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Ten Stupid Things People Say to Writers

Yes, I get it that somewhere along that inky, writerly line, you’ve probably read a list like this, or watched a video on the topic via Youtube. And look...here’s one more. Indulge me. I am one irritated writer right now, and irritated writers often spew out funny things, along with vomit from drinking too much. This time, I promise it’s only words. Maybe. Oh look…wine!

1. "But there's no money in writing!"

Tell that to Stephen King, JK Rowling, Danielle Steele, and my late author friend who once earned enough to pay off her house in one shot. I suppose they’ll be joining the rest of us starving authors at the food bank once a month, right? Yeah, I know that most authors don’t earn millions, but maybe I don’t want to earn millions. Maybe I just want to earn enough to quit that day job that’s been a thorn up my backside since I started working there. Trust me, even earning enough to equal that lousy paycheck would make me quite content.

2. "So, when can I get my free copy?"

If you spent years working on something, would you give it away free, like you didn’t sweat blood bullets over it, swear at it, or cry tears of frustration? Yeah, I didn’t think so. Even a few months of agonizing work on a book doesn’t make me just want to give it away. Tell you what. You give me some money first, say, an amount that happens to equal or excel the cost of my book if you’re feeling generous, and then I’ll give you a copy for free. Or, you can visit the library and steal theirs. Even you ought to be able to afford those late fees.

3. "So, how much money have you made?"

Well, I haven't made quite this much, but I'm working on it...

I’ll tell you how much I’ve made if you show me your next pay stub. Deal? No? You don't like it when I inquire about your income? Well, neither do I when you ask about mine. How much an author makes is no business of yours. Unless I actually become a millionaire, because then I might just be tempted to rub it into the face of the person who told me, "There's no money in writing books!"

4. "Oh, you're writing a book? I've been wanting to do that forever."

I tried to find one with a foot in the mouth, but a flower will just have to do.

Yeah, sure you have. Just like I’ve been wanting to lose weight for the last twenty years. Don’t act like an author wannabe; we real writers can detect you the second you spout the words, “I’ve been wanting to do that forever,” especially if you're the type who doesn't even make reading a habit. How can you possibly think that anyone will take you seriously when you only own seven books, and five of them are comic books? Trust me; if you wanted to write a book badly enough, you would have done it by now.

5. "Oh, you're self-published? So that means you're not a real author then, right?"

Yes, that’s exactly what that means. I’m just a frickin’ figment of your imagination that creates imaginary books that people pretend to read. I suppose the money I make is fake too, so I’d better not try to spend it or I’ll be arrested for counterfeiting. For those of you who don’t know, many authors you’re familiar with began as self-published. Ever read Peter Rabbit? Guess what? I suppose that wasn’t a real book either, just like mine! These are the people I want to punch most often, but I'll just have to settle for putting them in my next book and giving them embarrassing deaths.

6. "You'll never succeed with writing. There's too much competition."

If only it was a competition that allowed boxing gloves...

Somehow, anything creative is fair game when people announce they want to try to make money with it. But when people want to sell Avon or jewelry for a living, they get oodles of support. The very interesting truth is that they have way more competition than writers have with one another because a lot less people write than sell company products. Writers only have to compete with other people that have actually finished a manuscript. Statistically, only 3% of writers ever finish writing a book if they start one, so I’d say my odds of success aren’t that bad when you add in the other honest truth that most indie books are terrible. A great article that further illustrates these points can be found here.

7. "So, what makes you think your books are good?"

I’ve never claimed they were. That’s up to my readers to decide whether or not my books are worthy of purchase, not me. This is why we have product reviews. What I have claimed to do is release the best books I possibly can, even if I have to pull them off the market temporarily to fix mistakes that were missed a few years ago when they were first released (which is why, as of this date, only one of my books is on the market), along with regularly improving my editing skills, productivity, and my commitment to connecting with my readers. I’ve also dedicated a lot of my social media time to helping other writers that need it. We were all beginners at some point in the craft, and it’s a tough place to be.

8. "Writing books for a living sounds so boring!"

So, are you trying to tell me that working at a factory the rest of your life is so much more entertaining? If you’ve figured out the secret to enjoying working under someone else, battling cranky customers and/or bosses, driving to work in blizzards, getting up before dawn, and managing the rest of your schedule around a job, then please give me a call. In fact, give everyone a call. We want to know that secret!

9. “It’s so nice that your little hobby can make money!”

My “little hobby,” as you call it, isn’t just the next level of Fortnite here, easily attained after a few hours of work (or twenty minutes if you're my son on a sugar high). Non-writers never realize how many years it takes to improve at what we do. I’ve been at it for 23 years, and I’m still striving to improve the quality of my writing. Don’t compare writing with things like gaming, crafting, or cooking, because it takes way more years to become competent than it does with the aforementioned activities. The only thing remotely having the same difficulty level is probably musical instrument training. Trust me, I know from experience. I play the piano.

10. “You won’t get far in the publishing world because you’re a certain race/gender, etc.”

I’m calling bullshit on this one, because in the end, great books speak for themselves, and they don’t care whether the hand that wrote them is male, female, transgender, LGBT, or what color their skin is. Wonderful writing can come from anyone who puts in the time and hard work. A little talent helps too, but it’s mostly nose-to-the-grindstone behavior that’s going to get writers far in the publishing industry. Add to that a high degree of professionalism, self-discipline, a few learned marketing skills and a dash of luck, and I really don’t see what is stopping you from making a big splash in the publishing pool. Just don’t pee in the water.

If you enjoyed this article, you might enjoy my blog series on how to write a book from start to finish.

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