Guest post: Is the term ‘aspiring author’ a legitimate one? by Alana Woods

Tonight’s guest blog post, on the topic of wannabe writers, is brought to you by thriller novelist, short story and non-fiction author, spotlightee and fiction interviewee Alana Woods.

Is the term aspiring author a legitimate one?

It’s certainly a very widely used term. I’ve just done a Google search and there are dozens of blog sites and articles all targeting and writing about the aspiring author.

So what does one look like?

Keen and eager, if the promo photos of smiling boys and girls are anything to go by. I use boys and girls loosely as you don’t have to be a teenager to be aspiring.

It’s so obvious they’ve yet to hit the brick walls, spend years on the learning curve, and finally get to that point where they wonder if it’s all worth it and decide, hell yes, it is.

So if it’s such an established term why am I questioning it?

Because I’ve seen blogging about it recently in the indie author blogosphere. The proposition being put forward is that if you’re writing then you’re a writer, no aspiring about it.

It got me thinking and I have some sympathy for the view. After all, back when I was finding my way it never occurred to me to put a tag on myself that would shout I didn’t as yet really know what I was doing.

Even so, I did all of the things I suggest now to others because I knew I needed input to grow as a writer. I took night classes and eventually signed up for a university degree in professional writing and I joined writing groups and organisations. Anything that might help me improve.

And there it is in a nutshell: to help me improve.

Aspiring may not be the best term to use, but it alerts others that a person is still finding their way.

Are there more accurate or kinder labels we could use? Learner perhaps. Apprentice.

My reason for using aspiring is this: writers new to the craft are in the apprenticeship stage. They need to serve that apprenticeship before gaining the ranks of those who have done so. I also think the term is now so widely used it would resist change.

Heaven forbid, though, that aspiring authors should have to go so far as to put it in front of their names on book covers. Apart from any other reason I mentally add that tag to poorly written books anyway.

Over the years aspiring authors have asked if I would give my opinion of their efforts. I imagine they asked because of my credentials. I’m an award-winning author and professional editor with many years’ experience. In critiquing work I saw recurring weaknesses and wrote a tips sheet they could keep for reference. That tips sheet formed the basis for my newly-published 25 essential writing tips: guide to writing good fiction.

So, if you are an aspiring author, take heart. Don’t give up, but do work at improving. I don’t say perfecting, because none of us believe we’ll ever achieve that.

Thank you, Alana! Please do take a look at Alana’s essential tips book… I contributed an item re. second person viewpoint to it. 🙂

Alana’s family immigrated to Australia from the UK when she was four and bought land an hour south of Adelaide.  For the next 15 years she explored her way through school, the beach, roaming as far as her bike would take her in a day, and books.

In 1966 she met John, married him the next year, and the year after had twins, Simone and Simon— Alana says she and John still get ribbed about that.

Three years later Nicole joined the team—for a moment they thought she was twins too, and joke now that it would have been Nicole and Nicholas.  You can imagine the derision!

In 1980 they moved to Canberra to further their careers until 2004 when they moved to Queensland, spending five years there before moving back to Canberra because they missed their family. They also now spend time in the UK with Simone, her husband and two sons. You can also read Alana’s guest post on editing and spotlight.


If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please”.

The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with memoirist Patrick Turley – the four hundred and fiftieth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.

You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything… and follow me on Twitter where each new posting is automatically announced. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at SmashwordsSony Reader StoreBarnes & NobleiTunes BookstoreKobo and Amazon, with more to follow. I have a new forum, friend me on Facebook, like me on Facebook, connect with me on LinkedIn, find me on Tumblr, complete my website’s Contact me page or plain and simple, email me.  I also now have a new blog creation service especially for, but not limited to, writers.

Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) 🙂 on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.

7 thoughts on “Guest post: Is the term ‘aspiring author’ a legitimate one? by Alana Woods

  1. Ian Miller says:

    According to my Concise Oxford, “aspire” means to desire earnestly, so I guess you don’t actually have to be a learner. However, putting that aside, why would anyone want to describe themselves as “an aspiring author”? Surely you are better off just to get the job done and finish something, in which case, you are an author. You may not be a very good one, but that is another story.


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