes their living as a writer doesn’t have to be signed to a publishing house. If you’re basing your argument on money, then you should applaud the self-publishing industry for bypassing the traditional world to make substantial wealth on their own merit. I am a self-pubbed author and make a living in the top 10% of writers. I’ve spoken to agents and decided I’d rather stay in the Indie world. It was a choice I made because it was the best choice for my career. And beyond that, the readers are smart enough to decide who is a legitimate author and who isn’t. It’s not your place to tell them if their personal taste is qualified by industry standards. You’re part of the traditional industry and therefore want to apply your standards to every other human being. But the reason self-pubbed is doing so well is because we don’t have to listen to industry “professionals” telling us what to write. We can listen to our readers and our instinct and write a book that sells to actual consumers and not to print houses that will take most of the royalty anyway. You are welcome to your opinion. And you are welcome to only choose books from professional authors that you qualify, but you’re one person among millions. The majority disagrees with you.

  • http://www.coffeecraftsandclues.com/ Des Malone

    Dear Michael

    You pissed off a lot of people writing that. I have to side with the rest though, seems like you’re clinging to an outmoded paradigm. World is changing. It used to be the way you describe but now it’s not…the Game Changer has already taken place. On Demand, self directed, micro gigs – all the ingredients are there.

    Enjoy and embrace tomorrow.

    For the record, as a reader, I couldn’t care less who published a book. If the story or material is true and real, if the characters are realistic, if I am entertained or educated, then I give credit to the *author* of the work, whether they scrawled it out on Notepad and uploaded it to Kindle at 4am, or whether they’re Grisham, King, or Cornwell.

    If you write the stuff, you’re an author, plain and simple.

  • http://sandru.com/ Dumitru Sandru

    So laugh, but you are not a gatekeeper, nor the anointer of authors. You
    are a nobody, while I am an AUTHOR. And I’m laughing all the way to the
    bank with money I make from my published books.

  • Editor

    Edits of your first two paragraphs. Words in [[brackets]] are deletions. I’ve added some text, or substituted some words where appropriate. These are suggested changes.
    ____________________

    The landscape of publishing has dramatically changed over the last five years. In the past, if you wanted to publish a book you had to [[do it from]] pay a vanity press or land a deal with a traditional publisher. Now anyone can write a book and submit it to Smashwords, Kindle, Kobo or Nook for free. So the question is, should we [[quantify]] qualify a distinction between [[an]] a writer and an [[professional]] author? I think a line needs to
    be drawn in the sand so that we know who [[is]] the real deal is.

    Just because [[its]] it’s easy to upload your written words, so that [[it]] they can be downloaded to another machine does not make you an author, any more than me buying a stethoscope allows me to be called a doctor. A [[singer]] “blogger” is someone who posts on a weblog. A [[professional singer]] “journalist” is someone who
    makes a living from writing for newspapers, magazines and so on. (Similarly, t)here is a stark contrast between being a writer and being a professional author. Many indie writers who publish a title or two on Amazon or Smashwords [[normally]] think otherwise. They wear the title “author” as a badge of honor.

  • Sam

    Well, if I put my own intellectual work in a document, then I’m definitely an author of that particular document.

  • Kate Sedge

    I’m sorry, why are you unable to differentiate where an “an” should be an “a”? Because it certainly does not work in this sentence; “So the question is, should we quantify a distinction between an writer and a professional author?”
    It should be “a writer” sir-and also further down, your use of the word “author” should be clearly marked with speech marks because, my dear, your sentence does not flow.

    Then there is the “Hybred” issue… Honey, it’s Hybrid. Not Hybred.

    -And I’m a 27 year old who barley got a D in English in school…. Like… I’m awful and I picked them up right away, jeeze.

    Yes indeed, an author who publishes their HARD WORK either through a publisher or the ones that go it alone, wear that title as a badge of honor, and quite right too! Why shouldn’t they? They have put in all that time and effort into writing their novel and I, for one, have found many self published AUTHORS that have been overall better than many traditionally published authors.

    Screw your opinion. It’s pointless and, for simplicity, just plain stupid.

  • Lynne Cantwell

    Sounds like you ought to consider dumping your publisher and self-pubbing, Sebastian. ;)

  • Angel

    Your idea that self-publishing shouldn’t be free is the dumbest thing I’ve read on this webpage, and that’s saying something. Having the ability to pay some high fee does not guaranty a quality author. If you take a look at human history, the majority of timeless artists were in fact poor.
    I understand that change is scary but it is inevitable. So stop spouting silly hate and get over it.

  • Chelsea Spencer

    What was the purpose of this article? To piss off legions of indie AUTHORS? May I suggest an editor, sir? This article makes me wonder if he signed with a small publishing house and is not selling many books or is upset that an indie AUTHOR has sold more than him. Apparently he is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader… but shouldn’t you know how to edit your own posts?

  • 2615152613

    I commend you for generating page views by creating what amounts to a meaningless controversy. It turns out the world will continue to revolve whether or not the sensitivities of “authors,” real or not in your view, are offended.

    To me the discussion amounts to distinction without meaningful difference even if there is a difference between “author” and “writer.” As far as I can tell it amounts to a high school pi$$ing contest about who is in the popular club and who isn’t.

    What you failed to do, besides consistently using good grammar, is demonstrate why it matters.

  • Fred LeBaron

    Nice trolling, bra.

  • Heywood Jablowme

    Wow, Michael Kozlowski, what an asshole.

  • G. Scholl

    Talk to me when YOU write a book that takes your blood, sweat, tears, heart, soul, and everything within you. Talk to me when YOU connect with a reader that tells you that your book changed their life in some way, shape, or form. Talk to me when YOU have a passion that is difficult to send out into the world because you know the bullies (like you!) are out there ready to tear you down. I am an author! A self-published author, and damn proud of it! Because I don’t go through a traditional publisher, my book doesn’t get torn apart and changed and made into what is “acceptable”. My book is my book and NO ONE, not even lame ass critics with nothing better to do in their lives than write stupid articles like this just to piss people off, will take my AUTHOR status away from me. Jealous? Fine, be jealous, but don’t be an a**hole.

  • Liz Long

    So because I enjoy my day job and don’t necessarily need to make writing novels my full time job (therefore not earning a living off my books despite the years and effort it takes putting into them), I’m not an author? Total bullshit. Good luck, dude, ’cause if you ever self-publish, you better do it under another name after the crowd of indie AUTHORS read this post.

  • http://www.hypable.com/author/lauracristiano/ LauraBC

    Because the big 5 publishing houses never put out a book where they saw dollar signs, and the content was of dubious quality. /sarcasm

  • Anna Buttimore

    I understand where you’re coming from, and I can see both sides. I’d also be the first to agree that there are many truly terrible indie books out there, because anyone can now publish a book, even if they struggle with the rudiments of grammar.

    However, I’m a hybrid. My first five books were traditionally published, my sixth was too controversial for my publishers so I self-published it. Does this make me not an author again?

    Maybe the solution is that everyone who writes a book can call themselves an author, or a writer. After all, just the act of completing 80,000 coherent words is worthy of recognition. Whether or not they can call themselves a good author, a professional author or a successful author remains to be seen.

  • Real Author

    You’re an idiot. And you MIGHT want to consider hiring an editor. How much do I have to make before being a ‘real author’. Is 130k enough? Okay good. We’re done here.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    No, you are a mere writer of that document. You aren’t an author until people read it, and not a professional until you make your living from it.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    I disagree. Writers, write for the love of writing. Authors have had their books at least read a few times, and professional authors make their living from the process of writing. I just wrapped it up in a nice little package for you. Merry Christmas!

  • Michael Kozlowski

    If your primarily source of revenue derives from the written word, you are a professional author. If you publish a book yourself, or through a real publisher, you are an amateur, until you can make your living from it

  • Michael Kozlowski

    The point of this article is to stimulate debate on my main points.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    We need new definitions going forward.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    We need new terminology in a world where someone can take this blog post, and all of its comments and make an eBook out of it. That process would be called writing, it would not make me an author, because I never wrote it all. I would not be deemed a professional unless my livelihood stemmed from my words.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    I have no problem with self-publishers. I do when they call themselves authors at a diner party, when they only sold under 100 books and still is are waitress or rock cleaner, or ditch digger.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    Quality is meaningless in the self-publishing world. Its a matter of, did your book sell? Do you make your living from writing? If you make your living from your craft you are a professional.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    That is why i suggest “writer or professional author” to redo all of these classifications. You either make your living from writing words, or you don’t.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    We don’t have any control over what adverts display, as its based on your own personal cookies.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    If you write a book, you are a writer. Unless you make your living from the process of writing, you are a professional author. This concept is not hard to understand. I know people like their shiny “I AM AN AUTHOR” police badge out of the cereal box though.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    If you are not making your living from the written word, you are a writer, this concept should not be hard to understand.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    Whether or not you are trade published is not relevant. You either make your living selling eBooks or you don’t. If you do, you are a professional author, if you don’t you are a mere writer.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    Who cares what King said?

  • Michael Kozlowski

    Which is why lots of authors end up doing both, self-publishing and publishing under a contract. They enjoy more flexibility because this is their vocation, their craft, they make their living from writing.

  • Amber Skye Ferreira

    Most “authors” cannot make a decent living off having their books published. They make money, but it isn’t enough to live off of. So, by your definition, most writers published by the big guys aren’t authors because
    many off them can’t afford to live off what they earn.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    You have to live off of the money you make from writing as a primary revenue stream. If you can, congrats, you are a professional writer.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    That is correct, DING DING DING DING!

  • Michael Kozlowski

    There is no distinction really anymore between publishing yourself or with an established company. All of the money you make goes to the same bank account. If you can make your living from writing, you are a professional. If you don’t, you are just a writer, struggling writer, or even a “Author-in-waiting”

  • Amber Skye Ferreira

    There is limited shelf space, so not all traditionally published books are going to be put in bookstores.

  • Amber Skye Ferreira

    I just want to mention I’m glad you created your website. I just wish it were as big as Amazon, especially because you give authors a bigger cut. Thank you for that. :)

  • Michael Kozlowski

    This is true, its really up to Ingram and other distributors on what they want to highlight for the stores to buy. The stores themselves or someone who handles the buying for an entire region makes the call.

  • http://www.christophergodsoe.com/ Christopher Godsoe

    I write stories, and if people enjoy them, that’s great. I don’t care about being accepted into a “professional” author’s group, be it the Science Fiction Writers of America, The Screenwriters Guild, or Michael Kozlowski’s list of approved book club reading. Too much time is wasted nowadays on chasing approval from people they’ll never know or meet. Who gives a shit. Nice troll, though. Looks like you have pissed a lot of people. lol

  • Amber Skye Ferreira

    Why does the label matter so much to you anyway? Elitism perhaps? You just want a definition between the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots.’

  • Michael Kozlowski

    Finally, a level headed young man.

  • Jill

    You are misinformed about professional authors.
    In your article, you quote RWA’s PAN guidelines. Which are contentious to the membership. I’m a member and remember when they finally allowed self-pubs to be PAN members and their double-standard alienated many of us. It’s one rule for traditionally published ($1000) and another rule for self-published ($5000).
    But in your comments, you talk about making a living from the process of your writing.
    How much money is making a living?
    Because according to you it’s about $1000-$5000 dollars. RWA does not specify how long you have to make that amount of money. So is that $1000 over 10 years?
    So if I make $5000 dollars off my self-published novel in 10 years, am I making a living from my writing?
    But that argument doesn’t make any sense, because, many traditional authors don’t ‘make a living from their writing’. Go look at Brenda Hiatt’s “Show Me the Money” to see what the earn outs for the average ‘professional author’ is.
    Until a mid-list author has a significant backlist, they don’t make a living off their writing.
    The reason why many people are self-publishing is because we get 70% of electronic royalties and way more royalties in print then we would get from the Big 5.
    It’s a financial decision for many people. When you do the math, traditional publishing doesn’t make much sense.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    Primarily because of the copious amount of publishing terminology out there. Self-Publisher, Author, Writer,hybrid author, trad author, indie, etc etc. We need to simplify the quantification.

  • Amber Skye Ferreira

    Let the readers decide that then.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    You should not have to force the readers to determine that. That is the blame game, its not my problem its yours. Writers and Professional Authors bear the burden of guilt, like a crown of thorns.

  • Harman

    You know what this makes me think? That you are a JERK with nothing to do other than bash on the people who have spent hours and hours into work that they ended up self-publishing. Some self-published authors spend more time on a book than some traditionally published authors and they end up making more money too. I know at least two authors that self-published books and had so much success that publishing companies ended up asking them to start publishing with them. Were they not real authors before they were picked up traditionally? What was the difference between them and other traditionally published authors? They both were able to sell their books as eBook and hard copies if they chose to, they both made lots of money off of their books, and they both were seen as authors by the people that bought their books. I even know an author who was traditionally published and then wrote a book which her publisher refused to publish so she decided to self publish. Does that mean that book wasn’t written by a real author? Most self-published authors have more original, better ideas than traditionally published authors but get shot down by publishing companies because the book wasn’t what was “selling”. Publishers look for topics that will sell, they don’t care whether the book is amazing, if they don’t think people will be as interested in it as a new vampire book will they’re not going to offer the author a chance.

    I’m a book blogger who reads both traditionally and self published books. I ENJOY both and I take both writers and call them authors in my reviews, all bloggers do. Look down at the comments, all you have are a bunch of pissed off people disagreeing with you and then you’re replying to their comments trying to prove them wrong. Take a hint; if there is a group of people disagreeing with you they’re probably right. I honestly don’t even see anyone agreeing with you. Take yourself down a notch and stop putting people down. Look up the word “author” in the dictionary and tell me where it says that a person has to be traditionally published to be a legitimate author. It says “a person who writes a novel, poem, essay, etc” ANYONE who writes is an author. We as readers don’t care who writes the book and how they got their book into our hands, we just care that their story is good, that is has an entertaining plot, and that the characters are realistic.

    So please, stop putting people down and trying reading a self-published book, you might even end up enjoying it-A LOT.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    I am not bashing anyone. I am merely suggesting that there are too many existing terms to describe or to attempt to quantify writers/authors. My suggestion is much more elegant. If you make your living from writing words, you are a professional author. If you don’t, you are just a mere writer.

    You sir are delusional. Why do you think bookstores are the last salvation of quality literature? Because the indies have not taken it over yet with their pointless drivel.

  • http://serenityofabottomlesspit.wordpress.com/ Joseph Ewen

    See, here is where I disagree with you. If someone did make an ebook out of all of this, I don’t think anyone would call the person who compiled the information a “writer” or an “author” because those words already have established meanings which are very well known to people who craft the English language for pleasure or profit. Redefining either of those words will not solve the problems you lament in your post. Besides, a creative “writer/author/scrivener/wordsmith/dramaturge/scribe/hack” would come up with something novel to use as “new terminology”. An “inkflinger” or “pixelpirate” or something similar. See how easy it is? Feel free to use those, by the way.

  • Harman

    First off, I AM A WOMAN, and I am anything but delusional, and at least if I were I wouldn’t be an arrogant ass. Bookstores hold those same books that used to be self-published but are now traditionally published. I can tell you that bookstores hold tons of literature that are crap and full of BS. Who are you to say what is quality literature? A lot of self-published books are AMAZING. They are a lot better than some of the writing that is traditionally published.

    Just accept that your views could be a little hurtful to people who put a lot of effort into what they do. They certainly put a lot more effort into their writing than you did in this article. You sir should really proofread what you publish. It’s okay to have these kind of views but when you start announcing it to everyone and hurt people in the process, that is when it becomes wrong.

    P.S. You are verbally bashing on self-publishing authors.

  • Marion Gropen

    Self-publishers have been quietly making a living for as long as publishing has been around. Not all of them, of course, but some. There have always been options to vanity presses, and to the new euphemism: POD publishers. Self-publishers buy their own ISBN block, if they’re publishing in print, and they do, or hire a free-lancer to do, all the steps involved.

    You don’t need a vanity press to print. You don’t need a POD publisher to use a POD printer. You don’t need to publish only in ebook formats to be successful as a self-publisher.

    You DO need to learn a lot more than most people think you need to know, and you need to work extremely hard. There are NO shortcuts to publishing success, no matter which options you choose.

    There’s nothing wrong with being proudly artistic and not commercial, and never becoming an author. But the word author DOES have a meaning, and that meaning includes making money, meaningful amounts of money, from your work.

  • http://www.facebook.com/author.serenityvalle Serenity Valle

    By your definition he would be a professional AUTHOR, not a professional writer. You aren’t even sticking by your own definitions. How many books have you published, either traditionally or self-pub? My guess is zero. Your bio says you’re an e-reader and tech article writer… get back to us when you sell your first 200k worth of books through a traditional publisher, otherwise you just sound like you have sour grapes.

  • Sarah Nicole Blausey

    Total B.S.

  • http://www.angelsdemonsandvampires.com/ Kristin

    The editing of this article alone is enough for me to not take you seriously, ever. Please learn when to use “an” and “a” correctly. It is not “an” writer, it is “a” writer. And this sentence: “Indie authors and self-published authors who claim they are real authors MAKES me laugh.” Please! I cringed reading that. Not only is the “makes” wrong, but you could do without two of the “author” references.

    I wonder, are the writers of these research papers you mention, authors? If I’m not mistaken, they are the said “author of …,” and they certainly do not make their living off of such works.

    Next time you decide to take on a group of people who are passionate about their work, you should consider two things: Have factual, objective evidence to back your opinion, otherwise it is only an opinion; a crappy, biased one. Second, hire an editor.

  • AuntiePoo

    This sounds to me like sour grapes, written by someone who didn’t get to take the “easier” path to sales by self- or indie-publishing. Actually, since I’ve never heard of you, I looked you up on Amazon.com. Wow, big deal. 4 book reviews and a blog. Nice.

    It is simply impossible to “devalue” the written word. Because words in and of themselves have no intrinsic value. It is what you use them to say that matters. The stories you tell with them, the pictures you paint with them, the truths you illuminate with them, that count. You don’t have to be a client of Penguin or Bantam to do that. Oh, wait… are we going to include those who publish paperbacks as “not real authors” too? Because, you know, a good, solid cover is really what makes an author, right?

    Face it. You’re a failed author. I have checked multiple websites (book sellers and review sites) and cannot find even a dozen reviews of your work. Clearly, you have no audience. So, rather than accept that what you’re writing isn’t appealing to the book buying public, you trash the medium of those who are outselling you. No, that’s not pathetic at all.

    I have several friends who are self-published authors. Their books are read, discussed, and promoted well. They actually work harder than elitist snobs like you because they don’t have a book company behind them for the editing and cover design and the promotion and the signing tours… they handle it themselves. And yet… they still seem to outsell you! So, I ask you, who is the “real” author. I mean.. .blogs…? Those are e-pubs, aren’t they? By your standard, that blog doesn’t make you an author.

    Check out the definition of “author” on dictionary.com. I realize it’s an electronic dictionary, and not a hard copy put out by a publishing house, but we’ll trust it, okay? It says that an author is “a person who writes a novel, poem, essay, etc.; the composer of a literary work, as distinguished from a compiler, translator, editor, or copyist.” Hmm.. no mention at all of publishing method. Interesting.

    Instead of worrying that someone is getting credit, recognition, acceptance, or regard that you perceive to be due to you, instead, try writing something someone wants to read; when you’re a “real” author, you have readers, right?

  • Harman

    Can I just say how much I love you write now? So he tweeted at a favorite author of mine that being an author means that you can live off of your work. I hope he realizes that most published authors can’t even live off of their work. He should just stick to one view because he keeps changing his opinion…

  • Gabryyl Pierce

    Starting April Fool’s Day early this year? You seem to consider yourself an author but what you need is an editor: “an writer” just for starters. I have read indie authors who shine and trad authors who should be locked in a box as far from a pc as they can get to save us all from more torture. It’s not what you call yourself, it’s what you create that matters. All you’ve created here is an ass…of yourself.

  • http://www.facebook.com/author.serenityvalle Serenity Valle

    Again here you deviate from your own stated definitions. Here, you imply that a writer becomes an author when people read their work. Therefore, any Indie AUTHOR who has sold even one book is, by your admission here (contrary to what you state in the article), an author and no longer a writer due to having met the wicket of having their work read by people.

  • http://www.facebook.com/author.serenityvalle Serenity Valle

    So, as you state in this reply, those writers who have put their work on Kindle which then is read by an arbitrary number of people, are now authors. You, sir, are waffling.

  • http://www.facebook.com/author.serenityvalle Serenity Valle

    Or if he used the word primary in the comment above instead of primarily, as it is currently incorrect. Editor-in-Chief? lol

  • gobblervt

    au·thor [aw-ther]
    noun
    1.
    a person who writes a novel, poem, essay, etc.; the composer of a literary work, as distinguished from a compiler, translator, editor, or copyist.
    2.
    the literary production or productions of a writer: to find a passage in an author.
    3.
    the maker of anything; creator; originator: the author of a new tax plan.

    Funny, it doesn’t say anything about being compensated for it in there anywhere.

  • http://www.facebook.com/author.serenityvalle Serenity Valle

    So if he makes 60K a year driving, and this coming year makes 70K a year from his books…if he doesn’t quit driving (therefore making a living only from the books) then he still is not an author?
    I mean, it would seem that he makes a living off of 60K, therefore 70K would constitute making a living as well, but making 150K combined would make him a truck driver/writer rather than a truck driver/author simply because he wasn’t making his living ONLY from his books? He *could* quit trucking and live off of 10K more a year from books, but hell… why would you want to when you could make nearly twice that? You’re not making much sense Michael.

  • http://www.facebook.com/author.serenityvalle Serenity Valle

    It changes again! So if Anne Rice, Stephen King or Michael Crichton didn’t make a living off of their books, they’d be only writers! I’m sure they’d disagree.

  • Alex

    I am both published through several “traditional” publishing houses as well as the author over over 30 self-published titles. I make MORE with my self-published titles and those have afforded me the ability to work from home as an AUTHOR. I chose to go the self-publishing route because I was tired of handing over money to a group of people I didn’t feel had my best interests at heart. And plainly, I could do everything they could do, some of it better, and make all the profit. One of my many editors from traditional publishing edits my self-pubbed work and my covers are made by an industry professional. Considering I’ve made it on multiple bestselling lists with multiple titles over the last few years with my SELF-PUBLISHED DRIVEL, as you call it, proves that your argument is invalid.

    Are there some self-published authors who shouldn’t be publishing? Absolutely. But there are some traditionally published books out there that should never have seen the light of day. Do they still make the cut as being “authors” in your short-sighted, ignorance laced ideology?

  • Wayne Stinnett

    You win. But, if it’s all the same to you, this writer will just keep the $60K from the sale of my books. (Bowing to the all knowing god of what is and isn’t an author.)

  • Hiebert

    Yeah, you made a fool of yourself with this blog post. Hugh Howey and about 1000 other successful self-published authors should be a wake up call for the publishing industry (including agents) on the future of their industry. Writing an “article” like yours, insisting these authors aren’t legitimate is, quite honestly, just stupid. Right now, you have the credibility of a garden variety troll.

  • S Cu’Anam Policar

    I review professionally for both Random House AND Penguin Group.. merger or not they’re still considered two separate labels since their books still hold two separate labels.

    You can question my legitimacy as a publisher all you would like, Just like I know I’m an author, I know I’m as publisher as well. If I weren’t, I wouldn’t have my staff, my authors, my business license, or the books published under my label. It’s cute you tried to call me on it though.. Wolf Paw Publications is my label >~.^<

    And before you pull the "Well I never heard of you". It's only been licensed for two months.. it was founded in December, yet I have 10 of the happiest authors, with more sending in submissions everyday. Everyone starts out small.. It takes hard work and determination to make it big.. So trash me all you'd like, I'll be the one laughing when my label makes it big

  • Michael Kozlowski

    When you MAKE it big, send over a picture of you rolling around in a vault full of cash.

  • http://www.pamroller.com Pam Roller

    Michael, if I understand you correctly, you equate being a professional author with making enough money to live off published books. So, if I’ve published books but am not making enough money to quit my day job, I’m a plain old writer, not a professional author, right?
    Okay, then, in your eyes I’m just a writer. And that’s fine with me.
    I write books. I hire a team of professionals for edits and a cover. Readers buy my books and think of me as the author of those books. I doubt readers say, oh, she’s a professional author. Or oh, she’s only a writer. Readers want a good book, and that’s where my focus is, not on this strict classification system you’re opining.
    Someday I hope to make enough money to live off my writing, but until then, I won’t demean myself by thinking I’m devaluing the word because I haven’t made a certain amount in royalties. I write, and I’m a professional about giving readers my best. And that’s all that matters.

  • Andrew Gordon

    I think you’re missing a “not.” That’s also a terrible analogy. Nobody gives it to you, you earn it by writing a story, a novel, or even a blog post. Furthermore, when our second book hit the NYT our advance was only fifteen grand. Under your criteria, even though, we had earned NYT and USAT bestseller status, we would not be considered authors, because the majority of our income came from 9 to 5 jobs.

  • EricWelch

    Nonsense. The purpose is to drive traffic without which blogs wither and fade away. The only way to generate that traffic is by being outrageous and controversial or silly. The validity of the argument becomes irrelevant.

