The Writer vs the Author


bothbooksonshelf

No getting away from it

In an oft-used distinction, a writer writes and an author has written. The writer creates and the author’s job is to secure readers. I like the writing part WAY better, which is almost universally true of authors. In an ideal world, our books would suddenly materialize in the hands of our ideal audience, who wouldn’t find a single thing wrong with them and be willing to throw lavish
amounts of money and praise our way. (Yes, that’s the stuff dreams are made of, which is our specialty, and thus should come as no surprise.)

I admit to having felt overwhelmed by the many different things a self-published author must to do garner a readership. Even traditionally published authors find themselves having to do much of their own outreach and marketing these days if they don’t want to simply disappear after their brief blip on the magic Reader Radar.

Because the intent is different, writing things like blogs, blurbs, and bios requires a shift from one’s fiction-writing mode, a shift that can be both physically and psychologically uncomfortable. Some authors have less difficulty with this than others, but there seems to be a consensus that the more help you get with marketing and outreach, the better. You don’t need to be a prolific NYT best-selling author to benefit from an assistant, one who can keep track of the various elements of marketing and prime the pump when non-fiction is required.

At this point in time, my blog is morphing into an author’s platform, rather than sitting out there all by its lonesome. I’ve made half-hearted attempts at this in the past, only to find it all a bit much. The truth is that I wasn’t ready–I didn’t have enough books, my fictional world hadn’t taken on enough dimensions, and while I’ve written millions of words in my lifetime, they weren’t a million words of one single fictional voice. A million words is like the proverbial 10,000 hours of practice. But now it’s happened. And I have an assistant, too.

Between the two published Charlotte Anthony mysteries and the one I’m currently writing, I’ve surpassed the million-word mark. At least half of what I write doesn’t make it into the published versions, but that doesn’t mean the writing, the world-building, the rationales, and all the various possibilities haven’t been worked out in my head and then typed out with my fingers. They are not me, but they are certainly now part of me, the way a repertoire becomes part of an experienced musician.

This means less of a disconnect between being a writer and being an author. It’s easier to talk and write about Charlotte and her world in a matter-of-fact way, without either cringing or false bravado. And thus it is easier to tackle the next thing on the marketing and outreach list that my assistant–a.k.a. my husband, Steve–has drawn up.

Bit by bit I will begin and grow the series bible, create a map of Elm Grove and its environs, continue to blog about the writing process and the development of the series, and reach out to others on various social media. I’m comfortable with some approaches and less with others, but I have also noticed that once I’m comfortable with one set of arrangements, I find it easier to wrap my mind around new ones.

Nonetheless, job number one will always be writing the novels themselves, without which there is nothing to talk about!


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8 thoughts on “The Writer vs the Author

  • Lisa Anne Marie Kline

    I have not read your novels (yet), but I found your post interesting enough to have ventured this far…informative. An easy to read, genuine approach to getting your message across without malice or condescension as some others I’ve read.

    Thank you for having ‘style’. I look forward to hearing more.

    • Meg Post author

      Hi Lisa–thank you very much for the compliment and for appreciating my intent. Hope to continue earning your readership!

  • Patricia Yager Delagrange

    I enjoyed this post. There really IS a difference for me between when I was a writer and, after I published my first book, I was suddenly an author with all the duties and responsibilities that entailed. I like being a writer more.

    • Meg Post author

      Hi Patricia–I don’t think I have come across a writer who enjoys the author role more, unless it’s something that no one admits to. Being a writer is quiet and cozy, but being an author is really “out there.” So, so different.

  • Elizabeth S. Craig

    Hi Meg. I think you’ve really got your priorities in order here. The writing always comes first. But now you’re starting to experiment with your platform and finding out what works for you and what doesn’t. I remember your saying that Instagram really resonated with you and I thought how cool that was–you’re pursuing something you enjoy and smartly also choosing a social media platform that’s a popular one.

    You’re also smart to develop that series bible. I can’t tell you how often I refer to mine now that I’m writing book 9. I’d be messing up details right and left at this point if I didn’t have one.

    • Meg Post author

      Hi Elizabeth–I’m having trouble remembering details already!!! I’m going to write the bible as if I’m writing it for myself, rather than as a polished piece. This will not only keep me from putting it off, but I think readers might find it more fun to read if they get to see some of the nitty-gritty of the writing process. I will also encourage them to contact me if they spot a conflict in the details between the books or if I’m forgetting someone.

      Instagram is a lot of fun, because of the filters, which I love to play with. There is another month-long set of prompts coming up that I think I’m going to follow, now that it’s spring and I can get outside. One gets tired of taking the same old same old of objects in the house and snow outside the door.

  • Lorel

    Congratulations on passing that million words in one voice mark! I’ve been a writer all my life, and I don’t want to change that self image, but publishing felt like the completion of something. Like baking cake after cake and never icing it or adding candles! So being an author feels like the fulfillment of being a writer, and while I don’t enjoy marketing myself (even though marketing is my day job) I enjoy having taken that last step. An assistant in that area would be very welcome though!

    • Meg Post author

      Hi Lorel–I used to have a small commercial cookery, and provided baked goods for several local coffee shops. Did a few birthday cakes on the side, as well, so I know what you mean about the “finished cake!” Unfortunately I’m still on the level of getting the frosting right, and nowhere near being able to decorate with any sort of flourish :}

      Give me time and practice, though–!