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…