Of Writers and Authors

There’s a difference between writers and authors. Do you know the difference?

Most people think of living alternate lives. They watch a movie or have an exciting thought, and that old ‘what if?’ comes out. More often than not, so does a writing device, just because who wants to lose the thought? That makes you a writer.

Are you published or not? If so, you’re a published writer. But to be an author is something different and a lot more detailed. Becoming an author is a career. And like any other career, you have to work hard at being a professional.

I don’t say these things to discourage you. Not at all. These things are to help you be honest with yourself. As a writer/author, that’s our first job. We can lie to others in our pieces of fiction, but we should never lie to ourselves. Once we identify who we are and what we want, our lives get easier. Our writing follows the niche we choose as surely as a river follows a canyon.

Firstly, do you write with the intention of publication? Do you constantly study how to write correctly? Grammer, punctuation, plot, character building, etc…? Do you read lots and lots of books about writing? I still do, and I’ve been writing for 20+ years now. I’m always eager to learn something new.

Second, do you work to learn the art of storytelling? Most people can tell an okay story. But it takes work to learn pacing, correct placing of twists, building of tension, the best denouement, for example. These aren’t the same as writing correctly. These have more to do with your voice as a writer. And yes, they are things that can be learned.

Third, do you research? A novel that has incorrect details will make your readers lose interest. Even fantasy and science fiction need research.

Fourth, do you seek honest feedback on your work? I say this delicately, because not many in this profession are really good at it. A constructive criticism should tell you what’s wrong or weak, encourage you, and NOT CHANGE YOUR STORY TO SOMEONE ELSE’S VISION. This last thing is key. That’s why it’s in caps. Read it again. A constructive criticism should help you make YOUR story stronger. It should remain true to YOUR vision.

Fifth, do you work hard to polish your work to the very best of your ability? Do you ask someone whose writing you respect to help you do this? Even before sending it to a publisher?

Sixth, are you willing to work with a publisher’s editor? This is where things get tough. A publisher will have a different vision for your work than you do. It’s the nature of things. A publisher knows his/her audience and what they like. He/She needs to make money with the books they produce. Does your work fit with their audience? Just because you’re not willing to change what you wrote/want, doesn’t mean you’re not an author. It means you, then, become the publisher. And you must look at your book the same way a publisher’s editor does.

Seventh, will you do what it takes to market your book? In today’s world, it’s all up to you. The days of the publisher marketing your book for you are long gone. If you aren’t willing to do everything to make it work, you might be a hobby writer.

Writing is hard work. Enjoyable, but hard. Make sure you know you’re on the right path. James V. Smith states you aren’t an author until you’ve completed 10 novels. I used to think that was harsh. I used to scoff at it. But I understand now.

The difference is quality, not quantity. By the tenth novel, you understand your voice. You know what it takes to make a quality novel in your chosen genre(s).

Not everyone who is a writer is an author, but anyone CAN BECOME an author.

For more from me about writing, check out my Tips page.

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