When is a writer an author?

When does a writer make the leap to author?

This is a question I’ve pondered for years.  I know what “they” say.  By “they” I assume it means industry standards.  They say a writer becomes an author once they become published.  OK, let’s use that standard.  Does that mean traditionally published or self-published?

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First let me say I am not bashing self-publishing.  I’ve thought about it many times myself.  Please do not take this as an attack because it’s NOT.

So, you stay a “writer” until you get a book deal from a publisher.  OK.  Well, what if it’s a brand new publisher that no one has ever heard of?  Does that count?  Obviously if you’re lucky enough to get a deal from one of the “Big 5” you have definitely morphed from writer to author.  But why?  Because you were in the right place at the right time? Or because your agent is a go-getter?  There are many great writers who never get that chance either because they have no social media platform or they suck at writing query letters.  Why do you only get crowned with that title once you get the deal?  Those authors haven’t done anything differently than others.  Yes, they’ve written a great book.  But so have many others.

books

And why do you become an author because you’ve paid money to self-publish?  What about the other writers who are still dreaming of that traditional book deal?  Is the self-published author better because he/she uploaded his/her story and made it into an e-book?  Let’s face it, anyone can jump on Amazon and upload his/her story.  So why are they crowned with the title?

And what about the writer who is so discouraged by rejection that he/she decides to publish their stories online… for free?  Are they any less of an author because they give away their hard work?

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I believe it comes down to a simple formula.  If you have “authored” a novel, you ARE an author!  No muss.  No fuss.  Simple as that.  If you’ve slaved over one, two, three full-length novels you ARE an author!

This industry is a tricky one.  When I first redesigned my blog and turned it into a website I tried out the title of author under my name.  And it looked great!  I changed it back to writer because I felt I hadn’t earned it yet.  Why did I feel that way?  I’ve authored three full-length novels!  Why am I not considered an author?  I know many “authors” who have agents who can’t get them a book deal.  Why are they blessed with the title?  Because they wrangled a literary agent?  What if their books are never sold?  Do they keep the title of author?

Do you understand where my confusion lies?

If you Google “author” this is the definition…

1.  A writer of a book, article, or report.

2.  An originator or creator of something, especially a plan or idea.

There are other definitions too, but these are the first two definitions.  Going by Google I am an author!  And so are many others!

What are your thoughts?  Do you consider yourself an author or a writer?  Leave me a reply in the comments.  I’d love to know your thoughts.

UPDATE:  After all the hype and comments this post has brought the overall consensus is…  If you’ve “authored” a book, short story, or article, you ARE an author.  With that in mind, I’ve changed my title.  And you know what– I’ve earned it!

 

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2 thoughts on “When is a writer an author?

  1. Great post! And a good question too. I consider myself a writer while I’ve written two novellas and two novels. I haven’t sent them to any publishers yet, so I don’t think I qualify for that title. Maybe it’s the definition that has been given to it by many people?
    In the Netherlands, where I’m from, the literal translation for the word author isn’t used much, but the word writer is the word that everybody uses. When you write you’re a writer. That goes for someone who has written a book, but also for a journalist, a screen writer, etc.
    I think writing a book is a great achievement and the title author sounds impressive. I hope I will be able to call myself that one day, but somehow I can’t use the word yet, even though I’ve already written a lot.

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    • I know what you mean. I think we’re conditioned to feel we haven’t EARNED the title of author until we’re traditionally published. But it becomes very confusing when you see others using that term when they aren’t either. In my heart, I am an author. And so are you!

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