Monday, November 30, 2020

It's time to kill the term "published author." It's easier to become a published author than a Cub Scout.

A great many years ago I was a Cub Scout. The lowest rank in Cub Scouting was Bobcat. Every Cub starts as a Bobcat. You can't be a Cub Scout and not be at least a Bobcat. A Bobcat is lower than a Wolf or a Bear. A Bobcat doesn't have to start a fire by rubbing two sticks together, build a crystal radio, bandage a wound, walk on snowshoes or help an old lady to cross the street.

To be a Bobcat a kid has to:
  1. Learn and say the Cub Scout motto, promise and the Law of the Pack—and tell what they mean
  2. Show the Cub Scout sign, salute and handshake—and tell what they mean
  3. Show that he understands and believes that it is important to be honest and trustworthy.
Since those requirements were so basic, (if I remember correctly) we were not allowed to wear our Bobcat pins on our spiffy new uniforms.

I thought of that recently when I was reading an introduction from a new member of an online group for authors.

The newbie said, "I am a published author."

I wanted to say, "BIG FUCKING DEAL!"

At one time being a published author implied that either:
  1. A person wrote something so important or wonderful that a publisher paid to publish the book.
  2. A person is so famous (like Levi Johnston, the almost-son-in-law of Sarah Palin) that a publisher paid to publish the book.
  3. A person is egotistical and wealthy enough to pay thousands of dollars to a vanity press to publish the book.
Today, it takes almost no skill, time or money to become a published author.
  1. If you can click a keyboard and move a mouse, you can be a published author.
  2. The cost can be ZERO.
  3. You don't have to impress anyone.
  4. You can be a terrible writer and still be a published author.
  5. You can ignore the traditions and rules of the book business.
  6. You can shun editors and designers.
  7. You can offend potential readers and reviewers and booksellers.
  8. It doesn't matter if nobody reads your book.
  9. It's easier to become an author than to become a Bobcat.
  10. You don't even have to learn to salute.
Since it is so easy to become a published author, it means nothing to say you are one. So, DON'T DO IT.

(By the way, it means almost nothing to say you're a bestselling author, but I'm one.)

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