Originally published on April 9, 2014 @ 7:58 am

Am I an author or a writer? And is there a difference?

People often use the titles author and writer interchangeably. However, they are not one in the same. And as someone who has been both, I can tell you that while the differences are subtle, they are very important.

Especially when you’re hoping to get paid for your writing.

Am I an Author or a Writer? (and does it matter?) blog title overlay

Am I an Author or a Writer and How to Tell the Difference

What is a writer?

In a nutshell, a writer is someone who writes.

Seems pretty simple, right?

And it doesn’t necessarily matter what you write. It could be blog content, magazine articles, books, short stories – the exact projects don’t really matter.

What matters is that you are writing.

A professional writer is someone who writes with the intention of getting paid for it. There’s a bit of debate out there about whether or not you’re a professional writer if you’ve never had any clients or never actually gotten paid.

And while I understand that stance, I believe you become a professional writer the minute you profess that is what you want to do for a living. Just as you can open a store before ever selling a single product, you can give yourself the title of professional writer before collecting on a single invoice.

Professional writers are good with words. They know spelling, grammar, and all the rules of putting them together. And while they might be very good at bringing ideas together into a cohesive story structure, they don’t always need to. They just need to know how to put it into words.

A writer can put anyone’s ideas into words.

What is an author?

An author is someone who organizes and structures a concept into a book with the intention of publishing that book.

This tends to lead to more questions such as how long does a book have to be and does it have to be published through a publishing house or does it have to sell many copies.

Any concept that has been structured into a book format of any length with the intention of putting it through the publishing process – either self-publishing or traditional publishing – counts as a book for this purpose.

Guides and eBooks that writers and bloggers throw together and place up on their websites without running through the publishing process? That’s a bit of a gray area. There are those of us who believe that the publishing process is what makes them an author, and others who believe just having the book anywhere makes them an author.

The main point, however, is that being an author does not necessarily mean making a living as an author – it is not necessarily your profession. And in many cases (especially in nonfiction) writing is not the author’s job.

Many authors (again, especially nonfiction) don’t know spelling, grammar, or the rules of putting them together. They know the ideas that they want to teach and the impact they want to make, but not necessarily how to put it into words.

An author comes up with the idea that needs to be written.

The Overlap between an Author and a Writer

Several writers may eventually take to authorship, for which they will develop a concept to be published in book format.

And many authors will decide to make that their profession, making a living off the publication of books.

When do you Become an Author?

I said earlier: you become a writer when you write. You become a professional writer the minute you decide you want writing to be your job. But when do you become an author?

There are those who believe you only become an author after being published. Which, of course, relegates everyone who is not yet published to being “aspiring authors” at best.

I disagree. I believe you are an author the minute you decide you intend to get that work published.

And I believe that thinking about yourself as an author – developing your own author identity – is an important part of the entire publishing process. It’s hard to try to set up your author platform if you don’t even think of yourself as an author yet.

Not to mention, telling yourself that you’re not an author just because you haven’t been published yet is a surefire way of inviting imposter syndrome in.

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