Although Michel Foucault does state in “What Is an Author?” that an author is different from a writer – some one who wrote a sticky note, for instance – and has a different social status and function in the society, he also states that our perception of authors is based on what we think of their works.
Basically, we shape the author’s personality and ideals based on their attitude towards issues in their texts. Everyone has a more or less the same vision of certain authors. Author’s names themselves, in turn, help shape the idea about their works if one is not familiar with them. If your favorite author’s new book just came out, you would assume that it will have the same or similar themes as in his previous works and that you will like it.
Foucault likens an author’s name to a trademark, which in fact is a great comparison, as we don’t know much about the trademark except its name, and we shape our own opinions about it based on our experience with the products. And when we see a product branded with a familiar name, we already have preconceived notions about it.
At the end of the chapter he claims that it really won’t be as important to know who the author is anymore and, instead, the focus will shift to the nature of the work itself. Dream on (unless of course he is talking about collaborative authorship like A Million Penguins, in which case it really won’t matter who wrote the novel because there will be so many “authors.”).