  • arnol037

    Obviously you haven’t been to a bookstore for a few years. Indie books are all over bookstore shelves today. This just makes you look ignorant because you obviously didn’t research this subject at all. Are just trying to blow smoke up folks’ butts by stating an uneducated opinion with no research whatsoever? I have read many “traditional” and “indie” books and both have their fair share of winners and losers. I do know a lot of indie writers go the indie route for the simple fact of having more control over their books and making more money through this route. Does that mean they all are actually good authors? No. However, that doesn’t mean that all “traditional” writers are actually good, either. You seem very angry to so carelessly put others’ achievements down. Regardless of what route that AUTHOR took, (and yes they are an author regardless of what you say- pick up a dictionary, but don’t because that would be research, which you clearly didn’t do for this article) they wrote from the mind and the heart. They took that chance of opening up their mind and then showing it to others. That takes courage. You can hate their books and you can not buy their books. However, the one thing you shouldn’t do is demean and devalue their personal achievements. Behind each book cover is an AUTHOR, who just so happens to be a HUMAN BEING.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    Behind each book cover is an Writer, who just so happens to be a HUMAN BEING.

  • Suzan Tisdale
  • 狐☯忠 ❂ Tadashi

    Nice smug tribalistic tosh.

    Yes, that’s what it is:
    White gloves don’t change the hands beneath.

  • http://gingervoight.com/ Ginger Voight

    So who, exactly, gets to decide whether or not someone can be considered a “real” author? Most of the time if you want to join a club, you generally have to be approved by those who are already in it.

    Let’s break that down to see who has the proper credentials to make this distinction, shall we?

    In one corner of the ring, we have Michael Kozlowski, whom Goodreads lists as an author with five distinct works. One book was traditionally published in 2009 and has two reviews, which doesn’t exactly suggest a major book deal or royalties by the truckload.

    On Amazon, an author named Michael Kozlowski published a collection of short stories titled, “Some Days Suck, Some Days Suck Worse.”

    I found the first review particularly insightful:

    “This review is a good opportunity to encourage readers to take a risk on self-published work.”

    (That, my friends, is what we in the biz call a plot twist.)

    In the other corner of the ring we have (indie, self-pubbed) authors. You know the ones, the kind that make some folks named Michael Kozlowski “laugh.” Since I’m one of those dirty birdies, I’ll go ahead and put myself on the chopping block. Goodreads lists me as an author of 25 distinct works with a 4.05 rating, averaged over more than 5500+ reviews/ratings from those who, y’know, actually *read* the books.

    Call me crazy, but I consider that a prerequisite for someone who wants to determine my “quality” of work.

    On Amazon, my last book has a 4.9 average and has stayed in the top 100 best-selling list of its particular genre since it was released a little more than a week ago.

    In all fairness, I’ll post one of my (Amazon-verified purchase) reviews:

    “Loved this series. I will be looking forward to reading more of her work. Another favourite author added to my list.”

    http://www.youtube.com/embed/yqyixwqiCag

    If you really want to know the distinction of what makes an author, that’s it. Publishers don’t make authors… *readers* do. Saying traditional publishers determine a book’s quality is like saying major studios always produce quality films. Like studio executives, publishers gamble and hedge their bets on what might be commercial enough to sell enough books to make them a profit.

    Considering some best-selling books I’ve read, the value of the “words” was not the primary concern.

    In 2007, I started writing to a specific niche that I didn’t see represented in traditional publishing. Within a year of self-publishing said books in 2011, I saw an agent lament on his social media, saying, “Why are all these writers querying me over plus-sized heroines? Is this a thing?”

    Yes, it was and is a thing… and I, like best-selling indie authors like Jacinda Wilder before me, was already cashing in on the trend before this “professional” even knew what it was.

    While traditional publishers are locking said gates and gouging prices of ebooks, readers all over the world are embracing new work from new writers at a fraction of the cost. They’re the ones taking the chances now. As it is wont to do with exploration and experimentation, the cream ultimately rises to the top, allowing both aspiring and seasoned writers alike to write their own paycheck. Even dirty birdies like me get to live my dream and yes, even make a living with what I write.

    You’re right. Publishing has changed. Stephen Kings of the future are no longer nailing rejection letters to a spike on their wall, waiting for their big break. Thanks to the digital revolution – which pretty much pays your bills as an editor for an online magazine devoted to such – these brave folks are connecting with readers who simply want a great story. If you can write something and make a complete stranger feel what you want them to feel, you’re a writer. That’s it. That’s the only criteria.

    If you have made money doing it, you’re a professional.

    Even you, who wrote this incendiary blog to drive up hits to your website, can be considered a writer by these standards.

    So why throw shade?

    Stephen King once said,“If you wrote something for which someone sent you a check, if you cashed the check and it didn’t bounce, and if you then paid the light bill with the money, I consider you talented.”

    All this other stuff is just an elitist, bitter heap of self-important malarkey from someone that, by his own standards, isn’t qualified to make such distinctions anyway.

    In the immortal words of Phoebe Buffay, it’s time to get out of the bitter barn and come play in the hay.

    I’ll leave you with this Hindu proverb as food for thought.

    “There are hundreds of paths up the mountain, all leading to the same place, so it doesn’t matter which path you take. The only person wasting time is the one who runs around the mountain, telling everyone that his or her path is wrong.”

  • http://www.smashwords.com/ MarkCoker

    Thanks, Amber!

  • Schuyler Thorpe

    So if I want to be self-published, I’m not the actual author of my own books? Then who are they being written by? Casper the Friendly Ghost?

  • Rick Chesler

    “If you can earn your living from your writing, you are a professional author, anyone else is just a plain old writer.” That’s silly, though, since depending where and how you live, your expenses are more or less than someone else. You may be able to afford to be a “professional author” if you live alone in a tent out in the woods, earning your few bucks a month which is all you need to get by, but try being a “professional author” living in Manhattan supporting a family of five.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    You are a writer.

  • Schuyler Thorpe

    No. I am the AUTHOR. That makes my claim to fame all the more legitimate.

  • Scath2012

    When some strangers asks me, “What do you do?” I answer, “I write fiction.”

    You know what the common response is? “Oh, you’re an author.”

    I have two novels that have sold over 1,000 copies each, so by your definition above, I’m an author. I’m earning enough from my books to support myself, therefore, I’m a professional author. I’m self-published, through my own publishing company, where I also publish other authors, which also makes me an indie author/publisher. I write, so I’m a writer. I write stories, so I’m a storyteller.

    Labels seldom matter to anyone but the person trying to selectively apply them to others.

  • Tamaska Cor

    Grow up, get a life. An Author is one who writes – period. I suggest your snobbery and superiority complex is going to bring you a lot more pain than you realise…

  • Anjela Renee Author

    What a load of crap.

  • Massim0Marin0

    According to your figures “The Published Authors Network has strict requirements on who can join their organization. You have to earn $1,000 in the form of an advance on a single Eligible Novel. Or you have to earn $1,000 in the form of royalties or a combination of advance plus royalties on a single published Eligible Novel. Finally, you have to pull in $5,000 in the form of earnings for a Self-Published novel.” I am then a professional author.

    As you said for scientists, In the science world, things are very different. In order to be taken seriously, not only do you have to write articles or research papers, but other people have to cite them. The more people you have citing your reports in their books or their own reports, your position as a scientist is elevated.

    If an Indie writer puts only one work out and sells 10 copies a year I can see your point of view, but Indie authors sells 10 copies every hour, and if readers buy their books and enjoy reading them, those Indies ARE authors, whatever you can think otherwise. Besides, Indies REFUSE crap contracts of $2000 advance on a 10% royalties with rights blocked for 15 years. So they REFUSE being milk-cow authors of publishing houses. They’re better Authors.

  • Massim0Marin0

    Besides, who told you that your definition of Professional Authors do actually make a living out of their writing? LOL

    http://massimomarinoauthor.com/best-selling-authors-arent-making-minimum-wage/

    Some Self-publishing Authors make ten times more monthly than what you define as “Professional Writer”.
    You have a very simplistic view of the publishing industry and believe in lots of myths.

  • Massim0Marin0

    Your mistake is that you equate self-publishing with trash-publishing, the word pusher who completes a first draft of anything, writes “The End”, and hits the button ‘publish.’ Forget about that and take those away from your mental categories and maybe you’ll start to see things as they really are ;)

  • Luke

    Are you going to extend the same logic to those people who advertise on, and thereby presumably pay for, this site? It’s littered with advertisements for companies offering the opportunity for ‘indie writers’ to distribute their ‘documents’ to a wider audience. Will you tell, for example http://www.authorhouse.co.uk, whose advertisement I can see at the top of the page as I write this, that they need to change their name to ‘indiewriterhouse.co.uk’, or shall I?
    There are also several instances of flawed logic in your argument. ‘Singer’ is by definition, someone who sings either professionally or not. ‘Doctor’ is not someone who uses a stethoscope, it is someone who holds the degree of doctor from a University, so I can’t see the logic there.

  • http://www.ablecomm.com mnmarcus

    A stupid and fruitless waste of time.

  • rosross

    Oh for heaven’s sake. That’s like saying someone who writes poetry but is not published cannot call themselves a poet, or someone who writes cannot say they are a writer!

    An author is someone who has written a book! I have written six books, including five novels and I consider myself an author. I may self-publish and be a published author or I may not. I may be accepted by a publisher and be a published author or I may not. I write poetry and consider myself a poet as well as an author and writer and for that matter, also a journalist. These are just names we give to certain actions or professions, whether those professions pay or not, or are accorded recognition by others.

    If I garden I can call myself a gardener! If I cook I can call myself a cook! If I paint I can call myself an artist! So, if I write books I can call myself an author.

    Let’s not forget that some of our greatest authors and writers and poets in the past were self-published before they were accepted by a publisher or agent.

    Nitpicking for no good reason is this article. Methinks there is ego involved.

  • David James

    Michael, you are a controversialist born and bred. It’s a good way to get your name in the public eye by ruffling the feathers of ‘mere’ writers, but although it’s rather sad that you have to do this to gain attention, it suggests to me that you are trying to re-invent the terms ‘author’ and ‘writer’ to underscore your position as an ‘author,’ rather than a ‘mere writer.’ The gist of your thesis is that writers are not authors unless they make money.

  • cyb pauli

    Simply flip your OED open to the page where author is defined and save yourself the trouble of making a blog post that uses your own insecurities to put other people down.

  • Sara Alexi

    I turned down an offer to be ‘traditionally’ publish because they admitted they could not improve on my sales.

  • http://mike.conway.org/ Mike Conway

    The fact that you use the word “mere” as an adjective for “writer” says a lot of your attitude towards people who do it.

  • Paul Anthony Shortt

    By definition, someone is a professional when they are being paid money to provide a product or service. And by definition, once someone has written a story, poem, play, or other work, they are the author of that work.

    Huge numbers of authors, both self-published and traditionally-published, have to hold down a day-job, meaning they do not “make a living” from their writing.

    Elitist attitudes like this can only damage the industry.

  • http://mike.conway.org/ Mike Conway

    Let’s see, if we’re going to make a distinction, like it actually matters, I would say this:

    Writer – Someone who writes stuff.
    Author – A writer that creates a finished work.
    Professional Author – An author that makes a living off of finished works.

    Personally, when I pick up a finished work to read, I only care about the fact that it’s finished and published and I can enjoy it or not. The person that wrote it is the author of the work. I don’t care whether or not they’re a member of the “SF Guild of the World” or the “Bestowed Title Because We Say So Guild” or has the logo of a major publishing house on the spine, since that’s not an indicator of quality.

  • Massim0Marin0

    Mike, ‘makes a living’, is vague. A Professional Author simply gets paid for his work, i.e., s/he has a readership happy and willing to pay money to read what s/he writes. Most “Professional Authors” do HAVE and MUST have a day job to put real food on the table. Those who make $100k net a year are not that many. Especially now. I know “Professional Authors” who are happy to make $10,000 a year from their traditionally published books and they’d be much better off as soon as they recover their rights and go Indie.

    Ah, but from the silly definition of this blog post they will stop being Authors and become ‘mere writers’ LOL

  • http://mike.conway.org/ Mike Conway

    I’d be willing to amend “professional author” to simply “someone who makes money from their work.” As I mentioned in my opening sentence, “like it really matters” because it really doesn’t. :-D

  • Massim0Marin0

    Mike, the entire article in this post should be amended. :D For example, the ‘mere writer’ of this pamphlet scribbles “Indie authors and self-published authors who claim they are real authors makes me laugh.” There are Indie authors who could buy his house ten times and throw a party every night but he laughs at them. I guess they laugh instead each time they receive a 5 digit royalty check from Amazon every month. :D

  • Michael R. Burhans

    the terms are only confusing if you are an idiot. Your objection seems to be centered on the fact that some indie authors write crap. Well if that is the problem look to the major houses too, they have filled bookstores with crap since before I was born and judging by your photo I am old enough to be your dad. In fact entire houses like Harlequin are devoted to vomiting up crap. Worry about your own life,not what others do.

  • John

    Ok so lets look to all those get rich quick, and self help authors who have gone through publishing houses. 80% – 90% of those are absolute crap (in my mind closer to 99.999%) so personally I think we can cut the elitist crap

  • Karen Wojcik Berner

    Last week, I had lunch with a traditionally published author who is under contract with Penguin. She is looking for a full-time job because she cannot make any money off of her books. This has been the case throughout literary history, however one’s work was distributed. By your ridiculous definitions, Nathaniel Hawthorne doesn’t deserve to be called an author. Or worse, Virginia Woolf because she self-published.

  • Emily White

    So, by your definition Snookie is a real author and Hugh Howey is not because you stated one must make a living off of their work, but clarified that Indie or Self-published writers should never call themselves authors, while those who are traditionally published may. I find your argument flawed.

  • Annette Drake

    An interesting viewpoint. It has the flavor of a troll piece…

  • Bibliotropic

    I suppose a self-published writer who makes a living from their self-published works would just make the world implode from illogic, then? Or at least as much of a living as any author can, since many people have pointed out that authors who make enough to quit their dayjobs are few and far between. You can’t say that no self-published or indie author could ever make as much as a traditionally-published author, because there are numerous examples of those who do. How about the cases of those who have self-published their works and then those very same works were picked up by a traditional publishing house? What’s the divinding line for those people? Were they not authors before they were signed by a big name?

    This entire article smacks of elitism and ignorance.

  • RickSp

    Elitist claptrap. It would be far more productive to discuss how we can all do better in a rapidly changing industry than to quibble over definitions and decide who can and cannot be members of the club.

  • Massim0Marin0
  • ihateyou

    You sir, are an idiot. And fyi, if that’s the case, writing an crappy article doesn’t make you a reporter, or blogger, or whatever you choose to call yourself. It makes you a judgmental jerk who wastes his time trashing other people’s professions. Go get a life.

  • M T McGuire

    This article rather misses the point.

    As somebody who writes books and sells them to readers on line I will call myself whatever my customers would call me. And believe it or not, what they call me is an Author.

    Since I’m a firm believer that the customer is right, that’s what I call myself. In fact as a customer, I loathe stupid titles that just obfuscate what it is a person really does. A housewife is not a domestic engineer, not if she wants anyone else to know what the heck she does.

    Likewise as someone who was a professional copywriter, for some years, I would think that a ‘writer’ is someone who composes corporate puff, verbal branding or writes key word-rich content for websites. A writer doesn’t usually write stories, it’s an author who does that.

    Cheers

    MTM

  • Betty Cloer Wallace

    Why are independent musicians and film makers and visual artists never denigrated in this manner? Just writers/authors. But that is rapidly changing, and this article is an example of that kind of vanity-press thinking gasping its death throes. :D

  • Gin

    Congrats! You got your fifteen minutes of fame. I assume that’s what you are going for. Otherwise, you’re just ignorant.

  • Shawn McGuire

    When the publishing industry starts publishing only quality books, I’ll consider your argument.

  • Massim0Marin0

    waiting for the next 50 shades? LOL

  • Luke Green

    Please check your grammar. It is painful to read.

  • Real Independent Author

    Editor-in-chief, huh? Wow. So, I’m guessing you didn’t go to J-school, didja? ‘Cos a professional editor-in-chief wouldn’t allow such HORRENDOUS, GRIEVOUS errors like “So the question is, should we quantify a distinction between an writer and a professional author?” AN writer? Come on. What about the Oxford comma? Proper punctuation? Correct grammar? No? Nothing?

    Huh. I guess we need to have a debate in the publishing industry about who gets to call himself an editor-in-chief, don’t we?

  • Liana

    If you CAN make a living from writing…

    Then why did you tell those who are making 60K+ a year that they aren’t professionals just because they CHOOSE to make ANOTHER living from something else? They don’t have to CHOOSE to use their writing income as their primary revenue in order to be ABLE to make a living.

    Your logic is simply epic fail.

  • Liana

    If your primarily source of revenue derives from the written word, you
    are a professional author. If you publish a book yourself, or through a
    real publisher, you are an amateur, until you can make your living from
    it.

    These points are not parallel.

    The ability to make a living does not equal the primary source of revenue. To use someone else’s real life example, if they make 60K a year from truck driving and about 60K a year from writing income, which income they consider primary does not in any way negate that they are professionals at both and earning a living wage at both.

  • Liana

    Only a few million readers, writers, authors, and publishers.

  • lottabaloney

    Or website “editor.”

    How about 5,000? That’s about the average for a trad pubbed debut.

    It would seem that the typical author who’s first novel is published by Random House is still not a professional author. Maybe not until the third book of his deal – or even worse.

    The literary world is littered with excellent novelists who’ve delivered 3-4 books to trad publishers, and still haven’t made enough money to quit the day job.

    In fact, most of the Edgar Award winners have day jobs, so they’re out, too.

    I think you need to rethink your definition.

    And what about your staffer there – the YA “author” who has no trad pubbed books?

  • Victoria Hamilton

    This whole paragraph is crap: “Indie authors and self-published authors who claim they are real authors makes me laugh. The term basically doesn’t mean anything. Being a photographer means nothing either; as soon as you pick up a camera, you are one. By definition, you would be an “author” because of commenting on this post or a “singer” because you sing in the shower. If you put words on a document, you are certainly not an author.”

    Is he saying there is a distinction between ‘real author’ and ‘author’? He’s not being very clear.

    Intent informs the designations; Auntie Jane who takes pics of the baby is not a photographer, but if Auntie Jane starts to study angles and lighting, and tries to make of the photo something more than just a picture of a baby, she has become a photographer. Someone who sings in the shower is not necessarily a ‘singer’, but if he or she climbs out from the stream of water and begins to record their voice, making an effort to get better and figuring out what they are doing right and what is wrong, they have become a singer.

    Someone who comments on blog posts and writes letters to the editor is not a writer, of course, but as soon as that fellow or gal decides to make an effort to learn how to construct a sentence and write a complete piece that has cohesion and meaning to a reader, they are – ta da and voila! – a writer. If they decide to put it in book format, they are an author.

    Trying to make other distinctions is just nitpicking… ‘making a living’… what does that even mean? Finding a publishing house to take you on as part of the definition… really? So for all the years that Jane Austen toiled to write her books before finding a publisher, she was not an author?

    Yes, the definitions are frustratingly vague, but this is human endeavor, not calculus. The more you try to pin the terms ‘writer’ and ‘author’ down, the more slippery they will get, and the more terms and definitions you’ll have to add.

  • Indie Proud

    Why? Why do we need a distinction? Who benefits from these distinctions? The readers, who get a vast verity of books to choose from for a reasonable cost? The writers, who get to pursue their dreams or a few nervous, old school throwbacks, who desperately want things to remain the same in order to keep their fragile egos intact? It’s going to happen, and all the crying in the world will only make you look foolish.

  • Massim0Marin0

    Who needs it? The publishers who see authors reclaiming their rights to go Indie and earn more in a month than what they got twice a year from their publishers, and Indie authors who refuse with a laugh their crappy contracts. This just reads as all the sour grapes and knee jerk reaction you can find in many desperate comments around trying to keep alive a dying publishing business model that have no more legs to stand on.

  • Matt Croyle

    So, in regards to my indie feature film, that I’ve written, am producing, directing, taking to festivals, and self-distributing — should I not be allowed to call myself the “writer” on the project because it’s outside of the studio system? I have backers from eight different countries. Should these people not consider me a “real” writer because some studio executive didn’t give me the “green light”? This is the most absurd article I’ve read in a long time. You don’t need someone’s permission to learn a craft, hone that craft, become better at that craft, and create something you want outside of the normal lines of distribution for a finished product. This article reads like it was written by some jaded writer who has never produced anything of note, and probably never will.

  • Gordon Isnor

    Rubbish!

  • Redragon1

    Wow, do you think self-published writers are not of sufficient quality? Maybe there are lots of typos and grammatical errors in their work, right? Like in this article?

  • TomQ

    Tell you what: Let us readers decide what we want to read, and who we consider to deserve the title of “Author”. The term “Professional Author”, if it means anything at all, simply means someone who tries to earn a living, in whole or in part, from his or her writing. Trust me. If I read a book and enjoy it, I don’t care one bit if it was self published or not. And it the book sucked, I’m not going to feel better about having wasted my time and money reading it just because it came from a big publishing house.

  • Chaunce Stanton

    Looking forward to Michael’s Official Author rebuttal to these feisty comments. Is there a secret handshake in the Official Author’s Guild?

  • KeyIXTheHermit

    I agree with all of the many people who disagree, and for this reason: I know and have known many people who have written really great works. I know poets and songwriters and novelists, all of whom keep their stuff in boxes and folders and no one gets to read them but their friends. And why not? Because they’re shy? Because they feel their work isn’t good enough? NO! Because getting your work published nowadays, if you’re not someone with a friend in the industry or the clout to be noticed is damn near impossible. Yes, it happens, but for every writer who gets noticed in the “slush” pile, there’s thousands more that are overlooked every day, and it’s not because they’re all awful.

    I love how easy it is to self-publish nowadays, and I think that everyone who takes the time to write a novel and publish it be proud to call him or herself an author! We’re living in a world where everyone is being given a chance to have a voice. And I think it’s about damn time.

  • sumikoska

    By your standard, John Keats should not have been allowed to consider himself a poet during his lifetime, since his only publication was a limited run that sold 200 copies. By your standard, Thomas Paine is not the author of “Common Sense” because that historically significant book was in fact self published by Paine through a small, local print house.

    “Author” is a word that is already defined in the English language and exists in dictionaries. According to Webster’s it is “:a person who has written something; especially : a person who has written a book or who writes many books.”

    I think the reason for your confusion is that you believe that the word “author” implies “professional” or “commercial” – it does not. It does imply that. It only implies that you have written a book. Neither Keats nor Paine were “professionals” but it is generally accepted that Keats was an important poet and Paine was the author of an important book. Remember: many of the artists and writers who have gone down in history for their talents were never able to make a living during their lifetimes. Commercial success should not and is not the sole criteria for defining terms like “artist” and “author”

  • http://goodereader.com/blog/ Good E-Reader

    If you do not make a living from your writing, you are a writer. Sure some of the authors you mentioned are good, but they did not “sell” until they were dead. So my point still stands.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    more like, a million indie written titles that are poorly written do nothing but pollute proper distribution channels.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    There you go, trying to pawn the blame to the readers again. You indie writers really make me laugh. You guys always try and shift the blame to the readers. The Readers will determine a good book, the readers will determine good editing, the readers will make the cream rise to the top. Stop trying to make the readers do all of your work. Try writing GOOD Stuff.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    Not talking about film script writers, i am talking about self-published writers.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    the odd success story bears no meaning, when the bulk of indie works is abysmal.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    So here we go again, you are clearly unable to find a fault with my core points and start bullying me. Good work.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    So until that point, for every trad published book 10,000 indie books will be submitted, 9,999 will suck,

  • Michael Kozlowski

    The entire publishing industry is

  • Michael Kozlowski

    So if i call you a hack, that is what you are? you are letting your readers classify you, instead of defining yourself? Sounds like you are devoid of personality and a soul and let other people define you. Sounds like a blank template to me and as such, your opinion is irrelevant.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    The first step to helping indies is to quantify them.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    I thought Snookie had a ghost writer? Her book sold because the vast majority of America liked her TV show and she is famous. High Howey, don’t even get me started. The only reason people know about him is because of his non-stop promotion, i thought the Silo books were actually terrible! I actually WANTED To love them, as i am quite enamored with post-apocalyptic genre.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    if they lived off of their book sales, they are professional, otherwise just writers. but hey, there is nothing wrong with being a writer.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    I wish we could just cull 90% of indie writers and use them for bio-fuel.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    This is actually fairly solid, I like it. Simple classification, good work.

  • http://goodereader.com/blog/ Good E-Reader

    and promoted to featured comment for your solid classifications.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    I am trying to help the industry with defining itself.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    if you live off of your revenues with your 6 books, you are a professional author. Otherwise, well. hello writer.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    Just like your comment

  • Michael Kozlowski

    I’VE been writing about digital publishing since 2008 and been on fox news, cnn, forbes and many mainstream news outlets for my opinions on the industry. I would say, its more like a lifetime of fame, whereas you Gin, should be sold as bio-fuel.

  • Massim0Marin0

    Michael, those are not Indie writers. You put everything and everyone in one basket. An Indie writer is an author because s/he cares about the readers, is never satisfied with the quality of his production, works with proofreaders and editors until his eyes bleed in search for a better word, a better flow, a proper scene, and a credible dialogue.

