Wading through “writer” vs. “author” muck

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I recently stumbled upon a blog where the content talked about distinguishing between “writer” and “author.” The creator of the post wanted a more definitive way to determine QUALITY of book. In this age of “click here and you’re published!”, readers are wary about what is actually good. Self-published books are looked down on. Traditionally published writers are seen as throwing their money away.

So is there a way to determine a difference?

The blog suggested 3 categories: 1) A writer, which is anyone who writes anything. 2) An author, which is anyone who has published anything, no matter what method used to publish and 3) a professional author, which is anyone who makes a living off of their books.

In his mind, making money from sales, not the sales number, determines professionalism, as in, “writing is my career, therefore I’m a professional author”.

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Others say that quantity determines success. If an author sells 100,000 copies at $0.99, (minus fees and taxes), they may only make $30,000 a year. Is that enough? If you sell 10,000 copies at $9.99, does that count the same? Or is the 100,000 automatically better because it’s more books?

 

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Then there are places that won’t consider you unless you have a website following, FB page likes, and email list devotees. But in an age when you can pay FB for ads, where authors just exchange likes whether they care about another’s books or not, and where you can hire reviewers for good reviews, are those numbers even legit anymore?

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What do you think? Would you put more stock in someone who makes money from their writing? Would you prefer if you could check number of sales? Are reviews and FB page likes a determining factor?

6 Comments

  1. Pingback: 2015–my blog year in review! | Christa Yelich-Koth

  2. acmoyer

    I think these distinctions come down to certain people trying to establish themselves as arbiters of “legitimacy.”. A “writer” is someone who writes, published or not; “author” is something I usually associate with books, as opposed to screenplays, poetry, or song lyrics. I think if you even get a penny for your writing, you’re technically a professional, but I would agree that usually “professional” implies that it is how you make your living.

    Sales has nothing to do with it. Fifty Shades of Grey and Twilight are absolute dreck, and have sold zillions of copies. But, they are books, and I have a certain respect for anyone who has written one, published or not. It’s hard work. I haven’t been able to do it yet!

    The only place where this issue matters to me is when I see people quoted as authorities on some subject because they authored a book about it. Anyone can publish a book; publication is no indicator of quality or accuracy of the contents (e.g., ancient aliens guys claiming that intentionally deformed Peruvian skulls are alien-human hybrids, and being presented as having as much credibility as archaeologists and osteologists). Admittedly this is mainly a problem with TV.

    For me Facebook doesn’t come into it at all. Because (1) People are stupid on FB, and (2) FB openly admits to intentionally manipulating people’s emotions (usually toward the negative) (see also #1), and (3) “liking” is the laziest and most insincere way of interacting I can even imagine. FB is a tool for a writer to publicize and communicate with their fans, which is great, but has nothing to do with the content or quality of their writing.
    P.S. This is Ali again.

  3. mom

    i think a writer is someone who writes. i think an author is someone who is published. i think a professional is someone who gets paid for what s/he does. i’ve been published in a professional journal, so i consider myself an author. i didn’t get paid, so i don’t consider myself a professional author. i’ve written lots of stuff — books, poetry, sundry writings — so i am a writer, among other things. i don’t think internet interest of any kind has relevance, unless it’s part and parcel of a goal, such as to get the word out about one’s work. and financial success, to my mind, is in the eye of the author him/herself. i also think some of this can be argued till the cows come home!

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