Author. Writer. These words are often used interchangeably, but the terms and the roles are different. If you are a writer, you write an article, a book, web copy, a piece of literature, etc. If you are an author, you are the originator of the idea or content that is being written. Of course, you can be the author and the writer of the same piece, but if you are either the author or the writer, you have to be aware of some of the important differences.
An author originates the idea for whatever is written, whether he or she actually does the writing or not. That is why many authors have ghost writers. Authors are the only ones who can apply for a copyright of the work, because the writer may or may not be writing someone else’s ideas. The author can have just mediocre writing skills; the writer’s skills must be exceptional. Many writers work for others intentionally; there are people who know what they want to say, but don’t know how to put their thoughts to paper. The purpose of a copyright is to protect the author’s original idea. A writer can only get a copyright if the original idea was his or hers; then that person becomes the author as well as the writer. When a work is copyrighted, only the author can be associated with the copyrighted item.
By the same token, only published works can be copyrighted, so if you have a lot of unpublished works sitting in your drawer or on your hard drive, you are a writer and cannot yet call yourself an author. So, all authors start out as writers, but only published writers can become authors.
Whether you consider yourself a writer or an author or both, it is imperative that your work be the best it can be. We have all seen self-published books that have been horribly written. Those writers can call themselves “authors”, but that does not mean they are good writers.
Are you an author? You are the creator of the idea. Once your creation has been written and published, the copyright belongs to you.
Are you a writer? You are the writer of the idea—either yours or someone else’s. You make the idea into a reality.
Author. Writer. You choose.
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