    Then yes, the slush pile exists and everyone can write 5000 words in a week, let grandma read once and click the publish button. There are Indie writers and they’re Authors. Then there are others who publish whatever it comes off their screens, but what’s your point? That because the slush pile is today self-publishing itself, every single Indie Author is de facto part of the slush pile?

    Besides, it is delusional to think that just because something is printed by a publisher it is of good quality. It is not at all weird that Indie writers (those who do write well) have better ratings in Amazon than traditional published authors.

    I’d suggest you read everything from here: http://authorearnings.com/the-bn-report/

    It doesn’t matter if out of 1000 self-published only 10 are good, you’re still advocating that those 10 do not exist nor have the right to have their readers call them Authors (and prefer their work to the drivels that get published today)

    It is not the bulk of Indie works that is abysmal it’s the bulk of what exists on Amazon that is abysmal. They opened the gates so that everyone can publish, even kids can do that, sure, but believing that everything that comes out from a publishing house is de facto better is as delusional as saying that Indie writers cannot call themselves Authors. Some might be delusional, I concede you this, but any argument playing with 0% or 100% is flawed at its roots.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    Some do, i was looking at many sites that sell indie titles and its all 0 downloads 0 sales. I think indie writers just have a super high opinion of themselves because they think what Hugh Howey and Mark Coker say is true.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    I am willing to take the slings and arrows from indie aggros.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    No, you are a writer, seriously, stop with the all high-and-mighty act. If you derive your primary income from writing, you are a professional author.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    That is not me, other people have cited that to me before, If i wrote a book, i’d be promoting the hell out of it. The only thing we did as a company was put out a few buyers guides a few years ago and promptly forgot about them.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    The fact you hire anyone to edit or add cover art puts you in the 5% indie club. Most people just convert their word doc to an EPUB and upload it to smashwords and brag to all of their friends that they are a published AUTHOR! YEY

  • Michael Kozlowski

    There is not 1,000 successful self-published authors. Hugh’s books were actually terrible. The only reason you hear about him is because he sleeps ontop of his soapbox.

  • Massim0Marin0

    So they’re waiting for an Indie writer to write fan fiction. Looks like there are no more Authors :D

  • Lisa McCourt Hollar

    By your definition, being able to make a living with your writing, there are many traditionally published authors that would not be considered an author. Not every author that signs with the Big Boys gets an advance. They got a break. And I don’t see where you get the idea that it is easier to make money going indie than it is traditional,{to join these organizations you have to earn ‘x’ amount of money over a
    single calendar year, where the specified amount for indie publishers is
    a *multiple* of the requirement for traditionally-published authors
    minimum income, because it is easier to make money by going indie,} because it is actually harder. Much harder, because you have to prove yourself more than a traditionally published author. How many times do we hear, “Oh, I thought when you said you wrote a book, you meant a real book.” Because obviously, (to them,) if you had to do it on your own, then it must not be good. Indie authors have to, or should, hire their own editors, cover artists, do their own marketing, or hire someone to do it for them… and that’s if they have the means, and earning back what they put into it is difficult. However, being indie is more rewarding. I recently read a complaint from an artist friend who’s cover for a book, (beautiful cover too,) was rejected by the publisher. The author loved it. The publisher didn’t. The publisher didn’t feel the author had a say in the cover design, he wasn’t paying for it. Being indie, you have the final say on everything. You also take the most risk.

  • Massim0Marin0

    That’s has nothing to do with being Indie or published by a traditional publishing house. Even Big 6 (or 5) Authors, per your definition just based on how much they earn, are not authors but ‘mere writers’. Most of traditionally published authors cannot live only off their books, just as most Indies. That’s has nothing to do with self-publishing or not, but with the royalties get paid and the number of books being sold every year.

    As a matter of fact, an Indie writer has more chance to live off his writing alone than a mid-list traditionally published author.

  • Massim0Marin0

    Ah, but some just need to look at the 4 figures of their monthly Amazon royalty. There’s no need to believe Coker or Howey :D

    And keep in mind the warehouse full of returned, unsold traditionally published books. Again, it is common to both Indies and authors with contracts with a publishing house.

  • Massim0Marin0

    Michael, you’re talking about the slush-pile and call it “Indie writers”. I think you are misusing terms :D

  • Chaunce Stanton

    I wondered how Michael Kozlowski would handle detractors. I recognize his style from a “10 biggest Social Media No-No’s” blog post some Official Author posted.

  • Chaunce Stanton

    Oh, good. You’re positioning yourself as a Thought Leader. Gauging from the heavy-handed approach in the article and defensive flip-offs in your responses, I wasn’t getting that. Look out Guy Kawasaki – here comes Michael Kozlowski!

  • Lisa McCourt Hollar

    There are many indie authors that have been discovered by readers that otherwise would not have.been found. Traditional publishers thought they knew what readers wanted. I don’t understand how Fifty Shades of Grey became a huge hit, but obviously there are readers that love it. So yes, anyone should be able to publish and try to reach their dream. And yes, no one should decide what constitutes a good book or a bad book, except for the reader… and that will vary by reader. What one reader loves, another might not. But it should be their decision on what they want to read. My question would be, why do you think that you or anyone else has the right to decide who can and cannot be an author? You are right in that there are a lot of bad indie books out there, but I also think there are a lot of bad trad books out there… some of which are indie publishers that got picked up by trad publishers because readers loved the books. There are also a lot of great indie books out there, books that wouldn’t have been read by anyone if the author hadn’t decided to take the risk and put their book out there, despite the odds. Everyone has a dream and I am glad there are places like Amazon and Smashwords that make it possible to make that dream a reality.

  • Kitty Travers

    Why do you need this line in the sand so badly? Are you concerned you might be associated with people who are *shock, horror* amateurs?!

  • Chaunce Stanton

    Classy! But the energy needed to either ignite the human body or to dehydrate it first for later ignition seems to be a net loss. Or were you suggesting some type of electro-chemical reaction — perhaps bombarding the bodies of your enemies (a growing horde, btw) with Official Author Protean judgement Waves?

  • Matt Croyle

    I am in charge of my own production and distribution. It’s the same thing.

  • Matt Croyle

    But, if they’re poorly written, how are they even picked up by proper distribution channels?

  • Matt Croyle

    If the entire publishing industry is waiting for the next ’50 Shades of Grey’, I feel sorry for the entire publishing industry. The writing, and sentence structure, was absolute rubbish.

  • Kevin Burton Smith

    Boo hoo hoo. This is so funny. And so predictable.

    If there’s no shame in being self-published, call yourselves self-published authors then, if it will make you feel all better about yourself. Don’t hide behind weaselly euphemisms like “indie” or a recent favourite I’ve heard, “direct-to-reader publishing.”

    Just stand up and be proud. Own the term. And go after the thousands of talentless hacks who have tarnished your reputation over the last twenty years or so, by self-publishing a mountain of crappy, inept books, both in print and/or digitally (Amazon is nothing but a newer, bigger iUniverse). The ones really damaging the reputation of self-published books are self-publishers themselves — not Michael Kozlowski. Who, by the way, if you could read through the veil of tears, makes some valid points.

    So stop crying like some teenage twit with self-esteem issues who just found out she didn’t make the cheerleading squad.

    If you’re ever going to improve as writers, maybe you should have your feelings hurt.

    Yes, there are some great authors out there who self-publish, or bounce back and forth between traditional and self-publishing. But they’re the exception — they do the work. The very hard work of getting it right. They don’t view self-publishing as a short cut to that hard work, Or being published as some sort of birth right. They’re not afraid of being edited. By a real editor, not some beta buddy or their mother who wouldn’t want to “hurt anyone’s feelings.”

    And they understand publishing. They understand marketing and editing and advertising and how the industry works. They know their own strengths and weaknesses. They don’t think they can do it all. They know when to delegate, when to make a stand and when to give in. They know that those who “write for themselves” get the exact audience they’re aiming for: themselves.

    Unfortunately, far too many self-published books that I see (as a reviewer and editor, I see a lot of them) simply would never ever be published by anyone BUT the author. They’re too often shoddy, poorly written and unedited, rife with grammatical and structural errors and riddled with illogic and inconsistencies. The biggest shame, though, is that with a little more effort, so many of these books could have worked. Many of them have great ideas, compelling characters, clever plotting. They could hav e been much better books.

    But that would require more time and effort and money than many “authors” are apparently willing to devote to their own work. And so they publish their cheap little efforts themselves, as is, figuring their work (along with their ugly covers and inept book design) is “good enough.” Sadly, it rarely is.

    I just wish more “authors” would put more time into their actual writing (and editing and revising) and spend less time getting their panties all twisted about what they’re called.

    They’re crybabies. The whiny, sniffly over-reaction to Koslowski’s relatively mild rebuke is ample enough proof.

    Toughen up. And work harder. Grow some thicker skin.

    You decide to self-publish your masterpiece, go for it. But make it the best damn book it can be. Don’t ever settle for just “good enough.”

  • nipper99

    There are so many problems with this article, the poor writing is just one of them.

  • Emily White

    And yet Snooki is getting all the credit as the author. SHE made the NYT bestseller’s list. SHE is the one “earning a living” with the book’s sales. How she got the sales or the contract are moot points. She got them, and according to your definition, she is an author and Hugh Howey is not. And your argument against Howey is that you didn’t personally like his work? The reason people know about him is because he writes books they like. It is not his “non-stop promotion.” Lots of authors continuously promote themselves and don’t acquire an ounce of the success he’s achieved. And yet they’re still authors whether you’d like them to be considered so or not. It’s entirely at your discretion if you think they are good authors or bad.

  • Massim0Marin0

    Those are NOT Indie writers.

  • Liana

    You hear about him because he’s a bestselling author making way more than a living off his books. Personally, I thought Twilight and 50 Shades were pretty terrible too, but let’s just admit that no bestsellers are everybody’s cuppa, so Wool wasn’t yours.

    And there are more than 1000 documented indie authors earning a living or better with their books. I don’t think anyone’s listed all of them in one list, but if you read enough around the publishing industry, you will encounter multiple partial lists, several surveys, and quite a few shoptalk stats swaps that document these comfortably independent authors who may not be a household name, but don’t care because they sell enough books to equal, exceed, or comprise their day job.

  • Craig

    How about we just use what the dictionary provides, define an author as, “a writer of a book, article, or report,” and not try to redefine it for no apparent purpose other than to unnecessarily upset people to serve one man’s prejudice?

  • sheilatheauthor

    We’re talking semantics here. I am a writer and the author of 2 novels, The Reverse Commute and Take Me Home, both self published on Amazon. I am currently working on writing my third novel. Call me what you like but in the meantime check out my latest book, Take Me Home and decide for yourself. http://www.amazon.com/Take-Me-Home-Sheila-Blanchette-ebook/dp/B00HRFZ8GC/ref=sr_1_5?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1394481769&sr=1-5&keywords=take+me+home

  • TomQ

    Perhaps you missed the “us” in “us readers”? I am a avid reader and have been for most of my 64 years. I am NOT an author, Indie or otherwise. I read fiction for pleasure. Is there any other reason? I’ve found some real gems from Indie authors and traditional authors alike. Also have found many not so good works from both. So, feel free to ignore the opinion of a mere reader, and I will continue to read what I want without your approval, and I suspect many other readers will do the same.

  • M T McGuire

    Thanks for taking the time to make such a polite and well punctuated reply. I had no idea my original argument was so cogent but if you have to get personal then it appears you have no answer to logic. Well, there’s a new one on me, normally I’m the one who’s railing against the logical answer.

    So let’s follow your logic. If you make a fine wine but decide that you’re going to pretend the word ‘wine’ doesn’t exist and call it ‘fermented grape juice’ isn’t that going to confuse your customers? I’d say it is. ‘Author’ and ‘Novelist’ are words that everyone uses to describe people who write books. Surely, if you write books, it’s logical to use them.

    I have a friend who is a keen cyclist, by your logic, because he is an amateur athlete he must call himself an velocopedist until somebody sponsors or pays him. It just seems a bit… weird.

    Also, as I understand it a ‘hack’ is a derogatory term for the type of journalist who produces articles which are based more on rumour or supposition than fact and aimed more at generating scandal or controversy and than disseminating truth. Ah yes, right back atcha then..

    Cheers

    MTM

    PS. If you’re setting yourself up as an authority to tell writers what they should call themselves it’s probably smart to punctuate your comments properly. You know, starting sent

  • RickSp

    If indeed that “indie authors and self-published authors who claim they are real authors makes me laugh,” then I suspect most self-respecting and serious indies writers would simply prefer that you go away. That sort of ignorant derision speaks volumes.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    Alert, shameless promotion. #youaredoingitwrong

  • Michael Kozlowski

    I am proposing an intelligent debate, not imposing my will.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    You should rename yourself cheerleader Melissa of self-publishing.

  • Amanda

    The writing in this article is absolutely terrible. I’m sorry, but if you’re going to write an article debating whether or not self-publishers should be allowed to call themselves authors, at least take the time to edit your own work. And you know what? I think people can call themselves whatever they want to. Call yourself a writer, or an author, there’s no difference. Pick up a dictionary and review the definition for author. Whether you publish something yourself or through a publisher, you’re still an author and a writer. The quality of the writing might be up for debate with some self-published writers, maybe there hasn’t been enough editing done, there are glaring typos etc. The same can be said with “professional authors” who go through a publishing house. The fact is, the world of publishing is changing, there are more self-publishers and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    In order for the industry to better write about self-publishing standardizing the terminology is essential.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    being indie also puts your book, side by side with over a million other indie books. easy to get lost in the maelstrom.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    No, you have to be humble, hone your craft and write a few hours everyday. Trolling message boards and blasting anyone who doesn’t share your same onion is a colossal waste of time and indicative to being a shitty indie cretin.

  • Jeremy Greenfield

    While I don’t agree with Michael on this issue, I don’t think it’s worth attacking him on this. That doesn’t really advance the discussion. I wrote my response here: http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2014/why-self-published-authors-should-call-themselves-anything-they-want/

  • http://www.triciadrammeh.com Tricia

    Speaking of hacks… Michael’s responses have become increasingly nasty. Kind of makes me wonder if his account has been hacked. Certainly, no rational writer/editor/author would respond in such a way. That would be career suicide, wouldn’t it?

  • TomQ

    Funny. I knew nothing about Hugh Howey. I read the original short story “Wool” on the recommendation of a personal friend and loved it. Wanted more. And discovered there was more because I came to Wool late in the game, and so I found the entire Wool Omnibus was already out and Hugh Howey was already hard at work on the Shift series. So in my case, Hugh Howey’s self promotion did not enter my awareness until well after I was already hooked on the story. Also read “The Dig” by Michael Siemsen on the recommendation of that same friend. Loved it. He is another Indie self promoter that you probably hate. Thing is, I read and enjoyed The Dig before I knew anything about its author. I wonder: If
    J.K. Rowling had just now written her first Harry Potter book, would she have considered the self publishing route? Considering what I have read about her difficulties in first getting published, she may well have tried self publishing if that option had been open to her at the time.

  • M T McGuire

    Like my inadvertent cut and paste on the PS as I hit post.

  • M T McGuire

    Something’s going on, certainly.

  • Pete

    “Derided in the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica as “a purely commercial affair” that cared more about profits than about literary quality, publishing is fundamentally a business, with a need for the expenses of creating, producing, and distributing a book or other publication not to exceed the income derived from its sale.” – Wikipedia

    Publishing as a business is relatively new as far as the history of writing is concerned. Self-publishing has been the primary mode of publication throughout history with the exception of the last two centuries give or take.

    With the advent of technology and self-publishing initiatives publishing has been freed from the constraints of business models that drive certain genres and content (ahem…Twilight…) while other genres languish (poetry).

    An author is a writer and not simply someone who has had their work recognized as that which will best drive a business model.

  • Claudia

    Don’t you think it’s a bit dangerous for someone who writes the way you do to be using the word ‘intelligent’ at all? All I can see here is overwhelming arrogance. Please have your “I’m totally better than everyone else in the world” badge ready if you’re willing to go around mouthing off like this. Oh wait, those don’t exist. So maybe…you’re not…better than everyone else? Consider the possibility, at least.

  • Liana

    It is a known phenomenon to Howey and others that his SF appeals more, by far, to those who are not that into SF and less so to those who are. Odd that, but it’s been noted.

  • Rose

    What a moronic screed against nothing. NOTHING. You are a corporate shill who thinks people are only “real authors” when they publish with the Big Houses. Some of us prefer going indie or small press because that is where most of the innovative writing is taking place these days, whereas the Big Houses publish CRAP a lot of the time. And then you get hostile and nasty toward those who are taking you to task….which shows that you don’t even really believe your own bullcrap. BTW, appearing on Fox News does NOT make you an authority…it makes you an a-hole.

  • whovian

    This elitist bull is getting old really fast. I have sold foreign rights to my indie published books. I have turned down publishing contracts here in the US. I outsell 50% of the authors on Amazon, both trad and indie, but because some editor didn’t validate me I’m not deserving of the title “real author”? By that reasoning, I can say the editor of an internet blog is not a “real” editor because he did not edit a magazine that was actually printed on paper. Sorry, bloggers, if it ain’t printed on paper, you’re not “real” editors!

  • Lisa McCourt Hollar

    True, but it is out there and has a chance to be read by someone. I will admit, I am not making a living, as you put it, but I do know that my sales have gone up since I first started a few years ago. It’s a process. An author can either choose to be bitter that they aren’t doing as well as they would like, rage against all the horrible books that are out there, or concentrate on their own craft and put out the best book that they can. And this goes for both indie and traditional authors. One guy used to get to me. He was traditionally published and without even reading anything I’d written, he told me my writing must be crap. He used to on a weekly basis complain about all the indie authors that were ruining his career. He was traditionally published, but not making a living at it and it was all other people’s fault. Then someone sent me his book. I understood why he wasn’t making a living at it. But again, that’s just my opinion, because obviously some publisher believed in his book. I believe that if a book is well written and an author continues to do their best, then it will pay off. Readers aren’t stupid. They know there is crap out there. They also sing the praises of the authors that they love and warn you of the ones they hate.

  • Boo B

    I think self publishing allows a lot of people to publish quickly without the preparedness that is forced upon them through going theough a publishing house. I understand that, I understand that people, especially with their first novel, can be excited and over quick to publish when perhaps they are not ready. But this isn’t everyone. There are people who have paid editors and proofreaders, who work hard on advertising their work, who understand that the quality of their work should not have to suffer just because they can publish more quickly.

    These are often people who have chosen the self publishing route for better reasons than just the fact that it is ‘quick and easy’. A lot of people I have spoken to have felt uncomfortable with the lack of control over their own novels that traditional publishing provokes. A lot of publishing houses request publishing rights and copyright and can often push an author to change aspects of their novel, no matter how key to theme or plot it may be, in order to make it more ‘consumer friendly’. I entirely understand why in this day and age, when authors do not have to relinquish control of their own work, they would pick the self publishing option.

    I don’t believe that makes you less of an author for choosing to take what is arguably a harder route if you choose to do it right rather than rushing in excitement (commission editors and proofreaders, commission an artist, no advance to help with these costs, harder to get work onto bookshelves etc). So whilst I understand that self publishing can encourage any layman to idly ‘publish’ and make people wary or referring to them as authors, I don’t believe that the act of self publishing alone should mean that you are dismissed from the ranks of author hood. Especially not when you consider that classic authors such as Twain, Poe, King and Dickens all went through the self publishing route at one point or another and considering that many people, both through traditional publishing methods and non-traditional ones can struggle to ‘make a living’ through their work.

  • Craig

    That’s understood. I was debating you. Your definition is so narrow that you make what is otherwise a perfectly functional dictionary definition meaningless.

    “Hi, I make millions every year writing fiction. But it’s self published–I’m not actually an author. I should clarify that so you don’t get the wrong idea.”

    “Hi, I’ve been published by one of the Big Five, and it won a prestigious award, and it was just optioned for film. But my royalty income isn’t quite enough for me to live on, so I’m keeping my day job–please don’t get the wrong idea I’m an author.”

    Now you can debate yourself:

    You: “The term [author] basically doesn’t mean anything. Being a photographer means
    nothing either; as soon as you pick up a camera, you are one.”

    Exactly. As in the basic term, as the dictionary defines it, doesn’t carry the connotations you want it to have. So anybody who writes a “book, article or report” is an author, as the dictionary says.

    You: “Indie Author, Self-Published Author, Hybrid Author, Published Author,
    Blog Author, Forum Author. All of these titles mean different things,
    depending on who you talk to.”

    Exactly! Adjectives are wonderful things. They help clarify meaning.

    You: “I would like to see the process
    simplified, you are either a writer or a professional author. If you can
    earn your living from your writing, you are a professional author.”

    How about if you’re an author who earns a living at it, you just say, “I’m a professional author”? Isn’t that prestigious enough? Can’t we leave it to the adjectives to do their job? But that’s not good enough for you, and that’s where you lose me. Instead of using words the way you want, you want people who don’t fit your narrow definition to not be able to use the word, “author” at all. Otherwise, instead of conveying clarity of meaning, which is what you appear to want, you are advocating some kind of linguistic penalty for not reaching an arbitary standard you set, which is, well, you figure it out. Again, adjectives are wonderful things …

  • Craig

    Excellent response.

  • Kevin Burton Smith

    How lucky for you to know all those great unheralded and unpublished (and unnamed) poets and songwriters and novelists. Feel free to put up your own money and publish them. I mean, if they’re really that great, how could you possibly not make money?

    Obviously you know little about how the book business works, if you really think there’s a conspiracy to silence your precious voice, or that publishers aren’t interested in publishing great books that will make money.

    Have you ever worked for a publisher, or gone through a slush pile? Seen the quality of unsolicited manuscripts? Those books mostly are awful. It’s called a slush pile for a reason. Although slush may be too kind a word.

  • Rose

    Add to all of this the fact that the “author” of this “article” cannot even fucking WRITE.

  • http://www.scottcolbert.com ScottColbert

    It would be easier to take you seriously, if your post wasn’t riddled with errors. For an Editor in Chief, your skills are lacking.

  • http://www.scottcolbert.com ScottColbert

    That’s a good way to get me to NOT read any of your work.

  • Real Independent Author

    Unable to find a fault with your core points? Oh, honey. There are so many faults with your core points. I’ll just list the top three, since I have the feeling that I’ll just be talking to a brick wall here.

    One: most self-published authors I have the honour of knowing have put years of study into their craft. They understand what writing is–they know the basics of the technical aspects of writing; they know the value of editing, of hiring professional freelance editors (who aren’t “real” editors going by what you’ve said here because they don’t work for a Big Five publishing house, but instead choose to work independently) to edit their work.

    Two: anyone who sells a book is, by the very definition of the word PROFESSIONAL (“engaged in a specified activity as one’s main paid occupation rather than as a pastime”, according to Mr Webster) a PROFESSIONAL writer/author/wordsmith/whatever label you want to slap on it.

    Three: you are completely devaluing people who choose creative control and artistic integrity over whoring themselves out for contract with a Big Five House.

    Those are just the first things that pop into my head. The fact that you clearly don’t understand the process of writing, as is evidenced by a *PUBLISHED* articled riddled with grammar and punctuation errors, and yet still feel yourself enough of an expert to write this drivel is telling. Perhaps more people would take you seriously if you actually took the time to do what you claim as your job title, namely edit.

  • Seb

    .
    Because that’s where authors can actually make some money more like.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    Can’t find fault with my statements, so you have to attack my literary prowess

  • Michael Kozlowski

    I like how you indies always have to reference some great writers of yore. Yet, try and name 10 awesome indie writers from 2013? I can’t think of any. I find it laughable that you guys even put Dickens in the same sentence as your lowly eBook

  • Michael Kozlowski

    Its not elitist, its stimulating a proper discussion on a better classification system for authors.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    Real Authors are ones that make money from their books, anyone can submit a word doc, a real author lives from their book sales.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    When you can’t find fault with a valued statement you have to attack the author, typical of you indie idiots.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    Make a valued contribution to this post, instead of attacking my stupendous writing skills.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    There are a few, 99% are terrible beyond words.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    The account is not hacked. I need to take a stand, and not get hurt by your pitchforks or flaming torches.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    Heaven forbid i break some no-name authors social media bible.

  • Sebbie

    Yeah, but Micheal I’m an author with a publisher. But I’m behind this whole thing not having self published anything, and now I’m getting scared I can’t comfortably offer more to publishers and just be hybrid because publishers are writing up new nasty contracts to grab everything to try and STOP self publishing. Which is having the opposite effect of pushing formerly trade published authors to exclusively self publish instead of be hybrids.

    I’m seeing this. I’m talking to many many authors who were trade published and now feel they must exclusively self publish because the contracts are getting NASTY. Meanwhile instead of raising royalties or writing up more fair contracts, publishers are holding internet crowd sourcing, reality TV type contests, and college contests to try to find young less savvy authors. Seriously this is what’s happening.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    yet her newest book only sold 1k copies until it was unearthed who really wrote it.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    Snooki sells books based on her name, i congratulate her on releasing a book people want to read. Here is some advice, read her book.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    Likely this is the 1% everyone keeps talking about. There are not as many well-to-do indie WRITERS as you think.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    Thanks for the kudos Chaunce

  • Michael Kozlowski

    Quite a flippant answer, elaborate.

