On being a neopro

What’s the difference between being an amateur and being a pro? There are all sorts of definitions. From most permissive to least:

The Olympic Standard: You have been paid for your work, so you’re a pro.

Breaking Through: You got paid pro rates for at least one story.

Stamp of Approval: You’ve sold three stories or a novel to a pro market, thus qualifying for a professional organization (SFWA qualifications; other genres may differ).

Going Strong: You’ve passed the SFWA requirements and even sold a fourth short story, thus disqualifying you for the contests for beginners, including Writers of the Future.

One of the Gang: You start feeling like a professional.

Notice what I did there? Feeling like you belong comes last.

Right now, I’ve had three pro acceptances, and when that third one is published, I will join SFWA. I’ll keep submitting to Writers of the Future until I have a fourth published short in a pro market. But am I a pro?


I’ll accept the label neopro, which basically says “good enough to get published at this level occasionally, but still wet behind the ears.” I’ve got a couple of friends who think I should do panels at cons. Seriously? Who’s going to listen to my advice when there are people who’ve been doing this for years? There’s nothing I can say about writing that they won’t say, and probably more cogently. I’m still learning, and I’ve got a long way to go.

I might have moved up to the big leagues (maybe), but I’m still spending most of my time on the bench . . . which reminds me, I need to get back to writing.

Bookmark the permalink.


  1. It’s funny about pros (and neopros). There’s always someone who knows more than you do – but that doesn’t make your knowledge and input any less valuable. I think if you’ve got friends thinking you could do panels, you ought to give it serious thought. Yes, someone else might say it better in your opinion – that doesn’t mean that Joe won’t understand it better coming from you.


    • Well, to be honest . . . I e-mailed someone on the programming committee of Philcon (link is to their LJ; last year’s con is here) the other day about being on panels this year. They’re not actually doing that level of programming yet for this year, but she did encourage me to respond when they put out the call later this year.

      I still feel like an impostor, though. πŸ˜‰

  2. Sometimes we can hear something until the cows come home and it doesn’t get past the ears … and then, someone says exactly the same thing, in exactly the same way, and we GET IT!
    Never underestimate the value that others put on your words, or assume it either!
    Go be on a panel woman. You’ve earned the right to blow your own trumpet!

    • Yes’m. As I mentioned to Nicki above, I did express interest in being on panels at Philcon. It won’t be until November, but I’ll post my schedule here in October or early November, whenever it’s available, so you know I’m doing it. πŸ™‚

  3. Yeah, but you never stop learning and I don’t think that “imposter” feeling ever goes away. I think you should do the panels, too. Being on a panel is a great experience.

    • Oh – and I want to add another definition of pro — you actually *make a living* writing. πŸ™‚ Some of us who make a living writing don’t qualify for the pro-orgs because we work with smaller publishers or we’re indies.

      • Oops. I meant to include that. Well, I know I’ll be revisiting this topic later this year — it’s on the schedule for this fall in the Merry-Go-Round Tour — and I’ll be sure to touch on it then. Thanks for the reminder. πŸ™‚

    • Okay, okay, color me convinced. I don’t know about it being a great experience — I hated being a teacher’s assistant in grad school because I really don’t like being in front of an audience — but I’m sure I’ll learn something from it.

  4. Good luck with the panels. As someone who’s barely made the “Olympic standard” level, it can be nice to hear from people who aren’t all that far “ahead” of me.

    • Thanks! I’ll try to be helpful — and when you’re at this level, you’ll be doing panels too, right? πŸ™‚

Comments are closed