The Writer’s Well Podcast has done it again. They’ve asked an incredibly fascinating and thought-provoking question: What makes you feel like a real author?

They asked this of each other—the two hosts Rachel Herron and J. Thorn, as well as one of Rachel’s friends, Sophie Littlefield. Sophie recalled the first time she was published—a short piece in “True Confessions” Magazine. She went out and bought three copies. Rachel didn’t need to buy anything, but seeing her first book on a bookstore shelf did it for her.

For me, I remember vividly getting my box of author copies of my first book. I ripped it open, took out a book and immediately turned it over to see the ISBN code on the back. Knowing that my book was now part of the Library of Congress catalog made me feel that I’d made it. I was a “real author”.

Today with self-publishing and digital-only publishing, things are different. Unless you are traditionally published with a major New York publisher, you are less likely to see your book on a bookstore shelf. Although, you can certainly buy yourself a box of author copies and then bask in the glow of your own ISBN, and I highly recommend doing that.

But what is it that makes you feel like a real author?

Would you need to make the USA Today Bestseller list? Be in the top 10 or 20 of your genre on Amazon? Maybe even just getting accepted for a Bookbub listing would make you feel like you’d made it. Or it could be something as simple as hearing from a reader who loved your book or reading positive reviews on Amazon or seeing people sign up for your newsletter.

All of these sorts of external validation make us feel like “real authors” and yes, they are important. These are achievements to be celebrated. Just writing those magic words “The End” is an achievement on its own.

I believe strongly in celebrating all of these achievements. Wherever we are in our writing career we’re always aiming for something more, some sort of validation that what we’re working so hard at is worthwhile.

So, what is it that you need?

If you need help getting through to the end, join me on the Facebook group Sprints & Spirits where I’m helping authors be accountable and get those pages done, get those stories written. And, of course, if you want one-on-one help, email me or contact me through my website and I’ll be happy to coach you through the writing or completing of your book.