In a post on my blog about competition, a commenter made several points about why he felt self-published books were in no way part of anyone's competition. He also had a lot to say about amateurs vs. professionals (self-pub authors, of course, being the amateurs).
Anyway, a fellow indie friend said to me in IM... "Did he just call you an AMATEUR?" And I was like "LOL, I don't know, it was possibly implied."
So, I added a general comment on the issue of amateurs, but, that comment could have been it's own post and it's definitely something I would like to open the floor up to discuss. (Wow, that sounded hoity toity.)
Here was my original comment:
Something else to think about… amateur vs. professional. How are these terms defined?
Why is a self-published author automatically an “amateur”. Exactly how many times do I have to double my husband’s salary before I’m considered a “professional”?
Do these kinds of prejudices exist for other entrepreneurs?
When someone opens a flower shop do you consider them an amateur florist?
When someone opens a restaurant are they an amateur restaurant owner?
Are independent filmmakers who make a living from their craft, amateurs?
1. a person who engages in a study, sport, or other activity for pleasure rather than for financial benefit or professional reasons. Compare professional.
2. an athlete who has never competed for payment or for a monetary prize.
3. a person inexperienced or unskilled in a particular activity: Hunting lions is not for amateurs.
4. a person who admires something; devotee; fan: an amateur of the cinema.
There are several indies making a living, so definitely definition 1 doesn’t apply to them. Definition 3 could be argued for perhaps, but experience and skill are highly subjective things in artistic endeavors. I’ve been writing seriously since junior high school (in fact, in school I ignored most of my other classes and wrote during lectures.) And surely a certain sales threshold proves at least a competent level of skill.
This wasn't part of the original comment but I felt like adding it now:
Here are the definitions of "Professional" at dictionary.com:
1. a person who belongs to one of the professions, esp. one of the learned professions.
2. a person who earns a living in a sport or other occupation frequently engaged in by amateurs: a golf professional.
3. an expert player, as of golf or tennis, serving as a teacher, consultant, performer, or contestant; pro.
4. a person who is expert at his or her work: You can tell by her comments that this editor is a real professional.
I suppose we could rehash the expert thing, but expert is SO subjective. Like... raise your hand if you think Stephenie Meyer is an expert at writing? And yet, she makes more money than God right now and I'm pretty sure most people who identify as professional writers consider Meyer a professional writer.
The definition with regards to earning a living... many indies are fulfilling that requirement.
Now in the grand scheme, it doesn't really matter if you or anyone else calls or thinks of me or any other indie as an amateur or a professional. It doesn't change the fact that several of us are making a living doing what we love while maintaining creative control. In much the same way that Stephenie Meyer laughs all the way to the bank despite the people who say she sucks... I laugh to the bank whether or not you think I'm an amateur or a "fake author". Of course Meyer laughs much louder than me. Still, there is much merriment going on.
Thoughts? What makes a writer a "professional", and is it fair to keep indies out of that club by definition of being indie?