AUTHOR ALLSORTS

A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.

What not to say to authors (and what to say instead)

NOTE: I LOVE being an author. I feel like the luckiest THING ever. This post is not a sign of my unhumbleness.

…However, since the wonder of being published, I’ve got one niggle. Whenever I talk to anyone about my books, people say the same things to me. Over and over. There are obviously a lot of myths out there about authors, so I’d thought I’d answer the main ones here, all in one go.

Myth one: Authors are all filthy rich…like JK Rowling

What not to say: “Wow, you’re an author? So, where’s your castle then, JK Rowling?”

The reality: Honestly, I’d make more money if I was paid a pound for every time someone brings up JK Rowling when talking to me about my career, then I’d ever make from selling books.

Here is the basic maths…

An average book costs, say, £7.99.

An average royalty rate for an author is around 7-9% of the cover price.

So, if a book sells at full price, an author can make around 60p.

Oh, yes, and around 15% of that 60p goes to your agent.

And don’t forget Mr Taxman, he’ll be wanting another 20%

So, even if a book sells over 50k copies, an author would only take home around ten grand.

…And most books don’t sell over 50k copies. Most books sell less than two thousand copies.

Authors don’t do it for the money. And not just because WE’D BE FRICKIN’ MAD TO. We do it because we love it and we’re so very lucky to do something we love…but it’s usually not a living. It’s more like a ‘hobby with benefits’. And no castles.

What to say instead: “You’re an author? Golly, do you want me to get this round in then? And, yikes, you look cold. Here’s my jacket.” *covers shivering author with jacket*

 

Myth two: Authors have more time than you

What not to say:You’ve written a book? I’ve got a really good idea for a book. If only I had the time to write it…”

The reality: Writers don’t live in this special utopian time zone where hours last longer. We still have 24 hours in each day, just like everyone else. Writers make the time to write because the story is burning so deep in them it’s like some kind of literary cystitis, and the only antibiotic is GETTING THE STORY OUT. Writers write through raising children, through full-time jobs, through mental-health relapses, through the new season of Orange Is The New Black (and, usually, through all four of these things).

What to say instead: “Do you want me to babysit for an hour?”

 

Myth three: We have control over our book’s film rights

What not to say: “You know what you should do, right? Sell the film rights.”

The reality: AUTHORS ARE VERY AWARE THAT SELLING FILM RIGHTS IS A GOOD THING. They also have absolutely NO control over whether this happens or not. It’s a job for our agents. And, it’s not like our agents aren’t working their brilliants butts off trying for us.

Also, selling film rights doesn’t guarantee a film will be made. Selling your rights will usually get you a few hundred extra quid in your pocket and that’s about it.

What to say instead: “Don’t you find that the movie version of books are never as good?”

 

Myth four: Author know how well their books are selling

What not to say: “So, how’s your book selling?”

Reality: You would think we would know, wouldn’t you? Considering we wrote the darn thing an all. But you need access to some expensive book-sales software we can’t afford (see myth one). And your publishers, generally, don’t tell you very often.

You get occasional ‘clues’. E.g. If you go into a bookstore and there is even one copy in there THIS IS A VERY GOOD SIGN. Or refreshing the Amazon sales ranking page using one hand, and clutching some runes with the other. But, to most authors it’s a genuine mystery half the time.

What to say instead: “I saw your book in a shop. Here, look, I took a photo for you.”

 

Myth five: Authors have unlimited copies of their book to give away

What not to say:Where’s my free signed copy then?”

The reality: In most author/publisher contracts, it states how many ‘free’ copies of your own book you’re entitled to. This number is usually less than ten. Then we have to pay for copies just like everyone else (though we do get a discount). Once close family members and friends-who-read-your-awful-first-drafts have been gifted their thank-you copies, you’re lucky if you’re left with even one copy to yourself.

So, please, if you want to read our book, go just buy a copy. It’s the cost of a couple of coffees for two years of our lives. And, we really need that 60p (before agent’s commission and tax) and for it to go through the tills to be counted in the sales figure (which we never find out).

What to say instead: “I bought a copy of your book. Can you sign it for me?”

 

What about you? What common questions do you always get asked as an author? Or are there any author myths you think are actually pretty true? Let me know, in the comments below.

