Thursday, December 10, 2009

So your (dad, brother, husband, mother etc.) tells me you wrote a book...

I live in a family full of big-mouths. Since I signed with Sara they've enjoyed telling anyone and everyone who has ever met me that I am a writer.

Then I run into these people at the grocery store or the movie theater or church and the first thing out of their mouth is, "So your dad told me you wrote a book and I hear it's a bestseller."

Yup, that's pretty much how it goes.

Then I have to correct them and say, "No, it's not even published yet."

Then they say something like, "So when is it coming out?"

Then I have to explain that I have an agent but not a publisher (yet).

Then they look at me like I'm lame, and try to save the conversation with something like, "Well, I'm sure it will work out for you someday."

Yeah. Tomorrow night is my husband's company party. It's going to be filled with conversations like this--which will be fun.

How do you respond when someone asks you about your writing? Do you have a quick and graceful way of explaining just how long and difficult the non-vanity publishing process is? Do you just nod and smile?

37 comments:

V. S said...

I try to explain but they never understand. That is why I am so happy I started blogging because you guys understand the difficulty of writing.

Just keep going, you will find your publisher :)

Valerie Geary said...

Depends... do they have that glazed over look? If not, if they seem really interested I'll explain a little bit more in detail about the process... otherwise I just say "nice weather we're having, eh?" :) Good luck at the company party! I've got one coming up on Sunday! :)

Matt said...

The glazed over look. I know that look.

I try to avoid telling anyone anything, although I haven't always been so careful. The first time I got a request for a partial I started bragging. Not that I'm superstitious or anything, but that was stupid.

As far as family goes. Some know I wrote a book. Sometimes they ask what's going on with it.

Nothing.

Patti said...

I had a lady ask if they could buy my book for Christmas. Yeah, I don't even have an agent yet. I smiled and politely said it would be a few years before she could do that.

Diane said...

Maybe you should just make up a story and tell them that you are the pen name of Janet Evanovich or something. More fun.... :O)

staceyjwarner said...

In LA people assume you are not published and I rarely talk about my writing.

much love

Girl with One Eye said...

Only a couple people know and they just can't believe it is that hard. People don't get it. Especially when they ask what it's about. I say, YA paranormal/romance. That's when I get the glazed look.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Ack. I hate being asked. One well-meaning guy asked if had "anything lined up," "any publishing contract," when I mentioned I was writing a novel. I had to explain how one needs to finish writing the whole thing, revise it, find an agent and then a publisher. He looked stricken. And then there are the people who ask every time they see me--once again, they mean well. But it kinda makes me feel like a loser to keep saying: I'm still writing.

TerryLynnJohnson said...

Not many people know the difference between vanity press and traditional publishers. At parties, when people find out about my upcoming book, I usually get a lot of "everyone I know is writing a book, my friend so and so has one too." I don't bother to correct. Unless the person is really interested in the writing process. I'm so happy that there is a community of supportive writers here! I think it totally ROCKS you have an agent!

Bethany Mattingly said...

My dad and mom told most of my family about my writing and some people who aren't my family. They found out about a month ago. Some ask how it's going and I'll respond, "Good, I'm looking for an agent for the first book right now."
them: "First?"
me: *thinking: geez, my big mouth* "Erm, yeah. I'm writing two others right now."
them: "OMG!" *accompanied with bug-eyed look* "Well, good luck"
me: "thanks" And now we awkwardly smile at each other until we awkwardly walk our separate ways. It was easier when the only people who knew I wrote was my writing buddy and my sister. I don't really mind, but I wish everyone had found out after I at least had an agent.

Jemi Fraser said...

I'm not sure non-writers can ever understand the process - it's complex and a bit convoluted. The questions can generate some pretty creative answers!

Melissa said...

This is why I don't tell anybody that I'm writing a book yet. I have no idea what I'll say. And the one time my husband outed me, I wanted to crawl under the table. Sorry I'm no help:)

Lisa and Laura said...

I remember people always asking me how much I had paid my agent up front. Um..nothing. And then someone just recently asked me if our book was going to be a real book. Um...yes. And the best question ever is when someone asked if we'd have to bring the books to the bookstore ourselves. Um...no.

Just to give you an idea of what you have to look forward to. The stupid questions never end.

Stephanie Thornton said...

I'm not really at the point where I'm telling people that I've written a book. I might be more willing to do that once I have an agent, but I'd like to save most of those conversations for when I have a publishing date.

Of course, my husband decided to tell his mom and my dad that I wrote a book. Fortunately, both of them are smart enough not to bring it up until I tell them myself. My husband may have gotten in big trouble for that one.

Matthew Delman said...

Everyone knows that I'm writing, but unless they've already shown an interest I tend to not talk about it.

Ah yes, the glazed over look. How well I know thee. Well, that and the "oh that's nice" face.

Catherine Denton said...

I like Diane's idea. My pen name would be Rick Riordan. ;) I usually stay vague and sling the boomerang.

Them: "How's your writing?"

Me: "Really good." *Smile* "How's your ______________?"

Tamika: said...

Those dreaded questions seems to always leave me feeling lame. Lame for trying to explain.

I'm learning to smile and say it's a long process and I'm just beginning.

