During 2012-13, before this web site and blog existed, with only my wife and some proofreaders aware of what I was doing, in my spare time quietly I worked on a fiction manuscript. I planned for it to be my first book. I had never written anything like it for the public before, the book appeared in December 2013, and this blog went live AFTER that book had been published.
A musician, I think most of us agree, is someone who plays an instrument for the public. A singer is someone who sings for an audience. A fashion model has at least a portfolio for jobs. Would we ever say someone might properly call themselves a musician or a singer or model when no one in public has ever heard them play or sing or seen them pose before a camera? Probably not.
However, authoring for some reason, seems different; or at least in that sense it is different for some “authors.” One might have thought to be termed an author, one has written for public readers – regardless of its quality. The bar is not a high one: as long as you have written ANYTHING for the public (especially if you have sought to be paid for it), you are an author.
But can one be termed – or term oneself, in particular – an “author” if one does NOT actually publish anything? It seems, yes…
An update. You may recall if you have been around a while that I wrote back in November 2019 about a self-described “historical fiction author” with a large Twitter presence as well. (She had about 25,000 followers.) I say “self-described” author because after I stumbled on her around that time expecting to see a book or two at the minimum, I discovered in fact that her name typed into Amazon produced ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.
I thought that seemed weird, and it made me curious about what was going on here. As an author in that same genre I was initially intrigued by her due to the fact that she was so “prominent” on Twitter, and thinking I might “learn” some things from her I did some scrolling of her Twitter and looking around her web site and found that she claimed that in 2016 she had begun writing an adventure early-1800s romance historical novel… so no published book was available – yet. But by that late 2019 she had also somehow “generated” lots of Twitter “buzz” around herself, blogged a newsletter and tweeted (and endlessly retweeted others) offering writing “advice” and publishing “insights,” and even did blog interviews about being an author – despite, I repeat, having NO published writing I could actually find (not even samples).
Following that post I wrote, exasperated and irritated at having wasted my time on, frankly, NOTHING, I tried to avoid her tweets. However, she kept popping up now and then in my timeline – mostly by being retweeted (for some reason) by others to the point fed up I finally muted her (even though I did not follow her). Then, a few days ago, I saw this tweet linking to a November 2020 “blog interview” – yet ANOTHER interview – with her appear in my timeline thanks to being retweeted (thus getting around my “mute”) by someone I did follow:
And I am kinda glad I saw that. I could not resist and clicked over to it. In that late 2020 “interview,” once more we were told by her that she had started writing her novel in 2016. However, she added in that “interview” that she had “queried” agents with no success further in 2020, and stated also that she will continue to approach publishers directly in 2021.
It is FIVE years now. (World War II almost took less time.) Then the other day I checked her Twitter and noticed that she has been occasionally tweeting that her novel will be available “soon.” (On her web page she had at some time in 2019 or earlier posted a banner announcing that her book was “Coming Soon,” too, though. I suppose we all define “soon” our own way.) Does that mean a publisher has embraced it already this early in 2021?
I write this post because I do not think it is being unreasonable in asking that someone who calls themselves – for YEARS – an “author,” actually AUTHORS something anyone can read in public. If the reason it is taking so long for the book to appear is it has been an utterly “all-consuming” writing effort, well, fine. (Believe me, I understand that.) However, if you have never published anything we can find in public… you are NOT an “author” … yet.
If she indeed started writing that novel in 2016, and not having any other visible published work since then – and in this day and age that is pretty surprising given indie publishing – presumably it will be another at least The Winds of War, which as you see took AUTHOR Herman Wouk seven years (1964-1971) to complete.
I am not trying to “troll” her here. (I don’t believe writers should do that to each other. I almost never mention the names of authors – or supposed authors – of whom I am critical. That is why I don’t mention her name.) Rather I am simply amazed she has been allowed to carry on about being an “historical fiction author” for YEARS now without a single actual historical fiction publication of her own visible for us to purchase – and, yes, even critique. I prefer my novels to speak for themselves and I do not pretend to be able to impart any especial knowledge of writing as a craft, so given the expectations she has created about herself as some “authoring expert” I sure as heck hope her book – whenever it FINALLY appears – is at least decent reading.
Have a good weekend, wherever you are. 🙂