 

ABOUT HOLLY BOURNE

hollyauthortestWebsite|Facebook|Twitter
Holly spends her days helping young people with their problems. She spends her nights writing YA novels about young people with problems. She’s a journalist and relationship expert for TheSite.org, a charity-run advice and information website for 16-25 year-olds, and gets her feminist rant on for The Vagenda too. Her first two books, Soulmates and The Manifesto on How To Be Interesting, have been translated into six languages.

Her favourite things to complain loudly about are: the stigma of mental health, women’s rights, and the under-appreciation of Keanu Reeve’s acting ability. She also has a famous Grandpa, cartoonist Larz Bourne, who created the Deputy Dawg series.

77 comments on “What not to say to authors (and what to say instead)

  1. villarhauser
    January 14, 2015

    Awesome post – spot on true! Am going to print this and hand it out to people at parties – before they speak … should improve sales and Amazon number too!

  2. Amy
    January 14, 2015

    “literary cystitis” is the best phrase ever

  3. Coral Rumble
    January 14, 2015

    Brilliant! Thank you for saying it for me.

  4. barbarahenderson
    January 14, 2015

    Fab post! You say what I think almost every day! 🙂

  5. Theresa Cutts
    January 14, 2015

    What a great piece. Our authors have heard every single one of those. As a small publisher we get slightly different ones – ‘Were you one of the ones that turned down JKR?’ ‘Bet you’re loaded from selling books on Amazon.’ ‘So all you have to do is get a PDF printed and a bit of clip art, and you’ve got a book to sell?’

    You did miss one author one, every school visit has the first question of, ‘are you a *real* author?’

  6. Lari Don
    January 14, 2015

    Fantastic post, thanks so much for making me feel that I’m not alone in thinking these things. And now when people ask daft questions or make daft assumptions, I can just send them to read this post!

  7. janelovering
    January 14, 2015

    Number one question I get asked? ‘So, when are you giving up the day job, then?’

    After I’ve cried for about an hour (my day job pays peanuts, but at least those peanuts are consistent and I can throw them at the ever-increasing pile of bills) I usually smile and say ‘ah, but then where would I get my ideas from?’ Which makes everyone at the day job nicely paranoid in case I’m secretly writing about them.

    I’d say instead ‘Fancy doing a couple of hours a week light typing for me? I’ll pay well over minimum rate…’

  8. lauraleeauthor
    January 14, 2015

    How about this one: “You know what you should write about?” As if writers big problem is finding things to write about rather than the time, patience and skill to execute the ideas we have in our heads already.

  9. Michelle Heatley
    January 14, 2015

    At the launch on my novel Fish Soup I had a lady ask ‘What is it about?’ I talk to her about my book. She says ‘I don’t like fish’ I tell her it’s a novel with romance and some fish and offer her a chocolate fish. She refuses saying she didn’t like fish. Author sighs and smiles sweetly.

  10. Thank you for this. I get the JK comments all the time, too! And I always think of the clever comebacks an hour later.

  11. Great post! Though if you do want to find out how your books are selling, the NovelRank site will tell you. But the down side of that is, once you can check it several times a day, you just might start doing so, and there goes another hour when you could’ve been writing.

  12. Janet Cameron
    January 14, 2015

    I’ve written a book. Perhaps you’d like to take a look at my manuscript.

  13. J. Kathleen Cheney
    January 14, 2015

    PERFECT! I get all of those, and #4 drives me up the wall. Because I really do feel like I should have -some- way to know what my sales are, but i generally have no clue.

  14. nilsvisser
    January 14, 2015

    Absolutely brilliant. Thanks for wording it.

  15. Melinda Friesen
    January 14, 2015

    Love this. I’ve been told, “You’re going to be rich.” I almost burst out laughing, then realized she was being serious. Someone else tolde she needed to give me some advice, so I braced myself for a lampooning. Much to my relief, she said, “This is a good book. You should advertise because people will want to read it.”Advertise? Why didn’t I think of that. Lol 🙂

  16. Feather Stone, a bit on the wild side.
    January 14, 2015

    Reblogged this on Romance Under Fire and commented:
    What every reader should know ….

  17. Nikki Moore
    January 14, 2015

    Reblogged this on Writing, Work and Wine.

