Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Writer or Author?

A quick Internet search of the definition of writer and author shows little distinction between the two words. In terms of writing fiction, there is a distinct difference in my mind between being a writer and an author. I'm not sure where that idea originated. Perhaps it is something that was said years ago in a writing class that took root in my mind and grew from there.
Writers write. It is that simple. It is the creative process. There are many people who seem to be "a natural" at spinning a story. There are some who take it seriously enough to hone their craft by taking writing classes and reading books on writing.
With the advent of the Internet, writing classes on line have become a money making enterprise. Of course, caveat emptor, buyer beware. As most things, the classes are not equally worth the money.
Personally, I'd rather have a book that I can return to as needed. My all-time favorite novel writing book is: The Complete Book of SCRIPTWRITING, by J. Michael Straczynski.
Scriptwriting? For a novelist? Absolutely! And if you read this book, you'll know why I adore it.
So writers write and hone their craft. What's the difference with that and an author? If you have finished a manuscript, you know there is a distinct change in the landscape when you begin to query that book to literary agents and small publishers.
First off, there is a whole new set of rules to learn about the publishing industry. While anyone can pick up a pen and paper and write a manuscript, or even better, grab a digital device and bang out an ms, marketing said ms can be daunting and frustrating.
It is almost a right of passage, in some sense, to traverse from the private world of writing to the public world of publishing. The first time someone rejects that ms, it is different from friends and family wowing over the rough draft that has been shared. Friends and family are supposed to say encouraging things, and most of the time they do.
But when someone in the industry, who is considering putting their money into your ms to publish it, rejects it -- for whatever reason -- it is the beginning of the realization that this industry is serious business, and it is time to step it up, if you want to be part of it.
That right of passage period is where I make the distinction between writer and author. While I know it isn't really a distiction in the industry, it is to me because it should be a mark that you have taken the next step beyond being a casual writer.
There are quite a few books about the industry and I've found most of them discouraging, so I won't list any titles here. However, it is like any other industry, knowledge is power.

Learning how to write a query letter that gets your work considered is the first step to putting your work out for consideration.
A great query letter only goes so far. The synopsis has to be correctly written and good enough to keep the person looking at the next piece of your submission, the sample chapters.
All of this is a learning process and most of the time it does not come as natural as writing. Yet, it is required to transition the work from manuscript to novel.
Finish what you started and dive in this summer to learning the industry as your next step in the process of writing (and getting published) the next Great Americal Novel!