A short time ago I took the shortest business trip I have ever done to fly up to Washington and meet some great writer friends in person. After attending the Capital Indie Book Con with my wonderful fellow authors I was fortunate to also go to dinner with a number of my newly met friends. We sat around discussing the day with its ups and downs as we waited for our food and eventually the conversation moved to the difference between those that write for hobby and those that are in it as a business to be a professional, that want to eventually truly make this their full time chosen profession.
I want to focus on this in two different posts because I have observed a great deal on both sides and therefore would like to give equal time and wordage to each type of writer without creating a novella of a blog post. I know a number of hobbyist writers. There is nothing wrong with being one and I hope no one ever feels I believe there is. The most important thing for people that fall into this category is to simply admit that that is what they are.
I think through my actions, or lack there of as is the case recently, many would consider me to be in this group. I do not deny that while it is my ambition to be in the professional category, there are still so many things I do not know how to do or have struggled immensely with fitting into my schedule that I am still working to get out of the hobby designation. The point for me though is that I am working on it.
Hobbyists, even those that are very dedicated, are ones that don't take their craft seriously enough to develop outside of the strict aspects of it. For those in the CosPlay world that would be someone that wears the outfits and tends the events but does not make their accessories, costumes / uniforms and is only "in character" when necessary. In my writing world it is a writer that does actually write a book but may never publish it or if they do publish they never take the time to promote or think of it in terms of a business to grow. In the Indie publishing world this goes even further because there are those that call themselves professionals but they barely rise to the level of hobbyist. They may not edit their work, they join multiple social media platforms and groups within them and talk about being an author but never make anything real happen with their stated goals. Again I know because of time, lack of knowledge and also dealing slightly with my personal insecurities I have fallen more than once into this category. I am also working to rectify it as soon as possible.
We as authors either professional, or those like me working to become professional, must compete and overcome the stigmas that develop from this hobbyist impression. Stating that you are learning, like me, or that you are hoping and aspiring to become more of a professional, like me, is wonderful and lets people know that you are still growing. One of the most professional things you can do is admit your shortcomings and set a plan for moving forward. I am a professional hobbyist at the moment but I am hoping by the end of the year that I will have done enough to drop the hobbyist part of my title.