What NOT to say to an Author

I love being an author, and I’m truly thankful at the chance to do what I really want to do and somehow make a living at it.  I mean, I make stuff up and people pay me.  How great is that?

But every once in a while, something tickles me, and I have to share.  (There are a couple of expletives in this post, FYI).  Also, please take this in the vein of fun in which I wrote it.  There are more than a few authors out there, and you guys will know exactly what I’m talking about.  You readers probably will, too…maybe.  So here it is.

  1.  I have a great idea for a book.  How about I give you the idea, you write it, and we’ll split the profits?

The appropriate response:  Thanks so much for thinking of me, but I’m pretty swamped with deadlines right now and don’t have time for another project.

The real response, which might be bitten back or not:  Are you fucking kidding me?  I have seventeen books out, ten more in the pipeline, and the last thing I need is your idea.  The idea is the easy part.  You go park your ass in a chair and crank out 95,000 words.  Then you rearrange those words in a pattern that makes sense.  And tells a good story. And has character arcs, creates threads, finishes threads, and provides enjoyment for anybody ponying up money to read it. 

2.  I’d like to write a book, I just don’t have enough time.

The appropriate response:  Man, there’s just not enough time in general, is there?

The real response:  If you wanted to write a freakin book, saying you actually could, you could find the time.  I’ve written in the hospital (both as a patient and as a visitor), on planes, in airports, in carpool lines…you get it.  And during times of having another full time job and busy kids.  If it’s important, find the time, and don’t make it sound like those of us who’ve actually written a book somehow found and bribed the great time-fairy to give us more.  There is no more.

3. You’re so lucky you’re creative and can just sit and write. 

The appropriate response:  Fuck you.

The real response:  I am grateful for creativity and brain synapses that work well.  However, I have to say, that writing does take work.  No, I’m not digging a ditch all day breaking my back (although sitting all day ain’t good for it, I’ve learned), and my fingers are on a keyboard and not skidding across some guy’s brain trying to remove a tumor.  If I goof up, I move on, and nobody dies.  I get that.  I understand that.  But writing is about 10% natural creativity and 90% learning craft, business, etc…and sitting in the chair and actually working.  There’s no magical fairy dust or lovely muse that just perches and vomits a good story.  Although now I want to write a book about a fairy muse that pukes reality and somehow shifts the cosmos.  Hmmmm.  Was that the idea you had originally?  Because it is good.  Maybe we’ll have to revisit the 50-50.

4. Your books are doing well because your publishers promote you so much.

Appropriate response:  I like my publishers and they work hard…and I’m grateful for them.

Real response:  I like my publishers, and they work hard, and I’m grateful for them.  However, in effect, what you’re saying is that success is all about promotion and nothing about the book.  I don’t think so.  More than ever, especially this coming year, we’re going to see good books sell and okay books not sell – no matter on the promotion, marketing, or latest advertising fad.  I also like to think that I might have something to do with the books doing well.  That studying craft, writing sixteen hours a day, promoting like a mother-effer…you know.  I’ve contributed.  Yeah, I’m lucky, and yeah, I know it.  Doesn’t mean I haven’t worked my butt off, too. 

5. You published the wrong way.

Appropriate response:  Big punch to the face.

Real response:  Double punch with a kick to the balls/groin area.  Nobody, and I mean nobody, has the right to tell you how to create or how to live your life.  I don’t care if you’re solely traditionally published, solely self-published, Hybrid or Indie (and for the record, I’m not even sure labels make sense any longer), however you decide to get your work out there is your decision and it’s the right one for you. 

I like how I’m published.  I really like the people I work with.  I’m doing well, much better than I would’ve imagined, with the traditional publishing path I’ve taken.  Period.  Will I branch out?  It’s entirely possible, but who the heck knows?  Right now, it’s about the book, and it’ll always be about the book. 

This was fun, and I had fun writing it. 🙂  Now I have to go park my butt in the chair and crank out words.  Another big thanks for helping MARKED to hit the NY Times list!!!  It looks like the Sin Brothers are still on sale, as is Against the Wall from those Maverick MT cowboys.  Just a thought…

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31 Responses to What NOT to say to an Author

  1. Jane Housley says:

    Brilliant….can’t believe someone would say they had an idea, you write the book and then split the profits!!! hmmmm, maybe I can get ‘rich’ that way, I’ve got lots of ideas…hehehe…just kidding…loved the post

  2. Lori Meehan says:

    I loved this !!!!!

  3. Heather Fortman says:

    OMG I about choked on my water as I read this! I was laughing so hard and totally agreeing! As a new author I get asked how I find the time to write… where I get my ideas… I make the time. I sit in the car as my husband drives and write, I write at my sons football games, at the doctordoctor’s office…

    I wish I had an idea spewing muse! Wouldn’t that be wonderful?! Or one that caught each and every mistake as they were made and corrected them instantly!

    I loved Marked btw and cried because I don’t want the series to end but at the same time I can’t wait for the new one!

  4. Linda Fite-martin says:

    I love your books, keep up the good work and thanks for the education.
    Linda

  5. Abigail Owen says:

    Ahahahaha! Oh my gosh, so true for all of those. The constant feeling of having to justify. No one but other authors gets how hard this actually is. Awesome post Rebecca!

  6. Joyce Reece says:

    Hot Damn!! You go girl!!

  7. Martine says:

    I had no idea that writing was so hard and taxing on your life and body. I love your books and have read every one so far. I cannot imagine how irritating and annoying so people can be but, I am happy that you are getting it out and hoping that you can forgive ignorance.
    I appreciate you and your ideas as I am sure many others do too. Cheer up and be at ease. You are not alone and there are people who respect your craft.

