Nancy Famolari posted a blog entry entitled "Are You a Real Writer?" She stated a group set the criteria for being called a published author to mean a published author is a "writer" who receives an advance from a publisher.
In other words, that group considers one is only an author if he or she becomes indebted to the publisher. Yes, that's what an advance is -- a debt that will be repaid by royalties being withheld until the advance is repaid.
According to Joe Quirk (novelist, humorist, and ghostwriter): Your advance (from a publisher) is a LOAN with your career as collateral. If borrowing money from your credit card at 8% interest to support your writing is a bad idea, than borrowing money from a big New York publisher against books you haven't sold yet is a catastrophic idea. Bankruptcy ends after 7 years. The Red Mark next to your name is forever.
Therefore, according to the narrow, unrealistic definition of a published author by that group, only a writer who goes into debt to a publisher qualifies.
I am a writer because I write. Emily Dickinson never received an advance, was never paid for her work, and wasn't even "discovered" until after her death. Yet, no one can deny that she was a writer, an author: because she wrote, used words as colors to create images on the canvas of sheets of paper.
Yes, I've been paid for some of my writings and I've received some royalties, but I was a writer before I ever received a penny. I used words as my tools to create visual imagery on paper and computer screen. That action makes me a writer.
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