  18. Mark S Thompson
    January 14, 2015

    Reblogged this on Mark Steven Thompson.

  19. Michelle Willms (@willms_m)
    January 15, 2015

    I am relieved I haven’t asked these questions. It seems you are frequently coming into contact with some very rude people. My upbringing simply prohibits asking some of these questions, and some of the others are just obnoxious. And, come on, who wouldn’t want to tell someone they’d bought their favorite author a drink? That’s a great tale (and shows good manners, too).

  20. Michelle Roth
    January 15, 2015

    Hell yes! All of this is so true!

  21. Michelle Roth
    January 15, 2015

    This is a killer for me too. “OMG. You mean I should tell people about my book?! That’s what I’ve been doing wrong…”

  22. Erica Lindquist
    January 15, 2015

    Reblogged this on I am the Keymasher and commented:
    What not to say to an author

  23. Pingback: Reblog: What not to say to authors (and what to say instead) | I am the Keymasher

  24. eightpawswriting
    January 15, 2015

    That was wonderful and sooo very true!!

  25. Yes. Every single one of these.

  26. Joan De La Haye
    January 15, 2015

    Reblogged this on Joan De La Haye and commented:
    This is so true I just had to share it.

  27. Debbie Young
    January 15, 2015

    Succinct and brilliant summary! Another comment that’s irked me: “It’s all very well for you because you’ve got friends in publishing.” I’ve got friends who are athletes too, but that doesn’t mean I’m capable of taking part in competitive sport!

  28. conundrum1956
    January 15, 2015

    Pfffft…I knock a few books every year in my spare time, they sell like hot cakes, and the last two have been made into blockbusers with Tom Cruise and Justin Timberlake. Money for old rope…..now excuse me for a moment, just got to ring down for Jeeves to bring me a hot latte. Help yourself to a signed copy on your way out, there’s a love.

  29. Fionnuala
    January 15, 2015

    Holly, that was BRILLIANT!

  30. Peter Allison
    January 15, 2015

    “Why don’t you have this in French?” as if we control foreign rights (akin to your point on foreign rights.

  31. V. Kathryn Evans
    January 15, 2015

    Reblogged this on V. Kathryn Evans and commented:
    I’ve had a few strange questions since I signed my first book deal . This should clear up some of them, Thank you Holly Bourne, funny and spot on.

  32. Karen
    January 15, 2015

    Fantastic post! As an ebook author, I get, ‘When are you going to write a proper book?’

  33. Glenn Wood
    January 15, 2015

    Yep, bang on. I’m a NZ author and when I was told my book had been picked up by the UK branch of my publishers (Walker Books) I foolishly thought ‘brilliant, that’s me sorted then’. How I laugh now.

  34. Helen
    January 15, 2015

    This is awesome. I think my worse one – being an, as yet, unpublished author – is when I am asked what I do and I say writer, the first thing they say is ‘are you published?’ I realise it’s a very obvious thing to ask, but it does make me feel like a failure every time. It took me long enough to refer to myself as a writer, then always being knocked down a few pegs from your lack of publication, can make you want to just say I’m self -employed and leave it at that. I would prefer them to ask, what are you working on? Who do you write for? Anything other than, can I buy you right now?
    Really enjoyed this post. ‘Literary cystitis’ was genius!

  35. kronikler
    January 15, 2015

    Reblogged this on Kroniikler's Blog.

  36. Kathryn Freeman
    January 15, 2015

    Really, really enjoyed this, and it’s all so true. I’ve experienced every single one! Thanks so much for reassuring me that it’s not just me.

  37. A.J. Goode
    January 15, 2015

    This is all so true! I especially love your response to Myth #2 about having the time to write. I may have to use that the next time someone tells me I’m so lucky to have all this free time for writing.

  38. suteko
    January 15, 2015

    God I love this! I swear I want a tshirt with this on it.

  39. Lucy Daniel Raby
    January 15, 2015

    This is all so true! Should be widely circulated to the general public.

  40. Spot on! Though I did, once, manage to pay for my kitchen to be refitted with my advance. Any possibility I might repeat that with the current book, Time to Shine? Not really, because all profits are for charity.

