Am I an Author or a Writer?
When I first entered the writing scene a few years ago, I realized something early on.
There's a difference between being an author and being a writer.
First, let's share the commonalities.
Authors and writers both:
- write/create fresh content
- sell their work for a profit
- have to market themselves
- put thoughts into words
So, most of my articles are helpful to both authors and writers.
But, there is a difference. I found this out by hanging around authors as an aspiring freelance writer.
Some people were writing screenplays. Others were writing books. But none were writing for a living.
I was starting my writing career. Yes, authors can have a career, too-think of Wayne Dyer, Stephen King, the Harry Potter chick (I completely forgot her name)....
But freelance writing is worlds different. Most authors don't even know the difference.
But writers write for other people as a profession. For example, I am a copywriter, a.k.a. marketing writer. I write the words you see on websites and every other piece of marketing material you come across.
And I don't just write words. Similar to authors, we writers create words meant to capture the attention of readers and to keep them reading. Writers, however, aim to get those readers to make some kind of purchase, be it clicking on a free eBook download or hitting the BUY NOW button.
Writers are hired to create, revise, edit and proofread things most people take for granted, such as those brochures someone shoves into your hand as you're walking down the street in New York City or a monthly newsletter you receive from a company whose website you're subscribed to.
Other things writers do:
- write responder emails
- write business website pages (i.e. About Us page, Home Page)
- write sales pages you get in the mail and email.
- write product descriptions on items you purchase online and in catalogs
- brand slogans/headlines
Authors and writers also have different hurdles in terms of career paths. As a memoir ghostwriter, I've worked for authors and have seen the challenges first-hand. Authors have to deal with a fading traditional publishing model and the scary self-reliance of indie publishing.
If they go the traditional route, much learning is needed on how to land a literary agent or try to get a publishing deal without one.
Writers have to choose between their day job and writing freelance or between writing "in-house" at a company or agency and being self-employed.
There are other differences between authors and writers in terms of what is required to be successful.
Authors require good team players: a ghostwriter (or good writing skills), an editor, agent, publisher, book designer, book formatters (for eBooks) and diligent book promoters, printers and distributors, just to name a few.
Writers require good writing skills, self-editing skills, writing mentors (in some shape or form through books, mastermind groups, or personal relationships), and really good networking and marketing skills to land clients for gigs or longer-term positions.
Why does it matter?
Distinctions matter. You need to know if you are a writer or an
author (or both) so you can discern how to best approach being successful at it. As I said, writers and authors have their own challenges and criteria.