Of course, we turn first to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary.
Writer: one that writes: such as a) author, b) one who writes stock options
Author: the writer of a literary work (such as a book), one that originates or creates something
According to the dictionary definition, “author” is a subset of “writer.” But is there more to being a writer versus an author?
Diving Deeper on Writers Vs Authors
An author receives credit for their work, which means ghost writers and developmental editors are not considered writers, even though they write content for books. This also means that the author of a book that was ghost written may not have written a single word!
Additionally, some say that to be an author, you can’t have only written a literary work, you also have to have published it. This makes sense because otherwise, anyone could write a rough draft and claim to be an author even if they’ve put no work into editing or publishing it.
But then we must ask, what is considered “published”? If you offer a book for sale on your own website, is it considered published? Legally, “published” means you have made copies of the work available for distribution to the public, so this would legally be publishing it. But is that enough for someone to claim to being an author?
On the other hand, some say that writers versus authors is intention, and they skip the “published” situation entirely. According to this definition, writers create content to provide a service to others, while authors produce content for themselves and the fulfillment they get from writing.
Whatever definition you agree with—published or intention—there are examples that people generally agree are writers or authors. Here are a few of them.
Examples of Writers
- Journal writers
- Content writers—social media posts, quizzes, contests, etc.
- Ghost writers
- Students writing papers for school
- Technical writers (of guides, manuals, and FAQs—although you could argue that these are authors since they are published)
- Unpublished book writers (although you could argue that they are authors because of intention)
Examples of Authors
- Fiction authors (books)
- Non-fiction authors (books)
What is your take on the writer vs author argument? Do you consider yourself a writer or an author (or both)? Let us know in the comments!