I read the obituary today of Lewis Nordan, a writer who wasn’t published until he was in his mid-40’s. While I’ve never read Mr. Norday, I was struck by the import that the age he was “published” was mentioned in his obituary above what he had published. I suppose the human interest of his late publishing was deemed by the editors to be of greater significance than the work he’d done.
I’ve been writing since my mid-20’s and have never been “published” though I’ve made repeated attempts to be published—that is sending out queries, finding an agent (3), but never finding the professional editing and marketing that comes with being “published.” Whenever I’ve had half a chance, I’ve been working on a book for now on 40 years. I’ve lost jobs because of writing at work. I’ve a stack of novels ready to be published (by me if I must).
Finally, in my early 60’s, I did it myself. How that came to be was a confluence of the ability to publish yourself through print on demand, Amazon, Ingram, Baker and Taylor and others offering worldwide distribution, the software that allows you to layout a book and cover, and a clear idea or delusion that my writing was worth reading.
Does that make me less of a writer? I suppose it does, certainly in the eyes of those who disparage self-published writers as lacking patience or skill to achieve true publication.
I don’t mean this to be a lament. It’s all about the journey, isn’t it? I am still going through the effort to find a new agent and join the ranks of “published” authors.
Should I be “published” will that make a difference? I will certainly welcome the professional editing and knowledge of the business that comes with being “published.” But I don’t think I will—given the state of the industry now—be freed from the chores of marketing myself. I don’t anticipate the luxury of being able to focus solely on my writing, though that is a nice dream. By publishing myself, I’ve had to find my own audience and while it is small, it appears to be growing through the auspices of the internet and social media. I believe that still makes me a writer.