A is for Author

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Letter AAlmost every writer, from the time the first crayon and construction paper book is taped together with The End on the last page, dreams of being an author. You can still see the picture in your head of what you look like as an author. What does it really mean to be an author?

Welcome to Day 1 of the
A to Z Challenge.
A is for Author.

If we go straight to our Go-To definition, it will let the wind out of our sails by letting anyone who writes an article about anything, masterminds a crime or creates a piece of software call themselves author. Let’s go with the stricter, second definition which the largest part of the writing community accepts as a writer of a literary work (as a book).

As loose as the definition is for author, we must speculate and in the end draw a conclusion.

Your Mother’s Basement

Is the person who writes the 250,000 word opus in a series of spiral notebooks, journals and sticky note pads an author?

The boos and hisses from the crowd should be interpreted as a resounding No.

blogbookMonetize Your Blog

Is the person who pasted 42 blog posts into a Word document, as is, and slapped on a 72 ppi cover created with a mouse in Paint an author?

You really are a tough crowd. That would be another no.

The Essayist

Is the person who gathers together their articles on ways to cheat at pick-up-sticks, dandruff discomforts, the digestive benefits of guar gum and a signature method of washing Pomeranian puppies under the title Collected Works of Jack O. A. Trades, Esq. an author?

See, I am with you there. That level of eclecticism escapes everyone being asked to fork over $16.95 when they only care about one subject.

My Life & Times

gruel

Is the person with the 99 cent eBook entitled What’s for breakfast? A memoir of my meals really an author?

Stop throwing shredded wheat. No, no one cares what you ate for breakfast for the last 22 years.

Stumped?

If we do not think any of these powerhouse penners are authors, what is an author? We are not debating the actual writing, or are we?

In fact, we are attacking the writing rather than the person. There is a general consensus what we write must offer some value in exchange for the currency. This would be the literary portion of the work.

  • Mommy’s basement dweller has not packaged the work into a salable form.
  • The blogger has not engaged an editor or offered anything geared toward the reader with a paperback or tablet in absence of the audience to whom the blog post was geared. Charging for something which is readily available for free is a mite insulting.
  • The essayist is aggregating information too far flung to appeal to any other person.
  • The memoirist offers nothing unique which would interest a reader, such as how breakfast enabled him/her to become a world champion at something besides oatmeal eating. This content is also free on social media; what do you want to bet?

The Music

Let’s face it. By definition, all of these writers are authors. We can classify them as bad authors.

This too to remember. If a man writes clearly enough any one can see if he fakes. If he mystifies to avoid a straight statement, which is very different from breaking so-called rules of syntax or grammar to make an effect which can be obtained in no other way, the writer takes a longer time to be known as a fake and other writers who are afflicted by the same necessity will praise him in their own defense. True mysticism should not be confused with incompetence in writing which seeks to mystify where there is no mystery but is really only the necessity to fake to cover lack of knowledge or the inability to state clearly. Mysticism implies a mystery and there are many mysteries; but incompetence is not one of them; nor is overwritten journalism made literature by the injection of a false epic quality. Remember this too: all bad writers are in love with the epic.”
― Ernest HemingwayDeath in the Afternoon

In today’s world of self-publishing, becoming an author is as simple as submitting the contents of a word processor document to a publishing platform and pressing a radio button. Even some of these authors’ mothers would tell them they were not authors until someone bought their books. The majority of the writing community would agree with Mom on this point.

Stop Wannabe

In conjunction with the ongoing Better Writing series, this year’s A to Z Challenge on The M3 Blog is going to investigate, unveil and utterly demystify becoming a successful author. While it cannot imbue you with talent, it will give you a number of stepping stones along the path to creating, producing and selling a book. In short, becoming an author.

What are your qualifications for one to call oneself an author? Have you seen examples of bad authors? (It is okay if it is you. Help is on the way.)

Hashtags: #AtoZChallenge #amwriting #authors

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48 Comments

  1. Ingenious! A useful theme no less. Awesome. I look forward to this and informative and entertaining A to Z season.
    Tess Kann recently posted..Another Coffee Story To Warm The HeartMy Profile

    Reply
    • This one is going to be fun, Tess. I hope you get something great out of it. xxx

      Reply
  2. Can’t wait to read the rest!

