Back when I was president of the SoCal chapter of the Mystery Writers of America, some aspiring writers got upset with me for refusing to refer to them as “pre-published” instead. I think it’s a ridiculous term, a lame attempt at empowerment that makes me want to “pre-vomit.” Should we also calling aspiring screenwriters “pre-produced?” Midlist authors “pre-bestselling authors?” Are horny guys “pre-laid?”
I recently expressed that view again on Dorothyl, the mailing list for mystery fans and authors. I’m sure I’m about to get slammed again, accused of being a heart-less, successful author who is unsympathetic to the plight of struggling, unpublished writers.
And to them I say, “Hey, I was an aspiring writer for a lot of years…I wasn’t born with a book contract and a TV gig.”
The term “pre-published” is bullshit, a silly empowerment exercise that only makes whoever is using it look even more amateurish and desperate.
Writing doesn’t guarantee publication. And just because you write, that doesn’t mean you are any good at it. And as hard as it is for struggling writers to accept, you aren’t a professional writer until you’re published and paid for your work (or, in the case of screenwriters, until you’ve actually sold a screenplay).
Granted, there are a lot of professional writers who aren’t any good. I may be one of them. But the fact remains, they are authors. Those who aren’t published and paid for their work are not. They are aspiring authors/aspiring writers.
Someone who needs to call themselves “pre-published” for their self-esteem is more likely to become “self-published” than anything else…