Author vs. writer

People get stymied about the words author vs. writer. I visited Barnes and Noble’s book store and overheard two gentlemen sharing their thoughts about author vs. writer. I’ll try to paraphrase what I overheard:

First speaker: “Anybody can write; and that fact alone doesn’t make the writer an author. I’ve written dozens of papers about the economic effect that olive oil production had on ancient Greeks, and that doesn’t make me an author. If I gathered up all my work and condensed it into a book, found an agent, and published the book…then I’d be an author.”

Second speaker: “The term ‘author’ is used to define a professional occupation. When you have a leaky faucet, you call a plumber because you know that a plumber is a ‘professional’ who has the abilities one associates with a plumber. An author is defined by the fact that published books bear the author’s name or pseudonym.”

First speaker: “People who don’t get paid for what they write mustn’t call themselves authors. And writers, who make money writing, are authors.”At this point, I walked to the check-out counter. That conversation haunted me all the way home. Hell I thought, I know several people who’ve published a book that flopped and didn’t sell at all. Does that mean that since they need a day job to pay their bills that thy’re not authors?

I got emails earlier this week from two of my writer friends who each earn more than 45K per annum writing online content. Both have works of fiction in progress. How would the two gentlemen from Barnes and Noble classify them, authors or writers?

It seems to get confusinger and confusinger. And then I think, “What about me?” Sometimes I feel as though I’m a blithering idiot, even though a few of my words find their way to publication.

Is the gentleman in the photo below, Norman Mailer, a writer or an author? 

An enigma?  Guess I’d better inquire at my bank.

norman mailer

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One thought on “Author vs. writer”

  1. As a fiction writer (or author — I don’t care), I don’t care. :p

    I just want to write a story. As far as what everyone would classify that under, it’s no skin off my back and I lose no sleep over it. If I wrote to have a title, I suppose everything would be different but in this case, I’m lucky enough to only care about the story. I can control the fictional characters that I write but I can’t control the opinions of anyone else.

    Should it really matter to a writer, or author, or word-weaving bandito (whatever classifies them) what another person classifies them under? I think it’s all superficial BS, personally. Of course, that’s my opinion and anyone else is perfectly capable of having their own or feeling as if a title is actually that important.

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