Almost daily I see someone on Facebook bring up what I call "the author question." That is, the question of what makes an author.
There are many who presume that merely being published through any venue, traditional or independent, is enough. "Just get your stories out there!" They say it's more important to have your stories in print, even "e" print, than to merely share them with friends. "Big" publishing is frowned on as bastardization of one's "talent" by comparison.
The difference is shallow: money. Traditional publishing is to some extent a form of dirty politics. Authors encounter the standard layout of commercial middlemen, none of whom would exist without someone to write the main product. Unfortunately, the creative mind behind the books we readers devour so blithely rarely sees the rewards of their priceless labors. The author will continue to lose valuable writing hours in self-promotion, mandatory for sales.
The raw truth is that publishing on your own encounters the same problems: practical survival. The lack of reliable support system is parallel.
Publishing on "free" sites only opens up e-theft and plagiarism opportunities for different "middlemen" to exploit the creative mind. There is no legal protection for the writer after the story is freely released into the public domain. It's an out-contract. A gift of a hefty chunk of a writer's own soul.
Free sites, I refuse to feed. Well-intentioned monsters, they prey on those desperate to be "authors." I've also tried my hand at being a tiny voice among the murky millions self-published through a limitless publishing system. I had help, for which I will always be grateful; had I not done that, the courage to go on in a world plainly out of control would not have developed.
The only route I haven't tried is traditional publishing. I may not have the skill ("talent" requires a lot of hard work) to be invited to the brutal battle from among an almost unlimited pool of applicants.
To sum it up, anyone can be a writer. It takes courage, tenacity, and hard-earned skill to be rightfully called an "author." It's about endurance. Not venue.
Start somewhere. Keep going.
~ R. Lee Tipton