To my mind, there’s a difference between a “writer” and an “author.” They’re not mutually exclusive, but they are separable. A writer is anyone who writes, but an author is a person who’s been published and makes a living (or part of a living) from writing. That means an author is a writer (he has to be in order to get published) though not all writers are authors. Like me. So far. That definition isn’t unusual or different from the definition a lot of other people have used, but these days a writer has to be more than just someone who puts words on paper and gets someone else to publish them.
Some authors are now publishers. Self-publishing has reached all-time highs with the advent of easy, quick electronic publishing formats. Now, anyone who wants can dump a manuscript into one of several publishing houses (CreateSpace, Smashwords, even Amazon or Barnes and Noble to mention a few) and bingo! it will appear on a screen somewhere. But if that’s all that the author does, good luck to him/her getting anyone else to read it.
An author can’t simply write anymore and let it go at that, unless he doesn’t want to sell anything. Authors have to be involved in marketing, too. Some publishing houses (the older kind, that produce a hard copy book with a cover) even require their authors to devise their own marketing plan. Can you imagine? The big houses have dropped so much of what they used to do, and dumped it all into the lap of the author. Every author now has to have his own website (fortunately, you can get a website design service to make one for you, but it will cost), produce a blog (do you think I do this for my health?), have a Facebook page with at least a thousand friends, and have a Twitter account with at least 10,000 followers. I am so far behind in this race it’s not funny. I have no website, I let my blog talk for me, and I refuse to have anything to do with Twitter. I can’t see expressing myself and my opinions in 140 characters (that’s characters, not words) five or six times a day just to keep a publisher happy. (To post to Twitter is to “Tweet”–how frivolous can you get?)
Right now I’m in the process of querying agents about getting my first novel (The Anthanian Imperative–Blue) published. I’ve worked on it for over ten years and I feel it’s publishable, with suitable input from an agent and editor and others, of course. I’m not beyond taking suggestions that will make the book better by any means, but to be told I have to “Tweet” four or so times a day just to satisfy a publisher simply takes time I could spend writing and revising.
I can see doing readings of my book around the country, talking about it to various groups that might ask, blogging about it once a week, making a website once the book has been accepted for publication, even having a contest or two to give away free copies of the book, and so on, as a part of a marketing campaign. But having to do all that by myself? I’m a writer and a scientist. I never took courses on marketing in college or graduate school. I don’t know the first thing about marketing, and writing my own marketing plan would be a waste of the precious time I could spend writing. I’ve got several ideas for new novels and not a considerable amount of time to do them. Time is money, they say. (I don’t know who “they” is, but “they” say a lot of good stuff.) Better to spend it writing and revising a good novel. Enough said.
Anybody else got a spleen they want to vent?