Self-publishers should call themselves whatever they want

Yep, I’m the jerk who clicked on the link because I thought the headline was idiotic.

Then, I read the post and still thought everything about it was idiotic. Now, if you have read my previous posts on Teleread, I tend to aim for a balanced approach to things, usually sticking to the news of a story.

However, I couldn’t ignore this post on Good E-Reader.

The premise: Shockingly (that was sarcasm), Michael Kozlowski at Good E-Reader wrote a post saying that self-publishers should not be called authors.

Here’s an excerpt:

Just because its easy to upload your written word, so that it can be downloaded to another machine does not make you an author, any more than me buying a stethoscope allows me to be called a doctor. A “singer” is someone who sings. A “professional singer” is someone who makes a living from singing. There is a stark contrast between being a writer and being a professional author. Many indie writers who publish a title or two on Amazon or Smashwords normally think otherwise. They wear the title as an author as a badge of honor.

Here are my points about this post:

1. Who cares? Are you that concerned with self-published AUTHORS calling themselves ‘author’ that you have to write a self-serving post to refute those who do?

2. If you’re going to bash writers, make sure your copy and is clean and without errors (I didn’t fix the mistake in the above paragraph). The first two paragraphs of his post, I saw two quick, simple mistakes that clicking F7 in Microsoft Word would have caught.

3. Joining a group such as the Published Authors Networks doesn’t lend credence to being an author or not.

4. Let people have fun. They aren’t hurting you by publishing their works – and actually give you a job having something to write about.

5. Also, by your own admission – “Indie authors and self-published authors who claim they are real authors makes me laugh. The term basically doesn’t mean anything” – if the term doesn’t mean anything, I ask, why do you even care?

Editor’s Note: I covered this issue last year and came to similar conclusions to Susan. You also should remember that Michael also called for segregation of self-published books, so, as with many things you read online, consider the source.

14 Comments on Self-publishers should call themselves whatever they want

  1. michael kozlowski // March 8, 2014 at 3:46 pm //

    To protect the integrity of the written word and to foster a meaningful debate, once again I open up myself to the pitchforks and flaming torches of the indie author masses looking for validation.

    It is important to draw a distinction between someone who writes and someone who makes a career of writing. Right now, everyone is lumped together and this needs to change.

    I am also, still very for segregation. Did you forget what happened with hardcore erotica titles making it into the kids section on every major online bookstore? Likely not, likely you saw the erotica authors as doing the right thing by stuffing their books with keywords to have it there.

  2. Just to show you what a dumb idea this is, let me cite a few examples.

    Under Micheal’s dictat, the industry expert who can literally write the textbook on his field is not an author because he or she has a day job. And ghod forbid that expert should decide to simply give away the book he or she didn’t author; that would render the expert doubly not an author.

    According to Micheal’s edict, anyone who writes software, releases it under a GPL license, and then generates revenue by selling services is not an author of the software that was released.

    In fact, if we take Micheal’s fiat to its logical conclusion, virtually none of the writers who have signed with traditional publishers can be counted as authors – they don’t earn enough. No matter how smart, literate, well-written, or widely published a writer might be, they’re not an author because they don’t make a living at it.

  3. Paul StJohn Mackintosh // March 9, 2014 at 3:32 am //

    1) It’s huge presumption for anyone to assume that they have any right to draw a line in the sand about other people’s work. And if they’re going to make such a claim they had better have the credentials to back it up.

    2) Michael’s definition appears to rule out Franz Kafka, Anne Frank, and countless other authors who didn’t publish or make a dime in their lifetimes. By this definition, Van Gogh could hardly be accounted a painter.

  4. He is jealous. I reckon anyone who has the guts to market their own product can call themselves what they want. Those who criticise are so busy labelling everybody and everything, defining and clarifying everybody else ad nauseam that they don’t get round to actually writing much.

  5. Michael Kozlowski should know what he’s talking about…after all, he’s clearly NOT a journalist either. He is just one of the cute little amateur blogger journalist-wanna-bes who ought to be ignored.

