As times change, and publishing itself continually mutates, there is a not-so-great-debate which flares up now and then about what constitutes a professional Author these days.The title itself is under scrutiny as more writers self publish and Indie presses crop up more and more.
Some point out that calling everyone who publishes something an author, devalues the title of author. Well, maybe a new title needs to be created. Maybe "author" or even "professional author" doesn't mean what it used to. Maybe we are clinging to something that existed for a while, but is no longer relevant or valid. Take the title of Doctor. That is a title with weight, accompanied by years of schooling and given out by universities.
What are the qualifications for author?
Do you have to go to school for it?
Do you have to have a degree?
Is there a National Board of Real Authors overseeing the use of the title Author to make sure that there aren't fake authors operating?
Maybe "Author" is a social/media construct created in a now gone era when authors meant more and earned more. The working author, someone who can spend eight hours a day at the keyboard is something of a luxury now. They still exist, but many more also have day jobs, full-time or part-time. So their full income is not earned through writing alone.
On the flip-side of that is the writer. Which is anyone who writes. And particularly someone who has not earned the title author with a $3000 advance (or the equivalent in sales of their indie/self-published book). The label writer seems a thin line from author and in a way it's become a bit shaming.
And what do I call myself? Technically I'm "just"a writer. It's been some eight years since anything I wrote earned an advance and even back then it was from a comics publisher, not a Big 5 publisher. So my professional organization of choice, the SFWA wouldn't recognize my status. And now, with my indie published book Carmine Rojas which is nowhere near earning the income required by the SFWA, I am still technically a lowly writer and not an author.
The feeling is that if I call myself an author I'm an impostor, unworthy of the title. But how true is that anymore? Is income the objective leveler it once was? Are Indie authors qualified to call themselves authors? Is it time the entire title of author either dies out, or is replaced by something else?