My Viewpoint – Writer Vs Author.
I’m pretty much agreed with the general consensus on the term ‘author’ in that it sits well with me as being for writers who have had a book published. You can be an author of fiction, non-fiction, or novellas or shorter fiction. Short stories – yeah, provided they’re published somewhere like a magazine or collection of stories.
I’m a bit hazy over bylines for magazine or newspaper feature articles however – are you a writer or an author of them? I figure ‘writer’ but others may differ. Besides, it gets even hazier when you look at the academic world where published articles and thesis’s are often ‘authored’ by the academic.
Publishing-wise – I don’t care anymore whether it’s actually printed, hardback, paperback, POD or ebook – the form doesn’t concern me. Having my author’s name on it, does.
Like Amber, I have previously had a few articles published, under different names. I’ve also been the so-called author of several blogs on various topics. I don’t count those as obtaining me the title, ‘author’ in my own mind. I’ve also worked in freelance writing, and made a tiny bit of money (or other rewards) via that outlet. Again, not an author. My choice.
I write. I write a lot. I continue to write, for years on end. Even if something is not working for me, or has finished successfully, my focus is on my next writing project. And the next one. For years, I’ve been a writer. Since I was a baby, I wanted to be a writer. When I die, I’ll still be writing. It’s undeniable. As long as I retain some mental faculties, and am able to move a cursor around a screen.
Like many, I struggled for a number of years at being at ease with telling people I am a writer. Claiming that title was difficult, it always comes with that next question – ‘Oh, what have you written?’ and if they’re overly polite – ‘Oh, I must pick up a copy to read it.’ Right at the start of moving back into writing as a career, I even lied to people and told them I was a long-haul truck driver. For comic relief, mostly. Few believed me, unfortunately. Otherwise it would have been a much longer conversation.
Even now, I’m looked on with some concern if I respond with my writer title, and there is little understanding of the sheer hard work of it. But I no longer can be bothered providing a defence for the fact that I apparently sit at home not doing much, and should be perfectly capable of providing volunteer time at such-and-such. I just tell them I’m busy on a novel. That word seems to hold some power, at least.
When I do publish my debut novel – when, not if – I will call myself an author – of that novel, that is, and get on with more writing. What will I tell people who ask then? Something along the lines of, ‘I’m the author of a psychological thriller called [Insert novel name/s here], which you’ll find [insert publishing device here] and I’m currently busy writing [something else].’
They’ll nod their understanding of me being a real life author. Wow.
Wow. A real “author”. Kudos to me (hah, in the future). But this brings up Dean Wesley Smith’s interpretation. What does an author do at the point of publishing the book? As compared with what a writer does. Or importantly, what am I comfortable with doing?
What will I do?
I’d love to go down the DW Smith route, I really would. This whole promotion thing – getting a large community of writer friends via blogging and Twitter, and a facebook page. It just doesn’t sit well for me. I’m never going to be the type who asks my twitter contacts to help promote my new debut novel. Heck, I’m not even good at reciprocating – I only recommend books if I’ve read them, and would recommend them whole-heartedly (I’m quite good at retweeting debut novel announcements, however). Which gets me sometimes into some difficulty, if I have a few issues with the book itself.
I enjoy the whole graphical design element of ebook creation – probably too much given its risk of impacting my actual writing. That’s the creative artist in me, however, a part of me that has been around as long as the writer within. So, I’m not going to deny my muse that opportunity to play around with graphics, and blurbs and things.
3. That Author Platform Thing
As a long time niche blogger, I’ve found the whole author platform / blogging thing the hardest aspect of this so far. It’s time consuming, and there is no guarantee that I will find the right audience – for my novels – or just a bunch of like-minded writers. Like-minded writers – who read blogs on writing – aren’t my target audience generally.
But I’ll take some of what people who have gone before me onboard, to the extent that I’m comfortable with, I think. I’m already doing some of it, but a lot less than some experts suggest.
Yes, I would like to say that once I do publish that first novel, I could comfortably walk away from it, and get on with writing the next novel, and the next. Taking stock of some of the latests trends in Indie, I had already noted the need to provide a certain quantity of branded work over a briefer period of time than traditionally. No longer do many authors come out with a new work product once a year.
I have already developed ideas for a sequel novel, or two, and a prequel novella which may form a freebie sample of my work, or bonus for any readers I pick up. There’s plenty of work to move onto once that first novel is put to bed. Heck, I can hardly stop myself from starting work on those in the middle of my first. Discipline, lady, discipline!
