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.
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
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.
- Attend writing conferences and trainings. Many are available online, making travel unnecessary, and fees are free or reasonable.
- Join the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Keep your membership card in your wallet.
- Follow writer bloggers who inspire you.
- Read inspirational books like Stephen King’s On Writing, Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, Peggy Thomas’s Anatomy of Nonfiction, and/or Picture Writing by Anastasia Suen.