Several weeks ago I saw another author post a question on Facebook about what makes an author.
Is it one book published, five books published, or maybe ten books? How many books would she have to publish in order to call herself an author?
She proceeded to go into some detail about a conversation she had with a woman who told her that because she only had one full novel published and one short story published on Amazon and that they weren’t sold in book stores that she couldn’t call herself an author.
Of course, this AUTHOR got tons of support, as she should have, from other authors and writers, telling her that even with just one book on the market, she could call herself an author if she wanted.
But the whole post got me thinking.
Aside from the fact that what in the blue heck has this world come to that someone would even think it’s acceptable to say something like that to someone, it got me thinking about what makes an author, an author.
Is it the number of books published? Is it being published at all? What about self-published books? I’ve known a few authors in my day that don’t consider self-published works to have much credit because they weren’t accepted by an agent, editor, or publisher, so do they believe those authors are just writers? And, while we are at it, does it matter? I mean, author or writer, is one word more important than the other? Or does one imply a higher level of status or education? Does the title of “author” imply that the person is better than a writer, putting the author on a pedestal, like that of a Knight while the writer is the squire?
Before my debut novel published, I considered myself a “writer” and it wasn’t until after my debut published, I even called myself an “author”. I don’t really have a reason as to why I did this other than it just didn’t feel right to call myself an author unless I had a book to sell. I couldn’t fathom putting myself in the same career category as J.K. Rowling, Nicholas Sparks, or Stephanie Meyer, and call myself an “Author”. They were authors. I was a writer.
Again, though, I have to wonder if that stemmed from this stigma that we’ve socially imposed upon ourselves. Think of that whole Knight and Squire scenario.
People can write and publish book after book after book, penning hundreds throughout the course of their career, or people can write a handful of books before calling themselves as satisfied and hanging up their computers. With those, there are also people can write for years, never publishing anything other than blog posts, or even some who don’t even do that. They keep their written words in a safe place where only they know of them, read them, and enjoy them, never allowing anyone else to ever see them.
So who is the author and who is the writer?
In doing research for this post, I not only asked my writer friends, but I also read a bunch of articles and blog posts about this very topic. Time after time I heard, and read the same thing—unpublished = writer, published = author.
Okay. I understand that and I believe that, considering that’s how I’ve thought about it for the last seven years (Wow. Seven years. Have I really been writing for seven years?) Back to my point, however, with that said, when you look up the definitions for “writer” and “author”, they really kind of blend into one another and neither of them specifies between “unpublished” and “published”.
Writer: NOUN 1. a person engaged in writing books, articles, stories, etc., esp. as an occupation or profession.
Author: NOUN 1. a person who writes a novel, poem, essay, etc.; the composer of a literary work, as distinguished from a compiler, translator, editor, or copyist. 2. the literary production or productions of a writer: to find a passage in an author. 3. the maker of anything; creator; originator: the author of a new tax plan. VERB 5. to write; be the author of 6. to originate; create a design for
I suppose by definition, if some unpublished writers want to call themselves authors or if some authors wish to continue to call themselves writers, it’s completely acceptable.
So why isn’t it socially acceptable?
Furthermore, is it really a bad thing that it’s not? Does reaching the status of Author gives us a sense of accomplishment? Is it something to strive for, as though we use the words as stepping stones? I mean, there are different levels of employee status in companies, why not the writing world? Certainly, a receptionist isn’t at the level of a Vice President or CFO. Obviously, there isn’t anything wrong with that, so why would there be between writer and author?
As for the woman’s claim that only one novel doesn’t equal an author, remember Emily Bronte’s only novel was Wuthering Heights. Sylvia Plath’s only novel was The Bell Jar. And Margaret Mitchell’s only novel was Gone With the Wind.
Are they just “writers”?
Which is exactly what I would have said to the woman telling me I wasn’t an author.
P. S. As for what I think, whether it’s one novel or one hundred novels, published or unpublished, an author is an author is an author . . . or writer—whichever you prefer to call yourself because, in the end, it’s your life.
18 thoughts on “An author is an author is an author #writing #amwriting #author #romance #fantasy”
Exactly! Spot on. Bingo. (you get the picture 😉 ) “a rose by any other name” is still a rose. Great topic!
LOL. I try. I’m still thrown from some of my own questions.
So, this got me thinking. When people ask me what I do, as far as my profession, I say I’m a writer. I’ve used author, too, so either is fine to me. For a long time, I didn’t consider myself a writer or an author until money exchanged hands with my written words. That was the bar I was told needed to be met back in the day, even if it was just $1. Today, I have writer friends who just do it as a hobby. Yes, they’re writers and authors because they’ve authored a work, but it is not their profession. So, to sum up, I’ve changed my mind and believe that anyone who has authored a work of writing is an author/writer. 😀
By definition, what you’ve changed your mind to is correct. I suppose in the end, it’s what the people see themselves as and are comfortable with. I’m, certainly, not going to say “you haven’t published anything, you’re not an author” to anyone. Gah. I can’t imagine someone saying that to me. Lol.
I totally agree with you 🙂 No one ever praises my work or does shout outs to me so it’s hard for me to think I’m writer, but this was a beautiful post.
