An author is a writer. Anybody who writes a book, whether it is fiction or non-fiction, is considered an author. The fact that there are many different kinds of written texts means that there are also many different kinds of authors.
Fiction authors include:
- novelists - writers of novels
- short story writers
- poets - writers of poetry
- playwrights - writers of plays to be performed in the theater
- screenwriters - writers of movies
Fiction writers can be further divided according to the kind of stories that they write; for example into science fiction writers, mystery writers, horror writers, comedy writers, historical fiction writers, romance writers and others.
Non-fiction authors include:
- journalists - who write for newspapers or magazines
- essayists - who write short works about their opinions and observations
- travel writers
- biographers - who write about other peoples' lives
- autobiographers - who write the story of their own lives, often many years after the events happened
- diarists - who keep a regular and detailed diary, the diary may or may not be intended for publication and is not usually published until after the author has died.
Many of the best known and most well respected authors belong in more than one of the above categories. For example: William Shakespeare was a poet and a playwright; Edgar Allan Poe wrote poems, short-stories and novels; Oscar Wilde wrote a novel, poetry, plays, short-stories and essays; Isaac Asimov wrote novels, short-stories and non-fiction works about a variety of different subjects.
The authors of many ancient and medieval works are unknown. The identities of some others can only be guessed at. Which of several different people called Thomas Malory was the Sir Thomas Malory who wrote Le Morte d'Arthur has been a topic of debate amongst experts.
In the modern world, authors such as Stephen King, Jeffrey Archer and J.K. Rowling are often well known celebrities. However, for a variety of reasons, some authors prefer to remain anonymous. Wishing to maintain anonymity is one of many reasons why an author might choose to have a book published under a pseudonym instead of his or her real name.