  • Michael Kozlowski
  • Michael Kozlowski

    B+ is still quite good

  • Michael Kozlowski

    Publishing companies offer more value than you think. They have editors, PR, copywriters, cover artists and more. less then %1 don’t need this, and can do it on their own. The rest of the indie writers? They only dream of it.

  • faceshaker

    Emily Dickinson published one (1) poem in her lifetime, therefore she is not an author. Not that she was ever an author; she was a poet. Herman Melville was unknown during his lifetime and died a horrifically frustrated man, therefore, according to this igloo-head’s definition, Melville was not an “author”. Charles Dickens was considered a “writer of pabulum” during his lifetime, but Bulwer Litton, who coined the “great first sentence”, “It was a dark and stormy night…” was considered a “master”. If one looks through the history of literature and letters, one indeed sees the outliers, the innovators and those ahead of their times all obscured, all ignored by the conventional wisdom of their eras, and yet it is always the innovators who push forward the language, and given the number of masters who have died penniless, money is no measure of the artistry or “authorhood” of a writer. Danielle Steele is an “author” because she has earned millions upon millions from scrubby little bodice rippers? But someone like George Gissing is not?

    Let me out of here before I destroy my computer.

  • http://www.triciadrammeh.com Tricia

    I’m glad to hear you haven’t been hacked. Only you know how best to manage your own career, so I’ll leave you to it. Now that you’ve alienated the indie authors, perhaps the “real authors” will flock to your blog in droves. Strange that not many have shown up to support you yet, but I’m sure they’re on their way. Best of luck to you as you dodge the pitchfork wielding masses.

  • whovian

    Wanting to impose a class system upon the arts is almost the definition of elitist. LOL!

  • Amanda

    Actually, I thought I made it quite clear that I did find fault with your entire argument by stating that I believe the term “author” applies to anyone who publishes a novel, whether it be through a publishing house or self-published. How typical of someone so ignorant and high off their own opinion, that instead of engaging in an actual debate on the subject, you respond by calling me an idiot. Also, it’s hard to take your opinion seriously, especially an opinion on the matter of writing, when you can’t even be bothered to edit your article. Were it a typo, fine, but it’s basic grammar mistakes and in the context of this article, I think the fact that you can’t be bothered to even own up to it, and instead attack those who point it out, shows just how immature you really are.

    You might not consider self-publishers to be “real authors” but fortunately, your opinion isn’t the one that matters. There are self-published authors who still manage to make a living, regardless of the fact that they aren’t being represented by a publishing house. You can nitpick and try to say that an author is someone who is represented by a house, who makes X amount of money etc. But then I could also nitpick and once again tell you to pull out a dictionary and reacquaint yourself with the definition of that word. Then I’d tell you to buy yourself a copy of The Elements of Style so you can brush up on the basics of putting together a proper article so you look like less of an idiot the next time you put down self-publishers.

  • whovian

    I am aghast that you are resorting to name-calling. “Indie idiots”? You, sir, just lost the debate.

  • whovian

    I have always been of the “onion” that as soon as someone starts calling other people names (shitty indie cretin), they have lost the debate.

  • Is this guy for real?

    Oh yeah! Totally.

    Just like anyone who makes clothes or jewelry that sell on Etsy or their own personal websites should not be allowed to be called seamstresses, costumers, or jewelry makers. All of it is totally illegitimate and worthless. You’re only real if you work for a factory or designer that mass-markets and distributes clothes and accessories that are sold in malls and huge clothing chains.

    Oh and if you opened a mom and pop restaurant, you’re not a real restaurant either. Especially if you didn’t make money enough to keep it going for 10+ years cause the chain restaurants put you out of business. Definitely not real cooks, servers, or managers working there. We all know that every independent restaurant puts out poor quality food, too. It’s common knowledge. Why do they even open their doors in the first place, really?

    And artists, too, how could we forget? Unless your painting is hung in a museum or gallery, I’m sorry but you’re actually not an artist and you should be ashamed if you claim to be one. Get a real job and stop polluting the market with your trash where REAL artists are trying to make their millions. Don’t even fucking dare post your work on deviantart or tumblr, or any blog or website even, After all, it’s only the good art that passes through the proper corporate channels that deserves to be viewed, you imposter.

    Don’t work at Dunkin’ Donuts but still make delicious confections? Not a real baker.

    Are you a mechanic who opened up his own garage or works to refurbish old cars to sell to the public and make a profit at it? Sorry, actually you’re not legit. You’re a hobbyist.

    Your album makes a ton of money and you have scores of fans? Ooh, too bad. You’re not actually an artist because you don’t have a record deal.

    Your webcomic is vastly popular and has a huge following that revolutionized media but you released it on your own *cough Homestuck cough*? Oops, you’re still don’t get to call yourself a comic artist. Maybe next time, champ.

    Basically if you participate in any creative or business endeavor that doesn’t have the proper seals of approval from the Snooty McElitist Society of Royal Twits, you should just stop ruining it for the REAL successes out there who are more deserving of attention than you inadequate worms.

    It’s all because they did it themselves, they obviously put no work into their projects and weren’t up to the standard. Makes perfect sense to me.

    Or wait a second, no. This is all starting to sound suspiciously like bullshit.

  • whovian

    The amount of ire Mr. Kozlowski is unleashing on indie authors makes him sound like a very frustrated, frightened and jealous little child. I cannot believe how venomously he attacked Tom simply for stating that he would decide what he likes to read himself. Don’t you know you’re not smart enough to decide what you like and don’t like to read, Tom? That’s what editors are for! Well… not so much anymore. Hey, maybe that’s the real problem Michael has with indie authors…

  • whovian

    Or lack thereof…

  • Becky Burford

    Hi Michael, thanks for your reply. Just before we begin I’d like to correct you in that I am not an indie writer nor do I intend to be, I have actually decided that traditional publishing routes are the right option for me. That said, as stated above I can entirely understand the choice of many people to go into self publishing.

    The reason that I picked upon writers ‘of yore’ (though I would hardly class Stephen King in that category) is because that is what I read. I can’t pluck out the names of modern self published authors because I don’t have the time for any modern works. I am in the last year of my degree and also suffering from health problems so the only time I have for reading is reading for university. For instance, I was gifted ‘Madd Addam’ a few months back and though I have been looking forwards to this novel for ages I’ve only had the time to read 32 pages as I’ve been so busy so please excuse my lack of modern reference. That said I do have a friend who reads exclusively on his kindle, mostly the free or cheap ebooks that are available on there, so if you would like me to ask his opinion I’m happy to. Please let me know.

    Anywho, the reason that I referenced people like Dickens and King at all was not to shame them by tarring them with the brush of the ‘lowly ebook’ but to try and show that there have been works of note that can emerge from non-traditional publishing methods. Dickens especially I find interesting as works such as ‘great expectations’ were written in serials and shipped to America like episodes of an old fashioned soap opera

  • whovian

    The winner!!!

  • whovian

    Why did you delete your reply and my comment?

  • Becky Burford

    (Sorry I’m not sure if there is a character count limit or something but I don’t seem to be able to write any more in the above post- it may just be my iPad having a ‘moment’)

    But yes- when I found that out originally I was so stunned by the fact that he had gone through strange routes and means that at the time, in 6th form, I didn’t realise had existed. My point is merely that great gems can be hidden in strange, unlikely places and formats. As I said originally, I by no means think this is the Norma, I believe that ebooks lend themselves to authors who may be ill prepared or ill edited and yet take the plunge anyway so I understand your point of view entirely. That said I don’t believe it is fair to entirely dismiss it as a publishing format, I think you just need to take the works their with a grain of salt and a touch more care and consideration than you might when perusing a bookshop.

  • whovian

    Now he’s deleting comments. LOL!

  • Claudia

    Try to name 10 awesome trade published authors who debuted in 2013
    without looking it up on google, you Guy Fieri lookin’ little sod. Sit back down.

    Also,
    how many independently published books have you actually read? One,
    two? None I suspect. What if I read one shitty trade published book and
    didn’t like it? Would I actually be so silly as to write a butthurt
    article saying that one book sucked, so books shouldn’t exist at all.
    What are you even basing this argument off of? Your comparisons are
    flimsy and nondescript, you have absolutely no data to back up your
    arguments, qualitative or quantitative, your logic is flawed, and you spend so much time
    b’awwing instead of actually discussing the point, that your article
    is virtually devoid of depth. This is petulant and misinformed at best.

  • Claudia

    He’s deleting comments that make him look bad and invalidate his poorly constructed article. Truly a man we should look up to and whose opinion we should value.

  • John H.

    I’m self pubished. Have done everything myself. I don’t like publishers and prefer to go to it on my own. I make a pretty good living from my writing and it’s getting better all the time. No one has heard of my real name. You can take your comments about self published writers and stick them where the sun don’t shine. I meant that in a good way… 8)

  • Harper

    PREACH.

  • Lori

    Why do you feel the need to add a class system to something that is relatively simple? Someone who WRITES the book is an author and someone who DISTRIBUTES the book, whether its one of the big boys or amazon, is the publisher. How the book is distributed has no weight on the term author. By that meaning writers and authors who never share their works are what? Nothing? This all seems simple to me, but I’m not an Editor in chief so I must have missed the memo. Also adding class systems to anything is elitist. Since you want the traditional published authors to be the elite and the rest of the “people who type stuf” to be less than. I think that’s narrow minded, but I’ve seen you white wash this entire discussion so I’m not surprised. Oh a tip from me, it’s not a “proper discussion” when you delete what you don’t care for.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    the only comment i deleted was some guy who was swearing lots and making other users upset. Same with deleting people who say something like “my aunt makes 4,000$ a day working at home, click here and find out”

  • Michael Kozlowski

    Your right, this type of shameless promotion really ruffles my feathers.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    What world do you live in? The vast majority have no voice. In India they are called the Untouchables, in US its the poor/urban youth,

  • KopProphet

    The problem with the argument, as presented by this article, is that it presumes both publishing camps to contain absolutes. It fails to appreciate, however, that publishing is in fact far more complex. While it is true that the self-publishing collective allows for growing quantity of poor writing and non-existent editing, it is equally true that traditional presses are sometimes guilty of the same thing. I have been involved in reissuing out-of-print works for a new press and I am often aghast at the mistakes found in books by supposedly reputable publishing houses. Many small presses are little more than one or two people publishing the work of themselves and their friends and even larger presses are often riddled with cronyism and nepotism. You simply can’t classify a self-published writer as wholly different than a traditionally published author based on some over-reaching paradigm.

    Also, it has to be said that commercial publishers often judge submissions based on a very narrow rubric entirely based upon current commercial concerns. Just because a writer is signed to a traditional publisher it doesn’t necessarily mean that that writer is better, more successful, more desirable, or somehow a more talented writer. I know someone that had their book picked up by Penguin, a very large and reputable press, only to see the book dive with very poor sales (despite a decent advertising campaign) and subsequently remaindered. And you can’t tell me that the latest zombie pulp novel picked up by Kensington Press is superior to all self-published fiction simply due to the fact that it was traditionally published. I can tell you for a fact that many commercial and genre fiction presses look for easily digestible pulp fiction written in a straight ahead narrative style by which to appease the hordes of junk novel downloaders and collect quick-fire sales. They are not particularly interested in the author’s career (unless they can crap out more in that style), any sort of development, or long-term sales – only the momentary explosion that such a book can deliver before it dies and gets put out-of-print. You can not argue that such books are authors are somehow superior to all other authors who, for one reason or another, do not take that route.

    You simply cannot stratify authors and writers with such sweeping generalisations. Sales are not an indication of talent – neither is public opinion – a fact born out by the many examples of genius literary authors being ignored and overlooked by the mainstream. I agree that self-publishing opens the flood-gates to some very shoddy product but that is no reason to rule out all aspiring writers. To say that writers are only deserving of the ‘author’ title if they are making a living from their publications is just flat out naive – and you have to wonder at the gullibility of someone who thinks that way. Less than 1 % of published authors actually make a living wage from their royalties – and for every Dan Brown (not an extremely gifted writer by the way!) there are thousands of published authors faring little better (if at all) than your average self-published author trying get a foothold in that saturated market known as Amazon. I personally know many absolutely wonderful writers, far more talented than the latest flavour of the month novelist being touted by commercial fiction presses, who after a number of books still continue to work a day job. Getting through the door of a traditional press is just the beginning of your troubles – you have by no means ‘made it’ as the author of this blog seems to suggest. Unfortunately, the world of publishing (and the self-publishing enclave is part of it whether you like it or not) is far more complex, more nuanced, more diverse, more ungainly than the sort of ‘star wars’ mentality applied to this article.

  • http://www.scottcolbert.com ScottColbert

    Your entire argument is faulty, and you derail it with your your own poor writing. Seriously, did you even proofread it before hitting publish?

    And your time would be better spent studying Strunk and White, than whining like a little kid about what others choose to call themselves.

  • Amanda

    Funny, I don’t recall swearing at you but my comment no longer exists. Neither does the one where you referred to me as an idiot.

  • Ian M. Walker

    Really? You’re deleting comments that don’t swear or attack you? Wow. What does that say about your credibility?

    My original comment:

    http://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/author?showCookiePolicy=true

    And here’s a label for you “Someone whose opinions count for nothing”.

    Case closed.

  • Claudia

    Yeah-huh. Then where’d all of Whovian’s comments go? That guy was taking you to the cleaners with logic, and suddenly he’s gone. Questionable.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    I deleted 3 comments total for inflammatory remarks. I have no problem closing this entire thread if you guys want me to.

  • http://goodereader.com/blog/ Good E-Reader

    Control yourself, you don’t need to destroy anything, you need to create.

  • Claudia

    HE DELETED THE COMMENTS AGAIN. WHAT A SNAKE. MAN UP, GUY FIERI. DON’T DISH IT IF YOU CAN’T TAKE IT.

  • Sebbie

    They pay for it out of their day job money and then they end up making it back and a lot more. :-(

  • Seb

    I will be the lone wold who admits that it pisses me off that I broke in with a contract from a great publisher the same year every man and his dog decided they were an author with their Lulu books.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    I tend to notice most of those LULU books get lost in the shuffle. Its very hard to make it in the book world, it takes a special person to devote themselves to it fully.

  • Paul Anthony Shortt

    But the definitions are already there. There’s no need to try to redefine what constitutes an author, and certainly not in such a way as to encourage people to look down on the majority of authors in the world, who still need to hold down a day job in addition to their writing. What benefit does such an attitude serve?

  • Author J.H. Glaze

    We’ll, here is the kicker:
    ” the specified amount for indie publishers is a *multiple* of the requirement for traditionally-published authors minimum income, because it is easier to make money by going indie.”

    Why the hell deal with the bullshit of trying to work with a publisher? If you write and have readers, you are an author to those readers. I dare you to challenge my fans on this one simple concept.

  • Travis Luedke

    I watch Digital Book World posts daily, and quite often, Michael’s stuff is featured there. And though I often find points of disagreement, and a fairly nasty “Anti-self-publishing” tone in Michael’s words, I read them, consider them, and occasionally find some merit.

    But this post was so phenomenally ridiculous, every last shred of credibility Michael held has been stripped away.

    Authors are authors.

    The entire premise of this post is nothing more than hate, prejudice, and the fear of change.

    Fact: The business of traditional publishing is being steadily eroded away by digital publishing and Indies. Its a whole new paradigm.

    Deal with it.

    Just because you fear the changes happening around you in the world of publishing, doesn’t give you the right to attack authors with such vitriol.

    Michael, get back to your doctor for a refill on the Ritalin, and stop flinging this ridiculous hatred all over the internet.

  • http://shetterly.blogspot.com/ Will Shetterly

    Who, after all, would say a self-publisher like Samuel Clemens was an author?

  • Victoria Hamilton

    Seems like it’s a waste of time to find fault with statements that are so ridiculous in the first place.

  • Victoria Hamilton

    Okay, with a statement like that I have to assume you were just trolling with the original article, and continue to troll. Go read some E. L. James, a ‘real’ author.

  • Victoria Hamilton

    “‘Your’ right”… and you expect us to take you seriously?? Now I’m just laughing. Oh! I get it! It was a comedic piece! Well played, sir.

  • Victoria Hamilton

    I know we’re tilting at windmills, because when a cogent argument is presented, he doesn’t answer; he prefers to save his words for folks he feels he can ridicule and those who attack his execrable grammar. He’s trolling to get his name known, I presume, because that’s the only way any of his mess makes sense.

  • S T Cameron

    You go against your own argument by qualifying Author with the word Professional. That is the difference between an Author, defined as someone who writes a novel, essay, poem, etc, and someone who makes a living as a Author. Anyone can be an Author if they write something. You are a Professional Author if you make a living at it.

  • TomQ

    Not sure what your point is here? Author name recognition helps sell books? That’s true. So, nothing wrong with a little self promotion in self publishing, IMO. If I buy a book simply because of the author’s name, it is because I have had one or more good reading experiences from that author. If the next book is a disappointment, I will be more cautious the next time around, so name recognition cuts both ways.

  • Brooke Warner

    It’s nice that so many people are weighing in to point out how utterly absurd and elitist this post is. It’s nice to be among the company of people who see that being an author is about putting your work out into the world. I for one am celebrating the growth of the independent publishing industry, and authors taking into their own hands the writing and publishing of their own books. The Author’s Guild, unfortunately, is another dinosaur of the industry who is not keeping up with the times in its insistence that authors be paid an advance in order to qualify for membership. The tide is turning, however, and people with the mindset of Michael K and others will soon be as obsolete as those who claimed that reading was only for the university-educated.

  • Lisa McCourt Hollar

    You mean like the traditional publishing industry used to decide what readers could and could not read, by turning away genres that they thought weren’t profitable. Now trad publishers are scrambling to sign some of the authors they turned away because they have proven that readers want to have more of a selection. Talk about playing the blame game…

  • Massim0Marin0

    This is an already dead horse. Beating it further is pointless.

    We are witness of a (r)evolution in the publishing industry triggered by Amazon and the like. Jeff Bezos has opened the gates and the gatekeepers are looking at each other unsure of what to do.

    Self-publishing has created a marvelous thing: everyone can publish a book, and establish a one-to-many direct relationship with readers who buy and enjoy the new voices.

    There’s a terrible monster that haunts the publishing valleys, too: everyone can publish a book, and readers are exposed to the slush pile for the first time visible to the many.

    Recently, Books-A-Million has declared that its bookstores will be equipped each with POD printers. “Every book is printed because it has been sold,” breaking the old paradigm stating that “every printed book maybe is sold.”

    The advent of cheaper and cheaper flash printers, together with higher and higher print quality, makes so that printing books in advance hoping to sell them later is bound to disappear as a business model.

    Books are already in online catalogues available to all bookstores. These last will have their own POD printers in the back office, and customer will access loads of online information about the authors and their listed works. A reader will be able to pay and download to a device with RFID (a short distance wi-fi service, think of bluetooth), and/or click to buy the printed edition. Get a coffee or a latte at the embedded BookStop Café and be served latte, cake, AND a freshly baked book, right on the spot.

    No more distribution costs, no more returns. Every single printed book is printed because it has been bought. Bookstores will have a never ending catalogue and be able to sell any physical book.

    Dinosaurs that will disappear are those publishers who still believe that their service and added value to writers is primarily to get published, that they only have the rights to judge what has merit and what not and writers need to put up with everything else for that privilege. This business model is no more sustainable because the basis for it is no more. It will disappear, and those who don’t change business plans will be soon forgotten and crumble faster than IBM did when the clone PC and the primitive Windows operating system made through to the market.

    I also see the end of the query process. Agents will perform like professional sport scouts. They will look proactively for writers online; after all, a promising athlete doesn’t go to every scout’s house and run 40 yards dashes in the street hoping the scout’s lurking at him. The athletes play their game, and the authors will write their novels. In both cases, the audience is there already, scout or not scout, agent or not agent, and for an that is all that counts, provide readers with good quality novels, and enjoyable reading moments.

    This diatribe is futile and sterile. The times—and the publishing scenario—has changed already. Nostalgia rhymes with dementia.

  • Liana

    So we shouldn’t have trade publisher, legacy publisher, big publisher, independent publisher, small publisher, digital-first publisher, publishing house, publishing imprint, or any of the other dozens of terms for describing publishers either?

    Is it the number of terms that you find confusing? I’m asking because there are a plethora of terms in any industry.

    There are solicitors and lawyers, public defenders, legal counsel, attorneys, attorneys at law, legal advisers, etc.

    There are writers, poets, screenwriters, scriptwriters, scriveners, wordsmiths, etc. ad infinitum.

    There are administrative assistants, secretaries, office assistants, clerical workers, etc. ad infinitum.

    In short, terminology is wide and varied because people and industries are. Personally, I’d LOVE it if we reduced the office worker terminology because it’s a pain trying to figure out what to put on my resume most days whenever I happen to be looking for office work, but I just shrug, pick one, and roll with it because hey, that’s the world we live in.

  • Massim0Marin0

    Michael, this is not an intelligent debate. You focus on money, while the focus should be on quality.

  • Liana

    Guest was saying that this “If you can earn your living from your writing” described hundreds of self-published authors.

  • gary ponzo

    What about authors who turned down a publishing deal (Like me) because it made no sense to give away my ebook rights for an eternity for a tiny fraction of what I could make as an independent author? Okay, don’t call me an author–but can I still cash my royalty checks?

  • Liana

    Yet you told the one earning 36K (3K x 12) that he wasn’t a professional whether or not he could live off the money because he chose to continue professional truck driving as well?

    What AM I missing? Please set aside your determination to brush aside any disagreement and engage with the debate long enough to actually develop a cogent, consistent definition of “make a living” for the point of this post.

  • Massim0Marin0

    I did the same. $2000 advance, giving up 15 years of my rights, and 10% royalties. Plus, I had to do the same self-promotion I’m doing already. Laughable.

  • Liana

    In which case, we just increased the number of indie authors to tens of thousands.

    I again plead with you for some consistency in your terms and definitions. It is impossible to discuss or debate a moving target.

  • cjhall

    Two questions. 1) Can you explain to me the definition of a trad published book? And 2) Where’s the rest of your sentence?

  • Banned for Comments

    Not only is the author of the article a pretentious ass, but he has been deleting comments that he doesn’t like. I’ve been banned from commenting on this entire site for my comments. This website is a joke. Almost as much of a joke as this article.

  • Banned for Comments

    Oh, by the way, Mr. Editor. There are numerous ways around a ban. I can change my IP address as often as I want.

  • Hedonist Six

    The twat who wrote this post does realise that there are scores and scores of authors (yes, real authors) who have been traditionally published numerous times who STILL cannot make a living out of it? Will you snatch their title away too?

  • Banned for Comments

    HERE’S ONE POST THAT GOT DELETED:

    Oh yeah! Totally.

    Just like anyone who makes clothes or jewelry that sell on Etsy or their own personal websites should not be allowed to be called seamstresses, costumers, or jewelry makers. All of it is totally illegitimate and worthless. You’re only real if you work for a factory or designer that mass-markets and distributes clothes and accessories that are sold in malls and huge clothing chains.

    Oh and if you opened a mom and pop restaurant, you’re not a real restaurant either. Especially if you didn’t make money enough to keep it going for 10+ years cause the chain restaurants put you out of business. Definitely not real cooks, servers, or managers working there. We all know that every independent restaurant puts out poor quality food, too. It’s common knowledge. Why do they even open their doors in the first place, really?

    And artists, too, how could we forget? Unless your painting is hung in a museum or gallery, I’m sorry but you’re actually not an artist and you should be ashamed if you claim to be one. Get a real job and stop polluting the market with your trash where REAL artists are trying to make their millions. Don’t even fucking dare post your work on deviantart or tumblr, or any blog or website even, After all, it’s only the good art that passes through the proper corporate channels that deserves to be viewed, you imposter.

    Don’t work at Dunkin’ Donuts but still make delicious confections? Not a real baker.

    Are you a mechanic who opened up his own garage or works to refurbish old cars to sell to the public and make a profit at it? Sorry, actually you’re not legit. You’re a hobbyist.

    Your album makes a ton of money and you have scores of fans? Ooh, too bad. You’re not actually an artist because you don’t have a record deal.

    Your webcomic is vastly popular and has a huge following that revolutionized media but you released it on your own *cough Homestuck cough*? Oops, you’re still don’t get to call yourself a comic artist. Maybe next time, champ.

    Basically if you participate in any creative or business endeavor that doesn’t have the proper seals of approval from the Snooty McElitist Society of Royal Twits, you should just stop ruining it for the REAL successes out there who are more deserving of attention than you inadequate worms.

    It’s all because they did it themselves, they obviously put no work into their projects and weren’t up to the standard. Makes perfect sense to me.

    Or wait a second, no. This is all starting to sound suspiciously like bullshit.

  • cjhall

    Oh, snap. Mnmarcus, hope someone’s available to take you to the burn unit.

  • Heywood Jablowme

    Isn’t it interesting that Michael Kozlowski has no published works to his name? Not only is he a douchebag, but he’s a douchebag with no authority in the argument he proffers. See previous comment, ref: asshole.

  • Seriously?

    Burn the books! Huh? What do you mean they’re electronic? Oh… Burn the
    (indie) authors! Crap! I mean writers… “authors” are the good ones,
    right? Wait, does anyone know what’s going here on besides hatemongering and trolling for attention?

  • Chaunce Stanton

    Takes one to NOT know one, right?

