Recently I ran across a really good list "Ten things you should never say to a writer." Among them were such classics as, "I thought you were dead, " or "I wish I could just stay home and write all day and do nothing," or my favorite, "Why don't you write children's books? There's lots of money in that."
We writers and authors get this all time. Writing is not like knitting or counted cross stitch. We don't hang our works in progress on a wall. We rarely give them as presents. So it's hard for people to talk to us about writing because to most people it's a mysterious thing. Still, there are some things you just shouldn't say out loud to someone who is trying to make a little bit of a living.
Well, as many of you know I've been working some of the local Farmer's Markets this summer, getting my name out there, selling some of my books. I've been sharing a booth with my mom, who does great framed art made out of costume jewelry. You should check us out!
Anyway, in the weeks I've been sitting under a tent, trying to sell books among stalls off organic beets and home made soaps, I've heard a few not so fantastic reasons for people to not buy my books.
Let's be up front: I get it. Books can be expensive and if buying books or reading isn't your thing, I get that, too. I'm not knocking your reasons for not buying my books at a Farmer's Market. I'm knocking you for SAYING THEM OUT LOUD TO MY FACE.
I don't buy clothes every time I go to Kohls...okay maybe I do...and when I'm out and about I browse more than I buy. I don't explain, I simply say, "Wow you have some lovely things. Thank you." And I move on.
So I've narrowed it down to five things people have said to me that have made me laugh the hardest
or made me grumble the most. Seriously, actual people have said this to my face and then walked away, never understanding the destruction they've just done.
5) I don't...read.
Now like with most things it's not what these two separate women at two separate times said to me. It's how they said it. As if somehow reading was akin to selling drugs or prostitution. These two women, again, two women who came up at different times, looked through my books, and said this, spoke with horror laced with condescension. And also, this attitude horrifies me as a former teacher, a parent, and human being.
4) I'll wait until your book is in the library.
Okay, I love libraries. As a person I love libraries. As an independent writer who doesn't have a publisher to put my books everywhere, I don't care for libraries, second hand book stores, or yard sales. I don't make a dime off any of those. And also, with the exception of the West Allis WI Public Library, I haven't been able to get my books in any place. I know not everyone buys books. I get that. But telling me, the author, when I'm actively selling books right in front of your face that you're going to wait until they are free...well, why don't you just hit me with something large and pointy?
3) I'm writing a book too. Here's the plot.
Most of the time the plot is terrible, involving family violence, space aliens, and some sort of time travel, medical emergencies, and oh yes, graphic sex.
I really, really enjoy listening to you relate your graphic sex scenes to me in front of my booth at a Farmer's Market when there are lots of kids around. Really helps my business when you're yelling things like, "HEAVING BREASTS" in front of the mom with eight year old twin boys.
2) Wow, this is really great. I have some shopping to do and I'll come back.
This is just a lie. Don't bother saying it. We all know you're never coming back.
1) Oh, so you're self published. How did you do that? Can I do it? Write the instructions down in detail. For free.
I think I answered this several times before I realized something: Hey, I spent YEARS figuring out how to do this. I went to classes. I went to conferences. I paid many dollars to learn how to do it. I spent hours making mistakes and trying again. I'm not saying I did it alone, I had help along the way and since I had help, yes I'm going to give you a couple websites to check out. But don't sit there and spend an hour asking me how to publish your family-sex-space-alien-time-travel-medical-sex-drama because I'm not going to go into great detail. Unless you're a kid. A serious kid, like the girl I met a couple weeks ago who is 13 and has finished two books. I was that kid a hundred years ago, and I didn't know where to begin. Kids I'll help out. Adults, I'll tell you three things: Smashwords, Amazon, and Createspace.
No go away, make room for serious customers!
Oh, by the way, if you're in the area, TOMORROW, Saturday, August 1, I will be at the City of Waukesha WI Farmer's Market from 8-12. We between Madison and Barstow in the downtown area. come on over and say hi, and buy a book! I can take credit cards now!