I'm always curious about what "published" means these days. Does it ever mean bound paper put out by a reputable publishing houses?
About ten years ago I had a coworker dating someone in publishing who told her he published a story and it kind of weirded her out, presumably because it might have spoke to his motive. Little did she know at the time that it was a short story he submitted to a blog and it was selected to be shown online, and it had to be one of the most poorly written pieces I've ever read. (I know, everybody's a critic.) Which explains in part why they later married and he now owns a diner.
I'm not surprised Aristoshark has been published by an online literary magazine given his great writing style. Who can forget his description of DudeInNova's loving relationship with his stuffed animals? It was by far the best written of all the "scary stories" in a thread on that subject, and it's the one story that was removed. Who knows, it might have been repurposed and published. Regardless, if he published anything on any subject matter online or off, believe me, I'd buy it.
I do have a friend who's a published author, with his third almost completed, with books on the shelves of bookstores nationwide. His publisher sets him up on book tours and it was thrilling sitting in the audience of the New York Public Library in a packed house with an audience asking questions, then lining up for his autograph. He got into writing with articles for a local real estate magazine. Everyone thinks they have talent but he's got it. His publisher says his books outsell their other authors.
I've another who at one time wrote the #1 R&B song in America. He recently published an unrelated memoir but even he had to publish through what would once have been considered "Vanity Press." And his life was fascinating!
I recently completely rewrote a book based on an original author's concept only because of a connection to the director of one of the world's largest international publishing houses that's been around for over a century. It's still in the pipeline because the author prefers her version, as she should, but the editor thinks otherwise. But she holds the cards. I'd make a better editor than writer anyway.
I don't have the patience to write a novel. That's why I started out as a Madison Avenue copywriter, and stick around on sites like this to motivate me to at least journal my thoughts. What people think of them is largely inconsequential to me, which is a good thing since I'm aware of my own limits.