Get a Free Ebook

Five Inspirational Truths for Authors

Try our Video Classes

Downloadable in-depth learning, with pdf slides

Find out more about My Book Therapy

We want to help you up your writing game. If you are stuck, or just want a boost, please check us out!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Top 20 Things to NEVER Say to a Writer (and the responses we want to make)

by Edie Melson

Below is my list of comments I’ve received over the past years since I’ve come out as a writer. Following each is what I wanted to say. I’m happy to report that I’ve never (at least until now) given in to the temptation.

Top 20 Things to NEVER Say to a Writer!

  • 1. Are you published? (I really don’t have the space here to get into this. I usually just do a mental eye-roll.)
  • 2. I have an idea for something you should write about. We could split the profits. (yeah, I do all the work and you get half of almost nothing. Sounds like a deal to me…)
  • 3. I wrote a book, can you contact your publisher/agent for me? (You really wouldn’t like what I had to say about you.)
  • 4. Why don’t you take the day off, it’s not like you work for a living. (unprintable reply)
  • 5. Can I read your manuscript? (Like I don’t have enough stress in my life already)
  • 6. Writing must be the easiest job in the world. (If you like 20-hour days, pennies per hour, horrific critiques, and serving up your heart for others to chew on daily.)
  • 7. Anyone can write a book, what else do you do? (see number 6)
  • 8. You should get that published. (Really? Like I hadn’t thought of that.)
  • 9. I’ve heard that if you….you’ll be a much better writer. (Nothing I like better than advice from someone who has no clue.)
  • 10. Aren’t you finished with that yet? (I am, I just decided not to submit it.)
  • 11. I hate reading, it’s such a waste of time. (unprintable reply)
  • 12. Have you ever written anything I might have read? (Yes, if morons could read.)
  • 13. Will you read my manuscript? (*running and screaming in the other direction*)
  • 14. Are you still doing that writing thing? (Believe me, if I could quit, I would.)
  • 15. When can I get your book for free? (What part of “I do this for a living” do you not understand?)
  • 16. Can you edit/write my essay for me? (I write commercially, not academically. There is a difference.)
  • 17. Will you make me a character? (Only if I can kill you.)
  • 18. What do you do with all your spare time? (in the vein of number 17, why don’t you come over and find out…)
  • 19. Writing, can you make a living at that?

  • 20. Writing, it must be nice to make so much money for not doing anything.
I’d love for you all to share your experiences with funny responses as the people around you commented on your writing life.

Edie Melson is the author of four books, as well as a freelance editor with years of experience in the publishing industry. Her popular blog, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands of writers each month, and she’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. Her bestselling ebook on social media has just been updated and re-released as Connections: Social Media & Networking Techniques for Writers. She’s the Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy and the social media director for Southern Writers Magazine. You can connect with Edie through Twitter and Facebook.


  1. My {least} favorite of late: "James Patterson puts out, like, ten books a year. How hard can it be to get your one book published?" {unpublishable reply}

    1. Kerry Ann, I've gotten that one, too. Thanks so much for sharing!

  2. This is funny! But I can honestly say I don't think I've had anybody say this stuff to me (and felt that reaction...I have read some MSes but I wanted to!). I have the best group of encouragers around me--they've seen me work for years to get published and they're right with me, praying every step of the way. I won't be the only one rejoicing when my book is finally in print this November! I think most friends realize writing is basically a full-time job (maybe b/c of all my late-night "I'm editing" or "I'm writing" FB posts--hee).

    1. Heather, that's awesome! And congrats on the book!

  3. A relative has asked a few times if I'd write a tell-all book about the Boy Scouts, while he knows I write fiction and haven't done a thing with the scouts.

    1. Elaine, those types of requests always leave me scratching my head. Thanks for sharing!

  4. This is awesome!!! You crack me up. I've gotten: "Oh, you're published? Have you read (insert title) by (insert author's name)? If you write like her, then I'd probably like your book." (Internal response: "Why don't you buy my book and find out.") I've also gotten: "Oh, it's a romance? I don't waste my reading time on romance. Good luck though." (No polite response available.)

