So You’re Published? & Other Annoying Questions about Writing

I’ve never been shy talking about my writing. I love writing and sharing my thoughts about books and my favorite stories. It’s exciting to talk about your new favorite writing project and ideas for stories and even what you’ve learned from writing.

BUT when you talk about writing, or even mention that you LIKE writing, people ask questions. If they’re a writer, it’s fine. The conversation is about mutual writing things and it’s GREAT. But if it’s a random stranger who’s never even thought about writing, well, it can be a struggle.

Now, I want to put this disclaimer here. People really mean well when they ask questions. Even if they are actually hurtful questions. I don’t mind answering questions. It can be obnoxious and feel like people don’t understand writers AT ALL. But I still like talking about writing and helping people understand the writing mindset.

All that said, this doesn’t mean I know EVERYTHING about writing. I’m ALWAYS learning. These are not definitive answers. They are my answers, but they could change over time.

Are you published? So you’re not a real author, then?

Okay, I don’t tell people I’m an author. When I chat about my writing, I tend to say, I’m a writer. I’ve written 3 books.
I don’t say author, because I am not published. You don’t need to be published to be a writer. If you write, you’re a writer. 

Also, thanks for asking about the publishing. I have no real control over when my writing might ever get published. I really, really wish I could say otherwise. All I can actually do is send out query letters, learn from published writers, work on my craft, and KEEP WRITING.

When can I read your book?

This is a nice question. I’m assuming the person asks actually wants to read my books. YAY!

But also, terrifying? And most of the time, unless you’re a CP or Beta reader, the answer is, not till publication. Number one, I want this book to be the BEST it can be. That means it needs edited and revised and reviewed and edited MORE. So, before you can read it, I’d like it to be REALLY great.

Number two, I also want you to buy my book when it’s eventually published. If I let you read it now, will you buy it? Will you even like it??? THIS MAKES ME NERVOUS.

Squirrels are my patronus, so yes, this is what I look like when I’m nervous

So, I guess thanks for asking, but no, you can’t read it. AND I HAVE NO IDEA WHEN YOU CAN. #sorrynotsorry

Are you going to write a real book?

WHAT kind of question is this? Who decides what a real book is, anyway?

I know my books aren’t published. They don’t have pretty covers or pages (yet) that doesn’t make them NOT REAL! yes, I’m kind of screaming in frustration about this question.

Also, don’t tell me that my YA stories that I pour my heart and soul and all the tears of my life into are not real books. I promise that no one sits down and writes and is automatically the NEXT GREAT NOVELIST of their generation.

It doesn’t really matter if the books sells millions or if it sits forgotten in a library. I mean, no one wants their book to be forgotten. Selling millions is a nice dream. But no matter what, it’s still a real book. 

Can you write a book about *insert random topic*?

I don’t know what to do with this kind of question? What I really should say is, sounds like a great story, why don’t you go write it. i.e. don’t pester me, please.

But most of the time it A) their idea doesn’t sound like a great story or B) I am flustered and don’t remember what to say. At all.

I have sometimes mentioned that I am a journalist. Maybe just a little? As a reporter, I also get WEIRD questions. This writing question reminds me of the random people I meet who tell me they should be on the news.

Um, okay, you’re scared your cat will get caught by coyotes. Do I really need to put a story about your cat and the coyotes on the evening news??? (yes, this is a real person that wanted their cat on the evening news) 

I just don’t think it’s polite to tell me what I need to write about. If you have a great idea, go write your own amazing story. I’ll even cheer for you!

And yes, sometimes I might need help brainstorming. I just don’t tend to ask random strangers for help, but if I want to hear your ideas, I’ll ask. Promise.

Why don’t you just self-publish? Can’t you just put your book on Amazon?

Okay, yes, I could self publish. but I don’t understand why you’re pestering me about how I’m choosing to try and publish my book?

People literally message me videos on self publishing. Or send me blog posts about how GREAT it is to self-publish. I know they mean well. But traditionally publishing is my dream.

Traditional publishing means seeing my book in a Barnes and Nobles. Walking into a bookstore and seeing your book on the shelf would be simply AMAZING.

That doesn’t really happen with self-publishing???

Also, self-publishing is kind of hard. You have to hire your own editors and cover designers and publisher. And then all the marketing is also your job. Yeah, fun right?

While traditional publishing is hard – not gonna lie about that! To me, the rewards for traditional publishing outweigh all the easiness of self-publishing. Which isn’t really easy, just more under your control than traditional publishing.

Have you heard of Wattpad? I just heard about *insert famous book* that was published on Wattpad!

To answer the actual question, yes I’ve heard of wattpad. I even know that some famous books started out on fan fiction websites.

But I think you’re not actually asking if I’ve heard of Wattpad. You’re actually asking why don’t you just publish your story on Wattpad????

