16 Things Writers Wish You Knew (Part Two)

(A continuation of my rant from last week…)

9. When I say I work from home, I mean I actually WORK from home. I’d like to dedicate number 9 on this list to the teacher who called me up when my daughter was little and said, “Well, since you don’t work outside the home…” and then gave me a laundry list of ways I could help her out in her classroom. It was as though she thought she were saving me from all this free time on my hands! Yes, I can be flexible when I’m not on deadline, but that doesn’t mean I’m just sitting around waiting for something to do. Why? Because… 

10. Books don’t write themselves. I actually have to sit at my desk and churn out words, day after day.

11. Yes, I’m sure Oprah’s book club would be great for my book. It makes me laugh whenever helpful people say, “You know what you ought to do? You ought to get Oprah to put your book on her book club list!” Hey, that is a GREAT idea! Why didn’t anyone else think of that? I will call her up right now since I have her number in my phone and we talk every week. Oh, wait…I actually don’t know Oprah. But if you do and you want to hook me up, be my guest.

12. No, I don’t want to write your book idea and then split the money with you. Trust me, I have plenty to do (and plenty of my own ideas) and don’t need any help filling my time (see number 9).

13. I have no idea if your idea would make a good book. People often tell me their book idea and ask me if I think they should write it. But I have no clue. Why not? Because it depends on how well you write it. And I can’t tell that without reading it. Except I don’t want to read it. (See numbers 2, 3, 4, 7, and 8 in the previous post.)

14. Publishing takes a really long time. Whenever I post that I’ve sold a book, many people want to know if it will be in Barnes & Noble next week. It takes a couple of years, usually, from the time the manuscript sells until the time the book sees print. But (and please read this without any sarcasm whatsoever because I am being sincere) I do appreciate your interest! I hope you will still be enthusiastic two years from now when the book comes out.

15. I work on the same book for a really long time. The number of edits would boggle your mind, and that’s just after it’s already sold.

16. Interested in publishing a book? There’s this amazing thing called the Internet. You should check it out. I’m always baffled when someone wants to invite me out for coffee in order to learn how to get a book published. I know coffee is ridiculously expensive these days, but really, even a vanilla cappuccino does not make up for not doing your homework. Especially when doing that homework is so easy! You lucky whippersnappers don’t even have to walk through twelve inches of snow to the library! A wealth of knowledge lies before you for the mere click of a mouse.

If you’re truly serious about publishing, you’ll do the research, and it’s all right there at your fingertips. (I always just direct people to Nathan Bransford’s blog, because not only is it chock full o’ information, it’s entertaining. Or, if reading is not your thing—and if it’s not, why are you writing a book?—there are helpful videos such as this one.) The sad truth is, if you can’t find the discipline and time to research the publishing process, you probably won’t have the discipline and time to go through the publishing process.

Having said all that, I’d like to add this: if you do invite an author out for coffee to pick his/her brain, have some actual questions based on your research; don’t just say, “How do I get a book published?” If you really want to look serious, bring a notepad and pen! Once, against my better judgment and despite the fact that I really did not have the time, I went to lunch with a college student who was just dying to write a book and asked me ever so nicely if I would take the time to mentor her a little bit. Imagine how unimpressed I was when I got to the restaurant only to find that she had zero questions for me and didn’t write down any of the advice I gave her. There are folks who sit around dreaming of writing a book, and there are folks who sit down and actually do it. You can usually spot the latter because they’ve done their research.

Those are my 16 annoyances. If you other writers think of any I’ve left out, I’d love to hear them.

 

 

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