Am I an author?

I say nay. But here’s the background to the question.

My twenty-year high school reunion is showing up. I wasn’t planning on going, as there are only two people from my high school days I’d ever want to see again, and I see both of them regularly; but Mrs. Rhymer wants to go, so I’m going.

Anywhistle, as she is the person desirous of attending, she was the one filling out the info sheet the reunion committee sent out. Under my occupation she put “author.”

I feel this is, at minimum, highly misleading. I’m almost forty. I write for pay, yes, but only freelance; I’ve never supported myself solely by writing or journalism. I’ve never had a novel published. Most of what I write is confession stories and trade-journal pieces. I’ve ghost-written five books, but three of them were crap (not that I’m blaming myself; the source material was crap), and the two non-crap ones were for an extremely specialized audience (two psychiatrists who wanted to put their therapeutic philosophies into print so that they could share them with their patients. All five were self-published, which is why I don’t count them. I’ve also written family and church histories, but I’ve never been able to drum up enough of a market from them to live off of. I wouldn’t call someone else with my credits an author, so I’m certainly not going to call myself that.

But Kim thinks I’m Faramir. She thinks I’m unfairly denigrating myself, that I should claim the title for myself.

Me, I don’t think I’ve earned it.


If you have another job, and she listed your occupation as “Other career and author” then I think that’s perfectly fine. Seems to me that’s what you are.

If she listed author as your only career…uh yeah that’s misleading.

I agree with you. If I saw you at the reunion and asked what you had written, if I got the answer above, I would think it was sad that you were so insecure that you tried to make yourself look better by calling yourself an “author.” Writer, maybe, author, not so much.

When asked what I do for a living, I typically reply, “I’m a poet. A really bad poet.” :wink:

I like “freelance writer”. You don’t want to leave it out entirely. It’s an accomplishment, paid or unpaid. And it’s a great conversation-starter – your classmates who are readers and writers will want to talk to you.

If you say “author”, they’re going to ask what you’ve published. If it’s not something they’ve heard of, they might think you’re puffing.

I call myself a writer, rather than an author – well, actually I call myself a copywriter.

But at least this thread gives me a chance to pull my old sig out of mothballs.

Don’t worry so much about earning it; call yourself that if you want to. I used to have the same complex about being called a writer, but I got lucky and somebody cured it for me - the accountant who did my taxes a year ago put me down as a writer instead of a journalist, which is where I make my money. You know what? It didn’t change anything about my life, but it felt great and it meant something to me. I know that’s a private thing and this is public, but I say be an author or writer!

I wouldn’t worry about it because people aren’t even going to notice. The one’s that read sports star (work softball team), rock n roll singer (garage jam band), and media personaity (published YouTube video) among others are going to get all of the attention

Call yourself a writer, which you are, absolutely and unequivocally.

And I’ll recommend that you keep calling yourself a writer even after you have ten best-sellers under your belt. “Author” is kind of pompous.

Yeah, like I want to be dumped in with those guys.

I’d say you are. You’ve made money writing. Sure maybe it wasn’t all your own stuff, but still you wrote it and sold it.

If you don’t blown your own horn, nobody else is going to.

Except may Kim ::rim-shot::

When I read your post, I thought, yeah he’s an author. Then I read the replies and I wasn’t so sure. So I reread your post. I still think yes. I don’t think there’s any magic number or type of things you write that suddenly gets you across the line, but I look at your list and I think that’s enough to impress me. Heck, I once encountered a guy who’d written some SF novels I’d bought in paperback and enjoyed immensely; I’d call him an author. Yet, I remember a newpaper article about him that mentioned he worked - I think as a GM assembly-line worker - to support himself. I never thought that had anything to do with whether he was an author or not. None of my friends who were auto-assembly workers ever wrote anything; that’s what makes the difference.

Minor league baseball players are still baseball players.

If you described what you’d done and had asked what to call your occupation, then on the basis of your OP I’d say you were a writer.

To me, an author is someone who has had a book (that I can go and buy from a physical or online book store) published in their name.

You will be going to your 20-yr reunion with a smokin’ hot wife who, if I understand correctly, has not even had her 10-yr reunion.

You can call yourself William Freakin’ Shakespeare & not a man there can gainsay you!

I’d say “freelance writer” is better, but “author” is not completely out of line.

If anyone asks about your books, tell them you’re a ghostwriter (I assume you were paid for the service). If they ask “what books?” tell them you need to keep it confidential. (Which is true – you need to because you think it’s unimpressive, not because of any agreement with the author).

I think you solved your own problem I would be thrilled to find someone I went to school with calls themselves a “bad poet”. Maybe make it “bad poet/pen for hire”.

Like yourself, I write and have been published professionally, but it’s not my primary job (Yet. I’m looking at expanding my scope into a couple of different areas of writing, but we’ll see how that pans out.) As it is, I tend to call myself either a “Writer” or an “Historian”.

To me, Authors write books. I haven’t written or had a book published yet, but I’ve had plenty of work published in respectable sources (ranging from major metropolitan newspapers to glossy international magazines). The thing is that I write, and most of what I write is about history. Thus, I feel I can safely consider myself either a Writer or an Historian. It depends who I’m talking to. :slight_smile:

Since you’ve got books published (even if they were ghostwritten or self-published), I think you can safely call yourself and Author. I certainly would if I had your writing credits on my CV.

My uncle has never made his living through poetry, nor through journalism, although he’s had income from both. Most of his income has come from a government job.

He’s only self-identified as “a government worker” when cracking jokes with his also-government-worker siblings about, you guessed it, government workers. In general he identifies as a poet; when people ask me about him they ask whether I’m related to “the poet” or “the journalist.”