This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
By Anna Bell
We’re fragile things, us authors, and sometimes well-meaning, non-writerly folk say stuff that really gets my goat. Before I was traditionally published I’d get loads of ‘so I can’t buy your book then’ and looks of pity that I didn’t have an agent. Now that I’ve got my books published, I thought that would all stop, but it still goes on differently. Here are four examples I’ve experienced recently.
“I was disappointed that I didn’t see your book when I went shopping for it.”
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Unless you’re talking to Marian Keyes, Lee Child, or another bestselling author, then it isn’t surprising that you can’t find their book in every shop or supermarket you look for it. I’m thrilled that my latest novel has made it into a supermarket, but I got downhearted when a relative of mine told me that they’d gone to buy it especially and hadn’t been able to find it in their local bookshop or another supermarket chain. It makes me feel like I’m a failure if I’m not stocked in every single possible place that someone would look.
“Can I have a free book?”
No, no you can’t. Or at least not from me. I’m more than happy for my publisher to give away review copies to reviewers. I understand that they are doing me a huge favour reviewing my book given the number of available books and the shortage of their time. Yet it isn’t only reviewers that ask for my book – friends and acquaintances often ask, too. I only get ten free copies of my books, which are usually saved for presents and signed copies. As much as I’d love to share my book with absolutely everyone, I do also want to be able to afford to eat and, as an author, selling books is how I make my money! Even my mum buys my books – in fact, she’s often my best customer, buying copies for her friends as presents, too.“It’s a good job you don’t actually have to go to work…”
No, because pixies write my books whilst I’m busy watching TV at night. I would love to go to work. I would be so much more productive if I had eight hours in an office. Now that I’m on maternity leave, my working hours are during my reluctant little sleeper’s nap times and in the evening when my baby goes to bed. I’m sure I’m not the only author that bookends their normal day with writing. Even when I’m pushing the pram up and down the road, I’m not daydreaming that Bradley Cooper will pop up in my village and whisk me away, I’m fixing plot holes or I’m coming up with new chapters.
“You must be so pleased to have finished your book.” [when sending it to your editor]
It’s hard to convey to non-writers that once you send your manuscript to your editor it’s not the last you see of it before it appears on the shelves. In my experience, I’ll get it back at least once with editor’s notes, then again after the copy edit and then again once it has been page set ready for publication. Like any creative endeavour, it’s never really finished, it’s merely as far as you could take it.
Has anyone ever said anything like this to you? Do you feel the same way about it? What other misconceptions do people have about your writing?