  41. Lucy Daniel Raby
    January 15, 2015

    SOOO enjoyed your post and have tweeted and posted it. Favourable response from writer friends. This is so familiar. It plagues us all at every social occasion. I hope you don’t mind Laura, but here are some additions I’ve made.They’re sort of integrated.

    What not to say to authors (and what to say instead)
    Posted on January 14, 2015 by HollyBourne
    .entry-meta
    .entry-header
    NOTE: I LOVE being an author. I feel like the luckiest THING ever. This post is not a sign of my unhumbleness.
    …However, since the wonder of being published, I’ve got one niggle. Whenever I talk to anyone about my books, people say the same things to me. Over and over. There are obviously a lot of myths out there about authors, so I’d thought I’d answer the main ones here, all in one go.

    Myth one: Authors are all filthy rich…like JK Rowling
    What not to say: “Wow, you’re an author? So, where’s your castle then, JK Rowling?”
    The reality: Honestly, I’d make more money if I was paid a pound for every time someone brings up JK Rowling when talking to me about my career, then I’d ever make from selling books.
    Here is the basic maths…
    An average book costs, say, £7.99.
    An average royalty rate for an author is around 7-9% of the cover price.
    So, if a book sells at full price, an author can make around 60p.
    Oh, yes, and around 15% of that 60p goes to your agent.
    And don’t forget Mr Taxman, he’ll be wanting another 20%
    So, even if a book sells over 50k copies, an author would only take home around ten grand.
    …And most books don’t sell over 50k copies. Most books sell less than two thousand copies.
    Authors don’t do it for the money. And not just because WE’D BE FRICKIN’ MAD TO. We do it because we love it and we’re so very lucky to do something we love…but it’s usually not a living. It’s more like a ‘hobby with benefits’. And no castles.
    What to say instead: “You’re an author? Golly, do you want me to get this round in then? And, yikes, you look cold. Here’s my jacket.” *covers shivering author with jacket*

    Myth two: Authors have more time than you
    What not to say: “You’ve written a book? I’ve got a really good idea for a book. If only I had the time to write it…”

    OR – “I’ve always wanted to write. I could be doing what you’re doing. How about you help me write a book? I’ve got this great idea.”

    The reality: Writers don’t live in this special utopian time zone where hours last longer. We still have 24 hours in each day, just like everyone else. Writers make the time to write because the story is burning so deep in them it’s like some kind of literary cystitis, and the only antibiotic is GETTING THE STORY OUT. Writers write through raising children, through full-time jobs, through mental-health relapses, through the new season of Orange Is The New Black (and, usually, through all four of these things).

    Addition: Writers also write what THEY want to write, not what people tell them to write. They have no shortage of ideas, that’s why they’re writers. If you’ve got a great idea for a book, go learn to write, and then write it yourself. Pull up a spare twenty years and sit down, love.

    What to say instead: “Do you want me to babysit for an hour?”

    Myth three: We have control over our book’s film rights

    What not to say: “You know what you should do, right? Sell the film rights.”

    OR ‘It would make a great film’

    Or ‘When’s the film coming out?”

    Or: Can you get/my son/sister/me etc me a part?

    The reality: AUTHORS ARE VERY AWARE THAT SELLING FILM RIGHTS IS A GOOD THING. They also have absolutely NO control over whether this happens or not. It’s a job for our agents. And, it’s not like our agents aren’t working their brilliants butts off trying for us.
    Also, selling film rights doesn’t guarantee a film will be made. Selling your rights will usually get you a few hundred extra quid in your pocket and that’s about it.

    ADDITION: The path from page to screen is long and arduous, with many hurdles and pitfalls along the way. There no guarantees and no definite dates in the early stages. Gandi took 20 years, War Horse 30 and Jane Austen had to wait even longer

    What to say instead: “Don’t you find that the movie version of books are never as good?”

    Myth four: Author know how well their books are selling

    What not to say: “So, how’s your book selling?”
    Reality: You would think we would know, wouldn’t you? Considering we wrote the darn thing an all. But you need access to some expensive book-sales software we can’t afford (see myth one). And your publishers, generally, don’t tell you very often.
    You get occasional ‘clues’. E.g. If you go into a bookstore and there is even one copy in there THIS IS A VERY GOOD SIGN. Or refreshing the Amazon sales ranking page using one hand, and clutching some runes with the other. But, to most authors it’s a genuine mystery half the time.
    What to say instead: “I saw your book in a shop. Here, look, I took a photo for you.”

