Friday, June 17, 2016

25 Things People Say to Writers—And How We’d Like to Reply

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

Below is my list of comments I’ve received over the past years since I’ve admitted to being a writer. 

In the parenthesis after each comment is what I wish I could have said. 

I’m happy to report I’ve not given in to the temptation…yet.

1. Aren’t you published yet? (I really don’t have the space here to get into this. I usually just do a mental eye-roll.)

2. Can I give you a call so you can tell me how to get published. (Sure, it’s so easy I can cover it in a phone conversation.)

3. 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…)

4. I just wrote a book, can you contact your publisher/agent for me? (I could, but you really wouldn’t like what I had to say about you.)

5. Why don’t you take the day off, it’s not like you work for a living. (unprintable reply)

6. Can I read your manuscript? (Like I don’t have enough stress in my life already)

7. 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.)

8. Anyone can write a book, what else do you do? (see number 6)

You should get that published.
9. You should get that published. (Really? Like I hadn’t thought of that.)

10. 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.)

11. Aren’t you finished with that yet? (Of course I am, I just decided not to try to get it published.)

12. I hate reading, it’s such a waste of time. (unprintable reply)

13. Have you ever written anything I might have read? (Yes, if morons could read.)

14. Will you read my manuscript? (*Screaming and running in the other direction*)

15. Are you still doing that writing thing? (Believe me, if I could quit, I would.)

When can I get your book for free?
16. When can I get your book for free? (What part of “I do this for a living” do you not understand?)

17. Can you edit/write my essay for me? (I write commercially, not academically. There is a difference, and I could probably guarantee you a failing grade.)

18. Will you make me a character? (Only if I can kill you.)

19. What do you do with all your spare time? (In the vein of number 17, why don’t you come over and find out…)

20. My book doesn’t need editing, my high school English teacher went through it for me. (There are some teachers who know about writing commercially, but they are in the minority.)

21. Writing, can you make a living at that? (Well, theoretically you can.)

I thought you were a real writer.
22. I thought you were a real writer, these are just magazine articles (or blogs or devotions or any number of other things). (Yeah, they pay me and give me deadlines because they don’t have anything better to do.)

23. Why don’t you take me to lunch, I know all authors are rich and famous. (Obviously you don’t know any other authors. Most laborers in third-world countries make more per hour than authors.

24. Writing, it must be nice to make so much money for not doing anything. (Yep, I lay around all day watching TV and eating bonbons.)

25. My book is perfect just the way it is. God gave me every word and I’m not changing a thing. (Let me know how that turns out for you.)

These really are things I’ve heard more than once. I used to get frustrated or try to educate those I spoke with. Now I just keep a list. Well, actually I keep two. 
  • One, of all the stupid things people say to writers. 
  • Two, character sketches of those I can add to my stories. (Never underestimate the ability of writers to get even.) 

I’d love to know what folks have said to you. Be sure to add your thoughts in the comments section below.

Don’t forget to join the conversation!

25 Things people say to writers - and how we'd like to reply! @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

Some of the worst things said to writers - @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)


  1. I have heard many of these. Thanks for the giggles.

  2. Thanks for the laughs. I needed them. Have a blessed weekend.

  3. I've heard many of these myself, and I've concluded that there's no good response to them--at least none that a non-writer would understand. If you can't laugh at them, you'll cry.

    1. Dennis, that's why we writers sometimes have to have a safe place to share! Blessings, E

  4. Have heard this more than once: "I heard YOU were writing now. When did THAT start? (Second grade. Haven't you started yet?)

  5. You hit the nail on the head, Edie. But you’ve got to laugh. Besides, one of these “people” might wander into your book!

    1. Marjorie, yes, they definitely appear in my books. (hopefully unrecognizable to anyone but me) Blessings, E

  6. Oh yes, yes, yes! Sometimes we just don't know what we don't know.

  7. Hahahahehehe. Love! That's all I have to say. :-)

    1. It is fun to laugh! Can you image how weird we writers appear to the normals of this world? LOL!

  8. I think I've been asked or told a variation of all of these, lol. But I think the one I hear the most--you ought to write a book on my life. It'd be a best seller.

    1. Oh Pat, you're right - I've got to add that one to the list! thanks, E

  9. A good friend said to me, "I'm impressed at what your doing. The rest of us just talked about doing stuff, but your doing it." She was sincere, I didn't realize how much I needed to hear those words until I heard them. Most the time I avoid mentioning my website problems, podcast I'm recording and my upcoming speaking engagement because I know they don't understand how these things take up take so much of my time.

