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Is there a difference between 作{さっ}家{か} and 作{さく}者{しゃ}, both meaning author?

I've also found 著{ちょ}者{しゃ}, but this one the dictionary says usually refers specifically to an author of a specific book.

Do 作家 and 作者 refer to different types of authors/creators?
Or are they used interchangeably?

3 Answers 3

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A 作家 is somebody who creates 作品 for a living, while 作者 is more tied to specific works.

作者: 'Somebody who has created a work, especially the creator of a work of art.'

作家: 'Somebody who produces works of art, or does so as an occupation, especially a novelist.'

Obviously there's a little overlap but generally, 'Jane Austen is the author of Pride and Prejudice' is 作者, while 'Natsume Souseki is a famous Japanese author' is 作家.

(Little note that might make things clearer: '[company] is the author of this software for purposes of copyright' in a video game's credits is 作者.)

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Supplementing Angelos's answer, 著者 is roughly the non-fiction counterpart of 作者. It usually refers to the author of a specific book, article etc.

By examples:

  • 小説の著者 is odd / 小説の作者 is natural / 小説の作家 is odd
  • 論文の著者 is natural / 論文の作者 is odd / 論文の作家 is odd
  • 作者の生活 would mean some particular writer's life / 作家の生活 would mean life of people whose profession is writing (although it of course depends on contexts)

There is also 筆者{ひっしゃ}, which is used like a pronoun in the passage. It can be I or s/he. For example, 筆者の考えでは means in my opinion or in her/his opinion just like English in the author's opinion.

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作家 refers to someone writes/draws for a living, or someone who has produced works consistently, has many genre-related compounds: 短編作家 (writer of short stories), SF作家 (scifi writer), etc.

作者 is used more commonly in relation to a specific work, than a genre or a career. 短編作者 and SF作者 are less idiomatic, but Xの作者 is common where X is the title of a work.

著者 is usually the creator of a written work. 作者 and 作家 might be typically writers, but they can also be painters, sculptors, etc.

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