    Myth five: Authors have unlimited copies of their book to give away

    What not to say: “Where’s my free signed copy then?”
    The reality: In most author/publisher contracts, it states how many ‘free’ copies of your own book you’re entitled to. This number is usually less than ten. Then we have to pay for copies just like everyone else (though we do get a discount). Once close family members and friends-who-read-your-awful-first-drafts have been gifted their thank-you copies, you’re lucky if you’re left with even one copy to yourself.
    So, please, if you want to read our book, go just buy a copy. It’s the cost of a couple of coffees for two years of our lives. And, we really need that 60p (before agent’s commission and tax) and for it to go through the tills to be counted in the sales figure (which we never find out).
    What to say instead: “I bought a copy of your book. Can you sign it for me?”

    What about you? What common questions do you always get asked as an author? Or are there any author myths you think are actually pretty true? Let me know, in the comments below.

  42. Jacie Floyd
    January 15, 2015

    Wonderful post. My least favorite thing is when people think I should write their story, about their great-Aunt Ida, about their crazy family, or their terrible childhood. Why would I do that? I’ve got crazy stories of my own.

  43. angeliquejamail
    January 15, 2015

    Oh, wow, SO MUCH THIS! I’ve always found the “How many copies of your book have you sold?” to be an off-putting question, especially when it’s asked in a public forum, such as in response to a Facebook post advertising a new retail venue for the book or a reading. It’s akin to asking someone what his/her salary is.

  44. Anna
    January 15, 2015

    A month after publication and still not becoming the next JK Rowling or Amanda Hocking: “Maybe you should look for a real job.”

    Or people/family whom you know haven’t read your books or even taken the time to share an FB promo pic, yet still say “I hope you’ll remember me when you make your millions.”

  45. frankmundo
    January 15, 2015

    “How’s your little book doing?” <– Unfortunately, I get this one quite often.

  46. Joseph Chastain
    January 15, 2015

    “I have a great idea for a book–would you right it for me?”

  47. SM Johnson
    January 15, 2015

    Great post, and so many truths! I love the alternative suggestions. One of the things people (mostly co-workers at the day job) say that I hate the most is: “Hey, if you give me a copy of your book, I’ll read it,” and it’s said with that head nod that indicates it would be a huge favor to me. And the ones that are ebooks only? “Print me a copy and I’ll read it.”

    (sigh). Co-workers who are readers I will gladly give an ebook to, or lend a paperback proof. These other people? I answer, “Hey, how about you support my artistic efforts and BUY my book, whether you read it or not?”

    So… what to say instead: (again) I purchased your book. Would you sign it for me?

  48. cpbialois
    January 15, 2015

    Reblogged this on The BiaLog and commented:
    Debunking those pesky author myths

  49. Lorraine Pestell
    January 15, 2015

    Reblogged this on A Life Singular and commented:
    To my fellow authors, here’s an echo from all our hearts! Great post reblogged from Author Allsorts.

  50. Lorraine Pestell
    January 15, 2015

    Awesome post – thanks, Holly. Hope you don’t mind me reblogging.

  51. Dana Mentink
    January 16, 2015

    I concur!

  52. Aki Kalliatakis
    January 16, 2015

    Beautiful! I’ve published seven business books. The publishers and retailers are very, very greedy, and, while self-publishing – for now – seems a little desperate, it works well for allowing me to keep most of the income. In South Africa, my first book was published traditionally, sold for R100, (yes it was a while ago,) and, after selling out the first and only print run of 4000 copies, I received a princely sum of just over R24000. The publisher informed me they would do no more promotion, and retailers forced them to buy back all copies that had been on the shelf for more than 90 days. My 7th book, self-published in 2012, retails at R200, has sold 16000 copies until now, and nets me about R155 per copy after all the costs of printing, (R21 per book,) editing and layout, (once-off fee of R16000,) distribution, (either at my seminars, or through my website where customer pays for P&P,) and taxes, (VAT at 14%, or R28 per book.) When I got to R1.5m income, I stopped counting – and it’s also become the best business card I have ever printed as I distribute them as free gifts to clients. I promote them whenever I feel like it, and all that I needed was some spare space in my garage to store the four print runs of 4000 each. Haven’t even bothered with amazon or Kindle yet.

