Do you write as a hobby or as a profession?
And how can you tell the difference?
I think I'm going to go on a bit of a spiel right now. I just can't control my views on this anymore, because I'm tired of this argument. Whether or not you are a professional writer shouldn't be determined by whether or not you are published. In this day and age, the gatekeepers are gone, and the heathens are just as published as traditional authors. Some of us are proving even more prolific.
I like to write as a hobby. Don't get me wrong, I would gladly make my living writing, but at the moment it just isn't possible. As such, I still consider myself a professional writer. Being paid and being a professional writer aren't mutually exclusive. I'm not making money taking pictures, but I do well enough to consider myself a photographer, I even won a competition or two back in the day. The line between professional and hobby writer is much thinner than it was in days gone by, and I for one am thankful for that.
What I'm saying is, not being paid to write doesn't make me any less of a writer than someone who does. It means my stories and experiences come from the heart, with nothing but transparency as I attempt to use my struggles to help you. Does someone like Dean Koontz, who is known to use ghostwriters, a more professional writer than I am? Not to my eyes. I believe Stephen King put it best, If you wrote something for which someone sent you a check, if you cashed the check and it didn't bounce, and if you then paid the light bill with the money, I consider you talented.
Amazon and other self publishing are included in that. And hell, I'll take it a step further. Even if you have never received a single dime, but you have finished a story or other kind of writing, you are talented, and should consider yourself amongst the professionals.
Whether or not you're a professional writer shouldn't matter. You are a writer, and that's what matters. Taking the time to write the words from your head into coherent sentences is a skill. Putting a great cover together is a skill. Marketing said book is a skill. Getting people to look at your books is a skill. As an independent author, I'd argue you might be a better individual author than one surrounded by a marketing team, feeding them lines from a focus group, and having art on the cover that doesn't relate to your books. At least yours comes from the heart. Most people would be lost and give up trying to figure all of this stuff out, but you persevered and finished your work.
Don't let anyone take away your accomplishments. If they feel you aren't a “professional” writer, you shove your books under their noses! If they say, anyone can write a book, then ask to see theirs! If they have one, then walk away. You don't owe anyone an explanation. Don't let others belittle and shame you into not sharing your story. I guarantee at least one person wants to read it. Keep being awesome and #SupportIndieAuthors!