The debate rages on.
Recently some online writing acquaintances were talking about their concern that their indie material might make it so that no one takes them seriously as writers. These are great writers btw (from what I’ve read). I can only surmise the only reason they’re not traditionally publishing some of their work is because the publishing houses can only print so many books and the number of publishable writers out there is greater than the number of publishing slots open.
But I can understand their concern. After all – the problem with the ease of going indie these days is that anyone or their mother can write a book (even in an afternoon if they wish), have it published (without editing or anything), and call themselves a writer.
I used to worry about being taken seriously, too. That is until it occurred to me that the only people who weren’t taking me seriously as a real writer, were other writers. It’s an interesting phenomena. As serious writers we’ve been conditioned to believe that traditional publishing is the only way to go and only hacks and wanna-be writers go indie. I was among the brain-washed. Sadly, I had no choice but to go indie when publishers initially told me my NF work was far too controversial for the mainstream presses.
Not that I have anything against the traditionally published — I don’t. I am traditionally published (in the small press). But quite frankly where I make my professional living is my Indie stuff. Sorry to have to say that, but it’s true.
Once I realized the only people who weren’t accepting of me as a real writer were other writers, I was able to purge myself of that ongoing internal dialogue. My readers had already accepted me as a real writer and I was already making a living wage as a real writer, which qualifies me as professional even though most writing organizations won’t acknowledge indies who make a living wage from their writing as real professionals. Once you realize this (and you realize you don’t need these organizations, who judge if you’re professional or not based on your publisher, to validate you), the whole “acceptance” thing is somewhat moot, imho. The readers have already voted. ::shrug::
I’m probably going to be shot or scorned, or shunned for saying what I’m about to say next.
I am of the firm belief that the world is full of cliques. You’re either a have or a have not. In the writing industry you have to petition to get into certain cliques. The rules regarding who is accepted as a professional and who isn’t are merely there to boost human egos and exclude others. My suggestion is that if writing organizations want to keep doing that they need to remove terms like “professional” from their requirements pages and just call it what it is – a big six and approved press clique.
And finally – just for the record, the relevant definition of the word professional from dictionary.com:
–noun 11. a person who earns a living in a sport or other occupation frequently engaged in by amateurs
If I can prove my income (via sales statements from my distributors) to a professional writing organization (regardless who my publisher is), I should be allowed to join. Of course at that point you know they’ll have to set a limit as what constitutes a professional income – but that might jeopardize the membership of big six published authors. Even some big press authors I know have day jobs. I rest my case. 🙂