  53. Lucy Daniel Raby
    January 16, 2015

    Oh and here’s another Holly, (sorry I called you Laura by mistake!) “I suppose you have to wait until you’re inspired before you can write.”
    Most writers are at it all the time, in their heads, even in their sleep. Most of us have been doing it since we were 5 or 6. It is compulsive. We do not wait till we are visited by this lady called ‘the muse’, who then passes this so called inspiration to us effortlessly. Writing is not a leisurely occupation, it is hard graft, like putting your brain through a blender then putting it back together again. And deadlines don’t half concentrate the mind. You have to get on with it.

    Another one is that all time fave “writer’s block.’ Professional writers have been trained in techniques to avoid this, which include research, which feeds the narrative, and consultation with editors or fellow writers. Also a return to the plotting process, by whatever method, also helps.

    When someone claims that writing a little ditty for the parish magazine is akin to what professional writers do, i am tempted to make a rather unkind comparison between two kids playing with a toy medical set, and a fully qualified doctor. After many many years of this, I am losing patience.

  54. Lucy Daniel Raby
    January 16, 2015

    Does anyone also get people miming writing with a scribbling motion of the hand? I just got one this morning. I am, again, unkindly tempted to say that I have re-trained as a midwife and would they care to mime that job?

  55. edireland
    January 16, 2015

    My three favorite questions when someone finds out I write…You mean you write books? No, I write epitaphs for the local tombstone makers…Have you written anything I’ve read? I don’t think any of my work has been placed on the back of cereal boxes…So how come you’re still working here? It’s a disguise, research for my next book, “The Humdrum of Life With Idiot Friends”.

  56. Dale Long
    January 16, 2015

    Here’s one I hate, “You write picture books? Writing for kids must be easy.”
    #1 Not all picture books are kids books some are illustrated books. There is a difference.
    #2 Writing “kids” books or “picture” books is every bit as hard as the novels I write.
    And I’m with you on the JK Rowlings thing. Especially with amount of rejections she got and how they are a badge of honour. Ya, a badge pinned directly over your heart with a six inch rusty pin.

  57. Pingback: What not to say to authors (and what to say instead) | The Passive Voice | A Lawyer's Thoughts on Authors, Self-Publishing and Traditional Publishing

  58. Pingback: Friday Links (divine figs edition) | Font Folly

  59. obsidianpoet
    January 16, 2015

    Totally spot on….

    I especially love….oh you self published? And you do everything yourself? Even the covers. That’s nice. It is easier to self pub. *turns nose up*

    More like oh you decided to do everything so you could retain complete artistic control? Wow, that is a lot to take on with all the information you must have had to read to learn how to format and design a book for multiple platforms…in addition to constantly having to promote your work…and let’s not forget the accounting and all that a self employed person has to do….on top of actually writing a book.

    🙂

  60. Lexi Revellian
    January 16, 2015

    “Her favourite things to complain loudly about are: the stigma of mental health, women’s rights, and the under-appreciation of Keanu Reeve’s acting ability.”

    Given the information in this post, I’m astonished that writers’ rights and the appalling terms offered by traditional publishers aren’t on Holly’s list of things to complain loudly about. Stockholm Syndrome strikes again, I guess.

  61. Lynne Butler
    January 17, 2015

    One of the things that irritates me no end is the person who says, “Oh, you write books? I’m going to write one too, when I get the time.” In other words, writing a book is EASY and absolutely ANYONE can do it. And in their spare time too! This attitude instantly dismisses the years I spent writing seven books, and diminishes my time, talent, and effort to write the next one.

  62. skhartleyauthor
    January 17, 2015

    “Wait, you’re write books… like 50 shades, right?”
    *eye roll* NO NO NO!

  63. grant.hayter-menzies
    January 17, 2015

    This is brilliant – and yes, I sometimes am asked all those questions by the same person on the same occasion. Unfortunately, I don’t write blockbusters (though wouldn’t mind if one of my books sold like one), I don’t have stacks of spare copies of any of my six books, and I don’t have time to explain why a writer with book contracts to fulfill on strict deadlines cannot possibly take on your book idea about the time grannie came across the prairies in a covered wagon. And we writers are meant to be the ones living in cloud cuckoo land….

