It still feels so strange to associate myself with that word, though it’s what I’d always dreamed of, ever since I was a little girl and filling notebooks with everything from sappy illness stories (thanks to my Lurlene McDaniel phase) to mystery and “horror” writings (kudos, R.L. Stine).
Even though whenever someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I’d answer with the same simple answer: “I want to be an author.”
Even though I’m grown up now.
Even though an author is exactly what I’ll be in a few short days with the publication of this book.
Still, it doesn’t feel real. And, in a way, maybe it doesn’t feel right, either.
Can self-published writers call themselves tried and true authors? Even though self-publishing is becoming as reputable as going through a traditional publisher, I can’t help but still hesitate to claim my place using the same descriptor as New York Times Best-Selling writers, among those great names I’d studied in school.
I can’t help but wonder if I will ever feel comfortable calling myself an author. The humbled part of me says I haven’t yet earned it, and maybe that’s the very argument of self-publishing versus traditional publishing:
When you’re published through traditional means, you’ve earned your place there. Your work is good enough to be picked up by an agent, to be passed through the channels of the publishing industry and laid at the desks of some of its biggest names. You’ve been given an advance and a contract, and you will see your books lining the shelves of Barnes and Noble and on the front page of Amazon.
You are an author.
But when you self-publish, the game is a little bit different. Of course, you put in the same amount of work as any other writer — the blood, sweat, and tears of the words are the same no matter which way the resulting book is packaged — but when you publish on your own, you bypass the rejections and initial judgements of the gatekeeper for those big-name companies to go-it alone. And though you start a business and build your own company around being a published writer, that accomplishment seems more subdued.
Maybe it’s because traditional publishing is the fast track, and when you self-publish, it takes longer to get to where you dream of being.
Maybe it’s because there remains engrained in us the idea that those published traditionally are the “real” writers, as virtually anyone can self-publish if they have a manuscript in hand.
I call myself a real writer now.
But I’m still not sure I can call myself an author.
No matter how my books are published, no matter how many books I write, I think there will always be some piece of me that clings to the word “writer” because that’s the work, the artistry, and I’ve put in my time, while “author” seems to be the title given in the aftermath of success.
I don’t have any expectations with this book.
I don’t want to become famous or rich (OK, maybe extremely financially comfortable would be nice), but I do want my story to be read. And, when I’m being completely honest with myself, I hope to be respected as a writer as well.
I’m still in the very beginning of things, led by a dream to tell a story that is so personal and dear while I build a career and a future in this company alongside it. For now, that’s enough.
For now, I’ll continue to call myself a writer because that’s what I do and, published or not, it’s what I’ve always done.
Though I do like the sound of authoress.