In response to a question from an academic, I spent an hour yesterday generating a list of pro writers who began in fanzines.
Within fandom the idea of what is a “pro” can be rather flexible. Very few people become full-time writers. And among friends, anybody who’s sold one sf/fantasy story might claim to be a “pro.” In the Sixties my local sf club, LASFS, held a Fanquet when a member sold his/her first story. That rite of passage transformed the person’s social identity from fan to writer.
I prefer to reserve the word “pro” for those who have repeatedly sold sf/fantasy stories — who have demonstrated a journeyman level of craftsmanship. In that respect I find myself in company with Dr. Gafia (rich brown) —
In fandom, generally it means anyone who has been paid for a published sf story. Although, since it is in fact short for “professional,” it probably should only be applied only to those who have made a significant portion of their living by writing sf.
Surprisingly, there isn’t that great a difference between the minimum fannish definition – anyone who has sold a story – and the minimum professional qualification for a writer to join SFWA as an Active member, which is “Three Paid Sales of prose fiction (such as short stories) to Qualifying Professional Markets” for $250 in aggregate.
Incidentally, I am not including my list of pros-into-fans because I don’t want people who aren’t on it to feel bad. (I’ve made bloggers feel bad enough this week.) Besides, there are only so many Ray Bradburys who belong at the top of this pyramid, and while Mike Resnick has bought a story or two from an awful lot of fans over the years, there is no urgent reason to widen the bottom of the pyramid by adding our names.