Seven years and four books in and I still have issues with hardly selling books to having even family and friends who haven’t read any of them, or if they have, they haven’t left reviews. My own family and friends! It’s a hard world that requires a thick skin. Just keep your chin up and keep plugging along!
Dang, and yeah, being a writer and trying to get people to read the books is tough. Honestly, I have a thin view on actually ever publishing a book at this point.
Isn’t being an author/writer kind of like being an artist? Either you have it in you to create or you don’t. That’s always how I thought of it. Then again, I blog/write but would not call myself either. Hmmmm, thoughtful post.
Would that be like an artist and a painter? Or sculptor? Lol. Can . . . open . . . worms . . . everywhere . . .
Thanks for stopping by again! I’m still stumped by a few of my own questions. I’ll have to think on some of them. Maybe there is another blog post about at least one of them. 🙂
Great distinction! I’ve always separated writer from author with the difference being that one is published; one is not. For me, the classification helped me to work harder, to not settle, and to be willing to make tougher sacrifices. I’ve always been pretty hard on myself, so this kind of sets me up for doom in a way, haha. I like how you see it, though, and it’s something I need to keep in mind. Great post!
Interesting indeed- great post!
I called myself a Writer, but then one day God told me I was an Author. Mind you, this was way before I ever began publishing a book that I felt would grant me the fancy”Author” title. Either way…I think it wise to go with what He says, ha. I also think it wise to not let the world identify me; a recipe for suicide.
True words and wonderful point! Thank you for stopping by! 🙂
This was enlightening – because I call myself a writer, and let people who buy my stories call me an author! I work at being a writer, but my business is as an author. I could call myself both – as a person who paints pictures could call themselves a painter or an artist – but I like to hang my label of ‘writer’ around my head and let other people call me author (or whatever else they choose). In the end, through, it doesn’t matter, as long as I write, write, write. And that I like doing it. The label is not the task.
Thanks for stopping by today! I agree that the most important thing is that we keep on writing! No matter what we are called or want to call ourselves. 🙂 Happy Writing!
While writing, I usually thought of myself as a writer. An author was something I aspired to be. But having to have more than one book published or for it to be traditionally published in order to be an author is a crock. Don’t worry about what others think.
Regarding this line in your article: “What about self published books? I’ve known a few authors in my day that don’t consider self published works to have much credit because…”
Here’s a thought. What about people who “start their own businesses”? Because if any person believes that because a book isn’t produced by an agent, editor or publisher they’re not validated. What about the candle maker who makes her own candles? Are her candles are suddenly not good because they’re not made by a mass-production company? What about the person who starts her own cake making company? Is he, apparently, inferior because they do it rather than the bland “cake department” of a supermarket?
Books are a product. The person who writes a book is creating a product. You are a business person, similar to the candle maker or the cake baker in my example above. Personal preference is to refer to me as an independent author and an independent publisher because I do this “independently” from the big companies, and for the entirely SAME reason why a person would become a candle maker, a cake baker, a wedding planner, a photographer, a seamstress, a woodworker, an electrician working for themselves rather than a bigger company… It’s because we want to have a sense of independence and to BE in control of our own destiny rather than live from paycheck to paycheck controlled by the success of SOMEONE ELSE.
I’m writing when I was replying to this article. When I hit “SEND” I’m its author. An author is the creator of a written work. It’s on the same level as the artist being the creator of a painted or drawn work, a musician being the creator of a piece of music. We’re not referring to an independent musician or artist as “self-composed musician” or “self-created artist.” We simply call them an “independent artist” or “independent musician.”
“Traditionally published” simply means that the person chose a more traditional route to produce their product, i.e. they went for a company that is long established. If you look at the Wikipedia for Del Rey Books it states: “It is a separate imprint established in 1977 under the editorship of author Lester del Rey and his wife Judy-Lynn del Rey. It specializes in science fiction and fantasy books, and formerly manga under its (now defunct) Del Rey Manga imprint.”
This is clearly an example of a publisher who started as an independent company. Never in its existence were they ever referred to as “self-published” so why should a micro-publisher (or author) who falls under this “that they weren’t sold in book stores that she couldn’t call herself an author” suggestion be forced to refer to themselves as “self-published” until their bones turn to dust in their future graves. They chose to take their writing career in their own hands so they are an “independent author”, and if a person starts an imprint they are an “independent publisher.” End of…
And yes, I’ll take offence (not really but you get what I mean) to be referred to as “self-published.” I refer to myself in ALL social media as an independent author and publisher. 😉
Also, side note, if we’re getting into analysing the meaning of words, how about this one for “reader”:
“a person who reads and reports to a publisher or producer on the merits of manuscripts submitted for publication or production, or who provides critical comments on the text.”
The last bit “ho provides critical comments on the text” would imply that MOST one-star reviews on Amazon have no merit because they’re not giving a proper critical commentary on the text, and it means those people aren’t qualified to read… Oh, common, if writing a wall of text like this one doesn’t make me a writer then THEY certain are not allowed to be readers…right? And similarly, a single person has NO right to assume another author with just one book to her name isn’t a writer or author. In my view, the book exists so she IS a writer and an author… End of…
(sorry for the long reply) 😀
No apology needed! You have great points!