  • Chaunce Stanton

    I think the two words you strung together – “intelligent debate” – are entirely lacking in your article and in your responses. But you keep me coming back for more!

  • Chaunce Stanton

    What about professional bloggers — shouldn’t they have some say about the validity of your “work”? Aren’t you bringing down bloggerdom singlehandedly with rampant typos and debasing insults? THINK OF THE CHILDREN!

  • Jenevieve DeFer

    This also catches Authors like Norman Spinrad and some other Authors who for one reason or the other either don’t currently have a US publisher or who’s works have been out of print for years and are just now self publishing those old works. What I have to say to the OP of this blog post is to get over yourself. There are good authors in Self Publishing and there’s a lot of Dross.

  • Chaunce Stanton

    It’s a great time for readers. They can preview e-books and read reviews — no one is forcing readers to buy/not buy books published by any of your clearly delineated writer designations. The real problem isn’t that people self-publish: the real problem is that people aren’t reading as much.

  • Keith Taylor

    I’m one of them, Mike. My car was paid for with self publishing royalties, as is my rent, my groceries, my beer, cigarettes and vacations. If the available stats are to be believed I make more than only a small fraction of traditionally published authors.

    Furthermore, my readers have decided that my work is of a high enough quality that they’re willing to spend money on my books, send me fan mail and anticipate my next release. All this without ever receiving permission from Random House.

    Now I think about it, it’s almost as if it doesn’t even matter if some guy named Mike believes I shouldn’t be allowed to wear my ‘Hi, I’m a real author!’ badge. It turns out my landlord happily accepts my rent money even though it didn’t pass through a New York publisher first.

    Sincerely,

    Keith Taylor, professional ‘person who writes stories in return for money and doesn’t have to supplement his earnings with a part time job at McDonalds or anything’.

    For the sake of brevity I might just call myself an author.

  • Chaunce Stanton

    And again – haven’t we all seen examples of traditionally published books that are poorly written/edited? It’s subjective opinion, of course.

  • Chaunce Stanton

    Oh, I agree – this entire post is a colossal waste of time and energy; but I am having fun! And for the record, you’re the shitty indie cretin.

  • Chaunce Stanton

    This post is abysmal. Ergo you are a hypocrite to discuss quality. Do you consider yourself a good writer? You mentioned the importance of honing one’s craft, yet you fail in grammar, spelling, and winning your point. BUT you excel in creating emotional reactions (negative reactions, mind you), like some kind of anti-romance writer.

  • Chaunce Stanton

    Uh – again – YOU are also guilty of bullying. But you must love it.

  • Craig

    Hey fellow commenters, I disagree with the article (strongly), and I get it that many people would find what Michael wrote insulting, but can please we keep it civil?

  • S.M. McEachern

    Webster Dictionary defines an author as, “a person who has written something; especially : a person who has written a book or who writes many books.” Cambridge dictionary defines it as, “the writer of a book, article or play.” Just curious, Michael – have you written to let Webster and Cambridge know they’re wrong? You should probably give them a heads-up.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    There are many terms used to describe authors that have become popular in the last few years. A year ago, would selfie been used in the dictionary? We need NEW terminology used to describe writers, the existing paradigm is irrelevant in an age where ANYONE can self-publish. It doesn’t mean they are an “Author”

  • Michael Kozlowski

    Testify!

  • Michael Kozlowski

    Fostering a discussion on writer/professional author classifications.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    Organizations like the Authors Guild is the only thing that is right about modern publishing. There needs to be rules and control over self-publishing.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    My name is already well known in the publishing industry.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    I think most of you are living in the past. The current publishing climate has aspiring writers and authors doing many things. Most of them are terrible, and many writers who consider themselves authors because they self-publish a single novel is laughable. There HAS to be a classification system that indies can use to mandate and police themselves.

    My point still stands, all “Authors” wear it as a badge of honor and flaunt the fact they are in control of their own destiny. The real truth is most of them are terrible, abysmal and couldn’t write anything of note to save their lives.

    As much as you might have disdain for me, this single post as got more comments than 10,000 indie books have reviews.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    You can work with a publisher or not, you can self-publish your books or not. Whether you are a signed or self-published writer, unless you are making your living by writing, you are a mere writer.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    This can be a post on its own. You hide behind anonymity, whereas I don’t. I have a picture of myself and don’t hide behind the internet. My words are heard all over the world, whereas you John, can claim whatever you want and front. This is the problem with indie rabble. They feel entitled to be considered an author, just because they write. This is the problem of entitlement in this generation of youth.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    Please control yourself and refrain from swearing, or have your account banned.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    As always, you indie slime always have to resort to pointing out the flaws in others, rather than refine your own craft.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    Chanuce, resorting to swearing is the refuge of the unintelligent and weak-minded.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    I am not trying to gain approval from writers, authors or readers. I am trying to establish a common vernacular.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    We need common language. Once we can define a good author from a bad author (sales is what defines this) we can then start segregating writers from professional authors. My end goal, is to not have 100,000 indie books listed side by side with good books.

  • Keith Taylor

    You have thus far failed to explain exactly why, and your tone does little to advance your argument. Instead you come across as a man with a bizarre grudge and a desperate need for attention. I mean, congrats on writing a post that has attracted 400+ comments, but surely it can’t feel good that the majority of them have come from people who were referred to this site with the invitation ‘Hey, come and watch an angry guy rant. It’s hilarious.’

  • Aedrex

    According to your definition of the word, Homer, Goethe, and Shakespeare aren’t authors. Sleep on that.

  • Becky Burford

    Hi there Craig, I think that the problem is that when people are keeping it civil he is responding with vitriol. I’ve gone back through a lot of comments, though by no means all of them, and a couple of times I’ve seen him say that indie authors should be culled and used as bio fuel. He is also referring to many people as ‘you indie writers’ when he a) has no basis that this is true and b) is obviously using the term as an insult. He doesn’t seem to be responding reasonably and without insult to some of the reasonable arguments that others make and when they still respond politely after being insulted or ignored by him he doesn’t then come back and respond a second time even though he says that he wants to foster a debate.

    I’ve seen the responses to him become far less civil and far more angry over the last 24 hours and I think it’s because not only are people realising that there is no point in attempting a debate with Michael but because his responses to other comments have upset them further than just the blog post itself. I personally don’t believe in being rude online or in real life and try to keep myself polite and well meaning but when you see someone telling people that they should be killed its upsetting and I can fully understand why people don’t feel like treating him with respect and decency.

  • ShanonaWriter

    You have been the one pointing out flaws and name-calling…”indie slime”…really? If you post an article insulting an entire segment of the publishing world you really should expect to be judged on your delivery…which is riddled with grammatical errors that no “real” editor would allow. You mock indies relentlessly, but you are just a sloppy (mere) writer yourself.
    I tried, but I just can’t take you seriously.

  • ShanonaWriter

    Sorry, but I don’t share “onions” with anyone.

  • ShanonaWriter

    “We” can’t define a good author from a bad author…it’s too subjective. That may be hard for you to understand since you seem to recognize no opinion other than your own. By your strict standard of high sales, EL James is a good author…Stephanie Meyer…Snookie. It’s laughable.

  • Wyn D.

    “…because it is easier to make money by going indie.”

    You, sir, are a douchenozzle. Over the past year, I have had the pleasure and honor of meeting several amazingly talented, incredibly adept self-published indie authors. They have struggled to get their works better known, have done countless promos for their books and have tirelessly poured over their books time and time again in order to constantly try and better them for the reader’s enjoyment.

    Indie authors, as a rule, get paid very little money. Considering the time and effort that has gone into their books, along with the money paid for editing, cover art, and promotion, they generally do not come out ahead, and oftentimes are lucky if they actually break even for their efforts.

    I’m sure that some of them do make a bit of money for their books, but in general? They’re publishing so that they can share their stories with others. Because it’s the joy of writing a story that drives them.

    Just because you’re not well-known and/or haven’t hit it lucky doesn’t mean you aren’t an author. If you’ve taken the time and effort to write, finish, and publish a book, it means you’re an author. Even if your work is shite, you’ve still written, finished, and published a book. Which makes you an author.

    Don’t be such an elitist snob, sir. It’s unbecoming of you.

  • Seriously?

    Since you are clearly the decider, can you clarify your classifications then– can only “authors” get “married” while “writers” are limited to “civil unions”?

  • mary.mauro

    “Organizations like the Authors Guild is the only thing…”

    Perhaps the person who displays such poor grammar is not the best arbiter of who is a real author and who is not.

  • http://josephratliff.com/ JosephRatliff

    “We need NEW terminology used to describe writers,”

    Why? You have yet to give a compelling reason as to why we need to redefine the word “Author.” Your opinion, written in the form of an insulting blog post, doesn’t start that process. Societal and cultural changes do, when it becomes important (which it certainly isn’t at this moment).

    We haven’t yet (as a society) needed to redefine the word “author” because it already includes all types of authors, self-published or otherwise. It defines an entire category.

    Good luck in your mission to change the terminology… I mean, that was your mission right? You are going to devote endless hours of research and effort to this mission right?

    Or, was your mission something else? You wouldn’t be trying to be deceptive and just draw people to your little corner of the world, right Michael? Nah, your intentions are true. ;)

  • Massim0Marin0

    What is really funny is that the Authors Guild of America accepts self-publishing memberships already when in the previous 18 months before the application the, I cite, AUTHOR OF THE BOOK, has received at least $500 dollars in royalties. As soon as he receives $5000 in royalties s/he also has the one additional right to vote for the Guild Board, which is the only thing that changes between the Authors Guild of America membership when entering at the $500 level or at the $5000 for Indie Authors.

    So I guess it is settled. If you wrote a book and it has sold for at least $500 you can become member of the Authors Guild of America and send copy of your membership Author card to Michael.

    Case closed.

    I could apply already for the $5000 level but I don’t need a card to tell my readers I’m the author of the books they buy and read.

  • Bryan

    An interesting distinction you are making here.

    Seems kind of mean, as I have now met several very talented writers who, either have not published, or self-published anything yet, …although some would very much like to.

    I would not like to be the one who tells them they can no longer “see” themselves as a ‘writer’

  • Day_is_Over

    I think a big problem with the self published world is this idea of people being “mean.” Agents are mean. Publishers are mean. Reviewers are mean.

    I know people take criticism personally but in the real world art is criticized and evaluated. By professional and the audience at hand.

    If you’ve spent any amount of time trying to get traditionally published you get better at your craft and have a spine of steel. When you are published there isn’t a negative thing you haven’t already heard.

    But self published writers are still soft and sensitive and take everything to heart. This is why I believe being published with a house (indie or traditional) creates better authors. You learn, you grow, and you have an agent and editor who will mold you into a better writer.

    Left to your own devices you’re too sensitive and new to deal with the realities of putting your work out there.

    This distinction between writer and author is not mean. It’s just reality. Deal with the reality I say.

  • Day_is_Over

    I think a big problem with the self published world is this idea of people being “mean.” Agents are mean. Publishers are mean. Reviewers are mean.

    I know people take criticism personally but in the real world art is criticized and evaluated. By professionals and the audience at hand.

    If you’ve spent any amount of time trying to get traditionally published you get better at your craft and have a spine of steel. When you are published there isn’t a negative thing you haven’t already heard.

    But self published writers are still soft and sensitive and take everything to heart. This is why I believe being published with a house (indie or traditional) creates better authors. You learn, you grow, and you have an agent and editor who will mold you into a better writer.

    Left to your own devices you’re too sensitive and new to deal with the realities of putting your work out there. (For example if you post a negative review on an indie book prepare to have the authors family and friends bash the hell out of you.)

    This distinction between writer and author is not mean. It’s just reality. Deal with the reality I say.

  • Day_is_Over

    Every successful self published writer inevitably signs deals with the big houses.

    So much for all this so called indie writer integrity.

  • Day_is_Over

    I find most of the crap to be self published. Unedited hogwash that tries to just feed off whatever people think will sell.

    Sounds alot like the big houses to me.

  • JLG

    So, while we’re at it, we need a proper discussion on a better classification system for actors, musicians, artists, athletes, etc, etc?…

  • Day_is_Over

    I do p90x at home every day.I don’t go around calling myself an athlete because of it.

  • Day_is_Over

    Self publishing is like going to the trophy store and buying yourself an award. How anyone can find that satisfying is beyond my understanding. I mean you can stare at the trophy all day long but it means nothing.

  • mary.mauro

    Okay, now you’re being a comedian. Not a professional comedian, mind you, but funny all the same.

  • mary.mauro

    The number of comments you’ve received doesn’t validate your argument. The fact that you brag about the number of comments you received here shows that you’re most interested in getting attention.

  • Seriously

    What kind of self-trophy-buying-ass are you that you “do p90x at home every day” if you’re not on a professional sports team? How can you find that satisfying? It means nothing.

  • Day_is_Over

    Your comparison is not apt.

  • Massim0Marin0

    I suggest you read their admission guidelines

  • Seriously

    Posting about working out at home in a public forum in an effort to make an idiotic point seems like a completely apt comparison. I would only argue that both things– your point and self-publishing– do not have to be idiotic. Just because that’s the choice some people make doesn’t mean we need new language to judge everyone who works out at home.

  • Craig

    Your analogy doesn’t work. You make getting published sound like something somebody “deserves” or not. Who should determine whether they deserve it? And why must publication be “deserved” at all?

    All self publishing is doing is giving that determination directly to buyers instead of a small group of editors who, frankly, often make bad choices.

    Self publishing is a path to publication, nothing more. So is small press. So is big publishing. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. There is no one “right” way. Personally, I publish on all three levels depending on the work I’m producing at the time. In any case, publication isn’t a trophy–it’s an entry to market. The trophy is sales and readers.

    If somebody self publishes and they suck, nobody will buy their books. No harm done. We can all go on living. Or if they don’t suck, they’ll satisfy readers and make money. That’s good. The same goes for small and big press.

    And they all get to call themselves an author.

  • http://josephratliff.com/ JosephRatliff

    “There HAS to be a classification system that indies can use to mandate and police themselves.”

    Michael, there is… it’s called the people who read books. The reader is the most important person in the monetary transaction of exchanging money for published content being sold, right Michael?

    Straight from the dictionary itself (Webster’s)

    au·thor noun ˈȯ-thər

    : a person who has written something; especially : a person who has written a book or who writes many books

    : a person who starts or creates something (such as a plan or idea)

    You are an author when you write something, namely a completed work, period, end of story. Notice the definition, it say A book, not multiple, not being paid for the work… writing something is the only qualification.

  • Craig

    Wow, there are so many meaningless generalizations here I don’t know where to begin. I’ve seen self published authors laugh off negative reviews and prickly NY Times bestselling authors get into pointless scraps with bad reviewers on Amazon. Anne Rice just signed on to support a change at Amazon to get them to better regulate their reviews to stop “bullying.”

    I’m glad you think getting published by a small or big press makes better authors. If that path works for you, that’s great for you. In the meantime, don’t crap on everybody else who doesn’t do exactly what you do based on the exact same value system, and then insult them. Because the reality is the publishing world is changing, your generalizations are pointless, self publishing is a viable path to publication, and you’re no tougher than anybody else.

  • Massim0Marin0

    The Authors Guild of America disagrees with you.

  • Chaunce Stanton

    So good to hear from you again, Michael. I was afraid your trailer tipped over and you lost your dial-up connection. I actually don’t know what that’s supposed to mean, but it’s all I got for now. LUNCH!

  • Craig

    He’s definitely hurting himself with his responses to the comments. Digging the hole deeper, but it was pretty deep to begin with.

    Anybody who understands books knows that books must be taken one at a time, and subjectively evaluated–which is what Goodreads.com is supposed to be about–rather than lumping all authors together by publishing method, and then saying their work sucks and they therefore can’t be “authors.” Instead of trying to punish authors who engage the marketplace through a single publishing method, he might do better to try to be positive and lead to effect the kind of change he wants. He’s squandering a real opportunity.

    As for me, I don’t see the need for change. Let’s say the majority of self-published books sucks. So what? It’s hurting nobody. In fact, because the minority of self-published books is therefore good, that’s good for readers, because they get more choices often at better prices. Nobody’s forcing readers to buy and read all these bad books. The “penalty” for self publishing something bad is you will be ignored. The upside again is readers get more choices. As the owner of a site that caters to readers, he should be applauding it.

  • Craig

    Self publishing has nothing to do with integrity. Self publishing is a path to publication. It’s about entry to market, with its own particular advantages and disadvantages, one advantage being more creative control. And, as you suggest yourself, it can be successful.

  • Craig

    Michael, if you want your commenters to be civil and have an intelligent debate with you, why not lead by example? You undermine your own arguments by being childish and name calling rather than making a point.

  • Matt Croyle

    Why did you delete my other reply?

  • Matt Croyle

    Agreed. It is.

  • Matt Croyle

    Also, quick question: I’m also a produced playwright where people have paid money to come see my plays, however none of my plays have been published. Am I still not the author of a play that someone has paid to come see?

  • Craig

    You hit the nail on the head, the main problem with Michael’s argument.

    The dictionary defines an athlete as “a person who is proficient in sports and other forms of physical exercise.” So you COULD call yourself an athlete.

    But are you a professional athlete? Sounds like the answer is no.

    Carrying this to Michael’s argument, if you write a book, according to the dictionary, you’re an author. If you get paid for it, you’re a professional author. If you live entirely from that means, you’re a full-time professional author.

    Adjectives are awesome. They allow us to modify nouns to satisfy our prejudices without bitching we should change the nouns.

  • Craig

    You hit the nail on the head, the main problem with Michael’s argument.

    The dictionary defines an athlete as “a person who is proficient in sports and other forms of physical exercise.” So you COULD call yourself an athlete.

    But are you a professional athlete? Sounds like the answer is no.

    Carrying this to Michael’s argument, if you write a book, according to the dictionary, you’re an author. If you get paid for it, you’re a professional author. If you live entirely from that means, you’re a full-time professional author.

    Adjectives are awesome. They allow us to modify nouns to satisfy our prejudices without bitching we should change the nouns.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    If your plays have not been published then you are a writer.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    If your plays have not been published then you are a writer.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    Finally a man who understands! I agree with ALL of your statements. The primarily way that 96% of indies self-promote is exclusively online. Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, Forums, and whatever a “blog tour” is. They don’t have the thick skin from being shut down by agents or trade publishers. They uploaded a document, clicked submit and suddenly “gosh, i am a real author, time to promote” #buymyawesomebook

  • Michael Kozlowski

    Finally a man who understands! I agree with ALL of your statements. The primarily way that 96% of indies self-promote is exclusively online. Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, Forums, and whatever a “blog tour” is. They don’t have the thick skin from being shut down by agents or trade publishers. They uploaded a document, clicked submit and suddenly “gosh, i am a real author, time to promote” #buymyawesomebook

  • Michael Kozlowski

    Its more like, people think my premise has merit and are debating the facts, ironing out a universal standard. I think that is important.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    Its more like, people think my premise has merit and are debating the facts, ironing out a universal standard. I think that is important.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    i THINK its very interesting that this statement has 0 thumbs up, but someone calling me a douche has like 60.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    i THINK its very interesting that this statement has 0 thumbs up, but someone calling me a douche has like 60.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    I think you are departing away from the discussion at hand and making “off the cuff” statements that have no merit.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    I think you are departing away from the discussion at hand and making “off the cuff” statements that have no merit.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    My article was not talking self-publishers exclusively, but ANY writer.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    My article was not talking self-publishers exclusively, but ANY writer.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    How is self-publishing a marvelous thing? I see it has being the last resort of peoples books who weren’t good enough to get a publishing deal.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    How is self-publishing a marvelous thing? I see it has being the last resort of peoples books who weren’t good enough to get a publishing deal.

  • Day_is_Over

    The publishing world really isn’t changing at all. All successful self published writers end up in one of the big houses. Sounds like it’s just a new way for things to stay the same to me.

  • Day_is_Over

    The publishing world really isn’t changing at all. All successful self published writers end up in one of the big houses. Sounds like it’s just a new way for things to stay the same to me.

  • Massim0Marin0

    Publishing deals are ridiculous. If your book sells a publishing deal for a debut author is laughable. As I said, I refused $2000 advance, 10% royalties, give up my rights for 15 years and no marketing plan. Sorry pal, I make the $2000 advance regularly, at 10% I should have waited to sell for $20000 before getting more royalties paid twice a year.

    Publishing industry has lost the grip with reality. Unless they change what they offer writers, writers are not even looking at getting a contract with a publishing house. Get me a 6 digit check with at least a 5 as first digit and I might change my mind.

    There are loads of authors who are just waiting to get their rights back and forget about the publishing industry as it is now.

    How’s 70% royalties with respect to 10%? marvelous, thanks. I get 4 digit cheques from Amazon every month, and my books, with the publisher would have waited something like 18 months before hitting the store. I’m ahead by far money wise, thank you very much.

  • Massim0Marin0

    Publishing deals are ridiculous. If your book sells a publishing deal for a debut author is laughable. As I said, I refused $2000 advance, 10% royalties, give up my rights for 15 years and no marketing plan. Sorry pal, I make the $2000 advance regularly, at 10% I should have waited to sell for $20000 before getting more royalties paid twice a year.

    Publishing industry has lost the grip with reality. Unless they change what they offer writers, writers are not even looking at getting a contract with a publishing house. Get me a 6 digit check with at least a 5 as first digit and I might change my mind.

    There are loads of authors who are just waiting to get their rights back and forget about the publishing industry as it is now.

    How’s 70% royalties with respect to 10%? marvelous, thanks. I get 4 digit cheques from Amazon every month, and my books, with the publisher would have waited something like 18 months before hitting the store. I’m ahead by far money wise, thank you very much.

  • Massim0Marin0

    And your narrow vision makes you equate self-publishing ONLY with the published slush-pile. Sorry pal, publishing houses have little to offer a good writer now that they are not the only one channel to be read by readers. An Indie writer has his group of beta-reader, hires his proofreader, works with an editor and is in the black if his book is good.

    Sure, there’s lots of crap out there, but it seems you only see that. Mind raise your head a bit from the dung? Just a suggestion :)

  • Massim0Marin0

    And your narrow vision makes you equate self-publishing ONLY with the published slush-pile. Sorry pal, publishing houses have little to offer a good writer now that they are not the only one channel to be read by readers. An Indie writer has his group of beta-reader, hires his proofreader, works with an editor and is in the black if his book is good.

    Sure, there’s lots of crap out there, but it seems you only see that. Mind raise your head a bit from the dung? Just a suggestion :)

  • Keith Taylor

    I don’t see much evidence of that in the comments. I’m seeing a lot of people calling you crazy, interspersed with a lot of examples of you proving them right. Come on, Michael. The best thing for you to do right now would be to back away from the Internet for a few days and ask yourself where all this anger is coming from. You’ll feel better for it.

  • Keith Taylor

    I don’t see much evidence of that in the comments. I’m seeing a lot of people calling you crazy, interspersed with a lot of examples of you proving them right. Come on, Michael. The best thing for you to do right now would be to back away from the Internet for a few days and ask yourself where all this anger is coming from. You’ll feel better for it.

  • Massim0Marin0

    This might open your eyes, maybe. It is the most common situation for ‘published authors’.

    http://massimomarinoauthor.com/best-selling-authors-arent-making-minimum-wage/

  • Massim0Marin0

    This might open your eyes, maybe. It is the most common situation for ‘published authors’.

    http://massimomarinoauthor.com/best-selling-authors-arent-making-minimum-wage/

  • Massim0Marin0

    no, you singled out self-published authors. Read again your title.

  • Massim0Marin0

    no, you singled out self-published authors. Read again your title.

  • Massim0Marin0

    BTW, I qualify for full membership with the Authors Guild but I couldn’t care less.

  • Massim0Marin0

    BTW, I qualify for full membership with the Authors Guild but I couldn’t care less.

  • Chaunce Stanton

    Good point, Craig – “being published” in any venue (traditional or self) isn’t an award or a promotion or a status lifter or a brass ring or a prize in the crackerjack box. It’s just a step toward reaching readers. As a WRITER (there you go, Michael) I want to reach readers, not stare at a figurative “trophy” or an acceptance letter.

  • Chaunce Stanton

    Good point, Craig – “being published” in any venue (traditional or self) isn’t an award or a promotion or a status lifter or a brass ring or a prize in the crackerjack box. It’s just a step toward reaching readers. As a WRITER (there you go, Michael) I want to reach readers, not stare at a figurative “trophy” or an acceptance letter.

  • Massim0Marin0

    Brooke, not exactly. Authors Guild recognizes self-published authors for membership. If your book has earned you $500 in the last 18 months you get your Authors Guild member card. When you hit $5000 earning you earn the right to vote for the Guild Board. See, even the Authors Guild disagrees with Michael Kozlowski, obviously.

  • Massim0Marin0

    Brooke, not exactly. Authors Guild recognizes self-published authors for membership. If your book has earned you $500 in the last 18 months you get your Authors Guild member card. When you hit $5000 earning you earn the right to vote for the Guild Board. See, even the Authors Guild disagrees with Michael Kozlowski, obviously.

  • Chaunce Stanton

    …as in “keep an eye out for this man and do not let him in the building under any circumstances”?

  • Chaunce Stanton

    …as in “keep an eye out for this man and do not let him in the building under any circumstances”?

