Are You an Author?

Enough. Enough. I have read it enough times, already.

I have read it in social media posts by new indie authors: “Am I an author?” “I feel I don’t deserve to be called an author, yet.”

I have read it in comments posted by some traditionally published or “veteran” authors. (These ones seem to enjoy demeaning emerging ones, instead of nurturing them.) “These people think that by publishing their first e-book, all of a sudden they can call themselves authors.”

I have read it in posts by members or sympathizers of the Traditional Industry: “Indies are not real authors. The quality is just not there.”

I don’t know about you, but all these statements sound to me a bit like fear. For newcomers, the natural fear of failure; for some traditionalists, the fear of emerging competition: The indie zombie apocalypse.

Let’s settle this objectively. From a legal perspective, U.S. courts have concluded that an author is “the person who creates a copyrightable work.” In the U.S. (and thanks to the Berne Convention, in many other countries) for a literary work to be copyrightable, it must be “original” and “fixed” in a “tangible medium of expression, now known or later developed, from which they can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.” (1) So, if you came up with one or more original ideas for a literary work, such as a poem, story, article or a book, and fixed them in a tangible medium of expression, such as a piece of paper, a napkin, a sticky note, a computer, a sound or video recording, among other qualifying media, you are legally an author.

Now that this is settled, you may ask: “Am I a good author?” Well, that’s a totally different question, and a subject for another writing…


  1. See The Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. § 102(a), Subject matter of copyright: In general.

This article is provided under a Creative Commons License.


About tiradochiodini

I am a attorney, entrepreneur and author blogging about business, law, entrepreneurship, writing, books and other subjects.
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