Who Owns Author?

Last week, I wrote about the difference between the terms writer and author. This week I want to know, when do you get to call yourself an author?

I have friends who write for very well-known blogs, or have established blogs of their own, but haven’t written a complete manuscript and thus won’t use the word to describe themselves. Are they authors?

What if you’ve written a fabulous, world-inventing novel, poured your heart and soul into it, but haven’t sent it out for publication yet? Are you an author?

What if that same manuscript is with an agent — do you get to call yourself an author now?

How about self-publishing?  Was Amanda Hocking any less an author than JK Rowling when Hocking was self-publishing millions of ebooks?  Or is it Hocking’s deal with St. Martin that makes her a ‘real’  author?

Is it the act of creating that makes you an author? Is it the  number of people who read your books? Or is it the validation of having someone in the publishing industry say you are?

I’ll share my opinion in the comments.  What’s yours?

Liz Michalski


  1. vaughnroycroft on October 23, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    Maybe I’ll know when I get there, but even after four completed manuscripts, I can’t call myself one yet. I totally respect those who would call themselves one after the blogs or the completed ms, though.

    • liz on October 23, 2012 at 7:25 pm

      My feeling is similar, Vaughn. I have the greatest respect and admiration for anyone who puts themselves out there in any way as an author, because doing so requires such a leap in confidence and faith in the universe’s ability to be kind. For me personally, I required some kind of external validation for my first book.

  2. Norman on October 23, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    You may be interested in this venture, which may someday cause us to reconsider the meaning of author even further. See http://www.nimblebooks.com/magento/ .

    • liz on October 23, 2012 at 7:16 pm

      Wow, I don’t know anything about this company, but they certainly make it look easy. (Where’s my Staples button?)

  3. Jan O'Hara (Tartitude) on October 31, 2012 at 11:02 pm

    I’m very late, but I might be one of those people you’re referencing. I’d be willing to take that title on when people pay me money for my writing, whether that’s through self-publishing or traditional routes, for NF or for fiction, online or in paper. (I mean more than a few bucks.) Until then, it’s a dream, a passion, and a worthwhile venture–and I might work really hard at it–but to use the term “author,” I personally want realized commercial prospects.

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