Writer Vs Author : Where I’m at with this

On the 10th of January, through browsing my tweeps, and reading my RSS feeds, there it was – not one, but two different blog posts talking about the differences between writers and authors.

Both made valid and interesting points, some of each I didn’t agree whole-heartedly with. But mostly, it got me thinking about where I’m at with both terms, and how I see myself – and will publically introduce myself in this world.

One Viewpoint.

Dean Wesley Smith’s The New World of Publishing : Writer vs. Author, states that –

— A writer is a person who writes.

— An author is somebody who has written.

Dean, who categorises himself as a writer, points out that it’s not just having a published book that defines the author, it’s the mindset. The posts considers the differences from an Indie published writer’s (or authors) viewpoint. According to that post, once a writer publishes his book, he just gets on with the next one. Whereas an author has the mindset that all his hard-worked edits and rewrites, coverart, blurb-writing etc which took such a long time, deserve further promotion.

According to this mindset, a writer looks forward to simply getting on with producing their next book, and then their next, while an author sits looking backward, going down the equally long route of promotion, marketing and hoiking off their book through social networks.

Dean’s further suggests – to quote him –

So maybe a better way to define Author and Writer these indie publishing days is this:

— A Writer is a person who writes the next story.

— An Author is a person who spends their time promoting their last story.

Yet maybe yet another way of looking at these two diverse camps is this:

— A Writer gets feedback from the simple act of writing and finishing stories.

— An Author must get feedback from external sources such as reviews, sales, promotions, editors, workshops, and so on.

Dean further contends that currently authors are the ones espousing all the rules – in my paraphrase – thou shalt promote your book through social networks, blogs, twitter, and have an author platform providing further content and opportunities to sell your book. Thou shalt seek out editors, beta readers, book cover designers, ebook designers, and other services to get your book ready for promotion. Once published, Thou also shalt watch your sales figures on a daily basis, and call yourself an author.

Of course, the comments on the post are as thought-provoking as the post itself. I recommend reading all of it. In particular, I was intrigued by somebody who said he called himself an author on his passport, because he was making money from his book. Author is a legitimate passport work title. But in most countries I’m aware of, you can basically make up whatever title you want anyway. From a tax office perspective, I’m sure they’ll be happy to accept a certain percentage, no matter what title you claim for yourself.

A Second Viewpoint.

Discovered on the same day in a catchup of old RSS reads, I found Amber West’s post at her blog entitled Why I Don’t Call Myself An Author.

Does this make you an author?

Amber has a similar idea as Dean’s post, in that she won’t be calling herself an author until she has a published book. She also states that she has a couple of articles published, but doesn’t consider this makes her an author.

Amber’s own interpretation of publication is a little different, however, in that she currently doesn’t consider publishing as an Indie via ebooks as perhaps being an author. She wants to see the book via traditional print methods, something tangible as a motif for the author title. But to give her her dues, she’s also aware that her own feelings over the matter might well change over time, and if she does go down the indie or self-publishing route herself.

As does a commenter on the post.

Interestingly, the comments bring up the question of where the whole author thing comes from in that somebody states that those who tell us to call ourselves authors are doing so to perhaps guide us into positive affirmations. In affirmations, we are told that we should phrase these as living what we dream of in the future. My own nine year old’s affirmations for this coming school year are just that – voiced into the future like she’s already that person. ‘I am creative.’ ‘I am a mind master’. Or for me – ‘I am an author – of a bestselling thriller novel topping the NY Times bestselling list. Er-hem.’

So, no wonder we have so many interpretations of both terms, and proponents of both, from very different aspects. Which leaves me with my own viewpoint.

Read on for my own viewpoints on Writer vs Author.

4 thoughts on “Writer Vs Author : Where I’m at with this

  1. Interesting post and, yes, an on-going discussion. I am squarely on the Writer side. Author seems limiting to me these days – Writers holds endless possibilities….

  2. I dont think there is a problem. Words are understood in many different ways depending on who the one understanding it / the reader is. That depends on age, sex, culture, education, and so on. I think that the fact that we understand words differently is great! I can use that knowledge when writing my book and the same story can have different meaning to different people. Thats great!

    1. That’s another great attitude towards writing, Magdelena. The perception differences on these two words are so very different from one person to the other, that the question will always be out there.

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