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This question has been split from a previous double-question here.


Which of the following is preferable?

Jack London and Charles Dickens were both great writers.

Jack London and Charles Dickens were both great authors.

Could somebody explain that to me the difference?

Is there any difference in usage between British English and American English in this case?

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I think both can be used interchangeably. However in my view, authors write books while writer is a more generic term. The are other words for other media too, playwrights write plays, bloggers write blogs, reviews write reviews, poets write poems, but all are writers.

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  • It's funny ;). Because the user Ramit write exactly the opposite to your statement ell.stackexchange.com/questions/9547/… (: You are author of something. 'Author' is not an absolute word, it doesn't indicate profession. It demands object after it. 'Writer,' whereas, is a professional. It's an absolute word. You may not mention anything else along with it. Charles Dickens was a writer. He has authored many books. The word 'author' can be used for a non-writer as well. I am the author of my project assignment. – Derfder Aug 30 '13 at 7:59
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    @Derfder: I don't think writer is any more "absolutely professional" than author. A writer is someone who writes; it need not be a professional. I think either word can be used to indicate profession, and both words can also be used in other contexts as well. – J.R. Aug 30 '13 at 10:02
  • @J.R. Thanks, but that's even more complicated now ;D It's Derek Knight VS Ramit VS J.R. ;D – Derfder Aug 30 '13 at 11:52
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Most Americans today would say "I an a writer" not "I am an author." Writing organizations are called things like "The Science-Fiction Writers Association" not "The Science Fiction Authors Association." You can say either one, but "author" sounds old-fashioned. On the other hand, we say "author of" for a specific work and "writer of" for a genre. For example:

"Is Jack a writer?"

"Yes, he's the author of 'Death on Alpha Centauri.'"

"Is he a writer of science fiction?"

"Yes, and mysteries too."

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If someone dictated a book, they would be the Author, but not a "writer". There are also other phrases where "author" is not to do with writing, like "author of your own destiny". So, I think that authoring is more about creating, whereas writer is about... writing.

"Author" also implies a published work. Writer implies very little. I have been writing since I was able to, but nothing published yet.

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You are author of something. 'Author' is not an absolute word, it needn't indicate profession. It demands object after it. 'Writer,' whereas, is a professional. It's an absolute word. You may not mention anything else along with it.

Charles Dickens was a writer. He has authored many books.

The word 'author' can be used for a non-writer as well. I am the author of my project assignment.

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    Author can absolutely describe a profession; in fact, it's the very first meaning Macmillan gives: someone who writes books, articles etc, especially as their job. I could just as easily say Charles Dickens was an author. He has written many books. – choster Aug 30 '13 at 18:00
  • @choster: True enough, but if we changed "doesn't" to "needn't," then I'd largely agree with most of this answer. – J.R. Aug 30 '13 at 23:28

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