Some people say that to be called a legitimate author you should be vetted through a traditional publisher. After all, anyone can just press “upload” nowadays and find themselves published on Amazon or Smashwords.
So, fair enough. Just exactly how big does this publisher have to be? How big of a print run? If you’re published by a small press with a print run of a few hundred, does it still count? Does it count more than the person who self-published at Amazon and sold 3000 copies?
What if you’re published by one of the big publishing houses, but no one buys your book. It’s a dismal flop. Does that still count?
What if you’re book is pirated, and everyone reads it but no one pays for it?
What if a publisher buys your book, but goes under before they get the chance to publish it? Or is being a publisher kind of like being the Pope, and as long as they bless you with the publisher holy water you’re good?
Does it count if other people call you an author, and not just your mom and your friends, but…say…fans? People you’ve never met, who might live on the other side of the world, and who write to tell you how much they loved your work?
I’m guessing it all depends on who you ask, but in my experience as a self-published author, don’t expect most of the traditionally published authors to think of you as one of them. You may be an author, but you’re not an AUTHOR. And if that hurts your feelings, well, get used to it.