Somewhere along the line, I started referring to those who write as writers and those who are published as authors, however, I think there’s an even stronger distinction between author and writer and it’s not just about getting published, but about how you approach your writing.
The writer writes whatever she wants. She’s compelled to write and rarely finds herself without pen and paper, she’s been known to say that she “has to write” just like she has to breathe. The writer writes every idea that comes to her, no matter the subject or genre. Today she writes a picture book, tomorrow a romance, and next week a hybrid science fiction, cozy mystery, and young adult. She has dreams of nonfiction as well.
An author doesn’t always have this “need to write” she loves it and probably yearns to do it, but it doesn’t always bring her joy. Sometimes it feels like work. An author doesn’t write whatever she wants but instead chooses to write to her audience. She has career goals and knows that to achieve them she needs to work at her craft, which is something far beyond just writing. She can’t write everything and anything because she doesn’t have the chops to do so, although it might be possible that she writes in more than one genre. In the beginning especially, she reads and hones her abilities in the genre where her strengths lay and understands what the customer, her reader, expects. An author knows the “formula” for a good book and pushes the boundaries to take it to the next level.
While there is, in my mind, a distinct difference between writer and author I also believe that everyone is, or has been, a writer, but not everyone becomes an author.