Wednesday, 25 May 2016
A Writer, Or An Author?
I've self-published my first novella. Does that mean that I'm I a Writer or an Author?
I'll be honest with you: I never intended to self publish anything.
You see, I write all the time. I've had several science fiction short stories published under a different name, and I'm working on some longer pieces in various genres as well. I write fast and a write a lot, because if I didn't write I think I'd go crazy, what with all the stories crammed up inside my head. I write because I have to. Because "writer" is something that I am.
I find being a writer easy, because writing is a natural process that anyone can do. It doesn't even have to be any good, you just have to, you know, write. Author, though? Being an author is a different, scary beast. To me, an author is someone who not only writes and publishes books, but makes a living from them. Now I appreciate that my definition isn't the same as everyone else's definition of author, but this is how I see it. My goal is to become an author, not just someone who printed out a copy of their magnus opus and declared themselves to be a proper writer.
So why self publish? Why not stick with grinding away at getting an agent and a deal with a Big Five publisher and a zillion dollar advance?
Well, it's all down to a novella I wrote a few years back. The Dashing Widow is a short regency romance that was written as a gift to my mum, who is a huge fan of Georgette Heyer, when I wanted to something special for her birthday a few years back (she loved it, btw, which from my mother is a pretty huge endorsement). Since then it has languished on my hard drive, because the historical romance market is relatively small, and none of the traditional publishers take novellas, anyway.
Fast forward to May 2016. I've had interest from agents and publishers for some of my historical fiction, but not enough to tempt an offer of publication. I've a few science fiction short stories published, but nothing consistent. I'm feeling a bit jaded about the whole writing thing, when a writer-friend of mine points out that there are a large number of writers out there who are making a living through self publishing, even though they are only small fish in their ponds.She points out that I've got nothing to lose, and a helluva lot to gain if I do this thing correctly. I figured that since The Dashing Widow wasn't doing anything on my hard drive, it would serve as a great tool to learn about self publishing.
Well so far it's done better than my wildest dreams. Over 75 people have bought or borrowed my book in the first three weeks, and I've made back the money I spent on the cover photos for a series of regency romps.
I'm learning a ton about self-publishing in the process, including some rookie mistakes that I will be clearing up in the coming weeks.
Does this make me an author? Well, not yet. At least not to my mind. I'm setting myself an arbitrary goal at which point I can consider myself a writer: when I make $25k in a calendar year from writing.
I'll chronicle my experiences here on the blog, alongside random posts about the Georgian, the Regency and the Victorian periods in the UK. So, starting point for May is $0.00 - since I'm starting out on this path with nothing. I wonder how long it's going to take me to hit my first $100?