by Arielle Haughee
When am I a “writer”? An “author”?
Many folks earlier in their writing journeys wonder when they can start using certain titles including “writer” and “author.” They wonder if there are specific achievements to be earned or rites of passage to be done before they can label themselves as such, perhaps even use the phrase “aspiring writer” to not jump into using a label too soon. But calling oneself a writer or author feels so official, like you’ve finally made it to your destination. It also sends a message to the community that you are serious about this. So, when can a person officially use the titles?
The good news is there are no hard and fast rules, no matter what anyone tells you. However, if you’d like some guidelines for yourself, I made some easy ones below.
When am I a “writer”?
It can be intimidating to see the word writer under a well-known newspaper reporter’s name, someone who gets paid to write. Heck, J.K. Rowling has it listed as part of her Twitter bio. But the intimidation is just fear that we don’t belong with them, in THAT group of people. A writer is anyone who writes with a purpose, who writes to entertain, inform, or share an opinion, anyone who gets joy from writing, anyone who…writes! There is no need to add the word “aspiring,” especially if you are already doing it. You are the one who determines when you are a writer, no one else. So make sure the word WRITER is loud and clear in your Twitter bio.
For some fun, you can check out “15 Obvious Signs You Are A Writer” over at Life Hack.
When am I an “author”?
The word author definitely has some weight to it. Who am I? I am an AUTHOR. There is some debate about when this title comes into play. Some will say that a person has to have something published to officially become an author. But by this definition, someone who writes fifty books, but never has any published is not an author. On the flip side, someone can have one 500-word piece of flash fiction published and be considered an author using these terms. Something seems a bit off here, so I am going to present a new definition for “author” based off my own experience and my years in the writing and publishing industry.
I started my writing career entering contests and having short stories published. What fun! I loved nothing more than scouring the web for legitimate contests to enter and anthologies to try and get into. My goal was to have a good time and get some of my work out there. At this point, I considered myself a writer. Then something happened, I started selling the books I had stories in and had a complete change in mindset. I could make money doing this. I wrote more short stories, sold more anthologies, then eventually moved on to books. Writing changed from a hobby to a business.
An author is someone who writes and has a business mindset, no matter how they publish or if they are published yet.
That guy who wrote fifty books and has been querying them for the last ten years? Author. But if he just wrote them for himself and had no intention of publishing them, then no. The person who had one piece of flash fiction published? I would ask if they were selling copies of where their work appeared or are getting royalties from it. So possibly. Does a self-published novelist count as an author? Definitely. (Don’t even get me started on that debate.)
Once a writer moves into the business end of things, they become an author. One isn’t better than the other, they just have different focuses.
Some “business things” that authors deal with:
So, think about your mindset and how you view your writing and decide for yourself.
Are you a writer? An author? Both?