Writers: Don’t gatekeep yourself

Matthew Arnold Stern
3 min readJun 21, 2024
A security gate

A couple of debates on social media concerned me as a writer. One is the controversy over a best-selling author who now offers a $500 boot camp that guarantees writers will get six-figure book deals like she did. The other is about whether there’s a distinction between a writer and an author. Both tie into something that disturbs me, gatekeeping.

We writers face enough obstacles in getting our words to readers. First is just creating the book. It’s a long and difficult process with many dead ends. (You can watch a video about what happened with a YA fantasy series I started a couple of years ago.) Then there’s the submission process with its many, many rejections. And even when we get the book published, we still have to market it and deal with one-star reviews. On top of all this, we have to deal with imposter syndrome, the doubts of family members and friends, and the struggle to gather enough energy after a long day of work and household chores to write a few paragraphs.

It’s worse when we use language to gatekeep ourselves.

Inherent in both the $500 boot camp and author vs writer debates is the idea there are different levels of writers. Writers only have value if they are published authors, published authors only have value if they’re traditionally published, and traditionally published authors only have value if they get…

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Matthew Arnold Stern

A novelist and award-winning public speaker and technical writer. My novels Amiga and The Remainders are available now.