Authors and Writers: Is a Definition Forthcoming? (Or Needed?)

Don and Derek

The Book Kahuna and his Corgi, Derek!

The Book Kahuna

When someone sits down at the keyboard,  pulls up a legal pad and a mechanical pencil, or starts to dictate to speech-to- text recognition software they are taking the ultimate plunge in bearing their soul to the masses. What do we call this? And by the same token who are we to be the judges of someone else’s artistic aspirations. We can rightly judge whether the writing is well-crafted and grammatically correct, but if this individual would like to call themselves an” Author” that should be completely in their arena of rights. The fact that they’ve even taken the step to get information and content out that they have a passion for should be lauded and extolled. Whether the individual will profit from this venture is a question for the consuming marketplace. This is a marketplace that is very discerning and will separate the wheat from the chaff without hesitation.

Author, Writer, Editor, Oh My

It was with this understanding of the difficulties in writing and authoring books and e-books that I read with interest Jeremy Greenfield’s rebuttal on the dbw website:  Why Self-Published Authors Should Call Themselves Anything They Want. This piece was actually a reaction and explanation to counteract an original article written by Michael Kozlowski entitled:  Self-Publishers Should Not Be Called Authors. I agree with Mr. Greenfield on most of the points in the article. I think the individual should be allowed to make their own designation of what they see themselves as if they practiced the art of writing and authoring.


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Find your NICHE

The one thing that Mr. Greenfield seems to leave out of his analysis was that in this day and age of social media interaction a person can write in any niche they feel comfortable and have a passion for and find an audience in the mainstream somewhere. This interaction on social media is what is driving many self publishers to make money from their writing. The question of whether the writing is good or bad should not really be an issue because even if the title is self-published all of the same functions need to occur that would transpire at any of the major publishing houses in the country. A manuscript with writing that is technically sound but grammatically challenged can be corrected with a heavy copyedit. If you leave out the editing process and try to publish your book/e-book without using the professional norms, then the finished product could be a disaster.

For Whom the Bell Tolls…

In the past, writers who became authors were also journalists and correspondents. Ernest Hemingway was a correspondent during the Spanish Civil War and World War II. He wrote many articles about what was happening at the front. You could say that he authored those articles. The semantic differences between being an author, being a writer, being a journalist, and being a correspondent, are all left to the individual.  If someone has constructed a piece of content then you could say that they authored the content. Authoring content has nothing to do with sales, has nothing to do with marketing, and can be interchangeably used with writing.

I don’t think this issue is going to go away in any small measure, but I do see this controversy as an undercurrent of discomfort being leveled at self-publishers by the traditional publishing establishment. Since we know that self-publishing is exploding, traditional publishing is feeling the heat and competition for consumer’s dollars. What better way to undermine the competition then to malign the creators as sub par and not worthy of inclusion in the overall publishing pantheon?

It’s all about Good Content

I think the real question should be: How do Independent Authors produce titles consistently that rival the big publishing houses in content quality? If the independent authors can produce high-quality products consistently, this controversy will disappear.


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