Things you should never say to writers, or, more specifically, to Steph Bowe

Saturday, June 30, 2012

This penguin is entirely unrelated to anything in this post. But it looks bare without a photo, doesn't it? Hence the penguin. Photo by me. Imagine the penguin reading this post to you.
  • "So, is the writing business rewarding, like, fiscally speaking?" Only older people really ask that. You should know better, guys. Trying to find out how much money people earn is a bit inappropriate, even if you word your question in a rather obtuse manner. Kids just ask: "Are you rich?" I have respect for that. Be blunt. The answer is: "Yes! Of course! I am going home to roll in my money right now!"
  • Upon hearing the name of my book: "Oh, I haven't heard of you. What famous authors do you know?" (I am incredibly insulted when I then name drop a bunch of people and they haven't heard of them, either. Next time someone asks, I'm telling them Stephenie Meyer and J.K. Rowling and I are like the Three Musketeers of YA lit. Or, like, the girls of the Saddle Club. Or any other fictional group of three besties.)
  • "Oh, that's nice that you write and books are your entire world... I don't have enough time to read." That's a terrible excuse. Especially if you then begin rambling about the most recent episodes of the seventeen hundred TV shows you watch. This is also hard for me to believe because books are necessary for my survival. If all of the books in the world were destroyed, and no one could create any more, I probably wouldn't last the year.
  • Upon finding out I am a writer: "Yes, but what else do you do?" I just write, guys. Sometimes I go to schools and speak to children about writing, and they ask me what else I do as well. I sleep, you know, that's a bit of a timesuck. A third of my time and all. I do some eating and conversing with other humans on the side. I really need more hobbies/a day job.
  • Upon hearing I write for teenagers: "Oh, like Twilight?" No. Nothing like Twilight. Please go away so I can pretend this conversation never happened.
  • And another thing people say when they hear I write for teenagers: "Oh, this is such a corrupted generation, the youth of today. I hope you are teaching them good moral values through your books!" Am I? I don't even know. I get this a lot. If these people (usually people in their fifties and older) are to be believed, the debauchery of generations Y and Z knows no limits! I am shocked and appalled.
  • "Hardly any writers make a decent living out of it!" or "The book is dying! LONG LIVE THE INTERWEBS!" I am continually amazed at people's need to remind me of everything that can (and will!) go wrong. When I talk to an accountant, I assume they know more about accounting than I do, and don't tell them very obvious things about accounting that I know. I am not sure whether most people are like this, though. A lot of non-writer people feel the need to inform me about the downfall or instability of the publishing industry. Which, thanks guys, but I've heard it before. And fearfulness doesn't generally assist anyone.
  • "Can you give me a copy of your book?" Everyone asks for a free copy. Even people I have just met. I can't really give away hundreds and hundreds of copies of my own book because I am not Nicholas Sparks. I'm really sorry. I would love to give everyone, even strangers I meet, free copies, but I need to sell books in order to get book deals in future, generally speaking. If I had unlimited funds, I would give you all of the books. I would also end world hunger, cure all diseases, and save all of the animals and children and trees.
Something you should definitely always say to a writer: "Oh that is great you are a writer! I love books!" I love it when people say this. But don't lie. If you hate books, just don't say so. Gosh, why are you even reading this if you hate books? Leave now.

If you are a writer, I would really very much like to hear the things people say to you that you never want to hear again! (i.e. "Get a real job", "Internet is superior to book, FYI", etc) Or share lovely things people say to you because you are a writer. Your choice! (I am being negative, this is bad. Next post will be unbearably positive, I assure you.)
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