To be or not to be… a real author!

It’s 5am and I have just sent my 11-year-old son off to camp. Each year the school takes the Grade 7 students to the Gold Coast for a week. I probably shouldn’t be worried – he is smart, independent and brave, but it’s the first time he has been away from the family for more than a day or two and his first time in a big city – so I am a little worried.

But I guess I am worried about all of them – 30 country kids in the big smoke! As if a visit to Brisbane and the Gold Coast isn’t amazing enough, the V8 Supercars is on this weekend on the Gold Coast and about 200,000+ extra people will attend.

I can’t imagine 200,000 extra people on the Gold Coast; in fact, I can’t really imagine 200,000 people anywhere. Last weekend our school celebrated 100 years and about 1000 people showed up for the Centenary event – this I can imagine. Actually, 1000 people together in a hall is not all that difficult to imagine because people gather in groups this size every day.

Still, living in a country town means that things are small – groups of people, schools, traffic jams (??), waiting lines… everything is small and compact.

And this brings me to books, in particular eBooks -small, compact and portable!

Recently, I setup a stall at a local festival, signed copies of my book and gave away eBooks. It was pretty successful and lots of fun but one person commented about the value of eBooks and the validity of Authors who publish them.

I can’t offer an exact quote, but he said something about not being a ‘real author’ one book doesn’t make a person successful and publishing eBooks doesn’t really mean you’re an author.

At the time, I didn’t know what to say and while I was paused in shock… he said that if I ever publish a second book (that achieved good sales), it would establish me as an ‘Author’ and he might consider reading the first one. Personally, I don’t care what he reads or what he thinks but it got me thinking about ‘Real Authors’ and the validity of eBooks and publishing through Amazon and Smashwords.

So what is an Author – according to the dictionary an author is someone who writes a book or other text, literary work, article or report; a creator of something; a person responsible for the final form of a book, report or text.

Interestingly, in the definition of an Author there is no mention of actually publishing the written work – simply the act of writing makes you an author!

If this is the case than I have been an author for years – having written and published dozens of reports and hundreds of articles, quite a few booklets and several newsletters, but I didn’t consider myself to be an author until I had actually published my book.

EBooks may still be considered to be the poorer cousin of ‘real books’ but anyone who sells eBooks via Amazon (or any other outlet) knows that eBooks outsell paperbacks by about 100 to 1. Even for ‘not real authors’  like myself, this is true.

The truth is that eBooks are amazing – they have created an opportunity for anyone with stamina, patience and desire to ‘publish’ and after publishing an eBook, I bet most people would consider themselves a ‘real author’ regardless of whether the book is good or not!

Success is an entirely different matter. I felt I had achieved success when the manuscript was finished. I mean who is going to say that writing 100,000+ words isn’t an amazing achievement. Oh that’s right – that feller at the markets!

Success is personal and measurable by your own goals and expectations. If my goal was to write the next Harry Potter Series, draw in millions of fans like the Twilight Series or create the hype of Fifty Shades of Grey, than I would have fallen well short of the mark but this was never my goal or my expectation.

Success could be measured by book sales but selling one book to a complete stranger was enough to create a feeling of success and achievement (I guess I am easily pleased!). So while some stranger may not consider me or other indie authors who publish eBooks to be ‘real authors’ or even successful, I would have to disagree.

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