A is for Author


Letter AAlmost every writer, from the time the first crayon and construction paper book is taped together with The End on the last page, dreams of being an author. You can still see the picture in your head of what you look like as an author. What does it really mean to be an author?

Welcome to Day 1 of the
A to Z Challenge.
A is for Author.

If we go straight to our Go-To definition, it will let the wind out of our sails by letting anyone who writes an article about anything, masterminds a crime or creates a piece of software call themselves author. Let’s go with the stricter, second definition which the largest part of the writing community accepts as a writer of a literary work (as a book).

As loose as the definition is for author, we must speculate and in the end draw a conclusion.

Your Mother’s Basement

Is the person who writes the 250,000 word opus in a series of spiral notebooks, journals and sticky note pads an author?

The boos and hisses from the crowd should be interpreted as a resounding No.

blogbookMonetize Your Blog

Is the person who pasted 42 blog posts into a Word document, as is, and slapped on a 72 ppi cover created with a mouse in Paint an author?

You really are a tough crowd. That would be another no.

The Essayist

Is the person who gathers together their articles on ways to cheat at pick-up-sticks, dandruff discomforts, the digestive benefits of guar gum and a signature method of washing Pomeranian puppies under the title Collected Works of Jack O. A. Trades, Esq. an author?

See, I am with you there. That level of eclecticism escapes everyone being asked to fork over $16.95 when they only care about one subject.

My Life & Times


Is the person with the 99 cent eBook entitled What’s for breakfast? A memoir of my meals really an author?

Stop throwing shredded wheat. No, no one cares what you ate for breakfast for the last 22 years.


If we do not think any of these powerhouse penners are authors, what is an author? We are not debating the actual writing, or are we?

In fact, we are attacking the writing rather than the person. There is a general consensus what we write must offer some value in exchange for the currency. This would be the literary portion of the work.

  • Mommy’s basement dweller has not packaged the work into a salable form.
  • The blogger has not engaged an editor or offered anything geared toward the reader with a paperback or tablet in absence of the audience to whom the blog post was geared. Charging for something which is readily available for free is a mite insulting.
  • The essayist is aggregating information too far flung to appeal to any other person.
  • The memoirist offers nothing unique which would interest a reader, such as how breakfast enabled him/her to become a world champion at something besides oatmeal eating. This content is also free on social media; what do you want to bet?

The Music

Let’s face it. By definition, all of these writers are authors. We can classify them as bad authors.

This too to remember. If a man writes clearly enough any one can see if he fakes. If he mystifies to avoid a straight statement, which is very different from breaking so-called rules of syntax or grammar to make an effect which can be obtained in no other way, the writer takes a longer time to be known as a fake and other writers who are afflicted by the same necessity will praise him in their own defense. True mysticism should not be confused with incompetence in writing which seeks to mystify where there is no mystery but is really only the necessity to fake to cover lack of knowledge or the inability to state clearly. Mysticism implies a mystery and there are many mysteries; but incompetence is not one of them; nor is overwritten journalism made literature by the injection of a false epic quality. Remember this too: all bad writers are in love with the epic.”
― Ernest HemingwayDeath in the Afternoon

In today’s world of self-publishing, becoming an author is as simple as submitting the contents of a word processor document to a publishing platform and pressing a radio button. Even some of these authors’ mothers would tell them they were not authors until someone bought their books. The majority of the writing community would agree with Mom on this point.

Stop Wannabe

In conjunction with the ongoing Better Writing series, this year’s A to Z Challenge on The M3 Blog is going to investigate, unveil and utterly demystify becoming a successful author. While it cannot imbue you with talent, it will give you a number of stepping stones along the path to creating, producing and selling a book. In short, becoming an author.

What are your qualifications for one to call oneself an author? Have you seen examples of bad authors? (It is okay if it is you. Help is on the way.)

Hashtags: #AtoZChallenge #amwriting #authors

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  1. The tools I need.

    However, I am a bit bummed you aren’t going to offer me any talent as well. That would absolutely shoot me into the stardom of authorship.

    That being said – this is a series I won’t miss out on. I need all the help I can get.
    Candy recently posted..The Long WeekMy Profile

  2. I’m not counting yours as one of my five… I just had to see it and I’m glad I did. This is awesome, Red. This be a hefty project you have taken on, and I do believe you’re just the woman for the job!!!
    Excellent A post!!

    BuddhaKat recently posted..A is for…My Profile

    • It simply cannot be any harder than psychology! Last year, we had a blast with this. I have already been to my five (only three had posted) and have been to some friends’. Off to see your A now 😉

  3. A is also for Actor. Some of us are actors pretending to be authors. I am an actor pretending to be a cartoonist.
    Bo Lumpkin recently posted..Wise Observations by MildredMy Profile

  4. Thanks for dropping by my blog. Just read your first a to z post – some great content. I look forward to reading the rest of your posts during the challenge – I am a wannabe myself.
    printedportal recently posted..A is for… AppraisalsMy Profile

    • We have plenty of those. Be sure to leave a link to your blog in The Green Room (top menu bar). Glad to have you!

  5. I’m afraid deciding that is WAY above my pay-grade! 🙂 I like the cover, b.t.w… looks like something I might have put together! 😉
    spilledinkguy recently posted..A Seat by the Pool (faux wet plate collodion)My Profile

  6. I remember when I tagged my line with “author” just because I had pages and pages of hard copy manuscript which had never seen an editor. I learned from you along the way, that I wasn’t one then. (blush) I guess wishing doesn’t make it so, only doing does!

    I’ll be here for the entire series, this is a brilliant idea!
    Gail Thornton recently posted..IntoxicatedMy Profile

    • Over the years, I have been more finicky with my definition of author. Not only for myself but also for others. In the wake of self-publishing, I truly believe I am becoming even more finicky. I did not consider myself an author until about my fifth book… sales notwithstanding. This one is going to be fun. I have some laughs scheduled along the way. xxx

  7. Um, two published books that happen to be awesome make me an author??
    Laurie recently posted..A is for AdjustmentsMy Profile

  8. I took my definition of author from apparently nonexistent defintion or a definition in the actual dictionary anyways. I thought it meant anyone who has a published work. I have learned there is much more to it. I think I have done what it takes to consider myself an author, not a bad one either… that of course could be as subjective 😉 as the definition itself… nah I’m not a bad one lol.. great start to the a-Z challenge.. I am not working on the same theme but today we were very much like minded 🙂

    ♥ Lizzie
    Lizzie Cracked recently posted..A-Z Challenge ; A is for Amazon Mental Moment.My Profile

    • With the change in the connotation of “published”, inevitably the author definition was due to change. xxx

  9. Oh oh, I am not an author. LOL.

  10. Red, great post; I no longer know what an author really is. When I sit in the corner office, look at FOW and read the print version, even though it’s my second book published, I wonder how I ever wrote it; it looks so complicated, yet came easily to me while writing. A lifelong friend of mine read FOW, dropped her jaw, and said, “what a helluvanimagination”.
    Is harvesting the imagination authorship?
    raymond alexander kukkee recently posted..A-Z Challenge: A is for AuthorMy Profile

    • That is the question du jour. Are we content to the the first definition author who merely harvests the imagination or the author who cuts the chaff and mills the grain into useful flour?


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