  • Chaunce Stanton

    Hey, thanks for the help, Michael! You saved us!

  • Chaunce Stanton

    Hey, thanks for the help, Michael! You saved us!

  • Chaunce Stanton

    Good points, Mike. Do mind if Michael Kozlowski pastes this into his revised blog post?

  • Chaunce Stanton

    Good points, Mike. Do mind if Michael Kozlowski pastes this into his revised blog post?

  • Chaunce Stanton

    Congrats, Keith!

  • Chaunce Stanton

    Congrats, Keith!

  • Chaunce Stanton

    Can you please confirm, Michael, that you have seen the numerous references to dictionary definitions of “author” that clearly prove you wrong? If your distinction is merely the descriptive “professional author” (meaning making a living at writing) then fine, but why still come off as unresponsive and/or flat-out, demonstrably wrong?

  • Chaunce Stanton

    Can you please confirm, Michael, that you have seen the numerous references to dictionary definitions of “author” that clearly prove you wrong? If your distinction is merely the descriptive “professional author” (meaning making a living at writing) then fine, but why still come off as unresponsive and/or flat-out, demonstrably wrong?

  • M.l. John

    Wow, you have a lot of opinions. And you do know what they say about opinions, and their relationships to certain bodily orifices?

  • M.l. John

    Wow, you have a lot of opinions. And you do know what they say about opinions, and their relationships to certain bodily orifices?

  • Chaunce Stanton

    “If i wrote a book” implies you have not written a book. What is your concern with any venue of publishing if you aren’t a writer, author, or professional author? Just a concerned reader afraid your Nook might meltdown from typos? Don’t read your own blog posts on your Nook then!

  • Chaunce Stanton

    “If i wrote a book” implies you have not written a book. What is your concern with any venue of publishing if you aren’t a writer, author, or professional author? Just a concerned reader afraid your Nook might meltdown from typos? Don’t read your own blog posts on your Nook then!

  • Chaunce Stanton

    Paragraph One: “I am not bashing anyone.”
    Paragraph Two: “You sir are delusional.”

    There’s a zoo in Saskatchewan missing its hypocrite!

  • Chaunce Stanton

    Paragraph One: “I am not bashing anyone.”
    Paragraph Two: “You sir are delusional.”

    There’s a zoo in Saskatchewan missing its hypocrite!

  • Chaunce Stanton

    Again, please respond to the dictionary definition of author – oh, wait, you mentioned we need “new” definitions…especially in the face of so many people taking you to the mat on this.

  • Chaunce Stanton

    Again, please respond to the dictionary definition of author – oh, wait, you mentioned we need “new” definitions…especially in the face of so many people taking you to the mat on this.

  • Chaunce Stanton

    Very binary classifications – like “someone Michael Kozlowski likes” versus “should be used for biofuel.”

  • Chaunce Stanton

    Very binary classifications – like “someone Michael Kozlowski likes” versus “should be used for biofuel.”

  • Chaunce Stanton

    The ad I saw was for an inflatable panda. Who’s been hacking my computer?

  • Chaunce Stanton

    The ad I saw was for an inflatable panda. Who’s been hacking my computer?

  • Chaunce Stanton

    Again – you’re jumping from writer to “professional author” without allowing for the plain ol’ “author” stop along the way. Why is that? I personally don’t care – I’m very happy to be a writer. I love writing. I am doing it right now, and I will do it again. But I write to you, I write for work (yes – gasp – the day job that pays my bills!) and I write stories, and I even write books. When I complete those books, I have authored those books by definition. Not YOUR definition, apparently, but by that stupid old Merriam Webster bastardization of twisted, subjective word opinions.

  • Chaunce Stanton

    Again – you’re jumping from writer to “professional author” without allowing for the plain ol’ “author” stop along the way. Why is that? I personally don’t care – I’m very happy to be a writer. I love writing. I am doing it right now, and I will do it again. But I write to you, I write for work (yes – gasp – the day job that pays my bills!) and I write stories, and I even write books. When I complete those books, I have authored those books by definition. Not YOUR definition, apparently, but by that stupid old Merriam Webster bastardization of twisted, subjective word opinions.

  • Chaunce Stanton

    Again skipping option 2: plain ol’ author. Why?

  • Chaunce Stanton

    Again skipping option 2: plain ol’ author. Why?

  • Guest

    Who cares what Kozlowski said, then? You know the say, “people who live in glass houses shouldn’t run with scissors.”

  • Guest

    Who cares what Kozlowski said, then? You know the say, “people who live in glass houses shouldn’t run with scissors.”

  • Chaunce Stanton

    Who cares what Kozlowski says, then? You know the saying: “People who live in glass houses should not run with scissors.”

  • Chaunce Stanton

    Who cares what Kozlowski says, then? You know the saying: “People who live in glass houses should not run with scissors.”

  • Chaunce Stanton

    Okay – is that what you’re really trying to get across? Your pet peeve is people throwing around the word “author” because you thought it meant they got paid to write for a living, and now with everyone flashing the dictionary at you, you realize that you were wrong and are now conceding on the author point in your fun-loving manner?

  • Chaunce Stanton

    Okay – is that what you’re really trying to get across? Your pet peeve is people throwing around the word “author” because you thought it meant they got paid to write for a living, and now with everyone flashing the dictionary at you, you realize that you were wrong and are now conceding on the author point in your fun-loving manner?

  • Chaunce Stanton

    There’s enough evidence in this thread to convict you of hypocrisy in the first degree in regards to personal attacks and bullying, Michael. If you really are bothered by it, you wouldn’t perpetrate it yourself.

  • Chaunce Stanton

    There’s enough evidence in this thread to convict you of hypocrisy in the first degree in regards to personal attacks and bullying, Michael. If you really are bothered by it, you wouldn’t perpetrate it yourself.

  • Chaunce Stanton

    It’s simple Rich. You’re not a real, card-carrying professional author until you are having a threesome with Richard Branson and Scarlett Johansson in outer space, using thousand-dollar bills to fuel your space ship and still have enough left over to Skype your henchman back on planet Indie to start burning all the mere writers as biofuel on your back-up space ship. Short answer is: you’re a professional author if you have two space ships and at least one STD.

  • Chaunce Stanton

    It’s simple Rich. You’re not a real, card-carrying professional author until you are having a threesome with Richard Branson and Scarlett Johansson in outer space, using thousand-dollar bills to fuel your space ship and still have enough left over to Skype your henchman back on planet Indie to start burning all the mere writers as biofuel on your back-up space ship. Short answer is: you’re a professional author if you have two space ships and at least one STD.

  • Chaunce Stanton

    Recant, sinner. The dictionary judges you wrong about this claim about “author”. You are literally wrong.

  • Chaunce Stanton

    Recant, sinner. The dictionary judges you wrong about this claim about “author”. You are literally wrong.

  • Craig

    So by your admission, self publishing is a successful path to publication.

  • Craig

    So by your admission, self publishing is a successful path to publication.

  • Chaunce Stanton

    “Author” isn’t a publishing term. It’s about the creation and ownership of intellectual property. I think this is one of the rails you went off of on your crazy train. ALL ABOARD! hahahaahah [Ozzy]

  • Chaunce Stanton

    “Author” isn’t a publishing term. It’s about the creation and ownership of intellectual property. I think this is one of the rails you went off of on your crazy train. ALL ABOARD! hahahaahah [Ozzy]

  • Chaunce Stanton

    Social acceptance? For eff’s sake…Really? And you’re saying – in your ideal model of Approved Author Publishing – that people who bang their heads trying to find an agent – an agent! – or try to wend their ways into slush piles at publishing houses – THEY aren’t looking for social acceptance? Clearly it means a lot to you that there is this gilded class of Professional Authors who have gone the dinosaur path, so you are socially accepting the hell out of them.

  • Chaunce Stanton

    Social acceptance? For eff’s sake…Really? And you’re saying – in your ideal model of Approved Author Publishing – that people who bang their heads trying to find an agent – an agent! – or try to wend their ways into slush piles at publishing houses – THEY aren’t looking for social acceptance? Clearly it means a lot to you that there is this gilded class of Professional Authors who have gone the dinosaur path, so you are socially accepting the hell out of them.

  • Chaunce Stanton

    Hi, Lynne!

  • Chaunce Stanton

    Hi, Lynne!

  • Keith Taylor

    With respect, your beliefs aren’t close to the reality of the business. I’m a successful self-published author. It’s not very classy to throw out numbers but I make a very good living from my work. My most recent novel is currently high in the Kindle Store six months post-release, and on its debut it sold enough copies to appear on the NYT bestseller list (but didn’t, since it only sold at a single venue and was therefore ineligible). In the last 12 hours I’ve sold a hair under 200 copies. In terms of the traditional publishing industry I’m a high mid-lister, and I probably wouldn’t struggle to find a contract with a house.

    So why don’t I pursue it?

    It’s simple. I don’t need a publisher. I’ll never need a publisher, and moving from self-pub to trad would be neither a natural progression nor a sensible business choice. As a self-publisher I take 70% of the cover price of my books. I don’t pay an agent. I design my own covers or outsource the job to a professional. I run my own marketing. What’s more, I can put the finishing touches to my next book tonight and see it on the shelves tomorrow. I can adjust the price at will, run promos whenever I feel like it, track my sales in real time and receive royalties every month. Self-publishing is all upside for me, with few drawbacks.

    Of course I can imagine working with a publisher for foreign language distribution or audiobooks, because that’s not a part of the business I know about or care to investigate, but as for the core business I simply don’t need them. I’m doing just fine without a publisher, and I can’t imagine that changing in the future.

    I won’t pretend to understand the vitriol aimed at self-publishers. I’m sure you guys have reasons for your anger. For the life of me I can’t figure out what they are, but I’m sure they make perfect sense to you. All I can do is speak from my own personal experience and tell you that a lot of what you believe is wrong.

  • Keith Taylor

    With respect, your beliefs aren’t close to the reality of the business. I’m a successful self-published author. It’s not very classy to throw out numbers but I make a very good living from my work. My most recent novel is currently high in the Kindle Store six months post-release, and on its debut it sold enough copies to appear on the NYT bestseller list (but didn’t, since it only sold at a single venue and was therefore ineligible). In the last 12 hours I’ve sold a hair under 200 copies. In terms of the traditional publishing industry I’m a high mid-lister, and I probably wouldn’t struggle to find a contract with a house.

    So why don’t I pursue it?

    It’s simple. I don’t need a publisher. I’ll never need a publisher, and moving from self-pub to trad would be neither a natural progression nor a sensible business choice. As a self-publisher I take 70% of the cover price of my books. I don’t pay an agent. I design my own covers or outsource the job to a professional. I run my own marketing. What’s more, I can put the finishing touches to my next book tonight and see it on the shelves tomorrow. I can adjust the price at will, run promos whenever I feel like it, track my sales in real time and receive royalties every month. Self-publishing is all upside for me, with few drawbacks.

    Of course I can imagine working with a publisher for foreign language distribution or audiobooks, because that’s not a part of the business I know about or care to investigate, but as for the core business I simply don’t need them. I’m doing just fine without a publisher, and I can’t imagine that changing in the future.

    I won’t pretend to understand the vitriol aimed at self-publishers. I’m sure you guys have reasons for your anger. For the life of me I can’t figure out what they are, but I’m sure they make perfect sense to you. All I can do is speak from my own personal experience and tell you that a lot of what you believe is wrong.

  • Chaunce Stanton

    Welcome to the Michael Kozlowski Beat-Down Hour, Edward! But please, don’t say anything that might anger Michael. You wouldn’t like to see him when he’s angry. If you see him start tugging at his ear, just give him a little shove toward his nap mat.

  • Chaunce Stanton

    Welcome to the Michael Kozlowski Beat-Down Hour, Edward! But please, don’t say anything that might anger Michael. You wouldn’t like to see him when he’s angry. If you see him start tugging at his ear, just give him a little shove toward his nap mat.

  • Chaunce Stanton

    At least he’s consistent! I have a feeling he is having a blast with this one. His stats are through the roof.

  • Chaunce Stanton

    At least he’s consistent! I have a feeling he is having a blast with this one. His stats are through the roof.

  • Craig

    Michael, all authors primarily promote online. The digital revolution not only democratized publishing, it made marketing books much more powerful and economical. This is something I’m sure you, as one of the people who launched Goodreads.com, already know.

    You: “They uploaded a document, clicked submit and suddenly “gosh, i am a real author, time to promote”.”

    That’s right. So what? The more desirable quality of being an author isn’t having a thick skin. It’s producing a product that the market wants and in which it perceives value (which brings in price).

    I’m sure these authors will develop a thick skin one way or the other should their book get poorly reviewed on Amazon or they don’t generate the sales they expected (as do all authors regardless of path to publication). All the self published author is doing is going directly to the buyer instead of requiring pre-approval by a publishing house. This results in more choices at better prices for the reader, which I assume you would applaud. Yes, many of these choices are duds, but the market quickly weeds them out. There is no “maelstrom” as most of these books will simply be ignored.

    *A blog tour is when an author goes from blog to blog (rather than from store to store) to promote a book. I’ve been doing it for years and have found it effective.

  • Craig

    Michael, all authors primarily promote online. The digital revolution not only democratized publishing, it made marketing books much more powerful and economical. This is something I’m sure you, as one of the people who launched Goodreads.com, already know.

    You: “They uploaded a document, clicked submit and suddenly “gosh, i am a real author, time to promote”.”

    That’s right. So what? The more desirable quality of being an author isn’t having a thick skin. It’s producing a product that the market wants and in which it perceives value (which brings in price).

    I’m sure these authors will develop a thick skin one way or the other should their book get poorly reviewed on Amazon or they don’t generate the sales they expected (as do all authors regardless of path to publication). All the self published author is doing is going directly to the buyer instead of requiring pre-approval by a publishing house. This results in more choices at better prices for the reader, which I assume you would applaud. Yes, many of these choices are duds, but the market quickly weeds them out. There is no “maelstrom” as most of these books will simply be ignored.

    *A blog tour is when an author goes from blog to blog (rather than from store to store) to promote a book. I’ve been doing it for years and have found it effective.

  • Chaunce Stanton

    To be fair, Michael is typing on his Droid with one thumb while he eats an entire bag of cheese doodles on his couch. I mean, he literally spreads the cheese doodles out on the couch and then eats them.

  • Chaunce Stanton

    To be fair, Michael is typing on his Droid with one thumb while he eats an entire bag of cheese doodles on his couch. I mean, he literally spreads the cheese doodles out on the couch and then eats them.

  • Chaunce Stanton

    RRRRRRRRR! Try again using the new word we learned from Mr. Dictionary, Michael. Author!

  • Chaunce Stanton

    RRRRRRRRR! Try again using the new word we learned from Mr. Dictionary, Michael. Author!

  • Chaunce Stanton

    RRRRRRRRR! Mr. Dictionary is making a frowny face at you again, Michael. Apparently those anodes aren’t connected properly. I’ll get some more contact gel. BRB

  • Chaunce Stanton

    RRRRRRRRR! Mr. Dictionary is making a frowny face at you again, Michael. Apparently those anodes aren’t connected properly. I’ll get some more contact gel. BRB

  • Craig

    Michael, you might lead by example… Your controversial stand in your original post aside, calling people slime and the like is obviously throwing gasoline on the fire.

  • Craig

    Michael, you might lead by example… Your controversial stand in your original post aside, calling people slime and the like is obviously throwing gasoline on the fire.

  • Chaunce Stanton

    What are you afraid of? That people won’t be able to find “A Room With a View” because there are a hundred Highland Romances in the way? It’s just not a concern. More books? OMG! How awful! The poor trad-published Official Koslowski Authors must be so sad having to share their Goodreads shelf space with the absolute scum of the Earth. Wah.

  • Chaunce Stanton

    What are you afraid of? That people won’t be able to find “A Room With a View” because there are a hundred Highland Romances in the way? It’s just not a concern. More books? OMG! How awful! The poor trad-published Official Koslowski Authors must be so sad having to share their Goodreads shelf space with the absolute scum of the Earth. Wah.

  • Craig

    You might want to talk to some people who self publish and learn why they do it before making sweeping harsh judgments and generalizations about whether they should exist. Just a thought. The truth is self publishing offers a lot of advantages (and disadvantages).

  • Craig

    You might want to talk to some people who self publish and learn why they do it before making sweeping harsh judgments and generalizations about whether they should exist. Just a thought. The truth is self publishing offers a lot of advantages (and disadvantages).

  • Edward Smith

    You know Chaunce, you may have hit on the right way to handle this. It may be a little crowded on the nap mats though, as I keep reading Micheal’s responses, I want to get on my own mat and hide out for awhile. Thanks for the great advice Chaunce. Edward Smith.

  • Edward Smith

    You know Chaunce, you may have hit on the right way to handle this. It may be a little crowded on the nap mats though, as I keep reading Micheal’s responses, I want to get on my own mat and hide out for awhile. Thanks for the great advice Chaunce. Edward Smith.

  • Chaunce Stanton

    So…that’s your thesis now? Why you didn’t say just that and put a “the end” behind it in your original post, I’ll never know. Oh, wait – now I remember why: you decided you needed to build negative brand association this week.

  • Chaunce Stanton

    So…that’s your thesis now? Why you didn’t say just that and put a “the end” behind it in your original post, I’ll never know. Oh, wait – now I remember why: you decided you needed to build negative brand association this week.

  • Chaunce Stanton

    Sounds like a UI problem. Technology will adapt, and your brain and Chuck Wendig’s brain aren’t broken. I’m sure you’ll still find those Highland Romances.

  • Chaunce Stanton

    Sounds like a UI problem. Technology will adapt, and your brain and Chuck Wendig’s brain aren’t broken. I’m sure you’ll still find those Highland Romances.

  • Chaunce Stanton

    I’m calling bull on this. MANY times in this thread Michael and his alter-Michael self claim that there is a binary distinction between “writer” and “author” while also throwing “professional author” into the mix as if it is synonymous with author. Again, Mr. Dictionary would like a word with you after class.

  • Chaunce Stanton

    I’m calling bull on this. MANY times in this thread Michael and his alter-Michael self claim that there is a binary distinction between “writer” and “author” while also throwing “professional author” into the mix as if it is synonymous with author. Again, Mr. Dictionary would like a word with you after class.

  • R. L. Wicke
  • R. L. Wicke
  • Craig

    What a great response, Keith. What genre are you in?

    The anger goes both ways, and I don’t understand it either. These are simply publishing methods, nothing more. They aren’t hurting anybody, and they’re providing more choices for readers, which is great. Personally, I am currently selling short stories through small press, self publish novellas, and publish novels through big houses or small press depending on the book.

    Self publishing gives you the advantages you described, but you don’t get bookstore distribution and you have to make a big investment in your personal brand. You also have the upfront costs, which means higher risk. I consider self publishing a good path for entrepreneurial, high-output writers or authors who have already made it in big publishing and have a brand.

    With small press, you get convenience, no upfront cost and you can access a successful brand, but no bookstore distribution, and you give away most of the royalties. I consider small press a good way to prove yourself with sales to get into big press and develop some of the skills you’ll need to make it self publishing.

    Big publishing gets you the prestige of the brand and bookstore distribution. Being agented gets you in front of this restricted club. I consider big publishing the ultimate for writers who don’t want to handle the business side of things, spend a lot more time on their product, and want to maximize readership and building a personal brand. But no matter which path you’ll take, you’ll have to do a lot of your own marketing.

    Putting blanket value judgments on this or the people who favor one publishing path over another as universally good or bad is ridiculous.

  • Craig

    What a great response, Keith. What genre are you in?

    The anger goes both ways, and I don’t understand it either. These are simply publishing methods, nothing more. They aren’t hurting anybody, and they’re providing more choices for readers, which is great. Personally, I am currently selling short stories through small press, self publish novellas, and publish novels through big houses or small press depending on the book.

    Self publishing gives you the advantages you described, but you don’t get bookstore distribution and you have to make a big investment in your personal brand. You also have the upfront costs, which means higher risk. I consider self publishing a good path for entrepreneurial, high-output writers or authors who have already made it in big publishing and have a brand.

    With small press, you get convenience, no upfront cost and you can access a successful brand, but no bookstore distribution, and you give away most of the royalties. I consider small press a good way to prove yourself with sales to get into big press and develop some of the skills you’ll need to make it self publishing.

    Big publishing gets you the prestige of the brand and bookstore distribution. Being agented gets you in front of this restricted club. I consider big publishing the ultimate for writers who don’t want to handle the business side of things, spend a lot more time on their product, and want to maximize readership and building a personal brand. But no matter which path you’ll take, you’ll have to do a lot of your own marketing.

    Putting blanket value judgments on this or the people who favor one publishing path over another as universally good or bad is ridiculous.

  • tink333

    Here’s the problem, Michael, and before you call me “you, indie author,” you should know I am not a writer. How I am involved in the industry is none of your concern.

    You sit behind your computer writing this swill for Goodreads, and you have not done your homework. The industry is changing for the better. Readers, aka customers, are the ones voting with their pocketbooks for traditionally published and independently published works. So much of whether a work is published in the traditional manner has to do with whether that work is “in vogue” with current market trends and not necessarily with whether that work is well-written.

    Have you discussed your premise with any authors who have been both traditionally and independently published? You might be surprised to find that some of them offer seminars that encourage new writers to go the indie route as a parallel function or alternate function to the traditional route. The profits are better, and an author has more control over the quality of the end product.

    How many novels have you written and published, dear sir? The kind of writing you do in your column is different than that a novelist does. Should you be called a writer by your definition of the word? Possibly not. Is it possible that your column is sour grapes from your own experience in novel writing?

  • tink333

    Here’s the problem, Michael, and before you call me “you, indie author,” you should know I am not a writer. How I am involved in the industry is none of your concern.

    You sit behind your computer writing this swill for Goodreads, and you have not done your homework. The industry is changing for the better. Readers, aka customers, are the ones voting with their pocketbooks for traditionally published and independently published works. So much of whether a work is published in the traditional manner has to do with whether that work is “in vogue” with current market trends and not necessarily with whether that work is well-written.

    Have you discussed your premise with any authors who have been both traditionally and independently published? You might be surprised to find that some of them offer seminars that encourage new writers to go the indie route as a parallel function or alternate function to the traditional route. The profits are better, and an author has more control over the quality of the end product.

    How many novels have you written and published, dear sir? The kind of writing you do in your column is different than that a novelist does. Should you be called a writer by your definition of the word? Possibly not. Is it possible that your column is sour grapes from your own experience in novel writing?

  • Semiiramiis

    Actually, it’s Grover. But that’s okay, he’s a lot more valid than Elmo.

  • Semiiramiis

    Actually, it’s Grover. But that’s okay, he’s a lot more valid than Elmo.

  • Keith Taylor

    Thanks, Craig :) I write in the romance genre.

    Yeah, I agree with you completely. I have a wide circle of author friends and acquaintances, including everyone from NYT bestselling giants to small press authors to self-pub first timers, and everyone has their own idea about which path will suit them best. Some authors are happy to plug away for years in an effort to attract the attention of a big house (and I definitely understand the attraction of the prestige that would bring). Others aren’t entirely satisfied with their trad-pub experience, but they feel it’s preferable to setting out on their own and having to do everything from editing to cover design to promotion on their own. Yet more dive gleefully into the self-pub arena and enjoy controlling all the moving parts.

    No choice is any more or less valid than any other. They each have their own set of pros and cons, and it’s up to each author to decide which path to choose. Readers don’t tend to care, as long as the finished product is up to snuff. The only people who really make a noise about trad- vs self-publishing are those with a vested interest, and those opinions should be taken with a pinch of salt. Mine included :P

  • Keith Taylor

    Thanks, Craig :) I write in the romance genre.

    Yeah, I agree with you completely. I have a wide circle of author friends and acquaintances, including everyone from NYT bestselling giants to small press authors to self-pub first timers, and everyone has their own idea about which path will suit them best. Some authors are happy to plug away for years in an effort to attract the attention of a big house (and I definitely understand the attraction of the prestige that would bring). Others aren’t entirely satisfied with their trad-pub experience, but they feel it’s preferable to setting out on their own and having to do everything from editing to cover design to promotion on their own. Yet more dive gleefully into the self-pub arena and enjoy controlling all the moving parts.

    No choice is any more or less valid than any other. They each have their own set of pros and cons, and it’s up to each author to decide which path to choose. Readers don’t tend to care, as long as the finished product is up to snuff. The only people who really make a noise about trad- vs self-publishing are those with a vested interest, and those opinions should be taken with a pinch of salt. Mine included :P

  • Michael Kozlowski

    What i do for GoodeReader is 1000% more compelling and powerful than 10,000 indie novels. The entire publishing industry listens to me, as my thoughts and ideas are relevant. Writing a novel does not interest me. What does, is moving the digital publishing industry forward.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    What i do for GoodeReader is 1000% more compelling and powerful than 10,000 indie novels. The entire publishing industry listens to me, as my thoughts and ideas are relevant. Writing a novel does not interest me. What does, is moving the digital publishing industry forward.

  • Semiiramiis

    Ah, yes. Another blogger going after the ‘no press is bad press’ idea, by attacking a group (especially one that they’re somewhat tied to by their own ‘career’) Yes, that’s right, I view your ‘qualifications’ with just as much suspicion as you view mine.

