I don’t often do this, but this essay is directed toward my fellow wordsmiths, those hard working colleagues of mine who put (metaphorically) pen to paper in order to create stories with a view to entertaining readers, and whose work is digitally produced.
When I first got published in 2007 this medium of “e-books” hadn’t been around for very long. It was a brand new way of producing books for readers to read. And like most brand new ways of doing something that had been done basically the same way for a very, very long time, [since the production of the Guttenberg Bible back in the 1400s], as a medium, as a form of fiction, it was derided.
Suddenly, they said, anyone could be an author! And those of us who suddenly were authors, were subjected to an attitude of exclusion and yes, disdain by print publishers, professional authors’ associations, and by some print authors, themselves.
We weren’t professional, they said. We were less.
As a reaction to that, e-published authors griped and complained about being treated as the red-headed step-children of the writing world.
Do y’all remember that?
At that time, I suggested that if we wanted to be treated as professionals in this brave new world and stand shoulder to shoulder with those writers who were published by “New York publishers” then we needed to start out that way—that we needed to behave as professionals.
The times have changed, but not a whole lot. They have changed financially for the e-published author, that’s for certain. Here is a tiny bit of information from my publisher’s “About Us” page: “Over three dozen Siren-BookStrand authors consistently receive a 5-figure royalty payment quarterly, with about a dozen of these authors earning between $100K to $350K annually.”
If one is an author who hopes to find readers, I would suggest to you that you can consider yourself a success—and a professional—if you have sufficient readers to earn that kind of an income. That should be the end of the debate.
And yet there are those who continue to cling to the belief that those authors who are “e-published” are not as good as, and not as professional as, the traditionally published writer. And there are, unfortunately, some e-published authors who are more than happy to demonstrate that point.
How do we combat that sort of intransigent attitude on both sides of the equation?
I don’t think the strategy has changed, really. If I want to be treated as a professional, then I first have to behave like a professional. I need to adhere to professional standards. What are these standards? Well, let’s pull our old, retired friend, Common Sense, out of the closet, dust him off, and with him, think about that little thing for a moment.
If I want to behave as a professional, then first I have to guard my words. I’m a writer, remember, and if I want to be known for my words, I want to be known for the ones in my essays and my novels—and no others.
I have to be kind and courteous, and treat everyone with respect—especially those people who are in “my sphere of influence”. That would be my publisher, my readers, my editors, and fellow authors—especially those authors who are published by the same house as I. When do I do this? Always!
If I want to have a rant, or a temper tantrum, I need to be careful. I do not want to earn the reputation of being a “diva”, or a “whiner” or worse. Therefore, when I feel like having a rant, a temper tantrum or just “getting it all off my chest and out there”…I go into my bathroom, shut the door, and scream. When do I do this? Always!
I say nothing, I write nothing that at any time insults or slaps at the people in my sphere: not in a blog, or in a Yahoo! loop, not in a book review, or on Face Book, or Twitter…not anywhere. When do I behave according to this standard? Always!
I take care that every time I communicate with my readers that I do so in a kind, compassionate and grammatically correct way. If I offer a prize, I award it; if I make a mistake, or if it is perceived that I have made a mistake, I apologize for it. And I conduct myself at all times as if God Himself was watching every move I make—because, well, He is, and always!
I take to heart the saying, “words of edification will never come back to bite me in the butt.”
And I do what I can to support, promote and cheer on my fellow digitally produced wordsmiths—just like a real professional would do.
Because I aim to be one—always.