Saturday, April 24, 2010

Are You a Writer, or an Author? Part I

Common sense says an author is a writer who's published a book. But according to the national Author's Guild (AG), "authors" are those who've published a book "by an established American publisher" who gave them an advance.

I know someone who joined AG because it excluded people like myself whose books were not "legitimate" but still somehow a threat. Mine were published by my choice and with my money -- that is, with courage and confidence. But with my fourth book I qualify for AG now, and if I needed to feel better about myself I could cough up $90 dues and join.

But I feel fine, and won't join a club whose point, apparently, is to exclude the riffraff: the vast majority of American writers. The AG makes further fine distinctions: Writers having a contract with an established American publisher but no book yet may apply for Associate-level Authors Guild membership. Freelancers qualify if they've published three works in periodicals commonly found at newsstands, receiving in return "significant" payment.

In my 35 years of writing, I have never received a "significant" payment. (I once won a "significant" prize, but it wasn't a publisher who gave it.) My guess is that you, like most writers, haven't received "significant" payment either. It's always been peanuts.

How about we forget all this hierarchy business -- it's too D.A.R. for me -- and respect and help each other, especially to get paid what we are worth.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting distinctions. I believe that when I joined Missouri Writers Guild that I had to provide proof of being a published author. So, I submitted all my accounting books and articles since my poetry books were self-published. With the advent of POD and machines like the Espresso Book Machine (at places like the Harvard Book Store I think we're into a new era where these "rules" will change. It's like when digital pictures weren't considered "real" photography.