This is a tough one because everyone seems to have a different opinion. Some may say the term “author” is a label strictly reserved for someone who has published a book. Yet others will call a published author a writer and some may even use these terms interchangeably. It all depends on who you talk to. I don’t use these terms interchangeably and I see the two as distinct descriptions. At this point in my career, I am a writer and I would not call myself an author. Yet.
What’s the definition
Let’s go old school and look at the definition from the dictionary. Yes, I said old school and yes I said dictionary. And yes I’m looking at a book. I love my dictionary, but that’s another post. For this exercise, I am using Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary. So definitions:
An author is defined as 1. The writer of a literary work (as a book). 2. One that originates or gives existence.
A writer is defined as one who writes.
Well, that’s not helpful…
What’s the difference
According to thedifferencebewteen.net a writer is the person who writes a book, article etc. and an author is a person who, like the dictionary says, originates the idea or gives existence to.
If we look at that criteria then Kristin Hannah and J.K. Rowling are authors and your local paper is filled with content from writers.
It is important to note here, that the term “author” is not limited to the fiction genre. And the definition itself is not limited to one who creates a fictional world or plot. Those who write in the nonfiction genre are authors as well. They have originated and gave existence to an idea and created a body of work (a book) in its entirety.
What’s the end game
Another aspect of the difference between a writer and an author is the end game. An author creates a world and a plot, and a story. The author writes to tell the story he/she has originated (or created) in their mind. Their main concern is their story, their character, and of course the end product, a book. An author also creates stories for a specific fan base, a finite group of people.
A writer, on the other hand, is more focused on the now. They are mindful of what’s going on in the news and what’s trending, and they write about those topics. A writer writes to appeal to the masses. Think of followers of a particular blog or the readership of a specific newspaper.
A different sales pitch
Another notable difference is in the marketing. An author will write his/her masterpiece and subsequently, he/she will embark on marketing that book. They are reaching out to their fan base and attempt to connect with others in an effort to sell their book. A writer continually markets their writing services, not a specific product.
Putting it all together
So, which one is better? Being an author is no better than being a writer, and being a writer is no better than being an author. The truth is it is up to the individual in terms of what they do and how they label themselves.
Personally, I see it as a progression. At the moment I consider myself a writer and it took some effort to claim that title. You can read more about that here. I write about what’s happening “now” and I write about what appeals to the readership of whatever publication I am writing for. My ideas and work are fluid. Somewhere down the line, and if the universe is listening I intend to write a book (and have it published). At that point, I will consider myself an author.
It’s a process.