A couple of years ago, I realized that most people had no idea what I meant when I said: “I’m a writer.” Do you write poems? They asked. Children’s books? An advice column?
I couldn’t fault them for being confused; “writer" is a very broad term. With so many different kinds of writers writing so many different things, how could anyone guess what I do from day to day? That’s when I started using the term “copywriter” – it was more specific, and a few people knew what I meant, but still – most people asked what section of the bookstore they could find my books in.
Then a friend introduced me as a “copyright.”
That’s when I realized that we writers need to get better at explaining this wild world of words that we inhabit from day to day. So I created this short list of the major categories that fall beneath the word “writer.” For you. Because you might want to know.
Different Kinds of Writers – Or, What Writers Do
(in alphabetical order)
Authors. Broadly defined, an author is someone who has published a book. Not always, but usually. She might be a romance novelist, or a crime writer, or a cookbook author, but in general, an “author” is defined as someone who has her name on the cover of a book. Most authors identify themselves as “novelists” or “nonfiction writers” – but if they have an ISBN number, they're authors. Historically, this is the gold star category that all writers aspire to.
Bloggers. Are bloggers writers? Hey! Don't be such a snob. Bloggers are a newfangled addition to the genus writer, and may or may not overlap with other writer types. There are copywriters who blog. There are journalists who blog. There are novelists who blog. There are people who had never written more than two sentences a row before they started blogging, and now their blog is popular, and they’re getting writing assignments and book deals. It's all good.
Copywriters. A copywriter is someone who primarily creates marketing-related materials. We work with advertising agencies or directly with companies; we write about brands, products, or campaigns. Copywriters write for the web, for print (brochures, catalogs, press kits, postcards – anything you can hold in your hand), packaging (including wine labels, product boxes, jars, and bags) and any and all advertising mediums. Our audience is usually “the consumer” – that means you, if you’ve ever bought anything in your whole life.