I've received lots of writing advice over the years a lot of it sought out but even more of it unasked for. Sometimes I wonder if I'm any better. There are a lot of romantic notions tied to the writing life when the truth of it is it's just a lot of hard work.
Doing what you love sometimes comes at a high price. At least if you desire to become successful at it and if you're sitting there reading this asking yourself Am I A Real Writer? Here's the only thing you really need to know in order to answer that question: Are you above all else compelled to write? If you are chances are you're a writer.
No if you're asking me is it easy to become a successful writer, well that's another question and a much more nebulous question at that. What do you mean by successful? Contracted? Published? Best Selling? Agented? If you need any of these things to validate you, well be prepared to bust your ass because none of them are guaranteed. Let's break these things down.
Contracted: The definition of contracted hasn't changed. But what goes in that contract and who contracts you has. The e-reader has changed the game so the Big Six doesn't hold the keys it once did. There are e-publishers out there looking for product--it still has to be high quality but if you want to be established in the contracted world there are places to do it. The home for my two contracted works Another Way To Die and No Ordinary Love is MuseItUp Publishing http://museituppublishing.com/. You can find other e-publishers at http://epic.org/. (Electronic Publishing Industry Coalition)
Published: There are lots of avenues open to the writer with Kindle, Smashwords, ect. self publishing is a perfectly legit option. Just make sure you have quality cover art, formatting, editing, and good writing in place and do so with caution. But don't let anyone tell you it makes you less of a published author--because it doesn't. Of course you can still go traditional and e-house. I'm striking a balance between the two.
Agented: The role of the agent is changing. I'm not an expert in this area. I recommend seeing Bob Mayer and J.A. Konrath for advice.
Best Selling? Total crapshoot. That all falls to what writers dread--self promotion. I'm going to tell you what one writer told me I needed- Email Loops, Twitter, FB, Blog, and a Website at the very least. But more than anything you need to write your ass off.
So what makes you a real writer? You write. You don't bitch you don't moan and you certainly don't give yourself any excuses not to write. And certainly don't do it around me. If you want tea and sympathy go to your friends and family. I am here to tell you becoming a successful writer takes everything you've got and then some and it is not for a second guaranteed. Easy for me to say right? I have contracted work. NOT easy. I write and promote most of my days. I'm single. And social settings aren't my strong suit. Promotion is HARD. Those contracts did not come overnight. It's blood sweat and tears and most of the time there isn't someone you love saying way to go or as excited as you.
So if you're a writer, write. Because in the end if you're a writer it's what defines you and you are driven to do it.