Last week’s post in the Indie Author Life series – 5 Things You Should Never Say to an Indie Author – proved just how tight-knit the indie community really is. I deeply appreciate all the ‘likes,’ the reblogs, tweets, and most especially, all the “Me, too!” comments. The post was so successful and the responses so overwhelming, I’m posting a ‘sequel’ this week.
My new author friend Rachel Thompson and I organized a poll for more writers to share their stories of ignorance and disappointment from people who mean well, but just don’t understand how publishing works…or how difficult it can be.
More things you shouldn’t say to an indie author:
“Who published your book?”
Just like you should no longer assume that every person you meet is heterosexual, don’t assume that every author’s books are published in the traditional way. A better question to ask is “How was your book published?” It may seem like semantics to you, but trust us: it sounds a lot better.
“I’d love to write a book, too. But I don’t have time right now- I’m too busy with my career.”
This doozy can be extremely annoying to those of us whom writing IS a career: or are working very hard to get there. I have separated people into two groups: those who like to write, and those who are writers. The writers are the ones who get published: somehow, in some way. They make it a priority. They cannot imagine life happening around them without writing as a way to make sense of it all, because writing is a way of processing. And when writing is shared, it communicates a grain of truth about the human experience.
Those who like to write, on the other hand, are people who do it when they have time. There are bigger priorities in their lives, and that’s fine. If they get to it, they get to it. But in my opinion, a book written by someone who ‘likes to write’ is not as good as one by someone who LIVES to write. I can’t explain how I can tell the difference, but I can.
“Hey, wanna write my life story for me?”
Can’t say I’ve heard this one (yet) but more than one person mentioned it, so it must be real! It’s flattering that you think enough of someone’s writing skills to ask this, but writers tend to be very busy people. Ghost writers exist for this very purpose. Also, be aware that if you ask someone else to write your book for you, they are entitled to a portion of royalties. Are you okay with that?
“That’s nice you get to stay home and write stories all day.”
That’s like telling a stay-at-home mom that it’s nice she gets to stay home while her babies sleep all day and play quietly. Our writing is a business; it doesn’t always go the way we want it to. There are good days, and then there are times when there’s more coffee making, vodka tipping, hair pulling, and venting than getting anything productive done. Have you ever had a workday like that?
Finally, here is a look at the long-term impact a few careless words can have on someone who is trying to be a successful writer (out of respect to those who submitted, all these quotes are anonymous):
My husband has repeatedly said it’s not a real job because I don’t earn enough and I don’t put in the same effort as with a “normal” job.
I think the worst is my family who has never really read my writing…it’s not that I expect me family or friends to like what I write. I know that choosing what we read is much more complex than that BUT so much of who I am is in what I write so if you aren’t reading it you really don’t have a chance of truly knowing me.
“Oh, is that, like, on your bucket list?” (In response to the process of writing a first novel.) I find this question insulting. As if writing a fucking novel is on the same level as a long weekend spent fly-fishing in Montana.
I had a friend on Facebook who wrote me something like “All you do is travel to nice places and have fun,” to which I was going to respond “No, actually, all I do is WORK in nice places. I spend 12 hours or more every day writing, marketing and building a career for myself, instead of sitting somewhere I hate, doing something I don’t want to, lining someone else’s pockets.” I didn’t in the end, I just deleted him.
Friends, family members, and new acquaintances, I’m sure you mean well when you ask us questions about our books. We love your questions! Just think carefully about what you ask, and how. Respect the fact that we are people who have chosen a long, twisty route to fulfilling our dreams. Your support means everything.