When is an author really an author? by Jen Smith

Just because I’ve written a book and it’s available on Amazon.com, does that mean I’m an author? I’ve labeled myself many things before, student, groupie, investment analyst, felon (not convicted), space shot, mom, but never author. In my social network obsessive plight I’ve begun interacting with other authors in forums where I am supposedly an author as well.

Recently I discovered a Facebook family called Book Junkies. I read about it some where in some article in somebody’s blog. I wish I could quote where from for you but I was so intrigued I instantly Googled Book Junkies and found the page and the option to join, swiftly leaving the blog source in the dust in classic A.D.D. style. Book Junkies is a place for Indie Authors to meet, learn about each other and support each other.

Like the good addict that I am, I went ahead and sent way more requests out than I’ll admit for people to friend me. Within moments I had a few responses. I was pleasantly shocked! These people don’t even know me and they’ll friend me? Some even posted “hello” on my wall and one asked me to like his book fan page. Then the light bulb went on! …or perhaps really just sizzled a bit from a few discombobulated brain cells. What if I message all the people friending me all at once and ask them to like my SICK book fan page? After doing this I was instantly ridiculed and informed that what I did was considered spam and that it would kill my reputation. Yikes! I apologized to the few who would still talk to me and then to the Book Junkie world with an apologetic post on the wall for all to see. Some folks were very kind and schooled me on Book Junkie Facebook ethics. I did, however, get sixteen more fan page likes.

One man who clued me in was David Cleinman. He is the author of Toys in the Attic and Principle Destiny both about strong woman. The latter based on true events- got to check these out. David also hosts an internet radio station where he often interviews authors. http://davidcleinman.com/writings/ He messaged on the Book Junkies Facebook wall that due to drop outs there were author interview opportunities. Of course I immediately filled out his lengthy interview form with high hopes. Stay tuned for the result of that. David was kind to me about my spam blunder and I am grateful to him for his gentle words.

I also met a writer from San Francisco named Dan Mader, author of the books Biker and Joe’s café. I simply thanked him for friending me on Facebook and we started a conversation. He shared his blog and a couple of links to articles he’d written. Check out his blog unemployed imagination. http://www.jdmader.com/ Later I found a really fun interview of Dan Mader on NcNally’s blog http://sablecity.wordpress.com/ Best format for an author interview I’ve read so far- actually read the entire interview, they are usually boring. Dan also kindly turned me on to another blog where Indie Authors can submit content. https://indiesunlimited.com/

So am I an author now that other authors talked to me? Will I be an author if David Cleinman decides to interview me? Will I be an author after I make a certain amount of money from my book? What do you think makes an author an author?


Jen Smith is the author of the memoir, SICK, available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords. A version of this article first appeared on the Blog, Jen Smith SICK on March 1, 2012, and is used here with the permission of the author.

Author: Administrators

All Indies Unlimited staff members, including the admins, are volunteers who work for free. If you enjoy what you read here - all for free - please share with your friends, like us on Facebook and Twitter, and if you don't know how to thank us for all this great, free content - feel free to make a donation! Thanks for being here.

29 thoughts on “When is an author really an author? by Jen Smith”

  1. An author is one who writes. Whether they are read by others or not makes no difference.

  2. I guess I'd define author and writer a little differently. I agree that someone who writes just for themself, whether it is stories or a journal or whatever, is still a "writer." But to me, a writer is not an "author" until they have taken the (often gut-wrenching and terrifying step) of putting their writing out there in the world. Then, if they are read or not, that's not what makes the difference. To me, it is that act of inviting readers to share in their writing that makes an "author."

    Just my two cents. 🙂

    1. Oh I'm with you McNally. Putting my work out to the world has been a huge step. I'm grateful to this community of authors from which I can learn and relate.

  3. Well… the definitions are rubbery, but some hold that authors write books, and writers write everything else (articles, stories, journal entries, letters to the editor). Everything except poetry – and they're called poets.

    I have been a writer since 1985, when my first poetry and articles and short fiction started to emerge in print publications in Australia.

    I was only acknowledged publicly as an author (and only admissable as a member in the Australian Society of Authors) when my first prose full-length book came out in 2001. That was permission to call myself an author and think of myself as one.

    I often compare writing to golf, or swimming. Try doing that mentally, and see what happens. Are you a golfer, or a swimmer? Or are you just a person who can get from one side of your pool to the other, sideways?

    How the world sees and confirms us is often how we are led to see ourselves. Nowadays, I am acknowledged as an author by half the world – but I have over 11 titles out. (And the other half of the world has no idea I exist, anyway.)

    Another way is to ask your partner in life – but be prepared for DEEP self-examination if you dare do that.

  4. I don't know about this. Sometimes "author" just sounds like an uppity word for "writer". But I think if you call yourself whichever term you like, you will grow into your concept of that role. This is why, when I was quitting smoking, even when I wavered, I called myself a non-smoker. Same principle. Kind of.

      1. After consulting with my people I have decided to refer to myself officially as a Scribe. 😉

        More seriously, yeah, I'm with you there, although I'd emphasize finding readers and if that translates into selling books, all the better.

  5. I like writer, but you can call yourself whatever you want when you start getting the name of my book right. 😉 (kidding, I cursed myself naming it JOE CAFE…if you read it it makes sense though. You're an author, writer, heck of nice chick…nice enough that I I wanted to make sure and leave you a comment before I went to bed. And I just got back from getting stitches in my foot at the ER. Let's see John Grisham do that. That asshole.

  6. Masterkoda is another great group you can say I sent you or pm me on facebook and i will add you.There we actually have days we are allowed to spam each other and there are days we all go like pages, follow blogs etc.

  7. In my opinion, the moment you begin work on a book you become a "writer". Going from "writer" to "author" simply means publishing. Putting your work out there for the world(free or for purchase) taps you with the official title. Also, I strongly believe that a true author already knows he/she has arrived and needs no approval. Just my two cents.

  8. Somebody who'd heard about my book asked my husband this morning "Is your wife an author?" His reply was, "Actually, she's a teacher, but she's written three books." Hmmm…

  9. I'm with you Jen, I don't care what you call me, I just want to sell books. I'm not saying that in a money grubbing, egotistical way, I'm saying that in a "I can't wait to write full-time way."

    I get totally gassed by writing or uh … authoring. I would like nothing better than doing that and nothing else to earn my keep and take care of my family.

    So here's to writing and being a bestselling author *clink*

  10. It's an interesting comparison with other tasks and professions. You can be a golfer who dabbles for fun, but you'd only be a doctor with external approval. I've been a tatter all my life, whether people bought my stuff or not but I was only a trucker when someone paid me to drive their rig. The non-writing world used to only allow you to be an author once you'd got through the gatekeeping of mainstream publishing but that's all gone. FWIW, I declared myself an author the first time someone who wasn't a friend or my Mum untrousered real money to buy my book. 🙂

    1. Yea I look at my book sales and wonder, has someone I don't know bought my book yet? It's only been out a month so brobably not yet.

  11. A writer is one who writes. And who really aspires to share the work, otherwise why bother to write it down. Fantasy is so much less work.

    An author is one whose work is for sale, whether they sell one copy or a thousand. So, yes, being on amazon.com makes you an "author." Once you set up your Author's page there, if anyone doubts your qualifications, you can give them the web link that clearly state's "Author's Page."

  12. Hi, Jen! I'm a writer, always. An author, sometimes. Author when I'm talking about my books. Writer when I'm talking about my life. Great to meet you!

Comments are closed.