Friday, August 22, 2014

Are You An Author Yet? by Pat Miller

Can you claim to be an author if your work hasn’t left your computer file or spiral notebook? If you belong to no writing organization and have attended no writing training, are you an author? If you haven’t received a contract, are you truly an author?

In a word, yes! To be an author, all you have to do is write. US Copyright Law recognizes that the instant your words hit page or screen, they form a copyrighted “work of authorship”. It follows that you are then a legally recognized author. Even more important is the recognition you give to yourself as an author. Granted, training in your craft, membership in writing groups, and submission of your work are important for authors. Most important is that you believe you are a writer.

Here are some ways to confirm your author status, and to express your faith in yourself and your work.

1. Have a dedicated space for your writing. If all you have is a corner of the dining room table, then dedicate a basket or drawer for your writing materials. Claim a writing space and visit it often.

2. Express your writer identity without hesitation. When people ask what you do, tell them you write for children. No qualifiers about how you aren’t published yet, or that you “only” wrote a children’s poem for the local newspaper. You write—therefore you are!

3. Have business cards. One way to be confident in your identity is to have and distribute your business cards. Create them on one of the free online sites, and share them with pride.

4. Tell the world. If you’re feeling bold, invest in personalized license plates, maybe “KDZ WRTR”. Be present on social media. Contribute to online writer’s groups. At a minimun, have a well-maintained web site and/or blog. For excellent web design advice, read Maria Ribas’s post.

5. Respect your work. Consider using bound books for your notes and stories. Bound books, whether a simple spiral or covered with foil-embossed Italian leather, make a statement to your ego. They are more expensive than tablets, more permanent than notes scribbled on conference hand-outs, and convey a sense of quality and longevity to the weakest of first drafts. Even my brainstorm sessions go into a bound book of their own. I have a book for my ideas, and one for each manuscript I research. Doing so gets your work into a hardcover edition—and that is a positive message to the future!

6. Act like a professional writer.
7. And of course, write! To quote author Susanna Leonard Hill, “Write with heart, from somewhere deep inside you. Write something that truly affects and enchants the reader—something that matters.”


  1. I figured I was an author when I got my first rejection letter. :) It started; "Dear Author." ;)

    1. Excellent way to appreciate a rejection letter. That is definitely a silver lining.

    2. Erik you made me laugh out loud! Good one!

  2. Pat,
    Really cool post. As the above commenter noted, I felt I was official when I got that first rejection note too! I especially love seeing your writing space. Thank you!
    Todd Burleson

  3. It has taken me time to put author after my name, but I am now. The retreat really helped me put my dream out there. Great post Pat.

  4. Thanks for this! Just last night I thought I was doing the right thing by correcting someone who called me an author by telling them no no I haven't been published--you can't call me that....

    Seems it is OK then. Excellent :)

  5. Great post, Pat. It's funny, but I've been so hesitant to move my title from "writer" to "author" until I signed that first big contract. But taking ourselves seriously is a big step forward on the road, so there shouldn't be that hesitation. I appreciate your concrete ways to confirm author status.

  6. Pat: You are so encouraging. Just like Patty stated, I currently consider myself a writer and thought I need to *earn the title of author* later -- once I am published. Such a sweet writing space you have dedicated to your love of writing. Thank you for your thoughts. ~Suzy

  7. Pat,thank you for the wonderful post! Great tips to follow. As the little kids say--be loud and proud about who you are!