  • Semiiramiis

    Ah, yes. Another blogger going after the ‘no press is bad press’ idea, by attacking a group (especially one that they’re somewhat tied to by their own ‘career’) Yes, that’s right, I view your ‘qualifications’ with just as much suspicion as you view mine.

  • Robert Franks

    The argument that self publishing is the last resort of people who weren’t good enough to get a publishing deal shows an embarrassing lack of both research and understanding, both of publishing companies, ebook publishers and the authors themselves. Traditional publishers have a backlog of, on average, 6 months of submissions to plough through. The sad truth is, even if these submissions are potential best sellers, if the synopsis and introduction don’t capture the attention of the reader, who is just one person with one person’s opinion, the book will be rejected. It’s simply sound business, and the most effective way of dealing with the amount of submissions a publisher will get. Taking also into consideration most (but not all by any means) manuscripts arrive at a publishers via a literary agency, who deal with an even vaster backlog. It’s their job to refine and select which books they feel will appeal to potential readers. So it becomes a waiting game that can take years. JK Rowling, for example, was only accepted by the 13th publisher to receive her manuscript. 12 publishers out there are now kicking themselves! So two things are proven here: publishers can and do get it wrong, and getting recognition is as much a waiting game as it is a proof of skills. Ebooks, whether through lulu.com, smashwords, KDP or others, reach the market fairly instantaneously. Have a look at the new generation of paperbacks that are appearing. An example would be 50 shades of Grey. Not everybody’s cup of tea. But undeniably successful. Yet they started off as indie kindle books. How did they reach paperback? A canny publisher, vintage books, (one of many) was watching kindle sales. And saw a potential success. And now Amazon has bought out Goodreads, a website devoted readers and writers, many of whom are indie fans and writers. Most book publishers and bookshops now happily supply ebooks (penguin, Waterstones, and many others receive ebook publications via companies like smashwords) written by indie writers. Its not perfect. Smashwords recently lost licences because some of their material, unvetted by them, was found to raise too many eyebrows. But its getting new authors out there far faster, and far more effectively, than has been possible until now. Many traditional publishers are now looking to ebook sales for their next JK Rowling, EL James or Neil Gaiman, rather than the traditional posted hard copies. And authors already established via publishing houses are now dropping them to handle their publications themselves, using the names they’ve established to generate their own sales. Authors are at the forefront of this new, and very young, technology. It’s naive to think publishing houses aren’t paying attention.

  • Robert Franks

    The argument that self publishing is the last resort of people who weren’t good enough to get a publishing deal shows an embarrassing lack of both research and understanding, both of publishing companies, ebook publishers and the authors themselves. Traditional publishers have a backlog of, on average, 6 months of submissions to plough through. The sad truth is, even if these submissions are potential best sellers, if the synopsis and introduction don’t capture the attention of the reader, who is just one person with one person’s opinion, the book will be rejected. It’s simply sound business, and the most effective way of dealing with the amount of submissions a publisher will get. Taking also into consideration most (but not all by any means) manuscripts arrive at a publishers via a literary agency, who deal with an even vaster backlog. It’s their job to refine and select which books they feel will appeal to potential readers. So it becomes a waiting game that can take years. JK Rowling, for example, was only accepted by the 13th publisher to receive her manuscript. 12 publishers out there are now kicking themselves! So two things are proven here: publishers can and do get it wrong, and getting recognition is as much a waiting game as it is a proof of skills. Ebooks, whether through lulu.com, smashwords, KDP or others, reach the market fairly instantaneously. Have a look at the new generation of paperbacks that are appearing. An example would be 50 shades of Grey. Not everybody’s cup of tea. But undeniably successful. Yet they started off as indie kindle books. How did they reach paperback? A canny publisher, vintage books, (one of many) was watching kindle sales. And saw a potential success. And now Amazon has bought out Goodreads, a website devoted readers and writers, many of whom are indie fans and writers. Most book publishers and bookshops now happily supply ebooks (penguin, Waterstones, and many others receive ebook publications via companies like smashwords) written by indie writers. Its not perfect. Smashwords recently lost licences because some of their material, unvetted by them, was found to raise too many eyebrows. But its getting new authors out there far faster, and far more effectively, than has been possible until now. Many traditional publishers are now looking to ebook sales for their next JK Rowling, EL James or Neil Gaiman, rather than the traditional posted hard copies. And authors already established via publishing houses are now dropping them to handle their publications themselves, using the names they’ve established to generate their own sales. Authors are at the forefront of this new, and very young, technology. It’s naive to think publishing houses aren’t paying attention.

  • Semiiramiis

    And it’s also contradictory…if it’s easier to make money by going indie, but one of his benchmarks is how much money we make, doesn’t that mean that more indie authors are making money, therefore more of us are ‘REAL’ authors?

  • Semiiramiis

    And it’s also contradictory…if it’s easier to make money by going indie, but one of his benchmarks is how much money we make, doesn’t that mean that more indie authors are making money, therefore more of us are ‘REAL’ authors?

  • pixiedust8

    He made a comment below gloating about the number of comments. Total click bait.

  • pixiedust8

    He made a comment below gloating about the number of comments. Total click bait.

  • Semiiramiis

    If we were ‘living in the past’, none of this would be playing out. There would be no electronic self publishing, and there wouldn’t be this forum. The very core to this is that we are NOT living in the past anymore. That we now have access to other venues. If we were truly ‘living in the past’, our only option would be traditional print publishers and this would all be a moot point.

  • Semiiramiis

    If we were ‘living in the past’, none of this would be playing out. There would be no electronic self publishing, and there wouldn’t be this forum. The very core to this is that we are NOT living in the past anymore. That we now have access to other venues. If we were truly ‘living in the past’, our only option would be traditional print publishers and this would all be a moot point.

  • R. L. Wicke

    Damnit. Next time you get to edit my replies first.

  • R. L. Wicke

    Damnit. Next time you get to edit my replies first.

  • pixiedust8

    If you receive ANY money for something, you are a professional. (For example, professional cheerleaders make almost no money, but they are not amateur cheerleaders. Still, they all have other jobs.)

    The VAST majority of writers (both traditional and self-published) do not make their living from writing. If they do, they often ghostwrite a series or ghostwrite other types of books.

  • pixiedust8

    If you receive ANY money for something, you are a professional. (For example, professional cheerleaders make almost no money, but they are not amateur cheerleaders. Still, they all have other jobs.)

    The VAST majority of writers (both traditional and self-published) do not make their living from writing. If they do, they often ghostwrite a series or ghostwrite other types of books.

  • pixiedust8

    Hugh Howey did not sign away his digital rights. He did sign with publishers to get his books in bookstores, but was in a position where he felt as though it was a true partnership. So, yes, I think things are changing. I also think POD may eventually change those paper rights contracts.

  • pixiedust8

    Hugh Howey did not sign away his digital rights. He did sign with publishers to get his books in bookstores, but was in a position where he felt as though it was a true partnership. So, yes, I think things are changing. I also think POD may eventually change those paper rights contracts.

  • pixiedust8

    You’ve obviously never heard about the meltdowns Ayelet Waldman and Emily Giffin (both traditionally published, very successful authors) have had online over bad reviews (although Ayelet melts down pretty regularly). Also, Bret Easton Ellis freaks out all the time. Spines of steel, my ass.

  • pixiedust8

    You’ve obviously never heard about the meltdowns Ayelet Waldman and Emily Giffin (both traditionally published, very successful authors) have had online over bad reviews (although Ayelet melts down pretty regularly). Also, Bret Easton Ellis freaks out all the time. Spines of steel, my ass.

  • Mitch Lavender

    I’m self published and I do not disagree with this guy, but it’s worrisome that this is important enough to him that he drags it through cheese and back, wanting to debate it at the industry level.

    It’s a very difficult field. Back off. “Self-Published” says all you need to know about a self-published
    author and if someone wants to feel important for self-publishing something, let them. Hell, some self-published authors even make a living off of their writing. What would you call them? Professional Self-Publishers?

    It gets sillier the more seriously you take it.

  • Mitch Lavender

    I’m self published and I do not disagree with this guy, but it’s worrisome that this is important enough to him that he drags it through cheese and back, wanting to debate it at the industry level.

    It’s a very difficult field. Back off. “Self-Published” says all you need to know about a self-published
    author and if someone wants to feel important for self-publishing something, let them. Hell, some self-published authors even make a living off of their writing. What would you call them? Professional Self-Publishers?

    It gets sillier the more seriously you take it.

  • tink333

    What you have written above is your OPINION. Glad you have one. Glad you think your thoughts are relevant and think so much of what you do. Do you think anyone would care much if Goodreads wasn’t the name behind you?

    And though you believe your writing is “1000% more compelling and powerful than 10,000 indie novels,” that you believe sitting high on your hill and throwing stones at indie publishers is “moving the digital publishing industry forward” is tragic and sad.

    Perhaps if you talked to some successful indie authors like Amanda Hocking, John Locke, E. L. James, or Hugh Howey, you might fill your articles with fact instead of poorly written fiction.

  • tink333

    What you have written above is your OPINION. Glad you have one. Glad you think your thoughts are relevant and think so much of what you do. Do you think anyone would care much if Goodreads wasn’t the name behind you?

    And though you believe your writing is “1000% more compelling and powerful than 10,000 indie novels,” that you believe sitting high on your hill and throwing stones at indie publishers is “moving the digital publishing industry forward” is tragic and sad.

    Perhaps if you talked to some successful indie authors like Amanda Hocking, John Locke, E. L. James, or Hugh Howey, you might fill your articles with fact instead of poorly written fiction.

  • Paul Juser

    Maybe you should stop worrying about other people and proofread your own writing a little better, Blogger.

  • Paul Juser

    Maybe you should stop worrying about other people and proofread your own writing a little better, Blogger.

  • Rysa Walker

    Sorry, but even Sesame Street understands that an author is “someone who writes books and stories.” Maybe you should watch this tutorial from our furry friend Grover: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oSkuz4BiTbU&list=TLm1IwnSHZgTn8ylg_FnDNbZqS2YoA9EZC

  • Rysa Walker

    Sorry, but even Sesame Street understands that an author is “someone who writes books and stories.” Maybe you should watch this tutorial from our furry friend Grover: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oSkuz4BiTbU&list=TLm1IwnSHZgTn8ylg_FnDNbZqS2YoA9EZC

  • Michael Kozlowski

    Does not surprise me that your maturity and writing level is the equivalent of sesame street.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    Does not surprise me that your maturity and writing level is the equivalent of sesame street.

  • Rysa Walker

    Doesn’t surprise me that you have no sense of humor.

  • Lynne Cantwell

    Chaunce! (waves)

  • ValdaDeDieu

    Someone has MAJOR BEEF with self-published authors. Instead of the old aphorism “a writer writes”, he
    wants it changed to “get published by a publishing company, getting paid 7 cents per copy, and getting
    another contract only if the first book sells, while your copyright remains with said company for
    years, and you do a publicity grind that could give a hobo nightmares…” Yes, that.

    Well, to dispute every single one of your points: Any well-written book which entertains, inspires, causes introspection, etc… is worthwhile, self-pubbed or not. The difference being that while the starving writer “waits” to be discovered, going through rejection after rejection –from agents– the self-pubbed author with shrewd usage of Social Media and Indie Author networks can begin making 35 cents to 70 cents PER COPY.

    Publishing houses are no guarantee of quality. They publish what they imagine is going to sell via mainstream. Ergo: Snooki’s bio. ‘Nuff said.

    And on the other end of the spectrum, Publishing companies also publish pretentious garbage that people buy and do not read.

    Books are supposed to change lives, and perspectives. To that end, if you’re a self-pubbed author
    who’s received even ONE email like this: …”I couldn’t put your book down, purchased all of them at once-Uncover What’s Hidden, The Gold Standard, all the bundles. It was so profound, so deep, I felt like I could see it, feel it. I hated when it ended. I was outraged over the child abuse and cheering for the heroine, and so very happy for everyone in the end. By the way, *Theresa rocks, (though I have been unable to finish her story yet.”…shay777 DECEMBER 17, 2010 04:38 PM…” Then pat yourself on the back, and go write another book. You are an author. And a damned good one.

    Writing is work. Often it is hard work. And it is solitary work. So please take your condescending tone elsewhere. It has no validity in this new reality. A writer writes. And a good writer, self-pubbed, is indeed an author. You cannot take that away, anymore than you can take away sheer talent by jealousy, wishful thinking or retrograde ideology.

  • Keith Taylor

    If the entire publishing industry pays attention to what you say, Michael, it would explain why the publishing industry is struggling so much. You, sir, are crazier than a bag of snakes.

  • Hedonist Six

    Well, isn’t that just hugely arrogant and a massive slap in the face to the writing community, bravo. So basically, if you’re not Dan Brown and rolling in cash, you’re not an author?

  • Michael Kozlowski

    If you make your living from writing books, you are a professional author. If you don’t, you are a writer. Hey, i mean B+ is still good right?

  • http://www.jmichaelgorday.com J. Michael Gorday

    Interesting proposition. I can attest that I have thought about this conundrum as well. It
    seems that the only factor here to designate a specific ‘title’, though, is
    financial compensation.

    I suppose in that sense, that Van Gogh was a complete failure
    and shouldn’t be considered a painter, since, out of the some odd 900 pieces of
    work he created, he only sold 1 during his lifetime. Or, if it is preferred to
    keep it in the realm of writing, I guess that Kafka, or Poe, or Lovecraft,
    among others, were not authors either, since they were lauded only after
    death.

    I reckon that as a ‘writer’, ‘author’, ‘storyteller’, I need to
    make sure that I identify my credentials along with a royalty summary. If, by
    this same designation, we should also assume that someone who self publishes a
    novel is a writer, then a ‘blogger’ should not delineate themselves with the
    title of writer. Or do we need to attach a dollar figure to that as well?

    I am particularly insulted by the idea that it is ‘easier’ for a
    self publisher to ‘make money’. Yes, the potential royalty for a self published
    novel is a higher percentage than one offered through the traditional method,
    but the full responsibility of marketing lies squarely upon the shoulders of
    the person that dares call himself or herself an author. Which, by the way, comes
    without the benefit of having a publishing house run a full scale distribution
    that nets royalty payments simply by virtue of passive shopping.

    I certainly can understand the problem. Self publishing allows
    anyone and everyone that slaps together a few thousand words the freedom to
    share their work, even if he or she doesn’t understand the basics of grammar or
    editing. But then, there are plenty of reprehensible pieces out there fostered
    on the public by the established industry. It is a mistake to believe
    that this is the only reasons why self publishing exists.

    In the end, if Mr. Kozlowski is particularly confused about what
    others call themselves, then there really is nothing to be concerned about. If
    he would like to laugh about it, then so be it. But, what is truly being
    devalued here is not what people call themselves, but the work that it takes to
    write a novel. Putting it down to a certain dollar figure is not the only
    factor in whether someone is an author or not. In our society, merit does not
    necessarily equal financial success.

    Just ask Poe . . . oh, wait.

  • Massim0Marin0

    Why did you delete my reply? LOL. Pathetic.

  • Massim0Marin0

    Publishing deals are ridiculous. If your book sells a publishing deal for a debut author is laughable. As I said, I refused $2000 advance, 10% royalties, give up my rights for 15 years and no marketing plan. Sorry pal, I make the $2000 advance regularly, at 10% I should have waited to sell for $20000 before getting more royalties paid twice a year.

    Publishing industry has lost the grip with reality. Unless they change what they offer writers, writers are not even looking at getting a contract with a publishing house. Get me a 6 digit check with at least a 5 as first digit and I might change my mind.

    There are loads of authors who are just waiting to get their rights back and forget about the publishing industry as it is now.

    How’s 70% royalties with respect to 10%? marvelous, thanks. I get 4 digit cheques from Amazon every month, and my books, with the publisher would have waited something like 18 months before hitting the store. I’m ahead by far money wise, thank you very much.

    And your narrow vision makes you equate self-publishing ONLY with the published slush-pile. Sorry pal, publishing houses have little to offer a good writer now that they are not the only one channel to be read by readers. An Indie writer has his group of beta-reader, hires his proofreader, works with an editor and is in the black if his book is good.

    Sure, there’s lots of crap out there, but it seems you only see that. Mind raise your head a bit from the dung? Just a suggestion :)

    This might open your eyes, maybe. It is the most common situation for ‘published authors’ : http://massimomarinoauthor.com/best-selling-authors-arent-making-minimum-wage/

    And, BTW, I qualify for full membership with the Authors Guild, but I couldn’t care less. I don’t need an “Author Guild Membership card” to have my readers know that I’m the author of the novels they buy and appreciate.

    —-
    Don’t delete it again, will’ya? LOL

  • Hans Cummings

    Why do we need to tell the difference? If one purchases a novel, whether in print or electronic form, and enjoys it, does it really matter if it was vetted and published by a legacy publishers or whether it was indie published? I have read novels published by legacy publishers, wholly vetted by agents and editors from on high that were utter CRAP. I’ve read novels by indie publishers that were crap. I’ve read novels by both legacy publishers and indie publishers that were excellent.

    If legacy publishers weren’t worried about the indie press revolution, I doubt they’d be spending this much time, effort, and money trying to discredit and slap labels on indie publishers. Some articles make it sound like legacy publishers want to slap warning stickers on indie published books, point at the authors and shout “UNCLEAN! UNCLEAN!” I do not believe for ONE minute they have altruistic motives. I believe they see money being siphoned out of their pockets by people who have gone around the antiquated system they’ve set up and are DESPERATE to stop it.

    Legacy publishing is making the same mistakes the music industry did when artists started selling songs in MP3 format. I support authors, not publishers because authors make the art. Without authors, there would be no publishers.

  • Bite Me

    I’m the hand that feeds you. So much of the advertising on this site is directed at “indie, self-published ___s” who do you think is paying YOU for your hate?

  • Jackie Burhans

    I’m confused as to how the publishing mechanism matter. If we go with these definitions by Mike Conway, aren’t you still a Professional Author, even though self-published, if you make a living off of finished works?

  • Victoria Hamilton

    Really? In what part of the industry are you known? My point is, you aren’t addressing those who simply ask, first, why is definition necessary? But I would add, who is going to police this distinction of ‘real’ authors versus those who are self or small press published? How are you going to enforce it? There is a reason it is illegal to call yourself a doctor or police officer and not illegal to call yourself a writer, author, artist, singer, photographer; that’s because in the first instance it matters, and in the second it doesn’t. And yes, by your definition I am a ‘real’ author, since I am published by Berkley and make my living as an author.

  • Victoria Hamilton

    I would say your reality is one thing, and another person’s reality something entirely different. I am, by the blog writer’s definition, a ‘real’ author, and I don’t believe there needs to be such distinctions. It’s silly semantics.

    Who is going to make up the definitions? Who is going to enforce them? And if it is unenforceable, then what is the point? To make a few bewildered folk more comfortable because they can define something?

    I don’t think anyone is being mean, I just think they’re being pretentious and condescending.

  • Victoria Hamilton

    Not true… some big name authors are going in the other direction, deciding against taking the contract a publishing house is offering and self-publishing instead.

  • Victoria Hamilton

    Exactly!!! And we’re falling for it, I suppose, but the discussion does no one harm, even though his premise is silly and his comments even more so. He told me he’s well known. Too bad I’ll have to take that as his own estimation, as I’ve never heard of him, not that that means he isn’t well known.

  • Victoria Hamilton

    tink333… are you sure he is associated with Goodreads? This is ‘goodereader’, which I assume is not associated with Goodreads. I’ve never heard of it myself, nor him, until someone posted the piece on FB. BTW, he’s getting what he wants, which is notoriety and clicks.

  • Rysa Walker

    Sorry! Didn’t see that you’d already posted this. :/

  • Rysa Walker

    But what if people buy that self-published book and really like it? One of the best books I read last year (and I read a *lot* of books) was self-published. I’d never have found that book if the author — and yes, he *is* an author–had not decided that system is broken. He took the initiative and economic risk (even if it’s a small one) and self-published. Eventually, it’s going to pay off for him, as it has for many others. And I really think you’re missing a key point here– for most authors, publishing a book isn’t about “winning.” A book is not a trophy to stare at. It’s an interactive medium that others can see and judge on their own. Why are agents and publishers better qualified to determine value than actual readers?

  • Victoria Hamilton

    Now, why do you assume I am ‘indie slime’? Curiouser and curiouser.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    I added a brand new video to further the debate!

  • Michael Kozlowski

    If you earn a living from your books, you are a professional author.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    I am not hating anything, it is a valid discussion/talking point

  • Michael Kozlowski

    The problem is, by 2020, 50% of all published books will be self-published. We need to have this debate now, or so many titles will be flooding the market that we will have another million or two million people calling themselves “Authors”

  • Michael Kozlowski

    I realize writing is hard. Look at this way, but 2020 50% of all eBooks will be self-published. Does that mean we will have another 2 million people calling themselves authors. Does that mean suddenly there are more good books on the market? The ratio between good and bad books will further widen. We need to have this discussion now on proper author classifications before the word “Author” loses all meaning.

  • Michael Kozlowski

    Whether you are self-published or traditionally published does not matter. If you derive a living from writing you are professional, if not, well..

  • Michael Kozlowski

    I am not insulting any specific group.

  • ValdaDeDieu

    Everyone has a story to tell. Some have more stories to tell, and more ability to tell stories than others. It should not be the exclusive domain of a publishing company who gets to tell, and who doesn’t.

    To put it in another way: It’s more important that all the right stories get told, even if it means everyone gets the title “author”, than the “right people” – who decides?– get to tell whatever they wish.

    Once upon a time it was thought that the printing press would kill literature, and only
    “the few learned scribes” should read or write, because having “the great unwashed masses” have unrestricted access to books would somehow “dilute” culture, and learning. Instead, it led to the Renaissance. It led to people, everywhere becoming aware of the sovereignty of the souls, minds, bodies. It led to revolutions, and the beginnings of what we now know as Democracy.

    We have kids being bankrupted by College Educations before they even (properly) begin their lives. We have Corporations preying on the populace like so many vultures on the living dead. We have a Capitalistic system that does nothing for human beings except to make them cash machines– and consumers of garbage sold to them — for propping up of an elite 1%, which strives to keep them that way.

    The humble ebook and ebook author may just be harbingers of the next (very necessary) giant step in humanity’s evolution.

  • Massim0Marin0

    You are connecting two events that are totally unrelated to each other. Even before 2020 the majority of ebooks will be from Authors who are not represented by any agent or any publishing house because they will earn more being Indie and have more readership.

    Whether you insist in calling them ‘mere writers’ non-professional Authors, word-pushers, wordsmiths, amateur-word-cook, they will make more money than with a contract as concocted by publishing houses that dig their head in the sand. Get over it, Michael, your taxonomy is useless. For the readers who buy their books they’ll be Authors no matter what a Michael Kozlowski will shout against the tornado: “NOOOOO, They’re not Authors, they’re writers”.

    Can’t you hear the echo?

    Besides, there’s NO ONE here that can have a discussion on a proper author classification, and not certainly on ‘making a living out of their books’ which touches nothing on the quality of the work. An Author is someone who moves readers with his work, that captures their imaginations and have them asking for more. Not if he makes ‘at least’ a certain dollar figure that is irrelevant, depends on life style, on the country the author lives in, and how satisfied he can be with his material possession.

    Money, to judge a good author, is the most ridicule thing I’ve ever heard.

  • Massim0Marin0

    http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/mar/13/steven-berkoff-self-publishing-bad-news

    and Pulitzer prize-winner David Mamet’s decision to go it alone last year “because I am a curmudgeon, and because publishing is like Hollywood – nobody ever does the marketing they promise”. The bestselling author and mountaineer Joe Simpson, meanwhile, set up his own digital publishing company last year after falling out with his publisher.

    There, Michael, you’ve lost three more Authors. They decided it’s better to be ‘mere writers’.

  • Semiiramiis

    Who are you trying to fool with this post, yourself or us?

  • Day_is_Over

    Because agents and publishers offer quality control. Most of the self published stuff is riddled with errors, inconsistencies, and over all bad writing. Even worse there is the idea that you will self publish your worst stuff and forever ruin your name as a writer.

    If I had self published my first novel I would have kicked myself later.

    I kept writing until an agent liked something I wrote. When that book gets published it will have gone through many eyes catching many errors. It will be the best book it can be.

    This is only possible if you pay your dues, get criticized, and force yourself to work harder and get better at writing.

    Now I know what you’ll say next, “published stuff has errors.” Well some do, most don’t, In fact many of them really don’t. “Well fifty shades of gray was crap and that got published.”

    Well…perhaps…but the agent and publisher who took it on were right. It sold to it’s audience. An audience who likes it. And at the end of the day Fifty Shades is not the norm for this industry.

  • Day_is_Over

    Please give me the name of your novel and your published author name.

    I mean this sounds all well and good. How about some proof?

  • Keith Taylor

    You want me to post my personal information on a public forum? Given that doing so would likely result in a slew of retaliatory one star reviews posted by those who oppose self-publishing I think I’ll pass. Believe me or don’t, it really doesn’t matter.

  • Keith Taylor

    … And the sky will come tumbling down.

  • Keith Taylor

    “I kept writing until an agent liked something I wrote.”

    I kept writing until readers liked something I wrote.

  • Rysa Walker

    Wool also sold to an audience who liked it. So has A. G. Riddle’s Atlantis Gene books, and so have many, many other self-published works that might never have found that audience if they’d waited on an agent and then on a publisher to give the thumbs up. The public can read the first chapter and decide if it’s worth their $5 or, often, less. And *smart* self-publishers hire editors and proofreaders.

