Author or Writer


ImageRecently, I’ve been wondering if as someone who has and is writing original novels, some of which I’ve published, as paperbacks and as e-books, I’m a writer or an author.  I’ve also had poems, articles and short stories published in magazines and books.

I’ve been reading other people’s blogs where the question, “Am I an author, a writer, both, or neither?” is being discussed.

The arguments appear to fall into two camps: one camp bases the nomenclature on content and the other bases it on publishing.  Camp 1 says, if you write, you’re a writer.  If the writing is your  own idea, originating with you, then you’re its author.  If the writing is about someone else or about their ideas, you’re a writer.  Camp 2 says if you write, you’re a writer.  If your writing is published, you’re an author.

But Camp 2 can be broken down into Camp 2A, which says that you must publish a book, not a story or poem, to be called an author, and Camp 2B which states that the publisher must be a recognized publishing house; you can’t self-publish or be an indie publisher, otherwise you’re a writer but not an author.

The Merriam-Webster on-line dictionary makes it difficult to distinguish between author and writer.  It defines an author as “the writer of a literary work (as a book)” and a writer as “one that writes.

So far, I’m not clear about e-books and which camp you’re in if you consider an e-book a published book.

I would love to hear your opinion.

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11 Comments

Filed under writing

11 responses to “Author or Writer

  1. Dhelagh Wray

    You’re both, of course. You’ve authored books and you’ve had other material published.

    • Thanks, Shelagh or Dhelagh. It’s a funny little quarrel, but one I decided to address, since I’ve read so many references to it lately. Some people can be very particular about it.

  2. Shelagh Wray

    And I am obviously neither since I am apparently incapable of spelling my own name!

  3. I say ignore anyone who thinks they know what box you go into. As far as I’m concerned if you’ve written a grocery list, you’re the author of that list. I think self-published counts and poetry counts and flash fiction counts too. The snobs can suck on their lemons. You are what you want to be.

    • Thanks, Robin. I do believe you’re right. I think our time is better spent writing and authoring than thinking about whether we’re writers or authors. Thanks for your comment.

  4. Pandora Ballard

    As far as I’m concerned, the titles of what (and who) we are, are all synonyms. We put pen to paper (fingers to keyboard, etc.) and that means we are writers, authors, contributors, journalists, publicists, reporters, correspondents, editors, scribes, playwrights, poets, creators, communicators, critics, essayists, reviewers, and wordsmiths — to name a few!

    • Dear Pandora, That’s a very broad net, that catches all us scribblers. I like that. We really are doing the same things under a variety of titles. Thanks for your insight.

  5. nineteenthirteen

    Little else matters so long as we keep writing 🙂

  6. Joanne

    I have to say I’m kind of surprised there’s so much angst about whether to call oneself a writer or not. Do you think welders go through that? Shop clerks? They go to work and do their work. Artists/writers are no different.We need to just do our work. At the same time, I disagree that journalist, poet, publicist, editor etc are synonyms. They are not. That’s like saying everyone who picks up a hammer is a carpenter. There are different skill sets involved and we should honour that. I’m a big Patti Smith fan and thought I would share this interview in an old issue of Shambhala Sun. It’s relevant to this discussion. http://www.shambhalasun.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2080

    • I read the Patti Smith interview and was intrigued to learn of her influences, as varied as The Bible, Louisa May Alcott, Rimbaud and Yeats. I found this very interesting: “You spin out as far as you can, but you do return. You must return and articulate where you’ve been, or you’re not an artist. Without that sense of responsibility, you are a person tripping out. An artist is, by nature of the process, going to keep pushing to go further. But at the same time they must stay in control or run the risk of losing contact with the work.” It speaks to her discipline. I really liked that.

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