  8. Julie says:

    Love this!

  9. jeannie says:

    made me laugh….I’ve heard of the “i supply the idea and you write the book” propostion before. Any craft takes work, lots of it and lots of practice and discarded ideas before the one that finally works – I used to paint and then people would say things like ” I love it but IKEA do a print for a fiver” yes, but I’m using materials that will last for many years, not fade in two or peel and warp as the cnavas is sub par – and this is a one off, an original not a mass produced print…
    and artists get the ” i’d love to paint if I had the time/where do you get your ideas/how can I sell my work/would you like to add my work to your website “( No – or answer three above!)

  10. sonia says:

    Would that be a left hook or right hook? Thanks you for finding the time to write us such great books. Keep on doing what you do so well.

  11. Lucy D says:

    It all comes down to jealousy. The business of writing a book I am sure takes the fun out of it, but you have to have the talent to create an enjoyable and cohesive story. Who doesn’t go, I wish I could do that.

    By the way — if you want to change to fractured fairy tales with a fairy godmother who pukes up magic like a cat with a hairball instead of a wand. Hysterical. I’m in line. 100% to you.

  12. Jennifer Mishoe says:

    :-D. It’s amazing how ridiculous people are sometimes. I for one am in awe of anyone can stay motivated day after day and do what you do. I can’t imagine a world without make believe. Thanks so much for sharing your make believe world with me! Jennifer.

  13. Hey Rebecca. I love your responses. Perfect!! Great coaching for if/when I might get well known enough for such inquiries. So far, however, it’s not a problem. (-:

    Have a great year in 2015!
    All the best,
    Alice

  14. Debbie says:

    I loved this! The real responses to the questions/comments are perfect.
    I hear remarks and questions and sometimes I just want to hold out the “here’s your sign”. Seriously, some people have no clue!
    You keep doing what you do Rebecca, your books are fantastic and we all need that in our lives. I appreciate the hard work and toil you put into bringing us these great stories.
    It isn’t something just anyone can do and do well let alone do great.

  15. Zoe Forward says:

    Amen! Love…love…love those responses.

  16. Beth says:

    As a reader, I’m glad to say I’ve never asked or thought any of the above. I prefer to think my favorite authors are touched by magic to be able to take what must be a process both filled with joy and with pain, with work and sweat and tears and love and laughter and the absolute wonder of creating beings that live and breathe from the pages. Thank you for putting in the work so that I can immerse myself in your worlds and enjoy the results!

  17. Izy says:

    hahaha Loved this 😀

  18. Marcia says:

    Love this! As a new writer I can relate to the work it takes to put the words down. As a reader I’m still waiting (im)patiently for Hawk and Dawn’s story!

  19. I find it interesting, the different responses from other writers vs readers. As a writer, I was glad I wasn’t drinking something as I read your responses!

  20. Wendy Humbarger says:

    God bless you for your restraint. I wish I had a single drop of your talent. I’d love to write but don’t have the gift or talent. You keep writing and I’ll keep buying and dreaming.

  21. Danielle Reaume says:

    Awesome! I can’t believe the nerve of some people, but then again, I’m not sure why I’m surprised you would get such comments. Your restraint is something to be celebrated, for I am not sure I could be so restrained myself.

    Keep kicking ass and taking names (or don’t in those cases of really stupid comments).

    Keep up the great work!

  22. Annie says:

    LOL! You Go Girl! 1, 3, & 5 were my favorites.

  23. Renee B says:

    I just about spit out my coffee reading this post. It is hilarious!!!!! 🙂 🙂 😀 I know there are a lot of dumbassess out there who say stupid stuff to authors all the time. thank you for sharing some of the idiots comments with us.

  24. Angela G says:

    Ok, I spit out my water when I read the response for #3. Loved it and I completely agree with your responses. As a reader that is spending money on your books, screw them all who make comments like that. You do a great job and your work speaks for itself.

  25. Sandra Wheeler says:

    WOW! Loved your answers to dumb questions or comments. I wish I had been that inventive with responses to questions about nursing. Enjoy your books so much, keep sitting in that chair pounding out those words. I so appreciate it.

  26. Honora Carmen says:

    Keep doing what u r doing, as u r doing everything just right. The detractors r numerous and their approach meant to undermine. But your publication success and loyal fan base stand strong. Your books r great – Sin Brothers my favourite, with Maverick Montana series close second. Intend delving into Dark Protectors soon. As a fan, I appreciate the way u keep in touch with your fans thru regular blogs, newsletters, FB. I also like learning about Rebecca Zanetti, the “person”, not just the “author”. Certainly enjoyed your humour in this blog post! I don’t get how some people don’t appreciate what authors do and how we readers benefit from your personal creative process. Great work Rebecca!

  27. Laura says:

    I’m still laughing…. Thx for sharing
    Laura

  28. I have a better idea. Why don’t *you* take one of the fifteen ideas I already have, that I’ll never have time to write, and *you* write the book, and then *you* can share the profits with me? Yeah?

  29. Lily Bishop says:

    Great post!! A cousin of mine, highly educated, who has been supportive of my path, told me, “I have a friend who has all of these zany stories that would make a great book.” I backpedaled, giving something similar to the appropriate response above, and she pushed and pushed. I finally just said I’m sure her friend has amazing stories, but I don’t have the time. What I’m really sure of is that I wouldn’t touch that with a ten-foot pole.

    • jeannie says:

      What on earth makes people think authors can’t come up with their own ideas…or that they who’ve had no experience of writing can make a better plot that someone who makes their living that way?

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