I Didn’t Call Myself an ‘Author.’ Readers Called Me That.

Apparently, there’s another controversy brewing in the publishing industry over whether self-published authors should be “allowed” to call themselves authors. According to Michael Kozlowski, editor of digital publishing and device blog Good E Reader, the answer is no. And there have been a bunch of responses, such as this one and this one.

Personally, if I’m being honest, when I first self-published Baby Grand as an eBook in May 2012 I wondered whether I could accurately be called an author. Having been a professional freelance writer and editor for many years, I knew the term author to be an individual who had published a book the good old traditional way, through a publishing house. The rise of eBooks and self-publishing changed the rules, but did that make me an author now? I mean, officially? Or could I only use the term author if the word self-published preceded it?

I probably avoided calling myself an author during those first weeks of having published Baby Grand, until readers started reaching out to me and calling ME an author: “Are you the author Baby Grand?” they’d ask (never knowing how much of a loaded question that was), both online and off-.

In the very beginning, I found myself qualifying my response: “Well, yes, I’m a self-published author.” To which, NEARLY EVERY TIME, the reader would scrunch his or her eyebrows and ask, “What do you mean?”

The first few times I launched into an explanation and watched their eyes glaze over. After that, when they asked, “Are you the author of Baby Grand?” My response became: “Yes. Yes, I am.”

I realized that readers don’t really care how your book came to be, or whether you write full-time or part-time, if you’ve written many books or only one. All they know is they read a book that you wrote and that they enjoyed.

So, frankly, I find this controversy kind of silly. In the end, it doesn’t matter if we in the publishing industry refer to self-published authors as an author.

What matters is that readers do.

9 thoughts on “I Didn’t Call Myself an ‘Author.’ Readers Called Me That.

  1. I didn’t read the original piece, but, per one of the responses you linked, Kozlowski differentiated writers from authors in that authors make a living writing. Except I make a living as a writer yet have not published a book, so here’s one person who doesn’t fit in his box.

    It all seems rather silly, like traditionally published authors really want to remind the rest of us that we are second-class citizens. You know, I write songs all the time, but you won’t find the sheet music for them in the piano store. Does that mean my songs aren’t real?

  2. Seems you’re an author to me, as you wrote that book. Very good post. How are self-published authors any different or less of an author than traditional ones? Seems pretty straight forward to me.

  3. Great post. So many want to put a label on everything to justify their own thoughts or to prop themselves up in some way. I’m a firm believer that anyone that puts the work in and publishes their work is an author. it just makes sense to me. lol

  4. Reblogged this on The BiaLog and commented:
    So true. I’m of the belief that anyone who puts the time and effort into making their work the best they can make it and then publishing is an author. What do you all think?

  5. Before the publishers declared a fiefdom – and assigned manuscripts to 20′ something assistants who has a fast track to the bin! Thousands of ‘Authors’ became highly successful self-publishing their first and sometimes subsequent books, many of which ended up on The New York Times best sellers list. A small selection – Tom Peters, Deepak Chopra, John Grisham, L. Ron Hubbard, Anais Nin – Walt Whitman, Mark Twain etc etc. I have written 7 books on different subjects that took time to research and to write and am proud to call myself an author. The definition of ‘author’ is a person who has written a book, any piece of writing or an article. This is the last ditch effort of some publishers to regain control – I say man the barricades! Politely and grammatically of course…..

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