01 May 2012

Who is an Author?

by Michael DeVoe

1) Authors Get Paid To Write

That one might seem self-explanatory but it wasn’t for me. They get paid to write. I saw Jay-Z on Real Time With Bill Maher and Bill mentioned how Jay used to rap a lot faster in his earlier records and why he has slowed down. Jay-Z’s answer was something like . . . I had a lot more to say back then, I was writing for my whole life’s experiences and I had more to say, now each time I write an album it’s about what’s gone on since the last one less time has passed and my experiences aren’t bad anymore. I bring that up because for an author they write when they’re paid to and what they’re paid to write. For me, I write all the time and I’m never paid for it. I’ve written short stories, poems, articles, exposes, essays, eulogies, op-ed’s, response pieces all of which are not published and sitting in the my documents folder under a Misc. sub-folder. Authors know they have this skill of writing and write because they’re paid to, where as I have a passion for writing and write because I’m inspired to. I feel like Jay-Z when he was younger I have a lot to say and I want to say it.

2) Authors Are Everywhere

This is literally what it means. I live in a small town in Oregon and I am sitting in a great coffee shop called the Interzone and I just asked the eleven other people here working on their laptops what they were doing, and six of them, were writers of some sort. Some were bloggers, one was working on a new novel, one was writing an article for a newspaper. I didn’t realize how prolific being a writer is. I was shocked. I then had the second truth come to me authors are everywhere, because it’s not a talent, it’s a skill. I’ve lived my life thinking writers were talented that only certain people can be writers. Turns out it’s that certain people can’t be but that number is small. You can learn how to write well.

3) Authors Don’t Write They Get Published

This comes back to what Jay-Z said about having a lot to say. Writing for me has always been about saying something, about writing how I feel about something, or telling a story. For authors it’s about getting published. I have never called myself an author and that’s for a lot of reasons mainly because I didn’t seriously write. Now that I am and want to start getting into making a living writing I realize how weird it would be to call myself a freelance writer. I don’t write to get published I write to speak. Authors are only authors if they write something that gets published if there’s nothing published than that person’s just keeping busy. No matter how brilliant the piece is if it’s not published it’s not a book, it’s not an article, it’s just words.

4) Authors Make A Living Not A Point

This is the last point. Authors get paid to write and write what they’re paid to write. Pay an author to write a print ad for a beer company one day, and then MADD hires him to write press releases about their new anti drinking campaign and you have yourself an author. Authors are willing to write whatever it takes to pay the rent. I’m sure I’d be susceptible to this temptation as well for a big enough paycheck.

from the PPM archive Sept 2009


  1. However, the person who writes an ad is called a "copyWRITER" .... not a copy author.

  2. You've got a good point there Charley. Michael, I should mention, was a teenager when he wrote this post and I think it was a valuable insight for him at the time even if he didn't know the industry everyone has to start somewhere :).

  3. Sullivan Crow.5/10/2012 12:55 AM

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