Writers, authors and changes.

I never really appreciated the difference between saying ‘I’m a writer’ and saying ‘I’m an author.’ I assumed an author had a published book to their name and a writer was striving towards that goal. Thinking back, that was rather a narrow-minded view and even Google offers different interpretations, including the transition to being called an author when a writer originates an idea, and puts the content into a written format.

A journalist on the local newspaper would usually be classified as a writer, but so might someone designing billboards, producing a blog, a short-story teller, a teacher preparing lessons, and at a stretch, someone working in IT who produces ‘new and improved’ hieroglyphics, and we all know my feelings about ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’

Then there are script writers, history professors, those who write recipes for original cakes or meals, even those who post on social media. Is a thesis statement a first cousin to a book blurb, and distantly related to a CV or job application?

With the advances in self-publishing, can you still call yourself an author if your book wasn’t released under the auspices of a major publishing company? If you are a DIY author shouldn’t there be a better name for someone who has to wear every hat necessary to get their book into the public eye? The Indie author company with a single employee has to take on the roles of MD, publicity agent, secretary, cover designer, accounts clerk, formatter, techy expert, staff trainer, HR, fan club and supplier of tissues/alcohol for the weepy days.

It can make board meetings rather surreal, but thankfully the network of other authors in similar positions tend to be on hand as emergency relief staff and advisors. Generally they don’t even require payment, although the crypto option of leaving a review for their latest book is always appreciated.

As you are probably aware, I have my own small band of helpers (as in they say we need to do XYZ and I say ‘Good idea. Get on with it,’) for my ‘Val’s Tales’ persona where I write the stories, send them to our shared Dropbox, and on the appointed day they appear by magic on You Tube and various podcast platforms. Obviously the team don’t have to spend their days recording, mixing, uploading, revising, broadcasting, diarising or anything difficult like that, so they have the easy bit. Seriously, they do a wonderful job so deserve the few weeks break until we restart in August, even if it is without holiday pay.

I suppose I became an author in the traditional sense with the release of my first book ‘Changes.’ At the time I assumed all authors used pen names, which shows how naïve I was, but I was unaware that the publishers usually controlled the design of the cover, and often changed the title. This was brought to mind recently when I was reminiscing with a friend about a Mediterranean island, and which hotels and restaurants were originally around in sleepy towns and villages before they became tourist hot-spots.

As you can see, the title Changes includes the sub text ch-ch-changes which might remind you of a song by an English artist. I knew David Bowie fairly well around the time he became famous with Space Oddity but for some reason my mother could never remember the title of my book. ‘Is it Choices?’ ‘No Mum. It’s Changes.’
Almost as a joke I played David’s record ‘Changes’ not expecting her to have heard of it.
‘Changes! Why didn’t you say so!’ Thank you Mr Jones.

The original cover of my book was based on a beautiful building which in recent years has been allowed to fall into neglect. Although I never stayed there, the interior is described through Jane’s eyes, (the main character in the book) when she first arrives from London and checks into a hotel while she contemplates her future. Although years ago I visited the surrounding grounds and had a drink in the bar, the rest of the building is purely from my imagination, but I think it would have been pretty accurate at the time.

The island was Malta, the Selmun Palace was originally an 18th century castle, at one time ( and I believe currently) owned by the government, and was also a training base for the national airline. If I had a couple of million Euros spare I would love to own and renovate it. Times change, the last I heard the building was in rack and ruin, cordoned off and with vague plans about being available for film sets. The bottom half of my original book cover was intended to show the contrast between cold and rainy London and an escape to the sun, but somehow the black blob holding an umbrella is almost invisible and the mountains are inappropriate.

That doesn’t stop it holding a special place in my heart, even though when it was republished a few years ago under the new name ‘Summer Changes, Winter Tears’ I lost all my previous reviews. Despite having a new title, written by a different author (I had dropped my pen name by this time), a new cover and a more modern name for the main character, it’s still the same book and makes a perfect summer read.

It’s available on Amazon

and I even have a few copies of the original which could be signed if required. Contact me for prices if it appeals.

Out of interest, comparing the two covers, which would you be most likely to pick up and buy? It’s a fascinating subject and one of these days I might even catch up, and learn how the algy-thingies work, or perhaps not. 😀

More bookish waffle, er, I mean fascinating information about writing next week. Thanks for listening.

© Val Portelli February 2021

5 thoughts on “Writers, authors and changes.

    1. The perfect compromise, Jane. After your years keeping unruly pop stars in order I assumed you’d be brimming with confidence; it just goes to show. Which reminds me of the old song, ‘Ce la vie said the old folk.’ 😀 x

      Liked by 1 person

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