Friday, September 04, 2015

What is a "published author?" I am. Finally.

Not that many years ago, "published" was easy to define. You went to a bookstore, saw all of the full shelves, and knew those books were published. You might have even looked at the spine or copyright page, and recognized the publishing house. You knew that someone, perhaps several or many someones, had loved, approved of and paid for the rights to make that manuscript a book.

Now, anyone can write and make a book available to the world, basically for free via Amazon if they don't hire an editor(s) or cover designer. That project could be considered published, without any vetting whatsoever. It may be great, or, it may perpetuate the view that self-published books aren't as good as those that are traditionally published.

I've pursued traditional publishing since 1995. Despite many close calls and more than a dozen revision letters on various projects, never got "the call" that an editor wanted to buy my book(s). So after a lot of hemming and hawing, as you may know I finally self-published in 2015. I've released two books so far, with a third and fourth on the way. Both books have been reviewed by Publishers Weekly and have earned assorted praise and 5 star reviews. My first is in an Amazon bestselling boxed set. I didn't feel published, however, until yesterday, when my PAN membership was approved by RWA. I've wanted to join PAN for 20 years. What does that mean? Read on.

Some authors' organizations use member requirements to define published. For example:
Romance Writers of America, with more than 10,000 members, has a Published Authors Network, or PAN. The membership requirement effective 9/1/15 states, "Any RWA General or Honorary member in good standing who has earned at least $1,000 on a single published Eligible Novel* or Eligible Novella** shall be eligible for membership in PAN, provided however that works offered through Predatory Publishing companies shall not qualify." You must provide proof of earnings. 

I believe sales and earnings are part of the definition of published. For me, it's not enough to just see my book online or hold one in my hand. So $1,000 on a single book with no requirements to keep publishing and earning isn't that high. Others may disagree.

Novelists. Inc., which has around 800 members, has these options on their membership application:
"I have published at least two novels over 50,000 words with a traditional, royalty-paying publisher, with an advance of at least $2000 each, or with royalty earnings over $2000 each in a 12-month period."

"I have independently published at least two novels over 50,000 words, with earnings of at least $5000 each in a 12-month period (proof of earnings will be requested)."

Note that self-published authors are held to a much higher standard. Hmm. 

What do you think "published" means?

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