Thursday, October 15, 2015

Is a Writer an Author or an Artist

by Cyle Young @CyleYoung

Are you an author or an artist?

These words author and artist are not as similar as they sound. Some gifted individuals can be both, but in actuality, most people are one or the other.

In the writing world, these terms are often mutually exclusive of each other. They don’t have to be, but the majority of writer’s fall in one category or another. The rise of independent and self-publishing has widened the gap between the two considerably. Neither is better than the other. It is important for writers to understand in which category they fall, so the ever-changing and always difficult market does not disappoint or devastate them.
So what’s the difference? 
Here’s a breakdown.
An Artist is a person who crafts a masterpiece.
  • Is a writer of an elegant masterpiece or two.
  • Struggles to let go of control of project (book cover, edits, title, etc.).
  • Spends months, or years, writing the perfect book.
  • Edits and rewrites multiple times.       
  • Spends countless hours learning the craft.
  • Takes years to publish a book.
  • Aims for perfection.
  • Desires positive reviews.
  • Will gain recognition for quality and win awards.
  • May never make any money.
  • Wants to see their name on the cover.
An Author is a person who sells books.
  • Is a writer of many works.
  • Does not care about control of project.
  • Spends days, or weeks, writing a product that sells.
  • Edits once, maybe twice.
  • Spends countless hours crafting “the sell”.  
  • Takes weeks to publish a book.
  • Not concerned with perfection.
  • Desires reviews that lead to sells or boost marketability.
  • May never gain recognition or win awards.
  • Will sell books and make money.
  • Is willing to ghost write, with no recognition.
These are only some of the many differences between authors and artists. What is important to understand that there is a huge difference, and you need to recognize whether you are an author or artist.

The artist spends a lifetime crafting the perfect novel—their masterpiece. They study, attend conferences, rewrite, and edit until the book is worthy of perceived greatness. An artist’s work is high quality and unique. The book contains the blood, sweat, and tears of the artist. It embodies their soul.

The author treats writing as a business. It’s about the almighty dollar. More books published offer more opportunities for sales. The author writes with ludicrous speed and can publish a book in as little as four weeks. An author creates books that harness current market trends of rides the waves of consumerism.

In some instances, a writer may exhibit characteristics of both an author and artist, but this is rare. It is usually the result of years of writing practice and experience in the writing world. Beginning writers will lean one way or the other.

It is important to determine in which category you want to be in, and then make adequate changes to your workflow, production, and mindset to allow you to become the author or artist you want to be.

An artist who wants to have the sales of an artist, will often find themselves frustrated, because they have not invested the time and energy to learn how to sell their book.

An author who wants to be respected and win awards, will often find themselves frustrated, because they have not invested enough time learning how to write high-quality works.

A writer’s life isn’t supposed to be frustrating, it should be filled with wonder, discovery, and passion for putting words and stories on paper. Embracing who you are, or who you want to be, will allow you to find your niche in the writing world and help you enjoy an amazing life as an author or artist.

Which would you classify yourself as? Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

Don't forget to join the conversation!


Cyle Young is thankful God blessed him with the uniqueness of being an ADD-riddled…SQUIRREL!...binge writer. Not much unlike the classic video game Frogger, Cyle darts back and forth between various writing genres. He crafts princess children’s stories, how-to advice for parents, epic fantasy tales, and easy readers.


  1. I have not determined that yet. I just decided to write a year ago at the New England Christian Writers Retreat. I am still wrapping my head around the idea that I am a writer. My motive is not money, it is to get my verbal messages on paper so that the ladies who hear them have a take home tool. This post will give me something to think about. Thank you, Cyle.

    1. Keep going strong Cherrilynn! You are making great strides.

  2. Thanks for your post. This has helped me to see that I fall more into the Artist category. Now that I realize there is a difference, I won't become discouraged when my writing projects take so long to complete. It is just a part of who I am and how I like to write.

    1. We all work at our own paces. :) Sometimes, I wish my mind would slow down and let me savor the process more. Take as much time as you need. :)

  3. Interesting breakdown. I am the artist attempting to build an independent publishing platform for my work and others like me. As a speaker and performance storyteller, playwright, director, and classroom teacher, stepping into a full time pursuit of publishing with all the marketing and technical demands, it has been challenging. I had come to bill myself as an enrichment artist. It is people like that I want to help to get their name on a book spine and their message into hearts. Excellent breakdown of terms.

    1. Good luck Kathy. As an Indie author selling her own books, I really admire what you are trying to do.

    2. I like the term enrichment artist. The world needs more of those! :)

  4. An interesting perspective, CyIe. I will never be a "true artist," but neither am I a "true writer" by your definition. I doubt I have any masterpieces forthcoming, but I strive to make every book I write the best it can be. I write the stories deep down inside me--the ones that I have to tell. I don't think about the craft as a business or about how many books I sell. So, I guess that puts me somewhere between the two distinctions. It also means that, like Sheryl, I must accept the path I've taken and wherever it may or may not lead.

    1. Linda, I would agree with you. Depending on my projects, I slip in-between the artist and author worlds.

  5. I guess I'm both. While I sell books, (a few, anyway) I also do some artwork. I have actually made a little money with my art. I painted aquarium backdrops and sold them. I've also sold some wildlife pictures. Right now book sales and art sales are about the same.

    1. I think I need a character in my next book that paints aquarium backdrops... I love those. We have multiple tanks at our house. :)

  6. I believe I am more of an artist as it takes me longer to create something. I am looking for meaning and not just about having my voice heard.

    1. Some of the most purposeful works were crafted by the "artist" writer. :) So powerful and potentially life-changing.