Wendy Sparrow said...

It's frustrating to feel like you have to justify things in my opinion. It's as if saying you're a writer is the same as saying "I'm a gold medalist in literature." Plus, it is discouraging to admit defeat to so many people that actually do care. People that have read my stuff always tell me that I'm so good that it's just a matter of time. It's nice, but time turns out to matter a lot more than they'd ever guess and rejections sting-- a lot.

Jade said...

Yeah, my husband tells everyone as well. Whenever I go to one of his work events, everyone asks me about it. I usually mumble something lame. If they seem generally interested, I'll go into detail about how the industry works.
I'm sure my husband talks up my skill level though.

Mary said...

I told my brother that I was writing a YA fantasy and he got a strange smile on his face and asked "So what do young adults fantasize about?" like I was writing something dirty. Nope they don't get it.

sherrinda said...

Yep. People always want to know when and where they can buy my book! lol They have NO idea!

Bane of Anubis said...

I pretty much keep it on the down low -- my family knows about it, but most of them live on the opposite coast.

Rhiannon Hart said...

Oh my god I've had exactly the same conversations with people since I've been agented. I always end up feeling really lame. Ha!

Thomas Taylor said...

Oh dear, I get all this, and I really sympathise about that party. Because I'm already published (picture books) and have an agent, when people hear I'm writing a novel they usually say, "who for?" When I tell them that I'm writing it without a contract they can't believe it. "Can't you just take the idea to your last editor and start the millions rolling in now? Wouldn't that help? etc."

When they discover that despite being published, having an agent and blah blah, my first novel was still turned down, that's when they give me the you-must-be-a-dreadful-writer look. Which is always a joy to behold.

Jody Hedlund said...

I have a book coming out next year, and people STILL don't get it! They just don't understand what a difficult journey to publication is. And so many of my friends don't understand the whole agent thing either! But I patiently try to educate and explain the realities of the publishing world, but know it takes a writer to understand one.

VĂ©ro said...

I often get the "So I hear you're a writer, that's really cool." and I usually answer that I don't consider myself a writer until I manage to get something published. Then the response is usually something along the lines of "Oh, well I hear it's a tough industry to crack, so don't get your hopes up, k?" in a careful tone like they think they are crushing all of my dreams.

Janna Qualman said...

Those are hard conversations to have. I wish there was an easy way to convey the time and energy and trial&error it takes. In the end, though, no one cares as much as me (and other writers).

I really love [sarcasm] the conversations where they tell me what I should be writing. I've been given plots and details, been advised to publish (a whole book!) online, and pointed toward a full-blown project nothing - nothing! - like anything I write.

Hope the party's great. :)

MeganRebekah said...

My aunt was in town earlier this week, and of course my big-mouthed father had to tell her I was writing (as he's told every other person he comes across, much to my detriment) and I was pleasantly surprised to discover that she actually knew what an agent was, and understood that an agent is different from a publisher. Of course, she also thought I could just send in the first few chapters of a novel and if it was good enough, get a big fat check to write the rest... if only!!

Linda Kage said...

Sounds like I handle it pretty much like you do...set them straight with the lame-honest truth, making both parties disappointed.

But I wonder, what would happen if I went on with some elaborate lie and told them how well my books were selling, maybe say I had a pen name like Nora Roberts or something...would that be too evil?

Susan R. Mills said...

I've found that most people who don't write think getting a book published is easy. Like you just write the book and get it published. I always end up explaining the complicated world of publishing, but I still don't think they get it. That's why I love the blog community. It allows me to interact with people who do get it. Have fun at the party!

Voidwalker said...

That's funny. Yeah, I've had a few people do the same thing to me. I'm not quite finished with the book yet though, so I am the one feeling lame. I'm almost done, but that doesn't mean much to many people haha.

Anyway, just to let you know you've been awarded over at my blog. Come by and see when you get a sec. :)

Marybeth Poppins said...

OMG I just love the "I'm sure it will work out for you someday" comment. I get it every time because so far I don't even have an agent!!!

I feel ya here :)

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

LOL. I love your stories. Last night I ran into a friend I havent seen in years and he brought up my writing (saw my updates on FB) and his first question was "It's not about vampires right?" I had to laugh at that. Once I told him there were no vampires he had lots of questions, but I think he would have walked away if I said yes to vamps. lol.

Jennifer Shirk said...

LOL! It depends on who's asking. Sometimes it's just the nod and smile, though.
My mom still thinks Oprah is going to call me any day now. LOL

Candice said...

I have these conversations too, but I don't even have an agent yet! Little do people outside the publishing world know how cool it is that you have an agent!

kathrynjankowski said...

I foolishly told co-workers I'd won an iUniverse publishing package and now they keep asking where my book is! And when I explain that I passed on iUniverse to try traditional publishing and I'm not ready to query yet because I'm on my second draft and it really has to be perfect before I sent it out to agents . . . yeah, their eyes go blank.
;-)

L.T. Elliot said...

I think this is one of the hardest conversations. It's so hard to explain how long and difficult the process of publishing is to people who don't live it. Those major milestones we celebrate and love, they don't mean much to other people unless your book is already on a shelf.
Whatever the case, I'm thrilled for you! Keep it up!