What Makes For An Author?

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…

[Thumbing through Tomorrow The Grace. Paperback. Photo by me, 2021.]

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:

[From Twitter. All text ink outs are by me. “Author” photo removed by me.]

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.

[Last page. The Winds of War, by Herman Wouk, 1971. Photo by me, 2018.]

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. 🙂

6 thoughts on “What Makes For An Author?

  1. It was point of pride to never refer to myself as an author until I did actually get that first book out. I was kind of chuckling to myself over this person’s fan base because all I could think of was the Kardashians! 😂 It’s the sad state of our world today that many of us revere people who’ve really accomplished a whole lot of nothin’ yet have a large social presence. However, if this person did, in fact, spend the last three years pursuing an agent, well, that’s kind of a shame. I ran out of patience a long time ago submitting to literary magazines, and I’m glad I did. All that time, effort, and writing of query letters. Ugh! Self-publishing is amazing! Life’s too short to waste time chasing agents and a big publishing house. Enjoyed this as always, Robert! 😊

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    1. I have seen too many downers of late. Your book is the BIG exception. I saw on Twitter the other day also some guy tweeting maddeningly and over and over (I finally muted him too) that he had sold nothing in six months and earned nothing and so was angry at his “publisher”. The publisher I had never heard of: seems to be some guy in Croatia. (I kid you not.) I read some of his sample: it was garbage. I’m tired of those who want to act like authors, but are nothing but facades with no building behind them. It’s exhausting discerning who is decent or better, and who frankly would not earn a B- in English. Then there is this woman. I suspect you know who she is. Never in the course of human events has so much hot air swirled for so long around someone who had written so little. I’m telling you, this book had better be a Booker Prize possibility. 😂

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      1. Hot air! 😂🤣 I had to close my Twitter account. I couldn’t take it any more. A wise man–who could that have been🤔–once suggested I spend more time on my website since, as a platform, it is really the only one that we can control, so I’ve been doing that. Much more relaxing. Happy Sunday and stay warm! ❄️

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        1. Ha! I had not noticed you deleted it. I thought you were only taking a break. To be honest, I see it mostly as a “sideshow” for entertainment purposes. It helps to see what other authors are talking about (but most of those I follow seem to spend most of their time pushing their books – so a lot have been muted). I like to see what is going on there, but my blog here is the center of everything. It is better to focus on your own site and your own – gag, I hate the word – “brand.” Have a good Sunday, too.

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  2. Very well said. Perhaps you have seen my rant my first post for the year 2021 and I realized too late that I should have waited but then again I just wanted my fellow bloggers what had happened why I lost the motivation to write even short ones though I still blog once a month with what happening last year it was full of adventures and travels I kept thinking what for if that guy will copy-paste it again in his website pretending it’s his?. Unfortunately, in this world we live in now it is easier to claim that you author a book. How? you can go to Fiverr and other sites like that pay someone to write you a book and voila you have a book that you can call your own but yes it’s fake though deep inside that person didn’t really do the hard yards. The other person who does it for the living is the real author but doesn’t care because he needs the money more than a name. Anyway.. perhaps that woman you are mentioning here does the same thing and pays someone to do it to make her famous.

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    1. Wow, that’s two really good points. I had not seen that post of yours until now – what you have had to put up with. Blog post theft is all too common we know. There is lots of published book theft too, and often there’s close to zero, really, we can do about it. (I have read that book theft sites are often located in places our laws can’t easily reach.) And I had not thought about this woman possibly not actually writing her own book, but paying someone else to do it. Wouldn’t surprise me, to be honest.

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