What does being a writer mean in the modern era?
Is it still the stereotype of a person sitting alone in a room spending hours upon hours trying to tie the best words together. The attempt to make a jigsaw puzzle of creativity and perhaps even a new way of saying the same old thing differently.
What about publishing?
Are writers still writing books and pitching them to publishers. Begging to be published, to be put into bookstores, and on shelves for people to pick up and read. Or has the Internet changed the way that both readers and writers see publishing. How has the advent of blogging, social media, and self-publishing tools changed the process and experience of writing. Places like Amazon and Barnes & Noble and countless Internet publishers allow for independent authors to get their work into reader’s hands without the need of a traditional publisher and/or agent. At first glance, it may seem like these tools do make it easier for someone to publish their work. After all, it's easy to find these utilities that don’t require an agent or publisher, they’ll package up your writing, upload it, and then click publish. Or maybe you’re like me, you hook up PayPal account to your own website so you can scrape by and get paid for the work that you're doing so you can keep doing it. Alternatively, some authors just publish their work for free, or “pay what you want” because they want to share their work with the world and don’t care how.
There’s nothing wrong with being published as an “indie” author, but what about the authors who want to go the traditional route?
One day I want to see my novels on shelves. I want to be able to hold something tangible in my hands, to smell the ink, feel the words on the paper, and run my fingers over the embossed cover. I want to not just see it on a screen or an e-reader. I know there are places that writers can upload their documents to and a physical copy of their book is then printed, but is that really the same as being published like J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, or Brandon Sanderson? Or will your book just be lost in the void of the millions of others. There are hundreds of thousands of writers in the world, all scrambling, trying to get their words out there. Some find the traditional methods more beneficial, others swear by the new modern means with WordPress or Amazon Kindle Direct. Both have their own struggles.
Can both forms of published writers even be called “published authors”?
My feeling is, why wouldn't they be. I’m sure not everyone agrees with that, and that’s okay, they don’t have to. I don't have anything printed, and I certainly don't have anything published with an agent or a big publishing house, or sitting on a store shelf somewhere. That’s my goal, just as many other writers, but how we'll get there is what makes the difference. For one person it might be enough for them to publish freelance via Amazon for their entire career. That might make them enough money, satisfaction, and recognition. Another person may not agree, and for them being published by TOR or another publishing company is what they need to feel like they really accomplished their goal.
I don't know what your goal is, maybe you’re not even a writer, just a reader, or perhaps you’ve stumbled here by accident (in that case, thanks for reading to this point, I hope you enjoyed it!). To be honest, some days I'm not even sure what my goal is, but without pride, practice, and determination and asking for help from others, it doesn't really matter because I know I’ll never get there anyway. No matter what that light is at the end of your tunnel, keep pushing to get to it. New authors are published everyday, and one day in the future, may be our day.