Sunday, April 1, 2012

Ready? Set? Juggle!

by: Joelle Charbonneau

Most of us get into the writing gig because we want to…well, you know….write. That makes sense. Right? Writers write. End of story.

Well, not exactly. At some point it is the dream of many if not most writers to make the leap from one who writes to one who is published. The day I made that leap from a writer with a manuscript to writer with a published novel, was the day I had to stop thinking of myself as just a writer. Suddenly, I was an author.

What’s the difference between the two, you ask? Ha! Well, to me the two have huge differences in the scope of the work involved. Let me show you:

A writer

1) writes
2) rewrites
3) edits
4) writes some more

An author

1) writes
2) rewrites
3) revises
4) submits
5) does edits
6) networks
7) does copy edits
8) proofs typeset pages
9) answers lots of e-mails
10) deals with promotion
11) files taxes (oy! I hate that one!)
12) is told how cool their job is on days they want to hide under the bed
13) deals with cover art (which thankfully, I only have so much say in because I can’t draw a decent stick figure)
14) etc…etc…etc…

The day I shifted from writer to author was the day I went from a writer to a business person. Suddenly, half the time I spent “writing” was spent on the business of writing instead of just the creation of words on the page. Which meant I needed more time to spend on writing. Funny how that works. It also meant I needed to improve my multi-tasking skills. It used to be I started one project, worked on said project until I reached the end, edited said project and polished it again before I put it to the side and started the next. I was a one project at a time kind of girl. This week, I’ve worked on writing on my second YA novel INDEPENDENT STUDY, wrote a prequel short story for THE TESTING for my YA editor, had a three hour meeting with a publicist, edited page proofs for Murder For Choir, did taxes, started organizing a panel for an event I’ll be attending, worked on brainstorming ideas for release events, send a few e-mails to authors I love asking them if they’d blurb my book, exchanged lots of e-mails with editors and my agent and fellow authors and wrote some blog posts. Phew!

Trust me when I say I love being an author. I love writing books, meeting readers and other authors and learning about the strange and ever changing world of publishing. But it is a job. And like any job there are days I am overwhelmed by the sheer volume of work that is in front of me. On those days, I remind myself how lucky I am to be doing this gig and try not to panic as I work through the to-do list and attempt to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Because, face it, I wouldn’t give up this job for anything.

So, for those of you reading this post – tell me – do you think being a writer and being an author are two different thing? If so, what are the differences you see and if not – why not?


Michael Parks said...

I do think they are two different things. You nailed the reasons quite clearly, more than I could have.

My basic thought has been that a writer is anyone putting words on paper for whatever the reason. An author is one whose writing has been published.

Where some ambiguity arises is over the question of self publication. Are you an author if you self publish? That's the sticky question.

I think the answer comes from the results of sales and/or reviews of the self-published work. Then the question is one of quantity - at what point do sales validate one as a bona fide author? A hundred purchases? A thousand?

Perhaps the self-published writer does earn the title of author for going through the effort of publishing. But whether or not they are recognized as such by those "in the biz" is unclear. My guess is most often not.

Joelle Charbonneau said...

Michael - I think that any writer who passes through the portal of simply writing into a world of writing as a business gets to use the title of "Author". Funny enough, it is the business side of things that is reason so many self-published authors say they choose to self-publish as opposed to traditionally publish. They like being in control of all of the details. I have three traditional publishers and an agent who deals with a huge number of the details and I find myself still feeling overwhelmed.