Thursday, April 12, 2012


There's a debate going on over whether the term "pre-published" is annoying, crazy, accurate, or a harmless affectation. What do you all think?

I have no problem with it generally, but I do think if I heard that in a pitch ("I'm a pre-published author and...") or saw it in a query, I'd probably first think-- mark of an amateur!-- and then shrug as all that matters is the book really.

Some are adamant that "author" means published and "writer" means unpublished, but I call myself a writer and I've been post-published for decades. :)

Methinks these distinctions are going the way of the buggy whip anyway, but hey, life is short. No need to borrow annoyance.  But I teach in college, and there are many "pre-professional" majors, and I don't have a problem with the notion that it takes a while to get to be a professional, and there's nothing wrong with being in that time period.

Anyway, terminology. Just words. What about the attitude? I'd say "ingratitude" is the attitude that actually does annoy me-- the people-- writers, students, whatever-- who think that they should be ostentatiously not grateful for your help because "it's your job" or "you get your jollies this way."

Alicia working herself into a rant so as to avoid a mess of grading-to-do


Amalie Berlin said...

I avoid pre-published, to me it sounds like an assurance of one day being post-published... I suppose that's easy enough if you plan on self-publishing, but if that's not your big shiny goal, what's the guarantee you'll ever BE post-?

I hate to be wrong about things :)

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Pre-published makes me cringe. Why advertise -- let alone brag -- that you haven't met your goals yet?

As for writer/author. Whatever. I call myself a writer because I write more than fiction. That doesn't bother me nearly as much as the pre-published. See? I'm cringing again.

Tacy Ray said...

Someone who designates themselves as pre-published? Color me pre-impressed.

Jenny said...

Now that anyone, no matter how incompetent, can become published simply by uploading a file to Amazon, the whole concept of "published author" has become meaningless.

Now all that's left to aspire to is to become a "wonderful author" or "favorite author," but these titles can only be conferred by others.

Edittorrent said...

*ggg* at pre-impressed!

Julie Harrington said...

I think people just want to be able to cite something when asked what their experience is or if they have any credentials. How about working hard on a project, have something finished, learning the craft, and working on book #2 (or whatever)?

I always say writer instead of author -- whether I was published at the time or not -- just because I feel pretentious saying "I'm an author." LOL. It always sounds snooty coming out of my mouth.


Edittorrent said...

Julie, "I'm an author" always reminds me of that cardgame when I was a kid. Shakespeare, Robert Louis Stevenson....

I'll stick with "writer." :)

Does "author" sound like you write books and nothing else? I mean, if you write articles, are you an "author?" Just wondering.


Julie Harrington said...

Alicia, that's a good point. Writer could be anything -- scripts, books, articles... Author, I think, tends to translate to book.


tinlizzie said...

Pre-published but clearly post-jackass.

I understand the urge to project the confidence that you will someday be published but there are so many better, less aggrandizing, and far less grating ways to do so.

"... author of an as yet unpublished ..."

Leona said...

HAHAHAHAH lol I always took pre-published to mean a book was coming I have one due out July 6th? A publisher has it and it's on its way but not yet published... That's what I took it for LOLOL *wipes tear of laughter* I guess you never know what people will think.

LOL re rant! and I say writer too. someone said I had to change my FB to author since I'm about to be published now it says something like writer working at author *giggle*

Clare K. R. Miller said...

I don't have a problem with the term (though I don't use it, and I don't know what's wrong with "unpublished"... okay, maybe I have a small problem), but I don't think it really makes sense to equate it with pre-professional degrees. If you're pre-med or pre-law, you're working on a degree that will then allow you to move on to further education that will then allow you to practice medicine or law.

Of course there isn't really an equivalent of med school or law school for writers, but I would think publication is more like getting your doctorate or passing the bar then it is like getting an undergraduate degree.

Unknown said...

I don't know why there should be a demarcation between pre- and post-published. In my experience the doubts and rejections continue even after publication. Your first publication is just one milestone in a long and individual journey.

Edittorrent said...

Coleen, very true. It's sort of like losing your virginity... it's not like everything truly gets perfect then. Our problems are just getting more complicated!

Jami Gold said...

Wow. Yes, I've heard of the term being used for those under contract when their first book hasn't come out yet (which makes sense to me--they are at a different point in the process than others who are unpublished). But for unpublished writers in general? Let's give that a big "no."

If that was the meaning, then everyone would be pre-published, and there wouldn't be a point anymore.

*cue The Incredibles theme of "If everyone's special, no one is" here*

Wes said...

TiceB nailed it. Pre-published is definitely bush-league (a baseball term for a low level minor league).

Whirlochre said...

If we permit people to be 'pre-published' then at some stage in the future there will be others claiming to be 'pre-pre-published' and we'll all have gotten nowhere.