  • Hans Cummings

    So? Who gives a rat’s ass what they call themselves? I only judge one thing when I read a book: Was it good (by whatever metric I’m using at the time)? Everything else is trivia. The author could call themselves the King of San Francisco and I wouldn’t care as long as I enjoyed the art.

  • Victoria Hamilton

    Somehow my response was deleted. Michael, why do you assume I am ‘indie slime’, whatever that means?

  • Day_is_Over

    Hey, if you wanna tarnish your name until you finally stop sucking it’s a gamble. By then readers will know your name and avoid it. Fail as much as you can but not in the public eye.

    Readers are not forgiving and you rarely get a second chance to impress them.

  • Day_is_Over

    That’s what I thought. Nice story though. I mean…I totally believe you anonymous internet person with tons of success.

  • Day_is_Over

    Rarely are agents and publishers ever proven wrong. If they passed on a novel there’s a good reason. And I’m sure the horrible kindle sales of said book are proof enough that they were right.

    I think there’s this myth that everything agents are passing up is genius and doing SO WELL being self published.

    Truth is most indie books sit on amazon, unsold, unreviewed, and collecting virtual dust mites.

  • Keith Taylor

    Enjoy your disbelief. I’ll just go ahead and keep cashing those royalty cheques regardless.

  • Day_is_Over

    What fascinates me is that it exists solely in the world of writing. No other profession really has to deal with this. I guess it’s because writing is personal.

    You can upload an iphone video onto youtube. Does that make you a filmmaker? If your youtube video gets a million hits does that make you a celebrity?

  • Day_is_Over

    Go right ahead Mr. Internet. Go right ahead. I’ll be cashing my royalty checks as well. Excuse me my super model girlfriend is calling me.

  • Massim0Marin0

    If you post an hour length movie and they pay you $3.99 for every of that million hits I bet you’ll be laughing all the way to the bank and to whoever will stop you to say “You’re not a filmmaker”.

  • Massim0Marin0

    What is fascinating is that every art has their Indie artists but only in writing they are vilified. Sure, the slush pile gets published in Amazon too, so what? That’s not what an Indie writer does.

  • Massim0Marin0

    Besides, as we already stated before, the Authors Guild, which Michael Koz here admitted and stated are the only one serious about what is writing and what is an author accepts Indie writers subscriptions and membership. You should join Michael and go complaining with the Authors Guild of America Board members and tell them they are idiots who do not understand anything about writing.

  • Keith Taylor

    Good God, you’re unpleasant.

  • Rysa Walker

    And how would you know that publishers and agents are rarely proven wrong? How many publishers passed on J.K. Rowling’s work? Were they not wrong in failing to recognize the potential for sales? Almost every author who lands an agent and goes on to success was turned down by numerous agents and publishing houses, who didn’t appreciate the work or didn’t think it was commerically viable. Every single one of those rejections was a case where the agents and publishers were proven wrong–they failed to realize that the book would strike a chord with readers. Agents and publishers are proven wrong all the time–probably even more often than they are proven right.

    And yes, most indie books do not do well. But many traditionally published books flop, too–and they have the so called professionals behind them.

    I haven’t heard *anyone* argue that all self-published books are great works of art. I’ve read a few that were far, far worse than any traditional book I’ve seen, at least in terms of the writing and editing. But you’ve said nothing at *all* to counter the primary point here. There are *some* self-published authors whose books are excellent and who spent years looking for the right “fit” with an agent or publisher before they decided to take their case to the only jury that matters–the readers.

    It’s a case of caveat emptor–as with everything else in the world. Read the book’s sample chapter and description. If they don’t strike your fancy or if you note copious errors, don’t buy the freaking book. But someone else who is less discerning (and who doesn’t mind a few typos) might read that very sample and decide to buy it. They might enjoy the same story that you hated. Why should your opinion–or that of an agent or publisher–stand in the way of that reader’s informed buying decision?

  • Keith Taylor

    Authors who can write well and take pride in their work don’t need to ask for second chances.

    All this talk of paying your dues, being knocked back by agent after agent, publisher after publisher until you finally develop the spine and sensibility required to call yourself an author… It’s nice and everything, and it strikes a chord with every aspiring author who grew up with the expectation that this was the only way it was ever going to happen, but it just isn’t a necessary rite of passage in the modern day. That’s not to say it’s not a valid path. It just isn’t the only path.

    I don’t believe my name is tarnished. I have lots of five star reviews. Many thousands of readers have my books on their Kindles. I have a fan club over a thousand members strong. It turns out you can just go straight to the reader. If you’re good enough you’ll succeed. If not, nobody will remember your name.

  • Victoria Hamilton

    You chose one anomaly and framed it in such a way that it kinda/sorta proves your point. Though not really. However… I contend that If you take photos with artistic intent, you are a photographer. If you write songs, you are a songwriter. If you write a screenplay, you are a screenwriter. If you paint a watercolor, you are a painter. If you write a book, you are an author.

    And if you make movies, yes, you are a moviemaker. Check out Lawrence Block’s The Novel: From Plot to Print for his views on the weirdness of authors only being able to be called authors if they are published.

    The very fact that there is so much discussion proves my point, I believe, that there is too much gray area to be able to define someone as an author only if they by someone’s definition, ‘make a living’ at it.

  • Be fair–acknowledge gray area

    By the standards stated through most of this article, an independent film maker is not a “professional” film maker and indie music groups are not “professional” musicians. Do you “laugh” at them too?

    In your last paragraph, you start to acknowledge that these views aren’t one sided, and truly, there are more gray areas than you’ve laid out right here. Yes, sometimes self-publishing is drivel. Sometimes it’s a heck of a lot more “professional” than books that come out of traditional presses. Ultimately, quality literature (and professional books) can come from both places, and frankly, I’m sick of living in a world in which we must be validated by the confined guidelines (come on–you know how long it takes for those traditional imprints to change) laid out by a few “chosen” people in New York. By my estimation indies are wonderful for the publishing world because they’re allowing readers–not publishers–determine what is worthy of reading.

  • Why aren’t they all authors?

    Why do we have to have the debate at all? What are you so afraid of?

  • James Phieffer

    Wow – impressive ad hominem attack, Michael. The basis for your reply is, unfortunately, nonexistent. Someone who shares his skills with others, for profit or otherwise, is not deserving of such a response. And said response speaks more to the weakness of your initial argument and your desperation to redeem the irredeemable than to any perceived weaknesses in his perspective.
    I watched your video, and found the weakness of your “argument” surprising. You could have made a valid argument regarding the difficulty of searching out the gems hidden amongst the literary ore produced by indie authors. You might have addressed a need to find a better means to sort between the various qualities of writing found in online bookstores.
    But instead you made a ridiculously weak argument, founded not on logic but on a number of inappropriate analogies. You compare indie writers calling themselves authors to you calling yourself a doctor because you have a stethoscope around your neck. Well, a real doctor is defined by studies and training resulting in a degree and certification by a legally established College of Physicians and Surgeons. Without this, practising medicine constitutes a criminal act. There is no comparable system in the world of writing. As such, the analogy is nonsensical and utterly irrelevant to any well reasoned argument.
    At this point, given your self-proclaimed position with Good E Reader – should you really be claiming to be “editor-in-chief”, just because you have your own blog and YouTube channel? – I have to wonder if my subscription to this channel isn’t a waste of free electrons…

  • James Phieffer

    How then does your opinion jibe with your self produced YouTube channel. By your own words we ought to consider indie channels like yours crap, because if you were any good you’d be on a legitimate TV network.
    But let’s say we buy into your “argument” (which is to a real argument what you suggest indie writers are to “real” authors. Then what? Are you suggesting banning self published works from online stores? Just what is your point, because so far you have completely failed to make one.

  • James Phieffer

    How then does your opinion jibe with your self produced YouTube channel. By your own words we ought to consider indie channels like yours crap, because if you were any good you’d be on a legitimate TV network.
    But let’s say we buy into your “argument” (which is to a real argument what you suggest indie writers are to “real” authors. Then what? Are you suggesting banning self published works from online stores? Just what is your point, because so far you have completely failed to make one.

  • Keith Taylor

    His solution, as he laid out in another post, is that self-published books would be moved to a separate ‘ghetto’ section of websites such as Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, etc. while ‘real’ books published in the traditional fashion would populate the main sections. When asked to explain just why this would be a good thing he’s suspiciously silent.

  • John Guzzardo

    I’m not entirely sure what the motivation behind this is, but the concept of calling someone an “Author” when they complete a work is, by definition, accurate. That said, the qualifier on this is “complete;” there are a lot of so-called “works” out there which are written but FAR from complete. Just like I would never trust myself to diagnose my cat’s health issues, I would never allow myself to declare victory with a completed manuscript until it has been edited by a professional editor (yes, PAYING someone makes a difference), printed by a publishing house, and marketed either by myself or by a marketing agency. Making a living off something does not itself make your a “professional author.” It just means you are a SUCCESSFUL professional author. The second you get PAID to do ANYTHING, that makes you a professional. That said, I agree that there a lot of writers out there who are trying to style themselves as “authors,” but the real term should be “aspiring author.” That title suggests one is trying, still a bit amateur, and is very much learning the nature of the business. Beyond that, however, the notion that 50% of all books published by 2020 will be selfies is not cause for alarm. It actually means the cream will rise to the top, and those who do rise will be VERY EASY TO SPOT!

  • KKK

    And if we don’t label and pigeonhole content creators by 2020 society will collapse. We MUST have separate bathrooms for “authors” and “writers” before this gets out of control!

  • Franklin Ayers

    Yeah, everyone is an author, an artist and an actor now. Do you need to go through any kind of critical process where your work is evaluated. Nah just throw stuff out there and see what sticks. I pretty much agree with the statement of the headline here.

  • Logician

    Oh, how I love a specious argument. I think that Michael’s point would be valid if he said there was a lot of self-published crap out there, and stopped there. That is true. But saying that a piece of work is crap simply because it is self-published is false logic. That’s like saying there are blue M&Ms, therefore all M&Ms are blue. There’s also a lot of trad pubbed crap out there. Has anyone looked at the jumbled bargain cart near the checkout at B&N lately?

    Frankly, if self pubbers are going to be labeled as “mere writers”, they should own it, make it their own and be proud of it. Doing everything yourself shouldn’t be damning, it should be praising. “He’s a self-made man” is not considered a damnation, it’s considered the highest of praise. For those in this discussion who are self-pubbed, I can pretty much guarantee that getting their work out there means they not only wrote it, they had it professionally edited, hired a professional graphic artist to design their covers and navigated the tricky waters of promotion by themselves. They sought out professionals who helped them make their work the best it could be. Why? Because they want to to be professional and most of all, they want their audience of readers to be satisfied.

    Do you know how the US government defines professional? According the IRS, the difference between a hobbyist and a professional is intent. That’s it. Intent. It’s not whether they reached a certain financial threshold, you get a lot of years to make that cut off, it’s whether or not your treat yourself as a business. If you put money into improving the possibility of making income at what you’re doing, that shows intent. So, by that definition, Michael’s argument of $1,000 doesn’t even get supported by the people who care most about how much money someone makes.

  • Alys B. Cohen-Sacred Blood Aut

    I love the argument that indie work is all trash. Last time I looked into it, a traditional publishing deal was no indication of quality either. Take Twilight and Fifty Shades, for examples.

  • Kaye Linden

    What one should look at is the downloaded sample of writing – whichever “type” of publishing it is. Does the writing suck or is it amazing? Are there any mistakes at all? Does it hook you as a reader? If it does, the author is a writer. Kaye Linden

  • http://www.expandbeyondyourself.com/ Michal

    Less than 50% traditionally published authors earn more than $1000 a year: https://www.mediabistro.com/galleycat/most-authors-make-less-than-1000-a-year-dbw_b81862
    I earn more as an indie.
    “Someone who makes a living from writing” is hard to define, too. My royalties are about 50% more than the average salary in my country, but I don’t live from it…

  • http://kitchenmadeabs.com Bill Gates

    Kind of in the same respect as everyone seems to be a personal trainer or fitness professional or health coach… but they’re not healthy themselves…. Interesting.

  • Francesco
  • Scott Bland

    Spoken as someone that has never created and only criticized.

  • llee611838

    I had one traditionally published book, with a mid-sized publisher who shall remain nameless that literally paid me no money. It was an early book of mine, a royalty only contract– no advance– and every time I got a royalty statement somehow the accounting was such that I owed them money. Theoretically I probably could have sued or hired my own accountant to go over their books, but that is hard to do in practice when you’ve been paid no money for your work.

    So I do agree that there needs to be some way to distinguish work of professional quality from amateur, the amount of money it makes is not the best way to determine that.

  • llee611838

    All indie work is not trash. On the other hand, even trash novels by traditional publishers are generally copy edited and professionally laid out. That can not be said for a lot of titles uploaded to Smashwords.

  • michaelsullivan

    The title of this piece seems designed to be click bait. Especially given that you say in your piece that it’s the ability to earn that should be the deciding factor and you recognize, “it is easier to make money by going indie.” So ipso facto self-published authors should earn the title of author more often than traditionally published writers. Do you have any idea how many traditionally published authors never make a single dime? Quite a few. When I was published through a small press I got no advance and while I was due royalties they were never paid. Other authors I know earn much less than minimum wage having received contracts for $15,000 for three books that has taken then multiple years to produce.

    I agree with you that making money through self is easier than traditional. And I know more self-published authors earning a full-time wage than I do traditionally published ones (almost all of whom have day jobs).

    At the end of the day. I agree with Mike who said:

    Writer – Someone who writes stuff.
    Author – A writer that creates a finished work.
    Professional Author – An author that makes a living off of finished works.

  • http://TheUnnovelist.com The Unnovelist

    “Author” is what readers and others in the publishing industry call writers. And in this
    industry there is a distinction. Like many professions, publishing is a
    sub-culture with its own language and practices. You won’t (and haven’t in the
    history of literature) hear a writer refer to himself as an author.

    How can you discern who’s the real deal? You’ve raised an important issue. As a
    writer eager to support others pursuing the craft, I’ve wanted to address the
    topic but haven’t found an appropriate time or place.

    The issue is important because it’s a disservice to call yourself an author. This
    is not a benign synonym swop. Words have connotations, and writers are in the
    business of sifting them to arrive at the finest distinctions.

    Please understand that I’m not trying to take anything away from anyone. I do
    hope, though, if you’re one of the myriad twitter “authors”, you’ll
    hear me out and consider tweaking your bio. The self-title does not say
    credibility. On the contrary, it’s sabotaging your promotional efforts.

    What does the title say? Well, the connotation isn’t good. I’ll give you a minute
    to brace for it.

    As an aside, you can call anyone you want an author. That’s the reader’s prerogative.
    To call yourself an author, though, assumes an industry representation and breeches
    a cultural taboo because, in the industry ‘the author’ is a public persona. It belongs
    to the public. It’s an illusion of the person who wrote such-and-such, kind of
    like a celebrity is an illusion. (We call them stars, but do actors refer to
    themselves as stars?).

    Have you ever wondered why our forerunners, in their prodigious books and letters on
    the art, didn’t refer to themselves as authors? Dickens, Flaubert, Nabakov, Woolfe,
    Wilde, Hemingway…? They called themselves writers because that’s what they
    were. They lived and breathed and owned their craft. They had to write and they
    approached their work with the diligence and sensitivity of artists. They
    produced works that earned them the honor of calling themselves writers.

    From the beginnings of the novel up until the self-publishing boom, the question as
    to where to draw the line in the side referred to the credentials that allowed
    someone to wear the mantle of writer. It’s ironic, huh? With the birth of the internet, though, as some see it everyone’s a writer. Maybe that’s why so many self-published writers—who, after all, are
    more than bloggers, as they’ve completed a book-length manuscript—are reaching
    for something they perceive as higher? I’m just guessing. I don’t have a clue
    why people are calling themselves authors.

    I would, though, put money on it that they’re self-published. I’d also put money
    on it that they’ve had limited study. I realize that’s offensive, but my goal
    is to demonstrate where the connotations I alluded to earlier come from. To call yourself an author is such a vast departure from anything circulating in formal and informal coursework.

    So if writers aren’t calling themselves authors… then the only people calling
    themselves authors are those eager to name-and-claim their careers. That’s
    where deduction lends itself to connotation. When I see the author title, I see
    amateur. As a writer and a committed reader, I don’t have the time for a free download.

    That sounds harsh, but it’s a reality with veteran writers and readers alike. It makes no difference to me if you call yourself an Ompaloompa. I weighed in because, as unpalatable as this comment might be, I believe it’s a more advantageous practice.

  • MK

    This is probably the best response I’ve read. Short and to the point. Nicely done.

  • zabs

    IF this article is true, then that applies to all the Pros who are self pubbing, and so is a LIE. A complete idiot spoken fabrication. Author means writer and finisher of a book, or did the author not take the third grade? Please. such idiocy. There are BEST SELLING SELF-PUBLISHED AUTHORS. In fact the big six are going the way of the dinosaur. Who thinks these idiot articles up?

  • Jennifer

    How are you supposed to make the “real money” that qualifies you for genuine authorship as an independent if you’re cast into shelving exile? He’s not asking for a type of standard, he’s just throwing down on self-publishers.

  • AlwaysInTao

    I’ve written 17 books, all are available through amazon or createspace. The books aren’t bestsellers, most have been top downloads, I consider myself an author as do the thousands of other authors who are familiar with my work. The bottom line is simple, if it were up to someone else to decide what to call my efforts they would only hesitate to call me an author if they had issues with my work selling. That would be a critic, and whether a critic is justified or not they are simply a critic. Not many of us are honestly concerned with the standard of the publishing industry because the publishing industry is a sham, between the prerequisites of literary agents, editors, and prepaid marketing agents the only difference between me and a published author is how much I paid to publish. We don’t all have time to wait a year for a book to reach the shelf, nor do we all want to wait to get screwed by bad agents, bad marketers, or evil publishing houses. If anything the self published author often the better informed writer.

  • asdfjbk

    The irony here is that we have a person telling others there need to be standards when it is obvious he did not even proofread his own work.

  • asdfjbk

    If you limit yourself with the word “aspiring”, you are saying you are not good enough. I’ve written a book, had it professionally edited, and I’m currently shopping it around. Not once did I ever use the word “aspiring”, though, because I didn’t aspire to do anything: I just did it.

    With your definition, however, that “aspiring author” could be “a bit amateurish, and is very much learning the nature of the business”, it ignores the fact that there are a lot of traditionally published writers who jump in with both feet without knowing what the hell is going on. That’s how some writers get swindled out of their earnings.

  • http://goodereader.com Michael Kozlowski

    You are limiting yourself by shopping out a book when its done, and not early in the game to get a feel of the market. I would say your not even a serious writer.

  • John Guzzardo

    I stand corrected then. Thank you for that.

  • asdfjbk

    Who is to say I did not look around? I know which publishers are looking for the type of novel I’ve written. If they want it, then they will accept it. However, I am sure that even if the publishers I have sent it to do not want it, I can take comfort in knowing that I know the difference between “its” and “it’s” and “your” and “you’re”.

    If you want anyone to take you seriously, Mr. Kozlowski, perhaps you should take time to proofread your own work. That is the a key hallmark of a serious writer.

  • synaesthesia

    “If you can earn your living from your writing, you are a professional author, anyone else is just a plain old writer.”

    Okay so by that logic, people who have novels published my major publishing houses that don’t yet make a living from their writing are not authors either, right? Yet a self published writer who makes more than a living with their writing STILL isn’t a writer because they’re self published, correct?

    I find it interesting how the elitist attitude about this whole thing still endures. And the humorous part is that attitudes like this from people who may or may not even BE writers are spewing this type of vitriol, while actual authors are traditionally and/or self publishing, making a living and more, and generally enjoying life despite this pointless negativity. You want to sit around arguing over a term? Knock yourself out. The rest of us will continue publishing via self and/or traditional means and enjoying our lives.

    This is just ridiculous.

  • Robin Peacock

    This man, if I can call him that, is simply a deluded self parody of a low life bottom feeding moron with pretensions of elitism. He failed in every respect..

  • JimOtis

    How utterly pompous and inane.

  • Paul Juser

    Is there a second part to this article where you finish your thought, or are you ending on a quote you made up?

  • A.B. Lancer, II

    Soooo, Michael, if a person writes something, no matter how important the content, never gets it published by Big Boy Publisher, then that writer, or if it’s a team of writers, cannot claim to be authors? Hmmmm. May I direct your attention to the greatest AUTHORS of important creations in AMERICA? The writers of the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution of The United States of America. Their gift to this country is the most valuable (except the Holy Bible) and it was not published by a major publisher until later. It was SELF PUBLISHED. Now, stop worrying about your vanity. If you are indeed a great author, everyone will know it. If you’re not, they’ll remember you as the guy who wanted to control other people’s lives.

  • Guest

    Thank you so much, Michael, for talking some sense!! I would further the discussion by saying that the distinction isn’t so much in the word “writer” or “author” but in the understanding of a difference between hobby and profession. For instance, in my off time I like to watch movies and comment to my friends about them–that doesn’t make me a reviewer or critic, professional or otherwise. It’s a hobby. I don’t categorize myself by it with any term. Similarly, I agree that the line between hobbyist writer and professional writer has been blurred by a few factors: the ease of self-publishing, as you point out; but also the degradation in education and understanding of language, literature, and standards of good storytelling; and let’s not forget the massive industry built around the “amateur struggling writer.” There are books, magazines, conferences, lectures that depend on a large segment of indie/hobbyist writers for their bread and butter. It’s in their best interest to push things like the “write a book in a month” contest, which, in my opinion, only serves to delude would-be writers into thinking they’re the real deal and encouraging them by citing the small amount of formulaic, established authors who can get away with writing quickly. My litmus test for whether someone is a real writer vs. a hobbyist? The minute someone gets defensive about any of this, doesn’t think there’s always more to learn about writing or publishing, is content with the mediocrity of a couple hundred sales of their work on Amazon, or thinks they can beat the tried-and-true system of years of hard work and dedication it takes to be a respected author, I know I’m talking to a hobbyist. Thanks again for a fantastic article, Michael – it was refreshing to read.

  • Claudia Yullisa

    I’m writing my own books and yes I’m looking to publishing them through the system, but personally a book is a book if published, and an author is an author if they had written a story of their own. It shouldn’t matter really, I’m not saying I’m one to be called a professional writer. Let’s be honest, I’m a writer that loves to write because it’s something I’m good at. I’m not trying to be something that I’m not, I don’t take the honor of being a professional writer because I know how hard it is for books to be published and gain popularity and readers. Those who are professional, I admire and respect them. I’m not putting myself as one of them, but as a writer who would like an opportunity in the writing industry. I see your POV, and I respect your opinion but sometimes you have to mature up and just let others try to be what they love to do. They may not be making money from it for a living, but they’re doing something that they love to do. I’m an a soon to be author once my books are finished, that’s all i had to say!

  • Claudia Yullisa

    yes, I actually agree but I see it in a different POV. It’s understandable of these ‘writers’ and their false honor, but let’s be honest with ourselves, authors are still writing and they still have their readers and they’re still here aren’t they? They’re still writing and people read after them, and they know their name. But there’s always armatures who want a chance, it’s true, it shouldn’t be that easy to just upload a book and call themselves a true author, they should go through the system and do what every author had to do to get where they are. But in the other hand, there’s always going to b people who want to try and become an author themselves, and if people are enjoying their writing they are technically a known author to those people.

  • Claudia Yullisa

    lol, i love your remark! prove him right!

  • John Carl

    I have read far more BAD novels than good – and I mean actual novels, published by reputable printing houses. So, should I consider them authors, just because they knew someone in the business or were good schmoozers and somehow got themselves published in the traditional fashion? I say, NO!

    On the other hand, I have read quite a number of GREAT novels that were self-published on Kindle, Nook and iBooks. Gripping stories with wonderful characters that took me to another time and place and made my socks roll up and down. And yet, in spite of the pleasure I experienced reading their work (which I paid for, mind you), you claim that I should NOT call them authors? I say, YES!

    You said, singing in the shower does not make someone a singer. But being paid to sing does. And, as you stated, “it is easier to make money going indie.” This is probably why so many traditional authors are beginning to publish books independently, as well. Finally, an author can make 70% on their work, rather than the traditional 3% offered by publishing houses.

    Being an independent author is about having CONTROL over your CAREER and being PROPERLY COMPENSATED for your WORK. It isn’t about bad grammar and poor storytelling skills, cuz even traditional authors do those things.

    Just sayin’. :)

  • Outback Author

    What a load of bull dust, my best reads have been from self published authors.

  • Christine MacDonald

    I disagree, whether you self publish or through professionalism publishing…still makes them a publisher, and whether the novels or good or not

  • Pingback: Why Writers should always be called Authors. | Australian eBook Publishing Services

  • M.Lawrence

    Woah! I take issue with the gentleman who commented that authors published by a traditional house either know someone in the business or are good schmoozers. I finally sold my historical mystery series to a traditional house and it took over twenty years of hard work to do it. And no, I did not know anyone nor did I schmooze to get the contract. I worked damn hard and received hundreds of rejections before finding a new agent who actually read my work and said yes.