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Just looked at the preview... Looong post. Sorries.
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I totally understand those trad published writers who have low expectations of indies; I totally understand those indies who feel that the trad route is legally and artistically stifling, elitist, exclusive, industrial.
I understand how both can feel threatened by the other. And yes, among indies the lack of gatekeepers means that the dross gets published. And yeas, among the trads, the presence of gatekeepers and hurdles to jump (should that be hurdlekeepers) keeps a lot of great stuff from being published.
Actually I've been frustrated with trad publishers' attitudes to ebooks in general, but also with their excessive caution about getting involved. But they are monolithic businesses. They have wages to pay and shareholders to satisfy.
For me, the best thing about going indie is that if your book is of interest to two thousand people, in the past, those two thousand would never have been able to read it. In fact, the traditional gatekeepers set the bar an awful lot higher than that. Indie publishing serves readers like nothing else; it gives them a choice that they have never had before.
To a lesser extent, it also serves writers. So what do I think you have to do to justify calling yourself a writer? Well, 1. I'm a language student and 2. I'm an editor. For a linguist, you're a writer as soon as you devote extra time to writing, for whatever reason. Do NanoWriMo every year? You are a writer. You are a professional writer as soon as you make a regular income (no matter how small) from writing.
I think that storytelling is so much a fundamental element of what our culture tells us is what it means to be human, that potentially there are far more writers out there than people generally think. Storytellers aren't special people. Everyone is a storyteller. Novelists are people who write down stories.
Author is for many people a reserved word. It's etymology offers no clues to when you can call yourself an author without offending someone. It's generally pretty safe to let other people call you an author, and if you gain celebrity from writing a book you can probably call yourself one.
I think DeanWesSmi is adopting the right approach; getting read should be the aim of anyone who wants to write for a living; the more choice you have, the better.
It's easy to say that if you're a good writer you've nothing to fear from a little competition. But it differs from the expression that the innocent man has nothing to fear from the law in that if you are innocent, you can at least be certain that you are. You can never really be certain that you are a good writer. I think Dan Brown is a terrible writer but millions of sales disagree with me. I think Phyllis Jules is a great writer but a lot of readers can't get past the first couple of chapters. In short, we don't all agree on what's good. So writers will always be a little unsure of themselves, and this makes them susceptible to fear, and feeling threatened. Dean doesn't feel this way because he his familiar with both options.
Finally, as an outsider, there is a point where a writer can feel that he's made it, he's arrived. It is precisely when writing pays enough that he can quit the day job. Lots of indies make a nice lower-mid level income. It's a reasonable ambition.