As I move about in the publishing world, I have discovered a unique distinction among those who write. As in most every case in life there are people who seek distinctions between what they do and what others do. In the writing profession there is a line between those who are called writers and those who are called authors.
It’s not a nice line for the most part. People use the distinction to place themselves above others. Even those who don’t write or are a part of the writing profession use the distinction. Let me give you an example”
“I am a writer,” versus “I am an author.”
The distinction tends to favor the one who calls themselves an author. So, what is the distinction?
By definition, a writer is a person who writes books, stories, or articles as a job or regular occupation.
An author is defined as a writer of a book, article, or report.
A writer produces work, day in and day out. Writes as a commission or freelance. Can often write on any particular subject whereas an author is thought of as someone who has produced a book everyone wants to read.
I have spoken to many in this business. Spent quite a bit of time dealing with those who write. I find those who want you to call them authors instead of writers carry a bit of ego with them. More ego often times than I want to deal with.
I asked one author why she didn’t feel she was a writer. I had to laugh at her answer. She flat out stated to me that authors were much better than writers. When I asked her to explain, she simply told me authors created works of art using the written word and writers simply wrote for money.
When I asked her if she expected her book to make money, she smiled. Told me she expected it to be a best seller. I smiled back and told her she was writing for money then. Therefore, she was a writer by her own definition.
You can imagine the flack I took over this. The poor woman came unhinged. Spent almost an hour detailing to me how she was an author, and not a writer. Each point she made I countered. By this point it had turned into a game for me. I knew I wasn’t going to work with this woman. Knew her ego was far too big for her to deal with any criticisms I might have about her work. In her mind, she was Anne Rice revisited.
Why does this matter to me? I find I can deal with egos and attitudes and people who think they are god’s gift to the writing game. However, every so often my working man roots show themselves. I find I relate more to those who must produce on demand. Those people who must write.
In my mind writers write because they must. They have stories that must be let out. They have a need to take their thoughts and get them down. To produce blogposts, articles, books. Their minds are constantly taking what they observe day in and day out as possible story scenarios. They write because they must. They must produce. Those who call themselves authors don’t have to produce. Their mind isn’t littered with a thousand ideas. A million snippets of stories and articles they find fascinating.
In the end, I have discovered that I am prejudiced. That’s right, you can be prejudiced about the difference between authors and writers. I find I think of writers as professionals and authors as amateurs. I know – I know. I am going to get a million people in the comments telling me how wrong I am. List for me dozens of authors who are considered to be the best writers of all time. I wonder if those who will be listed are the ones who earn their living writing the books we adore. If it is, then they are professional writers even though they are authors.
In the end, no one person, writer, or author, is better than the other. It is as simple as that. The only thing that matters in the end, at least to me, is the quality of their work. I either want to read what they write, or I don’t. The name they choose to place upon themselves for their work really has no bearing.
And yet, my prejudice rears its ugly head every so often between the distinction.
I’m Ross, The Editor-in-chief at The Pyrateheart Press and I’m out.