Tara K. Harper
I've been a professional writer since I was 17. Nope, that's not a typo. I began ghost-writing theses and dissertations when I was in high school. I wrote briefly as a journalist, worked as an editor, taught writing and editing, and have served as an Artist in Residence. On the side, I also wrote my first several SF/Fantasy novels. However, I didn't do anything with those initial books at first since, at the time, getting published was Something that Happened to Other People. Under forceable pressure from a friend (I bet you think I'm kidding), I did finally write a query letter to an agent. Next thing I knew, I was published at a major publishing house, with my first best-seller in the stores. Hitting the right market at the right time with the right kind of story and the right protagonist? I'd say there was both Providence and a serious amount of luck working for me, side by side.
Since then, I've won many awards and honors for science and technical writing. As a fiction author, I'm not prolific; I tend to take my time. So I can claim only 10 published novels, but those do include several national best-sellers, a couple awards nominees (Oregon Book Awards), international sales in various languages, and books on tape/CD.
Over the years, I've watched the self-publishing market closely, since the opportunities continue to grow in that field. This is especially true if the work is more of a specialized book with a small audience, and the author can manage all aspects of the book themselves. Although I've been traditionally published up to this point, I find that I'm more and more interested in experimenting with self-publishing for some of my own very small, niche projects.
Regardless of where life takes me, I will always be a writer -- it's part of my fundamental definition of self. If it's not writing on paper, it's stories in music, or story-telling through art, or just in my head that I'm writing. Always writing. Thank God I love what I do, or I'd probably drive myself nuts.