From Writer to Author – or, How Little Writing Authors Actually Do

Welcome to my page. You might be wondering why I called this post “From Writer to Author” – it’s meant to convey the two different definitions of the terms.

Like many others, I’m an aspiring author. Who isn’t? While I can say that I’ve been published in a few places – the Philadelphia Inquirer, Weird New Jersey, the Asbury Park Press, and a few others – I haven’t published a book. A real, live book that I can hold in my hands. That I can smell. That I can put on my shelf.

But I am a writer. I’m currently writing two books that I hope to publish. I’m obviously writing in this blog. But because I haven’t published a book yet, I don’t consider myself an author.

That difference is key in my mind. Writers are those who write (obviously), but authors are those who have published books – and from what I’ve learned, there’s a surprisingly small emphasis on the actual writing itself for those published authors. I had always assumed that writing was the main thing for authors, and it’s not. Rewriting is. But we’ll get to that another time.

I’ve made a lot of mistakes along the way, and I’ve been learning from them. Trying to, at least. A friend of mine and I wrote a book together – we conceived it, co-wrote it, had beta readers, researched agents, and sent it out.

And promptly got rejected.

And that process was a turning point. Before then, I read a number of how-to-write books, but the lessons went over my head. I’ve re-read them, and a few others besides, and now I finally feel like I’m making progress as a writer. As I said, I’m working on two books, and the difference from before getting rejected and after is significant.

So I’ve decided that while this project is going on, I’m going to call myself a writer, and not an author. I’ll only allow myself to be called an author when, and only when, I get published.

I realize that in the world of eBooks and self-publishing, the barriers to becoming an author is easier than ever. But for the purpose of this project, publishing eBooks or self-publishing will not qualify me as an author.

That’s not to say that those who take that route are bad writers, or that it’s not a legitimate approach to take. There are many wonderful, highly successful authors who have self-published (Andy Weir, author of “The Martian,” comes to mind, as does Alan Sepinwall and his “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised“). If you’re a member of their camp, then I give you all the credit in the world. Wear your author badge, and wear it proudly.

Personally, however, that’s not for me. That’s not my goal. I want to see if I have what it takes to overcome the obstacles in getting published, and will only consider myself successful if I accomplish that.

I don’t claim to be an expert, or even a particularly good writer. But I have learned a few things along the way, things I think can help other aspiring writers. And it’s my hope that I’ll be able to use this space to share those things, as well as post reviews of other books I’m reading and other news and tidbits here.

That’s my ultimate goal. To no longer describe myself as an aspiring writer, but to be an author. And hopefully, help some of you achieve that same goal.

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