  6. We don’t like Michael!

  7. Juli Monroe // March 9, 2014 at 11:48 am //

    Caution everyone. As I’ve said before, debating the issue is fine. You can agree or disagree, even vehemently, but keep the discussion on the topic and please don’t descend into comments which are no more than personal attacks on individuals.

  8. Sorry, to cliarfy, my commented was not intended as a personal attack on Michale (although, judging by his comment to lead off this section, he seems to view any criticism, disagreement or discussion of his ideas as a personal attack).

    My simple comment was “hey pot, meet kettle.” I was judging the author’s site and his appeal to segregation and marginalization by the same standard he was judging so many authors.

    Michael and his blog position themselves as conducting journalism in the world of ebooks and epublishing. The representatives of DBW expect to be treated as professionals, as journalists.

    And yet, by the same standard he is applying, since he doesn’t work for a “real” print publication, he is just an “amateur hobbyist,” not a “professional.”

    It doesn’t matter if he makes a living at it, if he makes an income, he is not a “real, professional” journalist compared to traditional media as per his own arbitraty, self-imposed standards.

    The concept of “professional vs hobby journalist” has been a subject of much discussion in journalism circles and I thought it appropriate to apply the same arbitrary standards as he was applying to many, many authors who make a full-time professional living from self-publishing and are by any reasonable standard professional. Many of these “amateur” authors make more than traditionally published authors…and yet by Michael’s standards, they are not “real” professional authors.

    For the record, I think many bloggers tend to do better and more insightful reporting than many “professional” journalists and I value their contributions more than many traditional pubs. I was just leaving a reminder about seeing the mote in another’s eye and not the stick in one’s own.

    — Bill Smith
    http://www.BillSmithBooks.com

  9. Susan Lulgjuraj // March 9, 2014 at 6:25 pm //

    I’ll admit, I wrote this post in about 30 seconds after reading Michael’s, so what I wrote was passionate, and maybe not all the points came across as eloquently as I would have hoped.

    However, I have thought about this throughout the weekend — sometimes two-hour drives will do that to you — and I still feel the same way. I don’t understand why we need to draw a line in the sand or why we even need to label people.

    Do labels of this nature even mean anything?

    Some of the comments on Michael’s post I felt were well written and made great points such as the market will dictate much of what he wants to paint. But even he couldn’t concede to that and was as rude as he accused other people to be.

    The other thing I realized is that I fell for the click-bait and did exactly what I felt he wanted when he wrote the post — he created a reaction that he knew would get people talking and get the pageviews number to go up and up. So far that, great job, Michael.

    I’ve seen this fight before only under a different name as Bill points out. Journalists vs. bloggers. FYI, I have worked as a reporter/editor for newspapers and magazines for about 15 years. I have blogged an various topics for many years too. Does that make my blog posts less informative or substantial than my articles? I actually think I have written blog posts that have resonated more than many of my articles because I was subjected by certain limitations as a journalist.

    There is room for everyone. It’s up to you to decide what content you want to read. This is not something I or Michael or anyone else can tell you what to do or how you want to view people and their work.

  10. michael kozlowski // March 9, 2014 at 10:10 pm //

    I assure you, the points that I make are valid and thought out. Do you think an army of bloggers, pitchforks and flaming torches will dissuade me from speaking my opinion?

    Normally, with my website, i do nothing but talk about tech news, happenings in the industry, do reviews or speak with important people in the e-reader, publishing e-paper industry.

    From time to time, there are things I have to get off my chest. If you are a newshound like me, you will always see authors throwing around at least 12 different terms to attempt to quantify what they do. From my industry prospective using so many different terms confuses transient readers. The Average reader has no clue what a hybrid author is or when someone is referred as trade. You have writers or you have professional authors, it simplifies it, gives journalists dedicated language to use.

    Sure indie slime will attempt to say, MICHAEL YOU ARE WRONG! or as one awesome commenter said “Incoherent Cretins like Mike Kozlowski Should Not Be Called Journalists.”

  11. The dictionary definition of “author” is typically, “The original writer of a literary work.” Also used is, “An originator or creator.”

    So according to these two definitions anyone who creates any literary work is an author.

