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Julie Barrett is a freelance writer and photographer based in Plano, TX.

Writing Credits, Professional And Otherwise

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I'm facing a deadline so this may be a tad disjointed. I wanted to get this down on the journal and will probably revisit this in the next couple of weeks. Comments are welcome, though. I also have a question at the end.

A friend and I have been discussing exactly what would be a professional publishing credit. With the caveat that your mileage may vary, here's how I define it:

You submit a work to a third party. It gets accepted, goes through an editing process, and you get paid something. Congratulations! It doesn't have to be a novel or short story. It can be a newspaper or magazine article or an electronic publication. Perhaps you've written some ad copy or provided the copy for a web site. You did it, and you got paid. I hope you were paid a fair price, but that's for another rant. ;-)

I would add a couple of caveats. The organization that pays you should have a good reputation. If you submit your work to an author mill and get piddling royalties, I submit that's not professional publication. For fiction, the publisher does not have to be approved by any of the major professional author organizations such as SFWA, MWA, RWA or HWA. (Some newer publishers are working toward approval. Some small publishers can't afford pro rates, but they edit well, produce a quality publication, and pay their authors. I contend both are pro credits.)

Is self-publishing a professional credit? I would say that in most cases, no. If you're self-publishing a previously-published book that's been reverted to you, well, you already have the pro credit. If you have a long background of professionally-published work and you decide to publish on your own, I would say it depends.

At this point there are few standards for self-published works (and most of those are technical), though there are many self-published authors who approach their craft in a thoroughly professional manner. I believe that one day there will be a set of generally recognized standards, and that will be a good thing. I also believe there will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth and rending of garments before a set of standards emerges.

And now here's the question I'd like to ask you: Let's say you've self-published some ebooks and are now querying agents and publishers. Do you mention them, knowing that an agent or editor will probably Google your name? Or do you not mention them and let the agent or editor ask you about them?

I'm genuinely curious. 

Tags: Writing  Publishing

Filed under: Writing   Publishing         
11/15/2013 3:30:50 PM
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