Did you hear me? I just said I want to do traditional publishing!!! So, why are you asking me to put my story on a fanfic website?

And yes, this has actually happened in real conversations.

Now, as I mentioned in the title of this post, I’ve just been talking about annoying questions today. This doesn’t mean that people only ask annoying questions. Some questions people ask are actually really great! I actually love answering interesting questions.

It’s questions when people presume they already know what you should do, those kind of questions really grate on me. I mean, wouldn’t they grate on anyone???

So, I guess the point of what I’m saying now – Feel free to ask great, interesting questions about writing. Ask about how they create plot ideas, or find time to write, or develop interesting characters, or work on sketching out dialogue. 

If you think a writer should do something differently, don’t ask a question that is all about suggesting they work on writing differently. 

lets chat

What kind of annoying questions have you been asked? Or what good interesting questions?

While I’m interested in traditional publishing, are you interested in self-publishing? Have you ever written fan-fiction? 

Since I talked today about super annoying questions, I should write a post answering some non-annoying writer questions! What kind of questions do you have about writing?

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12 Comments

  1. January 26, 2019 / 6:28 pm

    That’s so awesome you’re not shy when it comes to talking about your writing! I’ve been writing for almost ten years and I still get really nervous when I talk about it with non-writers — so most of the time I just don’t. I admire the way that you have good answers for all the annoying questions. 🙂 It’s my dream to be traditionally published with my book in Barnes & Noble too, so it’s kind of hard to tell people that I only want my book to be in Barnes & Noble…it’s not actually there yet. But, someday! 🙂

    • January 27, 2019 / 8:47 pm

      Good luck with your writing dream! It sounds so impossible right now, but I will still keep dreaming!

  2. January 26, 2019 / 8:53 pm

    Wow, I get these questions all the time! 🤣 People just don’t understand how difficult it is to get published, or to write a book in general. At this point, I would probably not want to do self-publishing, only because traditional publishing would help me feel so much more accomplished!

    • January 27, 2019 / 8:45 pm

      Someone just needs to pass our cards every time someone starts to ask about publishing that just say, “Publishing is hard. That’s all you need to know” 😂
      And right? I can’t imagine switching to self-publishing now, because it would really feel like giving up on traditional publishing. And I don’t want to do that!

  3. January 27, 2019 / 5:06 pm

    Yes to all of these!! Honestly I love talking about writing, and my own writing (I’m usually more comfortable talking over the internet, but irl is good too – I might just get flustered XD). I haven’t been asked *too many* annoying questions, but after learning that Christopher Paolini – author of Eragon – wrote his book at 15 and got it published at 19 a friend turned to me and said “why haven’t you finished a book by now – you’re falling behind!”. She meant well but it did that help my mental state 😅

    I also agree about traditional publishing. I have considered self-publishing, and maybe I will eventually, but I’d like to try to work with the professionals first. Plus, like you said, marketing is heavily in the favor of the big name publishers.

    • January 27, 2019 / 8:46 pm

      Talking on the interent is so EASY because it feels like you can control the conversation. After all, I can totally delete anything I want on my blog, right? 😂

  4. January 29, 2019 / 12:36 am

    These are all are super annoying questions for sure! I think for me personally, I’m really flustered by questions like “what do you write about?”, especially since I know a lot of people who make fun of writing and I don’t want them to think that way about me haha. But yesss, it’s so annoying when people ask me if/when they can read my writing! If I wanted you to read it, I would have told you lmao!

  5. January 30, 2019 / 12:09 pm

    I’ve been asked several of these questions! People are just ignorant, and don’t understand unless they’ve actually experienced the process! As for me, I want to try traditional publishing first, too!

  6. January 30, 2019 / 1:40 pm

    This is such an interesting post, I love it! I think it is so awesome that you aren’t shy to talk about your writing, I am always so shy and nervous to do so, even online or on my blog,so I can’t even imagine if I had to in real life 😂 I think part of me is afraid of these very questions, too, a little bit 😂 and traditionally publishing, ultimately, would be my dream too <3

  7. February 3, 2019 / 11:41 am

    This is so relatable! I’ve been writing for 10 years and no, I’m still not published, but that doesn’t make me less of a writer. I know people mean well, and they want to be helpful, but sometimes I just want to scream when people ask these kind of questions. It’s as if they assume I haven’t thought about any of this, that I just call myself a writer and haven’t thought through what it really means. Thank you for sharing this. I feel much less alone now.

  8. February 11, 2019 / 2:49 pm

    It’s so irritating when people think their story ideas are so great and they tell you to write it. Like no, I have my own ideas and projects going on and don’t want to take on your not so great idea. I also get asked why I don’t traditionally publish my books. It’s all up to personal choice and it becomes frustrating having to defend your choices in how you get your book out into the world.

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