Writer vs. Author (Poll)

I had a fascinating conversation with a friend of mine the other day about the preferred term for someone who writes. I had always had a vague impression that the term “author” was the more pretentious term for writing (particularly fiction) but my friend (who is free to identify herself in comments; I just can’t get ahold of her to ask permission right now) preferred the term “author”… for almost exactly the same reason.

Now I’m curious, for those of you who write anything (fiction, non-fiction, poetry, dishwasher repair manuals, whatever) Do you consider yourself more a “writer” or an “author”. Why?

19 thoughts on “Writer vs. Author (Poll)

  1. I prefer “writer”.

    There’s a place for “author”, but it’s a specific use: “Joe Turtleneck, the author of the bestselling novel PRETENTIOUS DRIVEL…” (“Writer” doesn’t sound right in that context. But the word “author” needs to be combined with “of”, IMHO.)

  2. I’ve always considered – as long as I’ve had any opinion at all on the matter, that is – “author” to mean someone who has been published, and “writer” to mean someone who writes. You can describe yourself as a professional author/writer (whichever you prefer) if writing/authing is your profession.

    1. I agree with this but I would specify books (either non-fiction or novels). I have published articles which makes me a writer but no books so I’m not an author.

    1. Writers (and authors) do seem to get caught up in silly issues, though, don’t they? If it’s not wondering whether they should rightly be called “writers” or “authors” (a side effect of generally trying to always know exactly the right word) it’s rejectomancy or obsessing over cover letters.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  3. I’ve never thought about this before, now you’ve got me thinking…
    I do like Marko Kloos’ comment about how you can’t use the term ‘writer of’ as it sounds strange….
    But I do think, unless you are published, using the term ‘Author’ is a bit dicky

  4. I think that ultimately this is one of those distinctions that really doesn’t matter a whole lot as everyone brings their own connotations. When I hear “author,” my immediate connotation is fiction. When I hear writer, I think more generally. When I hear “author,” I also think “published,” but when I hear “writer,” I don’t necessarily make that assumption.

    Of course, in both of the above examples I can think of contexts where I would think the opposite without batting an eyelash, which makes me think that these are truly just synonyms with the differences attached to them purely situational.

  5. I agree with Herm that it’s as straightforward as:

    Author = someone who is professionally published (regardless of fiction/non-fic)
    Writer = someone who writes with (in my opinion) the goal of becoming an author

  6. I think of “writer” as an active state, as in I’m writing stuff pretty regularly. Author is more passive, having written (and published) a work. So someone who wrote a single novel twenty years ago and nothing since would forever be an author, but would no longer be a writer.

    1. I see that, sure. So, “A writer writes” and “An author has published.” You can’t be an author without having written, but you can still be one after having stopped. I think that might be the closest to the way I hazily use the terms.

  7. I would never describe someone as being an author as their profession or identity. I don’t even think I’ve heard it used in that context, at least not often. A person is a writer by trade, in my opinion, but can be author OF a specific book (or article, in my opinion).

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