The Danger Of Being An Author

In my mind, I became a writer in the 2nd grade with my masterpiece: “What I Did On The Weekend” and the stories I told myself about Speed Racer.

I became an author for the first time in the 5th grade when I started publishing limericks in the 5th grade newspaper. My position was solidified when my elementary school published my longer work, “Herman, the Unhappy Loaf of Bread” in an extremely limited print run (one copy) and put it in the library. All at once I was concerned about marketing and audience satisfaction and shelf placement. I kept going to the library to see if anyone had taken my book out.  No one ever did.

I had a long publishing dry spell after “Herman,” but I can say with certainty I was always a writer. For a while I just told myself stories in my head and didn’t write them down on paper, but I was still a writer. Even when nobody was reading, I was still a writer.  It’s only recently that I’ve once more become an author.

It seems to me that the “author” is the public persona, while the “writer” is about the actual product. The craft. A “writer” writes. An “author” sells. “Writer” is the child playing on the swingset. “Author” is the adult trying to be responsible. There are some writers who never turn themselves into authors and market what they’ve written. There are some authors who only concentrate on selling product without making the effort to write it. But being both “author” and “writer” is essential if you want to be successful as a writer. Um, author. Oh, you know what I mean.

In my own life, it’s come to my attention that the “author” part of this mixture can be a little dangerous. You’d think that the writer-child would be more compelling, but I’ve been finding it easier to get lost in the marketing. There’s a lot of immediate gratification in the social interaction, in the quest for reviews and blogs, in Twitter and Facebook and Google Plus. I’ve been finding it easy to say “Yes, I am an author”, and forget that I have to be a writer first. It’s easy to bask in the spotlight (however small that spotlight may be) and forget that to be an author you actually have to write something.

Because if you’re not a “writer” then the “author” is empty.


  1. I’m smiling wryly as I recognise myself in your funny post. Too true!

  2. Young Author Day at Linden. Books in the library. Remember it well!

    • Betsy Horvath says

      @Nancy: I still have Herman, The Unhappy Loaf of Bread here in my home library now. He’s going to make an appearance on the blog sooner or later! 😀

  3. Couldn’t have said it better..These days you find scores of authors a day, but a writer is smone u rarely see or meet. writing a piece that is ‘authorable’ is not smth every tom, dick and harry can do.. But internet and the open social media has given way to the so-called ‘push-button-publshing’ phenomenon

    • Betsy Horvath says

      @priya: Hi, Priya! Yes, it seems like it’s very easy to think of yourself as “author” – especially since the internet basically allows you to create your own persona. But writer? Well, that’s a little harder because to be a writer you actually have to do the work. LOL

  4. For me, “author” just meant “published a book”, and “writer” meant “got paid to write”. I have been both for nearly 3 decades now and from my experience most people cannot tell difference between the two anyway.

    After all, there are some illiterate people cranking out ebooks these days, and I would be hard pressed to call them either.

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