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Author or Writer

Updated on June 20, 2014
Stephen King
Stephen King


What makes an author? Well, that would apparently be a subjective question. Are you an author because you've written a book? Are you an author because you've gotten your name on a billboard advertising what you've written? Or, are you an author simply because words are on paper but you've squirreled your manuscript away on a shelf or in a drawer somewhere? When a person talks about an author, some of the most prominent that might come to mind might be Stephen King, or Dean Koontz, or Ernest Hemingway, or Isaac Asimov, or any number of BIG name authors that have sprung up in the world. But because they are well known does it really make them an author? Again I believe that would be subjective. Not everyone likes these authors, well known or not. Maybe its because of their writing styles, maybe its because of the genre they chose to write in, maybe its because of the way they styled their hair when doing interviews. Who knows. Everyone has, or had, critiques of their writing. Stephen King has been said, by more than one critic, to have written by the pound instead of word count. (Meaning he's long winded.) Yet still others would say he's just being thorough in what he writes. He wants his audience - his constant readers as he calls them - to know what's truly going on in the heads of his characters. For whatever reason, these people are known as authors. Some great, some not so.


Here's another one. What constitutes a writer? Would it be anyone who puts pen to paper? (Or words into a computer as the case may be?) Would you consider a journalist a writer? I am a journalist, and I do consider myself a writer . . . but, I have also been published. So does that make me an author instead? Again I would have to say this is a subjective opinion. Would you consider a copy editor a writer? Again, yes I would. Knowing how to put sentences together is just as important, or more so, then writing that sentence. if you can't do one, you usually can't do the other. Gobbledygook is gobbledygook no matter how you write it, unless you know where to put a period. And its a copy editors job to fix those problems. So, I would consider him/her a writer. (Personal opinion mind you.) Most would simply call it a talent to be able to put sentences together or fix someone elses errors in writing. And if that truly is the case, then by that form of logic, a copy writer is a writer? Right?

When you watch TV, read a paper, or see a billboard on the street, someone wrote the words on the ads being shown. That person who does such a job is usually referred to as a copy writer. Is he/she a writer? Yes, I believe so. But, can he or she write? What do I mean by that? Think about it for a moment. For anyone in the journalism profession, the headline to an article is not necessarily written by the writer of the article. 9 times out of 10, a different person will write the headline. Why? Pretty simple really, some can't do it very well, even though they wrote the article. I compare it to writing a novel and not truly being able to write a synopsis for it. People are trained to do that sort of thing. I hate to admit it but I am very bad at synopsis of my writing. Many publishers will have a synopsis written for you, an author.

Author or Writer?

This is a major discussion in many writing groups on the internet. I have been in more than one discussion on the subject. One major point brought up is, when you go on-line, say to Twitter, many of the people on the site have written a novel, story, novella, etc, but are they writers or authors. In this digital age we live in, and in the fast pace of our society, more and more people are going self-published. If you go that way and have your work published through a self-publishing house, does that make you an author, or a writer?

(Self publishing - usually where you pay a publishing house to have your work printed in book form, be it hard copy or e-book, and then distributed for sale across the country.) Does this make you, the writer of the work an author, or simply a writer who wanted his name in print? Many people refer to this type of publishing as vanity presses.

But isn't going the traditional way, having a publisher see your work and agree to print it, in both hard copy and digitally, and not charge for it, and then sell it, a form of vanity. One would not necessarily negate the other, would it? In either instance, you, the writer, has a stake in the outcome of the work. Your ultimate goal to see it bought by anyone willing to buy it, and you reap the benefit from the sale.

Either Or . . .

Ultimately, the one who has to decide whether you are a writer or an author is you. Just remember, when it comes to any form of writing, it takes patience and practice. Not every writer is an author, and definitely not every author is a writer.

Fifty Shades of Grey is a prime example. I have talked to many people who couldn't read more than a few pages of the book without groaning in abject horror because of the writing style and poor prose. Yet, it is becoming a major motion picture. Someone obviously liked what was written in the book.

There are always critiques of your writing style and what you write.You wont be able to please everyone. Just find your own path. Your own niche in the scheme of things.





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