Michael Kozlowski, writing on the goodereader.com news site last month, believes that you should only be allowed to call yourself an author if you make your living as a writer.

That is a fair comment, but he then goes on to break down the requirements for entry to the Published Authors Network, which amounts to earning a $1,000 advance, or the same in royalties, or $5,000 for a self-published book. That's hardly earning a living, and by that token, the vast majority of published authors would only be allowed to call themselves authors at certain times during their career, or indeed certain times of the year. Or even, to take it to its logical extreme, only at certain times of the week, depending on how things are going. He would probably prefer the Society of Authors' criteria, which allows entry to anyone who has had a book published by a third party publisher.

He also says that "Indie authors and self-published authors who claim they are real authors makes [sic] me laugh. The term basically doesn’t mean anything." He believes that "a line needs to be drawn in the sand so that we know who is the real deal".

Where that line exactly is to be drawn, he may have difficulty establishing. Actor, playwright and director Steven Berkoff has recently chosen to self-publish his two new books after failing to find a conventional publisher.

Known for playing villains in films including Octopussy and Beverly Hills Cop, Berkoff is releasing two books on Amazon: Bad Guy, a journal of his time on a Hollywood movie "where the conditions were so appalling, and the directing so absurd, the whole cast was in a state of semi-shock", and Richard II In New York, which records one of his career high points directing the Shakespeare play in 1994.

Berkoff's books have previously been released by publishers including Faber & Faber and Methuen, but this time around he failed to find a home for his books; taking the self-publishing route, he says, "returns your sense of independence, and even dignity, and that is so important.... the main thing is to get back your own sense of purpose and not to be kowtowing to other people". 

His decision comes as Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords, predicts that self-publishing is only set to grow. With almost 400,000 books published in the US last year, Coker posited that indie authors represented 15% of the ebook market for 2013, and that a "fairly conservative" estimate would give them more than a third (35%) of the overall trade book market in seven years, and 50% of ebook sales by the year 2020.

Berkoff's move into self-publishing follows Pulitzer prize-winner David Mamet's decision to go it alone last year "because I am a curmudgeon, and because publishing is like Hollywood – nobody ever does the marketing they promise". The bestselling author and mountaineer Joe Simpson, meanwhile, set up his own digital publishing company last year after falling out with his publisher.

So where would YOU draw the line?

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