On Definitions & Decisions

I recently read a post pondering how to define a writer, which, to me, appears to actually be considering the definition of an author. A writer is a person who writes, whether those words create drivel or the most glorious sentences ever placed on paper or computer screen. To me, that is all a writer is, though, to be fair, there are certainly qualifying adjectives that can be used to differentiate those who write well from those who write…less well.

#diplomatic

#diplomatic

Yet the idea of exploring what it means to be an author intrigues me. With the e-book industry, with website platforms such as Amazon and iTunes, it seems that it is becoming ever easier to become published. Previously, I would have said that was all it took to become an author – become published. Yet traditionally, there has been a distinction between the traditionally published and the self-published.

divide

Is this still the case? I heard an NPR segment that discussed the lack of stigma and sometimes higher pay that comes with self-publishing, as opposed to traditional publishing, which is more difficult if you’re not a celebrity or already well-established author.

The face of a NYT bestseller.

The face of a NYT bestseller.

A well written piece of writing is a well written piece of writing. Yet sifting through the published and the self-published pieces to find these well written pieces can be a significant challenge.

You CAN find good writing, but it can be a lot of work.

You CAN find good writing, but it can be a lot of work.

If you really want to share your writing with the world, theoretically, it is more likely to be received well if you are able to go the traditional publishing route. Traditional publishing means that you have people who are already familiar with, and fans of, your work (agent, editor, publishing house, etc.). Traditional publishing also means that the publishing house will solicit feedback via issuing ARCs, alerting the reading community through Twitter and newsletters, etc.

For the elderly and the publishing peeps. Oh, and me.

For the elderly and the publishing peeps. Oh, and me.

Yet is this really still the case? If you are not a celebrity, or already an established author, how difficult is it to even get a traditional publishing contract? And with the ever-changing media climate, if you are able to get a traditional publishing contract, how likely is it that a traditional publishing house will use its resources for your book? I have heard rumors that the book tour, and likelihood that a publisher will push your book hard in terms of media, etc., are currently much less likely than in prior years.

book tour

So if you decide to eschew the traditional publishing route in favor self publishing, is this a better alternative? With self-publishing, you know all of the marketing is up to you. Yet you don’t have the contacts that someone established in the traditional publishing community will have, nor do you have the experience with regards to pricing, book covers, book titles, etc. Are you giving yourself more work, or saving yourself from over-reliance, and likely, a lot of rejection? Are you making your writing career more difficult, or taking it into your own hands, with the potential failure AND potential success entirely yours?

2013_Entrepreneur_Quote

I don’t know. I can see pros and cons in both instances, and don’t currently have anything I have written that is worth publishing, so I don’t have to make a decision. What are your thoughts?

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Who did you ido…

Who did you idolize as a teenager? “

The Daily Post

Okay. *cringe* Are you ready? My idol was:

Christopher Pike

Christopher Pike

I was an odd kid. As a teenager, I felt lonely & misunderstood – which is normal, I know, but is also partially my fault. Around the onset of puberty, I began to get really shy, and feel really awkward around other people. Coupling my sudden shyness, which prevented me from easily meeting new people, with my awkward appearance, which was about as pleasant as you would expect from a brace-faced kid with wildly frizzy hair whose posture continually seemed to get worse, and the fact that I was apparently the worst kid ever, since my parents grounded me constantly, and I pretty much lost the friends I had already made. I should have put myself out there, joined some school clubs, or tried out for the school play, or something, but I didn’t.

Instead, I immersed myself even more within the world of books. And my favorite author throughout my teens was Christopher Pike.

I grew up primarily in the nineties, so when I discovered Pike’s writing, he still had an agreement with Scholastic that resulted in his publishing a new novel about every 2 months.

cloud 9

My favorite Pike novel was undoubtedly Master of Murder, which I have probably read at least 20 times. My copy has been thumbed through so often, I’m kind of surprised the cover is still intact.

MoM

For those who haven’t read it, Master of Murder is the story of Marvin Summer, the wildly talented, wildly rich teenage author… except that no one knows that he is actually the author of all of the novels that he gets published under the pseudonym Mack Slate. Marvin is smart and funny, and there’s a cute short story about Seymour the Frog (read it) that gets him a B+ in his creative writing class (isn’t that a laugh?). There’s a whole mystery, and he’s maybe getting a second chance with his lady love Shelly Quade (or maybe not…), and he needs to finish the concluding novel of his wildly popular murder-mystery series, as well as solve the possible real-life murder of his old friend & Shelly’s ex-boyfriend, and the murder of his old friend & rival is eerily similar to the murdered chick in his murder-mystery series that he hasn’t figured out the end to yet, and… I. Loved. It. I still do, actually, though I can now appreciate that some of the writing is a bit trite.

My appreciation for Mr. Pike is all tied up with my appreciation for Master of Murder, because though Pike himself has written numerous times that he is not the same person as Marvin Summer, of course I merged them at least a little (and probably a lot) in my mind. I also had dreams of writing a bestselling novel in high school, though the closest to writing a novel that I came was sophomore year, when I wrote a 79 page story that is possibly one of the most horrible things I have ever written. (Horrible in terms of writing, because I wrote some seriously disturbing short stories while in high school.)

I was so infatuated with Mr. Pike, that I wrote a paper about him in my tenth grade government class about how he is a “True American.” My reasoning was that as an author who writes under a pseudonym (though anyone with the most infantile of search capabilities can easily discover his real name is Kevin McFadden), Pike can achieve the money and fame that all Americans kind of want, while simultaneously maintaining anonymity, and thereby avoiding the paparazzi/tabloid hell that celebrities are always complaining about. (This reasoning did not convince my teacher, who gave me a “B.”)

A true american... because everyone knows, the only REAL authors are Am-err-ih-can.

A true american… because everyone knows, the only REAL authors are Am-err-ih-can.

So… there’s my embarrassing teenage idol story. Who was yours?