"I don't know if I should put 'writer' on my business card," I murmured.
"Then don't," my wife said in her infinite wisdom. "Put 'author' on it."
"But if I put 'author' on, none of those big companies with overflowing coffers will want to hire me as a writer," I said, wondering if George Bush needed a speechwriter or if General Motors wanted someone to write owner's manual for next year's Oldsmobile.
"Fine. Put 'writer' on your card then, and all those fancy people you give it to will know you can write for them."
"But writer looks so small," I pointed out. "I also want Fortune 500 companies to hire me as a speaker, and nobody important hires a writer to speak. They hire authors."
"OK, why don't you put both?" she offered.
"Ho, right. That'll impress them. A writer who can't even write his own business card with duplicating his redundancies," I said. "I might as well shoot myself with my own sword."
In end, I put "author", figuring I would get most writing jobs over Internet, but when I speak live I would have to hand out cards to lots of people. An author's autograph would make those people giddy as strawberry Jell-O on Amtrak Express. Those same people would search nervously for a graceful retreat from company of a mere writer.
What is it about being an author.? You can author an article or a report or just about anything. And you can be author of just about anything (including "your own misfortunes"). But you can't be "an author - period" unless you've published a book.
Big warning: writing a book does not count. I have a friend who wrote a book. That makes him a writer, not an author. When he publishes it, only THEN will he be a real author and only THEN will he be entitled to learn authors' secret handshake. Don't try sneaking into clubhouse on scant pretext that your wrote a book. Anybody can write a book. Even a writer. You have to publish book to get through these gates of glory.
But if my friend does publish, and he does become an author, and he does learn secret hand shake, then he'll be ready to cross that threshold of pride when a reader he's never met before tells him, "I just couldn't put your book down."