Writer V Author V Novelist what’s the difference?
According to the dictionary, a writer is ‘one who expresses ideas in writing’ or ‘one engaged in literary work.’
An author is ‘a person who writes a novel, poem, essay etc, the composer of a literary work.’
UPDATE 2022 This blog post was written some years ago and is still one of my most popular. It's obviously a perennial question asked by writers.
Writer V Author V Novelist
On the surface there doesn’t seem to be much difference.
But I’ve always known there was, without stopping to analyse why.
As I’m about to publish my first novel on Amazon, with a second to follow a few weeks after, I now think of myself as an author and novelist, not a writer.
UPDATE 2022 I have now published 6 novels, a book of short stories and a memoir.
Somehow author has a more authentic, professional ring to it.
An author and/or novelist is someone who takes their writing seriously and often makes a career of it.
Whereas a writer could be composing long, lovelorn sonnets in their attic for years with no-one being any the wiser.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that, if you happen to be a budding Byron.
Am I an Author or a Writer?
When I Googled either ‘writer v author what's the difference,’ or alternatively ‘difference between writer and author,’ I came across the site ‘Difference Between,’ which explained it clearly.
If you’re a writer, you can write about other people’s thoughts and ideas.
But an author has to come up with the idea, the plot and content.
To my mind point 3 is the most important point – ‘you become an author when your books are published, but if your writings never publish, you remain a writer.’
In this age of digital self-publishing more and more of us are destined to become authors rather than writers.
However writer Dean Wesley Smith has a different take on it in his post The new world of publishing: Writer vs Author.
He doesn’t mince words.
He believes that ‘a writer is a person who writes, an author is a person who has written.’
In other words, a writer is focused on the process of writing, and as soon as they publish one book they’re on to the next.
Whereas an author is someone who remains in the past, resting on their laurels and promoting their book instead of getting on with the next one.
UPDATE 2022 Masterclass also agrees with the opinion that you're a writer until your work is published, then you're an author.
Elite Authors says, 'There is an ongoing debate on how to use the terms writer and author. For the most part, a person who has created a formal literary work—and has published and sold that work—is an author. Many writers, on the other hand, often work behind the scenes as freelance writers or ghostwriters.'
However, I take issue with the last sentence, being now a ghostwriter myself. A ghostwriter often writes books for others, as I do, so could definitely call themselves an author in the truest sense; it's just that the client gets all the credit, and the author attribution. But we ghostwriters smile to ourselves behind the scenes, happy knowing we are the real authors.
Whatever You Are You Must Promote
He has a valid point when he ends with ‘authors are missing the best promotion tool there is for their old books.
Their next book.’
And he’s a writer who takes his own advice, having written more than two hundred novels and five hundred published short stories.
And judging from his photo he definitely isn’t 96.
But I do believe that as a debut author I need to engage in a certain amount of promotion.
I need to create awareness of my book in the vast cyberspace of e-books.
Although I’m concerned about how much time it will take from my writing.
And promoting a novel you’ve already written can be a convenient way of putting off getting stuck into your next one.
But I still like the idea of being able to call myself an author.
As an aside, and speaking of ideas, if you're looking for ideas then maybe my post on where do authors get their ideas can help.
Now, back to the main topic. It's a reward for the last 10 years of nose to the literary grindstone.
For a short while – then it’s back to being a writer.
Except for filling in forms that ask for my occupation.
And at parties when people ask me what I do.
Then I’m an author.
UPDATE 2022: Since publishing my novels, I have transitioned to the world of ghostwriting and have now made that my profession.
What do you think?
Do you agree with Dean Wesley Smith's definition?
Let me know in the comments below.