‘Aspiring Author’, really?


I was having a discussion with some writer friends recently and this topic came into the conversation. It is also popped up on my publisher’s website, and they are of the same opinion as me. That although it is certainly a very common turn of phrase on writing forums and social media sites, it is also a complete cop-out!

Why ‘Aspiring’? Yes, to be an author may well be a long-held dream, certainly in my case, it has been a lifetime’s ambition, harboured and nurtured since I was a child. So I understand the longing, the desire to achieve ‘Author’ status, what I don’t understand or agree with, is the sentiment behind the word ‘aspiring’. It is such a terribly weak statement.

You are not an ‘aspiring doctor’, or teacher, or lawyer, or dentist…you either ARE a doctor, teacher, lawyer, dentist, or you are NOT. There is no halfway house. Yes, you may be ‘in training’ to join one of those professions, but you should still consider yourself to BE one of them, even if you can’t practise on your patients! Have confidence in your abilities and in where you want to go. You wouldn’t consider yourself an ‘aspiring human’, would you? Ummm…well in some cases that may actually be true! 😀

Have the strength of your convictions and the confidence to see them through.

Putting yourself in the category of ‘Aspiring Author’, merely tells the world that you don’t have confidence in your own writing and that you don’t consider yourself to be a professional. Why should any publishing house take you on and take you seriously, if you don’t take yourself seriously. Publishing houses are not looking for amateurs. Debut novelists, new writers…YES! But ‘Aspiring Authors’? Really?

Your approach and your thinking must always be professional, from the outset. No weak ‘aspiring’ here.

Some consider the sacred term ‘author’ to be based on sales. That you cannot call yourself an author until you are published and those royalty cheques start coming through your letterbox. Again…is this right? If you are basing your status as an author purely on sales…then you are in the wrong profession! Yes, being an author is a professional endeavour, but it is also a highly creative one. Creativity should and MUST always come before hard cash.

Although it is easy to get carried away with stories of instant success and truck loads of money, Christopher Paolini is a good example. If you are writing to get rich…you are DEFINITELY in the wrong profession! These stories hit the headlines precisely because they are so rare. Most writers struggle with sales and building their fan base for years and years, there’s nothing instant about it. It’s hard graft all the way. A good mate of mine, Will, once said that writing the book was the easiest part about it and he’s absolutely right. As hard or as easy as you may find the process of writing and editing your work, that really is the easiest part of being an author.

Think of the great writers of the 19th and 20th century, few of them had instant success with their very first book. They too had to build their readership, hone their craft and get on the carousel of marketing and promotion. Why a carousel? Because it NEVER stops! If they had dismissed themselves as merely ‘aspiring authors’, when their first book languished on the bookshelves due to poor sales, then they probably would never have written a second or third book and thus deprived us readers of some literary masterworks!

Sales has nothing to do with writing or wanting to be a writer. Yes, you’ve got to be professional and yes, good sales are what you want to strive for and achieve, but it should NEVER be a motivational tool or a yardstick by which you class yourself as an author or not.

Be what you want to be. Have confidence in your abilities, your imagination and your writing. There is nothing ‘aspiring’ about it…inspiring, hell yes! Wouldn’t you rather be an inspiring author than an aspiring one?

Whatever your professional day job…You ARE a writer…or you are not. That simple.

For me?

I am and have always been a writer, an author and proud to be one. 😀

31 thoughts on “‘Aspiring Author’, really?

  1. Becca Chopra says:

    Inspiring words! I’ve always found that if you “Act as if…” it becomes a reality. So, if you sit down and write, you become a writer.
    Becca Chopra, author of The Chakra Diaries

  2. Viv says:

    yes indeed.
    I got into an argument on Twitter with someone who insisted that I was not an author at all as I had not been specially chosen by a publishing house and had merely been a jumped up nobody self publishing my own stuff.
    There is a lot of it around but whether you agree with that stand or not, I’m only aspiring not to be a starving author!

    • Honey, you ARE a writer because that is what you want to be. Nobody has the right to tell you what you are or are not. YOU decide. Yes, I have been fortunate enough to have found a publisher, but I would still have considered myself a writer if I had not. I have lots of writer friends, some with publishers and some who are self-published. They are ALL authors, and bloody good ones too! 😀

      At the risk of repeating myself…

      Be what you want to be! 😀

    • Kate Jack says:

      How wrong that person is – sounds like jealousy to me, because you’ve actually achieved something and maybe they haven’t.

      • Yeap. It’s sad isn’t it? It’s always easy for people like that to tear others down, but the truth is, jealousy is the ugliest of emotions. Luckily not one I’ve ever been afflicted by! But yes, Viv has followed her dreams, desn’t matter how she got there, she has achieved something real and precious. She is an author. Simple as that! 😀

      • Kate Jack says:

        Couldn’t agree more, Sophie.

      • Viv says:

        You could be right at that, though the person in question is with a small new publisher and claims to be a best seller. Being a suspicious sort, I checked figures and ranking etc and found that if it were so, it was only for a day or two. I’ve been on a number of best-seller lists on Amazon, but for all that would never claim to be a best seller. That for me is reserved for making it into the Top 100 of all Kindle books, still a remote possibility. I might be tempted when/if I break into the top 1000, though. Good excuse for some fizzy wine!
        Thank you for suggesting that, as it hadn’t actually occurred to me. xx

      • Kate Jack says:

        Claiming to be a best seller isn’t very professional, neither is condemning your for self-publishing. This person better watch out, ‘cos e books are on the rise.

      • Good luck, Viv, and keep believing in yourself! 🙂

  3. Kate Jack says:

    Spot on, Sophie. A writer I am and always will be. Unpublished, as yet, but whether or not I do get published I’ll be an author until the day I die. 😀

    • Absolutely! You are a writer because that’s what and who you are, because you live and breathe writing, because you cannot function without it and nor would you want to. I have no doubt, that ink flows in your veins!

      BTW, you are also a VERY talented writer, Kate! 😀 xx

  4. Cherry says:

    Well said Sophie!

    • 😀 Totally! Write, write, write! That’s all you need…oh, and Ashen, I would never describe your beautiful writing as ‘just writing’. You are a VERY gifted author! 😀

  5. […] ‘Aspiring Author’, really? (sophieetallis.wordpress.com) […]

  6. tricia says:

    This has been a very inspiring post, Sophie. I agree with you–perception is everything, and the way you view yourself has an effect on the end result. I might refer to myself as an ‘author’ while online, but never in real life. After reading your post, I’m ready to shout out to the world, “I’m an author!”

  7. kimatsafkhet says:

    and of course if sales where what matters, van Gogh would not be an artist, but rather an aspiring artist. After all, he only sold one painting while he was still alive. And calling van Gogh an aspiring artist is… well… [insert word for really bloody stupid here], isn’t it?

    • Lol! Totally right! Aspiring artist or aspiring writer is just such a weak statement.
      Not only is the word ‘author’ a description of what and who you are, it is also a declaration of how you see yourself and who you want to be. If writers and artists classed themselves as merely ‘aspiring’, I doubt we would have half of the wonderful art and books that we have!

  8. […] ‘Aspiring Author’, really? (sophieetallis.wordpress.com) […]

    • Good post. It is an interesting debate, but again for me, the word ‘aspiring’ is just too wishy washy. Be what you want to be. If writing is your love, your passion…then you ARE a writer, whether you’re published or not. 🙂

  9. willatsafkhet says:

    I guarantee that the publisher does not want to spend any time or effort on aspiring. We want writers!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.