    Insofar as “professional author”, I suppose we can use, “One who practices writing as a profession.” That would have to include self-published writers and writers published by traditional publishers.

    I am mainly a self-published author (since 1989) who now makes well over $100,000 a year by working only 1 or 2 hours a day from my writing. (In fact, I don’t have to do anything at all to make over $100,000 a year from residual income from my books.) My self-published retirement book “How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free” (with over 200,000 copies sold and now selling over 25,000 copies a year) outsells all the retirement books published by mainstream publishers such as Wiley, Simon & Schuster, Random House, and HarperCollins. Indeed, Wiley and Random House wanted to take over publication of “How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free” but I told them to take a hike because I would make only a third of what I make by self-publishing the book.

    I suppose that Kozlowski will still say that I too am “indie slime” (his term in the comment above) and not a “professional author” — even though my annual income is in the top 5 percent of income earners.

    Whatever! I have now made over $2,000,000 in pretax profits from my writing and self-publishing. Not too bad for a “unprofessional author” or “indie slime”, wouldn’t you say?

    These inspirational quotations are some of my favorite when it comes to dealing with people who try to put me down because of my success as an author:

    “The less people know, the more stubbornly they know it.”
    — Osho (Rajneesh)

    “Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain … and most fools do.”
    — Dale Carnegie

    “A non-doer is very often a critic — that is, someone who sits back and watches doers, and then waxes philosophically about how the doers are doing. It’s easy to be a critic, but being a doer requires effort, risk, and change.”
    — Dr. Wayne Dyer

    “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambition. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”
    — Mark Twain

    And Susan, here is a quote just for you:

    “Do not correct a fool; he will hate you. Correct a wise person, instead, and he will appreciate you for what you have done.”
    — Unknown wise person

    Moral of the story: Self-publishing can be much more profitable and satisfying than being published by a major publisher! (Although I will not rule out being published by a traditional publisher if the circumstances are right.)

    Ernie J. Zelinski
    International Best-Selling Author
    “Helping Adventurous Souls Live Prosperous and Free”
    Author of the Bestseller “How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free”
    (Over 200,000 copies sold and published in 9 languages)
    and the International Bestseller “The Joy of Not Working’
    (Over 250,000 copies sold and published in 17 languages)

  12. Self publishers can call themselves whatever they like. They can themselves Fred. Or Wilma. Or Barney or Betty or Professional. It doesn’t matter. Whenever I sample self published authors, I’m either underwhelmed by mediocrity or crushed by shoddiness.

    It may be unfair to lump all self published authors under an unsatisfactory label, but the low to poor quality is consistent across the spectrum. Calling yourselves “professional” is giving yourself a pat on the back and I’m not buying.

  13. Rache Gertz // July 17, 2015 at 3:17 pm //

    To me, his point shouldn’t be taken to mean that people shouldn’t self-publish or that there shouldn’t be self-published writers out there.
    Perhaps a few concrete examples should be noted:

    Theodor Geissel – he was a professional author; Don Freeman, who gave us the lovable Corduroy books… and the list goes on of well-known published books and authors – few people will make that kind of claim to fame.

    However, we should let this type of editorial determine what we buy and read. Just because some self-publishes doesn’t mean that their book isn’t a good book, or worthy of a much more rich and famous book contract. It doesn’t mean it isn’t worthy of my time. Just because someone bears the title professional author does not mean I will enjoy their book, either. And, parents are still the decision makers for the books they will buy their children – and if they so happen to like the works of a local self-published (dare I say, author) or writer, then so be it. Perhaps the author of that blog should consider looking up the definition of the word author. If someone writes a book, they are the author of that book – regardless if it’s published or not. And if they self-publish, then that is what they have done – most likely their work will sell locally vs. being on a national best seller list, if that is that bloggers only definition of true success at authorship.

  14. Michael Kozlowski is an idiot and you shouldn’t even bother reacting to his nonsense. Did you see this? http://stephenleather.blogspot.com/2015/08/the-self-styled-self-publishing-experts.html It says all the there is to say, frankly….

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