When Can A Writer Be Called An Author?

There is always this confusion in our current writing sphere about writers and authors. When can someone begin to call himself or someone else an author?

Growing up, It was apparent to me – as clear as crystal who an author was. I couldn’t talk about an author without having a record of the books he or she had published. To me then, an author was strictly someone who had an officially published book to his name. It could be an ebook or a traditional/printed book.

Nowadays, I hear people mistakenly or knowingly refer to all writers with any piece of work whether published or not, as an author. I hear them sometimes use the word writer and author interchangeably and I must say that this is unfair to writers who have published their completed work to the world.

I’m not here to defend the real authors. Of course, they don’t give a hoot if a confidential diary writer or private letter writer is labelled an author. I’m only here to make a distinction between the two hoping that the world would reserve that title to the right set of people.

Am I Really An Author?

If I’m writing a book that is yet to be published, I’m not an author.

If I have finished writing a book and it’s neatly hidden away somewhere only known to me, I’m not an author.

If I have finished writing a piece of work and have shown it only to my family and friends, I’m not an author.

If I have the dream of becoming an author and believe that there’s power in the spoken word and have begun to call myself an author so that soon my words would come true, I must have it at the back of my mind that I’m not yet an author but aspiring to I’m one.

If I’m a ghostwriter who writes for someone else who publishes the book I have written in his name, I’m not an author of that book and I am not a co-author but my boss who pays me to write is. This is because the book is published in his name, not mine.

If I write for a magazine, newspaper, I’m not an author.

If I’m a journalist, I go to places and write about incidents, I’m not an author.

If I’m a blogger, a story writer, poet, play writer, scriptwriter, a travel writer and have not published any book, I’m not an author.

In all of the cases, I’m a writer

Who is an Author

Cambridge Dictionary;
an author is;

the writer of a book, article, play, etc

he’s the author of two books on French History

Here is another meaning of author which I think people look at when they call every originator and writer of anything an author. This definition below could be applicable to fields other than writing. As long as writing is concerned, an author must have a published book.

Second definition by Cambridge dictionary;

a person who begins to create something.

Here are more examples by Cambridge dictionary;

  • the author has tried to deal with a difficult subject.

  • In his preface, the author says he took eight years to write the book

  • He’s the best selling author’s the author of hugely successful children’s books.

  • There is a biographical note about the author on the back of his book.

Some people believe that there is no noticeable difference between a writer and an author and argue that once a writer originates the idea of whatever he writes, automatically he’s the author of what he has written. It’s tempting to accept this but I maintain that his work must also be published in a book form to become an author. Otherwise, he’s the writer of what he has written.

Here are the differences between a writer and an author

  • Every author is a writer but not every writer is an author

  • An author has at least one published
      book while a writer has none.

  • A writer can be service-oriented while an author is always self-oriented. To explain this further, an author while writing doesn’t care about who loves his thoughts/idea or who hates it. He doesn’t care if it will bring some people down and pick some up. He doesn’t care if he will get spanked/arrested for what he has written. He writes whatever he wants to pass to the world and put it out there if you love it, great, if you don’t, well, that’s your own cup of tea. A writer, on the other hand, cares so much about what the audience thinks. He’s careful not to offend anyone so that his writing could be loved and cherished by those he’s writing for. Through the authors writing, he passes his own idea and thoughts in a way that pleases him while a writer passes his idea in such a way that will only be beneficial to and please others.

  • A writer can write for the author but an author can’t write for a writer but can direct the writer on what to write. An author can get his work copyrighted while a writer can’t.

In Conclusion

A writer can be called an author when he has written a published a book. The book must be published in the writer’s name to be so. It can be factual or imaginative writing. It can be self-published or company published. It can be an ebook or print.

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    What Do You Think?

If you have a different opinion or something to add, you’re welcome to comment on your idea.

Who is an author to you?


© Florence Ezekafor

7 thoughts on “When Can A Writer Be Called An Author?”

  1. 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾. Really good read because many people don’t know the difference. I love this one “if you are an aspiring writer but haven’t published a book, you are not a writer”. I loved this Florence. Thank you for sharing 😊

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