Saturday, January 23, 2010

I am author, hear me roar.

Let me start off by warning you that I'm a little cranky this morning, and thus may be overreacting to something that I read while catching up on my blog-reading. But it so rubbed me the wrong way that I decided to post on a Saturday.

A literary agent, while summing up the week's publishing happenings, included this bit of news:

The head of Author Solutions (the company that is teaming with other publishing houses to help them sell self-publishing to author wannabes) has created a message on You Tube inviting the leadership of the writing organizations that are critical to a discussion. . .about the role of self-publishing in a changing publishing environment.

Am I just being overly sensitive and mis-reading the tone in the phrase "author wannabes"? 'Cause I gotta tell you, if I'm not then I'm getting a little sick of such a characterization.

I'm an author.

I published my book. My book is selling in stores. Maybe not nationwide distribution, but it got there because my product showed both quality and promise.

To date, Faking It has sold 5000+ copies on Amazon Kindle, with Ordinary World following just under 2,000 in just three months. The average run of a traditionally published print novel is 5,000 copies. A successful run is 10,000.

So tell me, what makes me an author wannabe?

Virginia Woolf self-published. Is she an author wannabe too?

I'm taking exception to the term "wannabe". Its meaning connotes someone high on pipe dreams and low on logging in the required number of hours to hone craft and take action. In short, tenacity. People who play Rock Band and Guitar Hero are wannabes. And even then I use the term with more affection than the way I've heard some literary agents and traditionally published authors use it.

Yes, I wanted to be an author. So I wrote. I honed my craft. I learned about the business of querying agents and selling books. I queried agents. I made mistakes and learned from them.

The agents rejected my work.

So why stop there? Who said that the only road to be an author was through the agent? When did that become the only road to be traveled? It's like saying the only way to travel is I-95. There are other roads. Longer, less traveled, out of the way, perhaps. But a road, nevertheless. A course of direction, visible on a map.

I wanted to be an author. So I became an author.

But I am not, nor ever was, an author wannabe.

STOP deligitimizing aspiring authors who take their careers into their own hands and create their own channels to realizing their aspirations. STOP deligitimizing them for wanting to do for themselves what you have refused to do for them, regardless of your reasons.

STOP lamenting about turning down good writing, and then criticizing those good writers for finding a way to bring their good writers to readers.

STOP tutoring authors about the business of publishing, and then resenting authors for making business decisions.


Are literary agents afraid of becoming obsolete? I wonder. Are they afraid of change? Or am I just being cranky this morning?

I'm an author. Stop negating me just because I didn't do it your way.

(By the way, I'm not the biggest fan of Author Solutions, but I applaud the invitation to respectful debate and discussion. Check out that invitation here.)


Terri said...

I believe that an author is someone who has completed a novel or story. I don't believe you have to be published to be an author, hence the use of the term "published author". I think an author wannabe is someone who hasn't completed their book or story. That's just my humble opinion. (I have many!)

Terri said...

I thought about it some more. :) An unfinished work is done by an author-in-progress. An author wannabe just sits back and talks about what he/she plans to write, but never follows through. IMHO

Elisa said...

Terri, I like your revised definition better.