“What have you published?”
As soon as you tell people you are a novelist, they want to know what you have written. Are you a celebrity they should know? Can they find you at the local bookstore? It’s natural. I’ve been guilty of it myself in the old days. The question stings when it happens. I feel defensive. But I smile and say, "Not yet!"
I am a novelist as yet unpublished. That doesn’t make me less of a novelist. Does it? Of course not. Being a novelist is what I do, not who I am. Who I am is a multilayered person of many interests and quirks. “Novelist” is only one of the identities I claim.
Still, I face my own insecurities about my babies, my works when queried on my publishing track record. It really doesn’t matter to the neighbors whether I have published numerous articles in professional journals and have a dozen professional books published. Their eyes glaze over as you explain to them how you spent your 39 years in the teaching profession and wrote extensively about how to teach reading to children. Can you get that at Barnes and Noble? No, but check me out on Amazon.com!