    1. Jennifer, I'm glad you brought that up. I have many non-writing friends who are very supportive! They definitely deserve our kudos! (I think I feel another blog post coming on. LOL!) Blessings, E

  10. The one that gets under my skin is, "Hey, you should write a story about..." I smile and say, "Hmm, that would be interesting." In my head I'm saying, "Why don't *you* write it if you're so full of brilliant ideas?"

    Thanks for this list! Truly cringe-worthy and wonderful.

  11. Dear Edie,

    This pushed all my buttons and made them buzz out of control. I've heard most of them and #25 sent me through the roof. When I hear that one I really want to punch someone in the face. In Christian love of course.

    Super blog. Thank you.



  12. Uninformed person: What do you do?
    Me: I'm a writer.
    Uninformed person: Besides that, what do you do? For a living?
    Me: I write. That's what I do.
    Uninformed person: So you make a lot of money just writing?
    Me: I didn't say that. But writing is what I do.
    Uninformed person: Wow. Writers must make a lot of money then.
    Me: Aha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-
    ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! (while running away.)

  13. Ah yes, Edie. So familiar. But you didn't give us real answers! Some are really funny. Some are just stupid. I usually think to myself - 'you're so clueless. '
    Another I've been asked - "How's your book going?" I don't know how to answer that without saying, "Which book?" (in my mind - the one I'm writing, the one I'm editing, the one I'm researching, or the one I just published?)

    1. Yes, I get this...I usually answer "I'm working on a few, at the moment."

    2. I just say, "Good. It's going good." Haha!

  14. but... but... you'll read MY manuscript, though, right?? 'cause you love me like that!! hahahahah
    best part of this post is your (responses) especially the unprintable replies!!

  15. Great post and I've heard a few of them over the years. Gotta laugh!

  16. Great post! Laughter is good medicine and I think reading this has cured my migraine. I can identify with so many of the comments you have listed. Especially #11. I love your responses. Lol.

  17. Number 12 and then they ask you if you watched the latest episode of something...

  18. Good stuff! How about "Are you a best selling author yet?" and "How many books have you sold?"

  19. "Do you know (such-and-such)?"--like all writers know other writers. I used to get the same thing when I was practicing medicine, since the greater Dallas area only has a few doctors. : )

  20. Love this. #9 Oh hey, can you do that? #23. My sister told me what she makes to sew intricate quilts. I said, "you're making less than someone working at McDonald's but at least you're making more than most writers." (My laughter is mixed with tears).

  21. Oh, did you ever hit the nail in the head. You've not only exposed the truth but provided something every writer needs, comic relief. :)

  22. Thanks for the laughs, These questions are so true. I've heard a few of them. The general public (non-writers) have no clue how much work writing is and how little we make doing it. My writing is more of a tax write-off than an income because I spend more than I make (I self-publish - so far). It's a good thing I love doing it!

  23. The one that is cringe-worthy for me is the person who just has to have a copy of your book, and when you tell him or her how they can purchase it (speaking nicely), he or she rolls her eyes, "What? You don't have extra copies that you can give me?" One such dear soul asked for all of my books. Folks have no idea how long it takes to create a novel and what it transfers into in negative income. :-) Except for those of us who dictate to our assistants while sitting by the pool somewhere in the Mediterranean. Okay--authors will understand that as sarcasm. If you thought it was real, Edie just wrote about you.

  24. I especially like, "I could be a writer and write books, but I just don't have time." (So you're saying I have nothing else to do and have no life so therefore I can be a writer, unlike you, who have many more valuable things to do with your time.)

  25. It's horrible but I recognize most of it. One wasn't there: This guy who asked me why I went on writing on my series when I didn't know if the first book would be a success. 'No of course I should do nothing in the meantime and write the sequence when the first was a hit.'

  26. LOL! Thanks for the fun post, Edie! My favorite is #16, for sure. Pay for books, please!

  27. I've had several people after learning I write books brag on the fact that they refuse to pay for any books. 3 people so far. Kind of a conversation killer. "What do you do? Oh, that? I refuse to patronize you people. I'm proud of doing my part in making sure all of your businesses fail." I just usually blink and wait for them to change the conversation after they realize my lips are clamped quite tightly.