When Do Writers Believe They’ve Arrived as Authors?

by | Writing | 4 comments

image by andreas

Many writers think they’re bona fide authors when they’ve published a book. Today, anyone can publish books through CreateSpace, or the like. Others think accumulating thousands of fans shows they’ve arrived. But what about authors who have smaller followings of loyal fans? For me, I think what makes an author is what makes an accountant, a teacher, a hairdresser, or a pastor.

Here are personal examples of what I mean.


A young man in the school where I taught accepted a teaching position because he needed a job. He didn’t prepare lessons, which put him on probation, and he complained about the students. At the day’s closing bell, he left faster than his pupils, taking home nothing. He taught, but he wasn’t a teacher.

image by Mohamed_hassan

After gaining a BA in math, I taught junior high science and math for three years. I didn’t have a degree in education, but I spent hours preparing lessons, searching for creative ways to get math across to my students. When at first I wasn’t reaching students on a person-to-person level, I consulted the department head and learned what students needed and wanted. I applied what I learned and connected with my pupils.

I didn’t want to pursue teaching as a career, but it was important to me that those children left my class prepared for next year’s classes. I think I was a teacher. Now I enjoy teaching in Bible studies and workshops for writers.


image by Thedigitalartist

I wrote five completed manuscripts before I received a contract. On the first, I gained an agent, but the book was rejected for “not standout writing.” I studied books on the craft, attended writing conferences and workshops, joined critique groups, and entered contests for the feedback. For the second through fourth manuscripts, the rejections got better, inviting me to submit other stories. A publisher contracted my fifth. For my sixth manuscript, my publisher thought it was a good story, but the protagonist was unlikeable and too much about her sport was distracting. I reworked it four times before I received a contract.

For my seventh book, I tried some techniques I thought readers would enjoy. A different publisher contracted the book quickly.


Then last year, I was invited to be part of a Valentine’s Day e-book collection with four other authors. I’d have no editor to help make my book shine. So, I hired an editor. I may never recover the cost, but I couldn’t publish something substandard.

That’s when I realized I’d arrived as an author.

Although the collection earned #1 bestseller ribbon in two categories on Amazon, which was wonderful for me and the other authors, I discovered striving for excellence for readers is what makes me feel like I’ve arrived as an author.

This means I’ll continue to learn my craft, subject my stories to criticism, and work to promote my books so readers in my audience can find them.

Is a published book or lots of fans what makes a writer feel like they’ve arrived as an author, or is it something more? Click to tweet.

What has or will make you think you have arrived as an author?

COOKING UP KISSES – has earned an Amazon #1 bestseller ribbon in two categories!

Five scrumptious e-book romance novellas, all for $0.99 or free on KindleUnlimited. Here’s the link.  Here are the blurbs:





Candace Parks lives a passionless life in Richmond. The computer programmer returns to the empty family home in the Blue Ridge Mountains solely to evaluate her job, faith, and boyfriend. Her high school crush, Trigg Alderman, who barely remembers her, visits his Gram next door. Sorting her life out? How about nothing of the sort!



Alana Mulvaney’s life is in a holding pattern. Consumed by day-to-day operations of the family business, Alana has no time for fun or romance. But a little fun and a whole lot of romance is just what Alana’s sisters have in mind when they learn childhood friend Donovan O’Reilly has returned to town.
Donovan O’Reilly has loved Alana Mulvaney since he moved in next door to her at the age of five. But he broke her heart when he was forced to leave town, and now that he’s returned home to Winding Ridge he has a second chance to prove himself. But is it too late to earn her trust…and her love…again?


Toni Littlebird believes that when she meets the man God created for her, she’ll know—and she’ll love him in that very moment.
But then Dax Hendrick roars into Hummingbird Hollow on a noisy, crippled Harley, stinking up the air and chasing away her beloved hummingbirds. One look into the intruder’s eyes and her heart sinks. He’s “The One.” She’d been right about knowing, but wrong about something far more important: She will never love this man!


Cara Peyton is content with her life, her trendy Baltimore bookshop is perfect for her. But when her ex turns up to remodel the store, asking for a second chance, she’s torn and unsure about risking her heart again. Can he convince her to trust him, and God, before the job is finished?




Another Valentine’s Day and Quinn Randolph prefers to spend it with her sweet rescue lab. Who needs men and their broken promises? Especially Pierce Karson’s! Years ago, his desertion shattered her. Now he’s trying to steal the property she targeted to expand her florist shop! Pierce only wants to belong…and for Quinn to choose him. His Valentine Promise…

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  1. mimionlife

    I am almost finished writing my first Christian romance. I look forward to the editing and hopefully publishing process. Thank you for your wisdom.

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      Mimi, completion of an entire manuscript is a great accomplishment. I hope you enjoy editing as much as I do.

  2. pamelasthibodeaux

    Great post Zoe!
    Striving and arriving are intertwined I think….
    Good luck and God’s blessings

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      Striving and arriving… I like it, Pam.

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