Dean Wesley Smith suggests that authors – the people he says are looking back historically at their work with all their promotions, are missing out on their best promotion tool for their old books – their next book.
He, and several of his commenters, are prolific writers. They can bring out fiction novels at great quantities over a year.
I can’t (yet) do that. It’s far too early to say whether I will ever be able to do so. My writing process, and my writing a novel for publication – it’s just too new to forsee that capability.
I am also mind-stuck in the concept of quality literature, even as a genre-writer. I’m disillusioned by the amount of spelling errors, grammar errors and vivid formatting errors I’ve found in the ebooks I’ve recently read. However, other authors and experts in the field (are there any experts nowadays, seriously?) have found equal problems in some traditionally published books by top-name authors. My own feelings concerning what is a quality effort need to change to allow me to work through the quantity vs quality issue.
But I’d like to be able to do it – produce lots of quality books, as the promotion for my work. My mind mumbles over the term ‘quality’ however. Just how much editing will I do, before I think it’s ready to go? As my own writing process changes and matures, I realise as an outliner, I have set myself up reasonably decently to not have to go through too many rewrites. My process is also changing with my current WIP. I’ve gone against expert advice, and discovered that reading back on sections is making my work quicker. Sacrilege, yes. But in some smaller fashion, I’m cutting and rewriting as I go.
I’m also aware that many authors actually enjoy their traditional publishing entourage, and others enjoy some if not all of the promotional aspects like book tours, blog tours, gathering reviews. I don’t want to dismiss any thing as yet, I want to give some of it a go. The good thing about all this, is that all of us can give it a go.
So, I’m currently choosing a median line on the mindset.
I am a writer, and always will be focussed on writing – this book, and then the next. It will be an interesting year again for indie publishing and promotions also, I’m sure. Who knows how promotions, marketing and all this might change over the course of my own writing. But hopefully, when it comes time for that first – and second – publishment – I hope that my mindset will be similar to how I wish it always was now –
Bum on seat. Writing that next one. Blogging when I feel like it. Tweeting when I enjoy it. Doing challenges for the sake of the learning, not to stay connected. Leaving comments when I
enjoy posts, and believe I have something of value to add, not in the hope for reciprocation. Not just blogging about writing. Actually doing it. Living it. Putting the term onto my next passport* and ** being honest with the flow of my own opinions and that of the industry.
* I’ve just renewed my passport. But due to some issues with Australian photobooths (never trust small spaces with a half-curtain), my application has been twice now rejected. It’s been so long getting through the red-tape and holiday period now, that I forget what profession I stuck onto the application form. And to add, my many photographs have got grumpier and grumpier as they’ve moved on in iterations.
I’ll kick myself if I stuck something like ‘housewife’ onto that form, though. I think I stuck ‘writer’ on there, and somehow expected the officials to challenge me to prove it. Seems I still have some mindset alterations to do as yet.
** I found it slightly sad in Amber’s post that she felt the need to edit and add the end caveat –
[Edited to add: This post is in no way meant to tell anyone when it is right for them to say they are an author. It is an individual decision that you all have a right to make…]
You see, the thing with all of this is that both the terms, and the interpretation of them are solely one person’s opinion – the most important person of all – me. Or Amber. Or DW Smith. Or you. Amber and her own commenters admit that their own opinions are subject to fluctuation. So are mine.
However, I don’t expect that I will ever offer up a caveat that I’m not telling anyone what to think. We all make up our own minds, anyway. A blog post is simply that – one opinion, at that time. If someone chooses to take offence, then the problem sits with that person, not the author of a particular blog post. Sadly, a lot of people do term their own comments in ways that make it look like they are offended by an idea, and need to refute it. But we’re big people now, life’s like that. Full of diversity.
That goes for how a writer chooses to promote their work, or not, also.
And how a writer personally feels they gain the most rewards from their writing – (recognition, critique group opinions, twitter noise, quantity of five star reviews, reader appreciation, financial rewards, quantity of sales, reaching bestseller lists, simply seeing their work published, or seeing a quantity of work published, or by the amounts of people who join in their blog under apps like Google Connect, Facebook Likes, or by finally just finishing that damned novel that’s been bugging them for life). It’s all something that is personal, and something I’m learning to grow a thick skin around.
And how all of this, is in a constant state of flux, both personally, and within the industry.
It’s always a discussion. If you have a different viewpoint, or if some of what I said here reminds you of something else, please let me know. Add your comments, write your views. Blog your own interpretation, and link back to me, as I’ve linked back to DW Smith and Amber West.
Every viewpoint I read, gives me something else to consider in my own writing life, and is much appreciated.
Open the conversation.