Everyone who earns his/her living as a writer hears some mighty stupid shit along the way. Often.
I’ve always wanted to write a book. I’m going to do that when I retire. Because, you know, it’s dead easy, right? Maybe you haven’t heard that tired old joke about the neurosurgeon who meets a writer at a party and tells the writer, “I plan to take up writing when I retire.” And the writer says…
Who’s your agent? Will you introduce me to them? I know you’ll tell me because you want to share your contacts with me. My work is exactly like yours and every bit as good. I just know it. (While you’re at it, make a pass at my partner or spouse.)
How are sales going? Oh, really? But I plan to be a successful writer.
Have I read anything you’ve written? And I would know everything you read because….?
Who do you write for? Yes, an innocent question. But, all too often, a tedious demand to prove your credentials. Zzzzzzzzzz.
Are your books best-sellers? Of course. Not.
My last three books were best-sellers. I know, already. And you know that I know.
Will you read my proposal/manuscript and tell me what you think? Sure, for a fee.
Oh, you charge for that? Of course not. Money? Every writer gets a lifetime numbered card from the government. We show it every time we rent a home and buy gas and groceries and clothes and medicine. We get a 50% discount for being, you know, creative! Not.
Here are five winners:
I loved your book(s). My favorite part was when…The whole point of writing is being read. Carefully.
Will you come and speak to our book club? Many of us enjoy meeting enthusiastic readers face to face and answering their questions. (Other authors are too shy or busy.)
Will you come and lecture at my school? For a fee that includes travel time, sure. Every unpaid hour for someone self-employed is lost income. You, the teacher/professor are earning a salary, paid sick and vacation days and, if lucky, a pension. Yes, I get that being invited to share my knowledge is an honor. I do. But my bills don’t care.
Will you speak at our annual conference? Of course we’ll pay you a fee and all travel expenses. You got it!
Are you available to offer coaching or editing — what do you charge? $150 to 200 an hour. When do we start?
For those of you who may still want to write/sell a book or two or three — here’s a very cool blog post with advice from Joyce Carol Oates who suggests the best way to develop a strong sure authorial voice (and readers hungry for more of it) — blog!