    1. Sherri, I've gotten to where I just laugh and give a mental eye roll. There are times though, when I make a note to add the person commenting to a future novel and kill them off in the most painful way possible. LOL!

  5. Oh, don't forget the one "Someday I'm going to write a novel. I have such great ideas, but I can't tell you, you might steal them." My inner response: Sweetie, by the time you 'write' your novel (if you do) one of us will be dead. And no idea you have could possibly be worth stealing.

  6. I write historicals. I once got, "Why do you have to do research? It's just fiction." (*trembling*)

  7. I think you've been much politer than I would be.

  8. I recently got, 'if you don't make any money, why do you write, it's not as if you are anyone famous?' and, 'So your reader's like your books, when are they going to be published by someone important?' *insert ... smile, oh so fake, and a 'maybe one day' with fake sigh'. All completed while restraining hands from attacking their throats. :D

  9. Typo alert ... readers not reader's! Ugh

  10. My own Tweens ask when I'm going to sell "that" book.

  11. I get #2 a lot! And in various forms. Not sure whether they are fans of my series or just into fantasy, but I get many suggestions on "new fresh material" or "this will complete your series". Most would not fit into my series and I politely decline, but I want I'm really thinking is "Fresh? Do I look like a stale loaf of bread?" "No more vampires or zombies! They are done to death! (yes pun intended)!" "Complete? Excuse me, what exactly do you think I'm missing?"

  12. #17 sounds like something a CIA operative might say -
    "If I made you a character, I'd have to kill you." ---
    Unfortunately, the people I'd like to say this to most would have no appreciation for the subtle irony of it...

  13. I always get - "Wait until you hear my life's story! (*Gasp* ) You should write it! It'll be a bestseller."

  14. I love these! I get them all the time. So far, I've successfully avoided bludgeoning anyone to death with a copy of my unpublished manuscript. No promises that that will continue.

  15. Recent telephone call: "I have a collection of poetry, and even my doctor says he will buy a copy if I publish it. Who did you get to publish your books? How should I get my poetry published?" The questions reveal such a deep lack of understanding that it's hard for this novelist (I don't do poetry) even to begin to answer, especially when the unknown person is a friend of a friend.

  16. While speaking to my bank teller about a lost royalty check:
    Teller: "So you're an author. What do you write?"
    Me: "Romance."
    Teller: *soft snort*
    Me: *insert explicit mental language*
    Teller: "I used to be a parole officer before this. Want some ideas?"
    Me: *Yeah right* "Authors are always looking for new ideas." *Like killing off former parole officers in their next novel.*

    I HATE the response I get when someone asks me what I write. Romance is a HUGE market. What is wrong with that? It's almost like they think it is drivel and not worthy when compared to other genres. Clearly they don't know the first thing about it.

  17. The one I love is, "I'm sure my idea would make a great book. How do I get it published?"
    Answer--change your name to James Patterson (or Tom Clancy or Tess Gerritsen or...)

  18. I love it, thanks for sharing. I usually think of a reply to some of these questions in the middle of the night. Too late! I missed the moment. Then I roll over as I am laughing myself back to sleep. :)

  19. Most of the time, when people hear that I'm a writer, I can almost feel their eyes roll back in their heads followed by the Tsunami wave of judgment which pushes their eyes back forward, sarcasm rife in their soul with the assessment that I must be some lazy, unemployed freeloader that can't handle a "real" job. And then, with a smile, they tell me about how they too have written a few things. Perhaps I should respond by trying my amateur hand at dentistry, legal advice, surgery, or psychiatry.

    1. That made me laugh. My favorite thing to say when people ask me is, "I'm a professional liar."

  20. "I've always wanted to try writing, maybe we can co-write?"
    Um. No.


Don't be shy. Share what's on your mind.