The Difference Between Author and Writer

For many, the word “writer” has the classical association of somebody who, like Ion Creangă or J.R.R Tolkien, imagines, with a bohemian exuberant spirit, entire worlds, creates masterpieces that steal the reader’s attention and can carry him or her to a dream realm.

Well, this association was maybe valid 100 years ago, when indeed not quite anybody could afford to write and publish books. However, nowadays, self-publishing has brought about a reinvention of the word, especially in the era in which one can devise a memoir book by publishing the e-mails that two persons have exchanged.

Moreover, it is also about those who don’t write fiction but specialized books. The word “writer” has always been trapped in the fiction field, and when we think of Philip Kotler, for instance, a guru of marketing, we don’t think of him as a writer but as an economist who wrote some reference books.

So, which would be the right word for those who write specialized manuals? Well, first of all, we must consider the fact that these books have not been written overnight. They have first been in an incipient state, prior to those volumes with over 1000 pages (I am especially thinking about Marketing Management and Principles of Marketing). First, there were articles, textbooks for students, syntheses, analyses, which collected in time, correlated, and interconnected, have become, after a long “simmering” time, books which everybody knows now – or should know.

The word which everybody recognizes is “author”, which in reality is much more refined than the word “writer”. For instance, in extremis, somebody who writes an e-mail is a writer because (s)he writes, but is not an author. An author may be a blogger, for instance, and if in a few years, (s)he decides to publish a book, (s)he does not become a “writer” but remains still an “author”. One can also be an author if one writes a collection of articles for a newspaper, if one writes for a blog (individually or collectively), if one writes an audiobook, a podcast, if one shoots and sets the montage for a video that one posts on YouTube, if one writes a specialized book and if one writes a novel or a storybook.

There is another aspect that can be neglected: the perception that the writer is a cultivated person – (s)he has read other writers, right? Well, the author mustn’t be a cultivated person but a well-informed one. Of course, for some, not having read Shakespeare may be shameful; however, nowadays it is much more serious for somebody who wants to get money from royalties not to know how to use WordPress. The technological culture of the modern expression means has exceeded in importance the literary culture. Nowadays, in the era of specializations and niches, one need not know everything to understand. One need not be “well-read” to convey valuable information. Much has moved online and knowing how to find a certain piece of information using a search engine or how to interact with blogs, aggregators and apps become just as irreplaceable as it was 20 years ago to know a poem by Eminescu by heart.

That’s why calling somebody a “writer” in the 21st century is a very important limitation of their expressiveness and, at the same time, an imprecise term. By calling them an “author”, the risk of making a mistake is much smaller.

Because of this, although I have published 5 books up to now, I refuse to be called a writer and I prefer the term “author”. I am a blogger, I have published articles in magazines and newspapers, I have posted video content on YouTube, I have written short stories, I have published specialized books. I’m an author. And I’m proud of it.

Marcus Victor Grant

Copyright © Marcus Victor Grant 2012-present Translation by Cristiana Brezeanu of the article “Diferenţa între autor şi scriitor published initially by Marcus Victor Grant in Romanian at the 20th of June 2012 on Discerne. Copyright © Marcus Victor Grant, all rights reserved.

The materials on this blog are subject to this disclaimer.

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