Writer or Author
When people ask me what I do, my answer sometimes depends on how and why they ask the question. If it’s a random, we-just-met-at-an-event kind of query, I choose my answer based on how involved I want to get in the conversation. I know how bitchy that sounds, but sometimes, you just don’t want to have a long conversation with someone you know for certain is going to immediately chortle when you tell them you’re a romance writer. So those folks get “I’m a freelance copy editor.” Then the conversation can steer toward “Oh, I bet that’s interesting,” rather than a smirking “Really? Like 50 Shades? Heh, heh.” Yeesh…
Sometimes they ask, “What do you do for a living?” That’s easy, I’m a freelance copy editor for a living. I don’t earn enough from book sales to consider it a living, although I’m closer now than I was a few years ago. I can’t give up the editing gigs just yet, and even if I could, I’m not sure I’d would. I love editing almost as much as I love writing.
Then there’s the dilemma of telling someone I’m a writer versus telling them I’m an author. I’ve always differentiated writer from author–my delineation being whether or not I was published. A writer writes. An author writes and sells books, but she also markets and promotes and suffers mightily over rankings on Amazon and making lists such as the USA Today or NY Times bestseller list. So, based on that criteria, either one works for me at this point. However, before I started this article, I looked up both words and guess what! Webster doesn’t differentiate between a writer and an author.
A writer is “one who writes.” An author is “one who originates or creates; a writer of a literary work, such as a book.” So am I the only writer who didn’t consider herself an author until her first book was published? And what was it about being indie published that made me doubt my own authority as an author? (See what I did there? A little word play, tee hee.) Why did I not truly feel like an author until I had a 4-book deal with a traditional publisher? If all I ever wrote were articles on this blog, would I be any less an author than the writers who write and sell millions of books? That’s my question for the universe today–how do you define yourself–writer or author? Does it even matter?
As always, mes amies, remember to hold your face to the sun, be grateful for all things, and love well.
I consider myself both. I am a sports writer for the newspaper. I designate the difference in that I write a piece based on the facts I gather for the event I’m covering and I add my own creativity to it. As an author, the writing is made up what is created in my mind and may or may or may not have any facts associated with it. Right now, though one definitely pays better than the other.
That’s a good way to think of it–thanks for stopping by, Anna!!
I have to say, I used writer and author interchangeably. Now. But before I was published, I said writer. So clearly I have some of the same ideas.
Deb, I still shy away from “author” sometimes because…oh, hell, I dunno why unless I worry about sounding pretentious. I can name a hundred authors off the top of my head and I’m never on that list…hmmmm…time to rethink? Thanks for stopping by!
I think the difference is the kind of writing you do. Writers and authors both write, but I associate the term “writer” with newspaper reporters or someone who writes articles for magazines, editorials, etc. You wouldn’t call someone an “author” for the New York Times; he or she is referred to as a writer. An author writes a form of literary work, like a book, short story, or novella. As I see it, the transition between a writer who is writing a literary work and an author is someone who actually finishes writing that work. Just my 2 cents worth…
Excellent points, Cheryl! I hadn’t thought of it that way before. Thanks for weighing in!