    I still wonder if I am an author….do I dare compliment myself with that title? IDK

    When I graduated with my MA, I said to my major prof., “I still feel like I don’t know anything! She answered, “That is the true sign of a master – to feel there is still so much to learn.”

    Maybe I am an author? (IDK!!!)
    Stacy recently posted..April Fool’s the FireplaceMy Profile

    Reply
    • Your professor was right. Only those convinced they know it all are doomed to failure. You know you are, Stacy. Deep down, you know. xxx

      Reply
  3. Hmmm. Now I have to figure out if I’m a blogger, writer, author, or just someone who spends too much time at a keyboard.

    It might be A challenge.
    MJ Logan recently posted..A is for Aromatic MemoryMy Profile

    Reply
  4. I can’t even figure out how to log in here, even though I am registered! Much less figure out how to get published hah! (Other than self). And yes, I read your reply, Red. You are too kind.
    Alexandra Heep recently posted..A is for Allstate ArenaMy Profile

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  5. I have about 600 words this evening that all say I’m definitely not an author.
    Ok, back to work…
    El Guapo recently posted..Beatnik Poetry Slam – IceMy Profile

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  6. I guess I prefer writer to author. If you write anything of substance, you’re a writer. If you sell what you’ve written to someone other than your friends and family, I’d say you were a professional writer. Well, at least semi-professional. Number of sales are a poor judge of quality.
    Binky recently posted..Impressionable YouthMy Profile

    Reply
    • I agree with that assessment wholeheartedly. The last two books I bought before RedmundPro were both listed as NYTBS (which I found odd as they were first editions). One, I did not get out of the first chapter. 18 typos, too many fragments and run ons to count and 12 straight pages of dialog with no idea by the third page who was speaking any more. The second, I got three chapters in before I gave up. The author was still talking in flashback to qualify what I can only imagine would have happened if the story had been written.

      Reply
      • Wouldn’t you just like to reach through the seven planes of hell and drag the author back though them, so they have to experience each one of those flashbacks in slow motion, out of sequence, and with dialog that only makes sense if you speak the same language used by pigeons to talk to fish?
        MJ Logan recently posted..A is for Aromatic MemoryMy Profile

        Reply
        • Exactly. I have never burnt a book in my life, but I realllllly contemplated it with these two. In the last ten years, I finally gave up my rule of never leaving a book unfinished. I decided I had to have mercy on myself. It is why now, unless I have read the ebook, I am not buying a print copy. Nuh-uh.

          Reply
  7. I now have two books published and have written one which was utter dross – does that make me an author??? 🙂

    All I know is that writing is not as hard as the editing! 🙂

    Love and hugs!

    Prenin

    Reply
  8. I look forward to all the letters of the alphabet on this one!

    Oatmeal! Oh yeah.

    Reply
  9. Great post, Red. Indeed, indeed, what IS an author.

    Well, I think it’s one who has written, or authored something – but the real nitty gritty is what is a ‘good’ (or engaging) author or ‘bad’ (can’t spell/write) author. That’s the meaningful bit.

    I reckon Hemingway may well have written post it notes in these days and still, be they all stuck over his fridge, they’d be the works of an author. What I’d call the fridge at that stage, I’m uncertain.
    Noeleen recently posted..By the light of 3 candlesMy Profile

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    • By rights, everyone who has written, fabricated or invented something is an author. Many of Hemingway’s quotes were written. It would make the fridge a bit of a library.

      Reply
  10. This is a great start to your A to Z challenge I am of course a bit behind now with skiving off the computer for a few days but I will reach for the tommy-gun and add some more quickly, well that is the plan anyway 🙂 I have enjoyed reading your take on A for Author and will zoom over to B for Beta next, I wonder what I will add for that one? 🙂 Okay nothing naughty I am being good for a change 😉 Have a lovely rest of afternoon Red 🙂

    🙂 xxxx

    Reply
    • I was glad to see your A go up. One of my fave subjects in the first place and some brilliant illustrations as well. My afternoon just opened up so I will be working on something naughty for certain. Have a terrific evening. 😉

      Reply

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