Just last week while on the internet I saw a meme titled “10 Things You Should Never Say to Writers” posted by Jessica McHugh. It was really funny, and it got me thinking of a few things to add to that list. So here is my list of Ten Things to Avoid Saying to Writers.
1. I wish I had such an easy job.
EASY! If it is so easy where are your novels? I’d love to read one. The problem is people assume that all you need is an idea and you’re off to writing a novel. They further assume that proofreading and editing are the same thing. Furthermore, they have absolutely no idea what it takes to make a readable story. Saying being a writer is easy is just like my saying being an accountant must be easy. I really have no clue.
2. Why do you even need to work?
Oh man, I get this question every time a coworker finds out I am a writer. The way they often say it is as if I have stolen a job from someone who really needs it just so I can pad my pockets. Never mind that I drove to work in a 18 year old van with one working windshield wiper (when I hit the dash just right), with no air conditioning, and leaks fluids that even a mechanic can’t identify. I really just enjoy working odd hours and tons of overtime just to add to my Swiss bank account. This ties into the assumption that the arts pay a lot of money. And in most cases they do not. Just like every actor doesn’t make millions, every author is not selling record amounts of books. I need a day job just to live on until people start buying all my books, or maybe forever.
3. Can I get a free copy of your book?
See above, Jack Ass. Do these people go to restaurants and ask the owner, can I have a free meal? Do they go to a dress maker, and ask for a free dress? Do they ask the dry-cleaner to clean their suits for free? No, they don’t. Yet they feel compelled to ask me to give away my hard work to them for free, just because they casually know me. And then they get offended when I tell them about my website’s promotions page where they can enter to win free books when I do giveaways. As if they should somehow just get one. Come on.
4. I’d buy your book but…
The list of excuses are amazing. And most of them are kind of bull shit if you ask me. The only one I accept is: “I’d buy your book but I am broke.” Because I understand that. I am also broke. But telling me you would buy my book but you don’t read science fiction, or you don’t read at all, or you’d rather spend your money on movies (really??), or some other excuse is really just slapping me in the face. Especially if you’re my friend or family member.
5. I’d write a review for your book but I don’t know what to say.
Oh this one really pisses me off. Listen, I don’t care what authors say about not reading reviews and all that other bull. We need reviews on our books to be successful. And when you have read one and you won’t review it, I suppose that is your choice. But don’t come tell me that you won’t write one because you don’t know what to say. We are not asking for a New York Times evaluation. We just want you to rate the book and write your thoughts about the book down. Do this once and then copy and paste it on Amazon, Goodreads, and where ever else you see the book. It isn’t hard and it means more to us than you can possible imagine.
6. It must be your dream to see them make your book into a movie.
It is my dream that people READ MY BOOKS, not watch them. The only reason why I would want my book turned to a movie is because it would hopefully mean more people would READ them. As any avid book reader knows, they always fuck up the movie.
7. I have a cousin’s friend’s uncle who is a writer.
Okay. I never understood this. There is only one other career I’ve ever heard this done with; and that is police. Ever notice if you mention a cop someone always has to speak up with how they somehow know a police officer. For some reason people need to tell me how they know a writer. And they always say it as if that acquaintance some how makes them an expert. The best follow up question to this statement is: “Oh, what do they write?” Because they have no damn clue and secretly I like watching hem squirm.
8. I have a lot of great ideas for books, I just don’t have the time to write.
Some variation of this is always on every author’s most hated thing to be told. Sometimes people want you to write their idea and give them credit. But the worst for me is when someone tells me they don’t have time. I work 40-60 hours a week at a day job, publish a magazine, have a family, and still make time to write. It isn’t that you don’t have time. You don’t have the passion to write.
9. I am not going to wind up in one of your books, am I?
They always say this with some little hint at it being a joke. You’re not funny. And there is a good chance that background character I just killed off was you. I killed him because he made bad jokes too.
10. Someday you’ll be famous and I’ll say I know that guy.
And I will tell security I’ve never seen you before in my life.