Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Coming to Terms

What does the term “pre-published” mean? Some writers who are in the process of completing a manuscript or querying agents have come to call themselves pre-published, but is that really the case? Several published authors I’ve talked to over the years wouldn’t agree. Apparently, the publishing industry calls an author pre-published during the period where the author sold his/her book to a publisher and is awaiting his/her release date. This is the time where edits are done, a book cover is designed, and ARCs (advanced reader’s copy) have been distributed.

Now, that’s what I’ve heard. Do you have more information that could shed some light on the term “pre-published”?

What about the term “author”? Can we call ourselves authors if we are not yet published? I believe we can. Although, I usually forget to go by that title myself. I’m still stuck on “writer”, nothing wrong with that. As far as I’m concerned, if you’ve completed a piece of literary work, you’re an author. How long should that work be? Well, that’s up for discussion. I’ve always thought of it as a full manuscript, even if it’s only the first draft. Not everyone can write a book end-to-end. For me, a writer would possibly attempt to write a book, but an author has completed one. And once you’re published, then you’re a published author.

I really should force myself to use “author”. It sounds better, doesn’t it? What do you think about using “author” over “writer”?


  1. Lynette,

    I struggled with the writer versus author question for a couple of years. I finally made peace with the two terms after attending a writers conference where the terms were differentiated.

    I interview both writers and first-time authors on on my blog, Romance Writers on the Journey. When I have a fellow writer as a guest who, like me, is working with the goal of publication in mind, I call her a writer. Those who've sold their first book, I refer to as debut authors.

  2. Hi Lynette,

    Thanks for stopping by my blog! I would agree that "pre-published" refers to a writer with a book on its way to market. I used that term a lot when I worked in book sales to refer to books that were not yet available (instead of authors).

    That said, I think you can use author and writer interchangeably at times too.

    Happy Writing!

  3. I guess it depends on if you're a glass half full kind of person. When I first heard of an aspiring author refer to herself as pre-published, I thought it was a pretty optimistic view of this crazy writing journey--a good way to keep your spirits up and have a sense of anticipation that keeps you writing during the hard times. I didn't realize it was an industry term for the between contract and release phase.

    Like Keli, when I think author, I tend to use it for someone who is published. As in, "I'm going to squeal like a little girl when I meet my favorite author and get her to sign my book."

    But Writer? I go to Writer's Conferences, belong to Writer's Groups, love to talk to Writers about writing.

    Then again, I mostly use novelist. I am a novelist. That tells people not only am I a writer or author, but what I write as well.

    Thanks for coming by my blog.

  4. Thx for stopping by. I say pre-published or aspiring - b/c it makes me feel more hopeful but I can see both sides. They all sound wierd until its published. here is formal def of author:

    The writer of a book, article, or other text.

    One who practices writing as a profession.

    check check!

  5. Hi Lynette! Thanks for taking time to visit my blog today! I had to stop and think about this post for a minute...and determined that I don't yet think of myself as an author. I have been published several times, but "just" articles, and I guess in my mind, authors wirte books and writers write articles. (???) Having said that, I have written books, I just haven't been able to publish yet.

    You've definitely given me something to think about!

  6. I hesitate to call myself anything...hate to sound presumptuous. i write. i laugh at myself a lot. but i'm serious and i work on my craft and i love what i do. so i'm a writer. every one much struggle through this him/her self, i believe.

    on the other hand, i've met many a "writer" who loves to tell you just how awesome a writer he/she is... which probably makes me a bit more reticent and shy :)

  7. Oh, I need to change my blog description then, I should call myself author, rather than writer.

    Steamy Darcy

  8. LOL Thinking of myself as an author is weird. I prefer writer. :-)

    I'm SO sorry. I meant to stop by and tell you about the Sushi series yesterday. It's inspirational Asian chick-lit written by Camy Tang. R. Gardner was contracted by the publisher to help edit the series with Camy.
    :-) Hope that answers your question. Give me a holler if it doesn't!

  9. I can't help it...but I'm a sucker for the term "Novelist".

  10. I must confess, I never realized the term pre-published meant an author had sold their work but the book was not yet released. Ah, well, I'll have to revert to unpublished author. I like the sound of pre-published better!

    Thanks for clearing it up. And I agree, if you've written a book, you're an author.

  11. I consider "author" a title I need to earn. When I have sold my first book, I'll feel like an author. For now, I'm a writer. I've always heard the term pre-published with regards to authors who have sold and are waiting for the publication date. Remember, it's usually over a year between date of sale and date of publication.

  12. I've never heard the term "pre-published," but it makes sense under the terms you explained.

    I'm comfortable with "writer," but won't call myself an "author" until I'm published at the book level. That's just my personal preference - I know we each feel a little differently. :)

  13. I prefer writer to author, and reserve author for when I'm published.

    I do refer to myself often as pre-published though. I consider that part of my attitude: a "when I'm published," not "if I'm published" thing.

  14. I am so used to saying "writer" or "aspiring author" sounds good, too, but that's more of a mouthful.

    I would feel funny putting "pre-published author" on my blog heading so maybe I'll just wait until my books comes out before I ease into the "author" thing :)

  15. I too struggle with what I should call myself. I've finished one complete MS and I'm working on my second. That doesn't mean I am any closer to being published though. I guess Aspiring Author has always fit. Someday I would love to change that to Published.

  16. Thanks, Jessica for answering my question about the Sushi series.

    It seems we're all in the same boat, although we may call it by a different name. After blogging about this subject, I gave it some more thought. I think I'm going to stick to "writer" as opposed to "author" when describing myself because the term "author" brings a lot of pressure with it. As a "writer" I don't have to answer to anyone about my non-published state. If I call myself an "author", then I'll have people asking me question like: "When is your book coming out? Where can I find your book? How many books have you published?" Then, I'll have to swing my tail between my legs and explain I'm not actually published. Ugh. I don't like to announce that. I believe I will be published and that's good enough for me... for now. ;) Plus, if I wait until I'm published (or at least pre-published) to call myself an "author", I'll feel so much more special when I do finally sell my first story.

    Lynnette Labelle

  17. I try not to worry about the labels. I don't think being an author vs. a writer says anything more about my skill to spin a yarn. And really - isn't it the skill that really matters?