  64. Jo Wake
    January 17, 2015

    I once suffered from those beliefs until I became friends with many authors. I once wanted to write a book, started, didn’t finish, and now I am so glad. Best way I know of to drive yourself into a nervous wreck. But I am so glad you all still try because I loved to read what you wrote.

  65. virginiallorca
    January 18, 2015

    The last person I asked (my brother’s wife), I said, “Have you read any of my books?” She replied, breathlessly, “Did you read Fifty Shades of Grey?” I said, “No” and have not spoken a word to her since. Nor will I. Nor will I ever ask anyone again.

  66. Liz Andrews
    January 18, 2015

    “How about I have a great idea for a book. Let me tell you all about it.” UGH! Just write it yourself then. Or “I’ve written something, would you read it.” No, no, no!

  67. Julie
    January 19, 2015

    Hi there. I really appreciate your blog. Congratulations on all of your hard work! I once met a well known author who I introduced to a coworker as they were aiming to get an international project up and running together. The author asked me to give him my copy of her book at the meeting. So I did. Hard copy version that I cherished and couldn’t afford a new one. In a small way this explains something for me so thank you! I bought it again many years later second hand and now I’ve a story to tell!

  68. Julie
    January 19, 2015

    Oh so annoying! I once old someone about my excursion with mountain gorillas in Uganda. The conversation immediately turned to the discovery channel and all the shows they had seen. I didn’t get past the Intro. Cause tv is pretty cool I guess. And access to it so challenging. I think everyone looks for the kernel of truth they know about. And sometimes it is no bigger than a flea regardless of the efforts you’ve made. Hard to figure isn’t it?!

  69. Deepam (Susan) Wadds
    January 19, 2015

    Reblogged this on deepamwadds and commented:
    In this post about the realities of being a published author, there are some lovely suggestions for what to say to said author.

  70. Ankit
    January 19, 2015

    This actually caught my attention from the title itself.

  71. Randy Weiser
    January 19, 2015

    I just got my first book, “Magickal Manners: a Guide to Magickal Etiquette”, published last year. One comment that made me want to punch the person who said it was, “So, you think you’re a writer, eh – why can’t you get a REAL job?!?”
    OK, so trying to form a book from the ideas in my brain, write them down, edit them so they make sense and send them out to the world for others to judge ISN’T a job?!? BET ME, BUSTER!!!!

    Another one is “I could do that – it only takes a few months, right?”
    Not in my case – my first book took 10 years to write, and I was passing up all SORTS of things that were going on so I could get it out!
    Get a grip, people!!!!

  72. Pingback: How (Not) to Talk to a Writer #1 | J. Kathleen Cheney

  73. breed7
    January 21, 2015

    My boyfriend is a respected author with more than 20 published books, and, while many of these are true (especially the part about not being rich), authors do NOT need expensive software to track book sales. All they have to do is contact their agent or editor, and accurate information can be gotten quite easily.

    I’m not sure the author of this article is aware of this, either, but no one works for royalties anymore, unless they’re Stephen King. If you’re any good at all, you get a publishing deal for a flat rate, not contingent on sales until the sales climb above a certain number. No one should ever write a book that sells 50,000 copies and only make $10,000; if you do, you’re a fool, not an author.

  74. Patricia Howell White
    January 23, 2015

    That sounds worse than when my friends used to say, “You’re a SINGER? Sing something.” Right out on the workroom floor of the Post Office, right?

  75. Pingback: Should you never say these things to an author? | J. Nelson Leith

  76. Y. Correa
    January 25, 2015

    Absolutely LOVE this post! I couldn’t have said it better myself! Totally sharing forward.

    Here is what I get asked and the reply that I give:

    Person: Wow, you’re an authors? You wrote a book? How’d you do that?

    (And yes, it always seems to come in a set of 3 questions.)

    Me: No, I’m King Solomon’s personal scribe. I didn’t actually write a book, I wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls. I’d show you how I did it but God banished them for all eternity.

    Lol. I know, I’m a bit mean. 🙂

  77. Sheila Kell
    January 26, 2015

    Reblogged this on Sheila Kell.

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