Are you a writer or an author?
July 26, 2012
I always thought the words were interchangeable. Apparently not.
I watched the African-American Publishing Panel discussion from the Harlem Book Fair on Book TV last Saturday night. The panelists were Carol Mackey (Editor-in-Chief, Black Expressions Book Club), Zane (Author and Publisher, Strebor Books) and Charmaine Parker (Publishing Director, Strebor Books).
All of these panelists share a working relationship and either write, publish or sell books by African-American authors. Charmaine Parker is Zane’s older sister.
But Zane is the star. She sells a lot of books, hers and those of other writers. She established her own publishing house, which is now an imprint of Simon & Schuster. She is one savvy person when it comes to the book business.
Here’s how Zane’s Amazon Author Page describes her:
Zane is the author of Addicted, The Sex Chronicles, Gettin’ Buck Wild, The Heat Seekers, The Sisters of APF, Shame on It All, Nervous, Skyscraper, Afterburn, and Love Is Never Painless and is also the editor of Chocolate Flava and Caramel Flava. She is the publisher of Strebor Books, an imprint of Atria Books/Simon & Schuster, and lives in the Washington, D.C., area with her family. Visit her website at www.eroticanoir.com.
In the middle of the panel discussion, Zane brought up the issue of the difference between a writer and an author. All three of the panelists were of the same mind: A writer is a person who sits somewhere and writes books. Whereas, an author is a person who knows how to present herself to people who are looking to buy books. Zane used several examples about events she attended where she had to instruct her writers about how to act like authors.
In East Texas, we would say that an author is a person who knows how to work the room, a person who can connect to people. As Zane explained the process, it is all about accessibility. An author on a high horse isn’t likely to sell many books.
And she wants her authors to sell books.
That’s where they left the discussion. They focused on working the room.
But how does an author work a digital room?
That’s the sixty-four thousand dollar question for eBook authors. You can’t shake hands in cyberspace, slap someone on the back, read body language. I truly believe this “cutoff-ness” from potential readers is the main thing that makes selling digital books tough.
So, how does an independent writer make the transition to author? How does he or she connect with readers to the extent that they feel like they have been in a room together, like they know and trust each other?
Whoever figures that one out will sell a lot of books.