What does it mean to be an author? It used to mean you spent years writing that perfect novel, printed off a copy, boxed it up, then send
it to a publisher. Perhaps you’d then become one of the lucky few who they’d agree to publish. If one publishing company didn’t accept it, you sent it to another firm then another until your great manuscript got published. Either you realized the dream, or your dream was dead.
Nowadays, most publishing companies won’t look at an unsolicited manuscript. You need an agent and most agents require writing samples in the form of a query letters and proposals. You can write to any number of agents, and they either may not respond or they may send a format email advising that you’ll only hear from them if they express an interest.
You can take that avenue and spend months or years trying to find someone to represent you, or you can self-publish. There are a number of available options these days. You can self-publish through a publishing company that specializes in that, but then you pay them a lot of money for a sub-standard product. These companies are out to make money from you not your books.
On the other hand, you have Createspace or Lulu, where you can self-publish your books for free. It’s easy and straight-forward. Also, you can publish within days rather than waiting two years as you would with a traditional publisher. You don’t pay much to buy your books so you can make a good profit when you sell them unlike the situation with those publishing firms. They require almost the book price if you want to buy a copy. You lose money on every book you sell unless you charge a higher price.
Okay so now your book is published and you expect it to sell, but it doesn’t. No one knows about it. Millions are self-publishing and setting themselves up on Amazon. You have to stand out and build an audience, which means marketing.
Marketing is the biggest job for the aspiring writer, and there’s so much to do. You have set up accounts with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Linked-in, Google +, Goodreads, just to name a few. You have to be active and get yourself out there. But that’s a lot of work.
So what does it mean to be an author these days? It means a lot of work, which most authors wish they didn’t have to do. We just want to write, but it doesn’t work that way now.