Agency Lesson: Writer vs. Author

There is a difference between being a writer and an author, but the dividing line may not be what you think.
When I first took off down the long hard path of writing my first manuscript, I somehow got it into my head that I was only a writer, but as soon as this bad boy got published and the money started rushing in, I'd be an authors. I cringe at my poor naive self.

I drew the line between writer and author with a big green dollar sign. Author meant professional, and pros get paid.

Over the years, my view has changed. I still think a writer is someone off in their little corner of the world, banging out words. And an author is still a professional. But the line doesn't come with cold hard cash anymore.

To me, becoming an author is all about mindset.

I'm talking talking about the whole "I think (I'm an author), therefore I am (an author)". To be a professional author, it takes more than talking the talk. You need to walk the walk, with the way you handle yourself as a professional.

It's pretty clear in reading queries, who still thinks of themselves as writers, and who has made the leap to author.

The writer makes excuses for why they don't have writing credits. The writer talks about how long they labored on their work. The writer fills in missing bio info with irrelevant family trivia. The writer references their work as if it is their one and only chance at 'making it'.

The author lists relevant credits, but if they don't have any they simply leave it out. The writer never bogs down their query with indications of how long they've been working on a manuscript. The author keeps their bio short and sweet with only publishing related information. The author doesn't show an emotional attachment to the manuscript, even if they think it is 'the one'.

The biggest difference is that the author has moved into a professional mindset. This mindset lets them pour their heart and soul into a manuscript, and they query it without showing in every line that their next breath depends on an agent's response.

None of that means, the professional author doesn't refresh their email every fifteen minutes. It doesn't mean they aren't emotionally attached to a manuscript. Being professional hasn't turned them into soulless submission robots.

It has allowed them to recognize that as a professional, you win some you lose some. You send off a query, hope and pray for the very best, and keep going no matter what the responses are. You celebrate every request. You digest every rejection. You process all the emotions, never once forgetting that publishing is a business.

You don't have to wait until you're raking in the cold hard cash to call yourself an author. I suggest making the mental switch now. Decide that you are a professional. Start treating yourself like one and use the language of a pro. Remember, agents are looking for career authors, someone who's in it for the long haul. The question is, are you ready to make that leap?