What You Probably Meant to Say To Us:
A Twitter-Inspired Etiquette Guide
Here we are, trapped behind our laptops, just trying to transmute our vast, disorganized thoughts into legible English. We haven’t been bothering anyone. In fact, if we think about it, we’ve actually been entertaining the public for the past couple centuries. We’ve churned out best sellers, inspired Hollywood films, and incited entire cultural movements.
And yet, we can’t seem to get societal approval for our creative routines. Huh.Welcome to life as a writer.
Recently, we took our frustration to the Twittersphere to expose the most irksome comments we’ve heard over the years using the hashtag#TenThingsNotToSayToAWriter. The result was painfully humorous and all too true.
And simply too good to restrict to Twitter.
So, we’ve repurposed our writerly pain and into an etiquette guide for individuals who seem confused about how to address a real live author. Writers, feel free to distribute this list of unnecessary comments (and their preferred counterparts) to friends and acquaintances who just don’t get it.
We aren’t really sure what about writing doesn’t constitute work in the mainstreamer’s mind, but we are getting tired of being asked about our “real” jobs.
What you probably meant to say: “Tell me about your latest writing project!”
There’s no way our first drafts are perfect—we knew that before we asked you to be a beta-reader! We don’t expect a full copyedit, line edit, and proofread—we’ll get the paid professionals to do that. We just want your honest thoughts from a potential consumer’s perspective.
Instead, try answering these questions: Is the dialogue convincing? At what point (if any) did you lose interest in the storyline? What questions did you have about the main character while reading? Were there any gaps in the plot?
You’re right, “reading” and “writing” ARE synonyms. The process is exactly the same. Likewise, haven’t you heard it isn’t polite to make everything about yourself?
Next time try: “I know you do a lot of writing—how did you decide to publish your most recent project?”
Sure, sometimes we glean character ideas from our surroundings, but it’s not a given. Don’t assume we are writing about ourselves, and for the love of all that is good and holy, do not assume we are writing about YOU either.
This conversation starter might be better received: “Where did you get your inspiration for your latest project?”
Absolutely, and we will just continue our lives as starving artists.
Keep in mind we writers spend months upon years polishing our manuscripts. While it’s not every author’s goal to make millions, it would be nice to turn a profit on all our hard work.
What you probably meant to say: “Where can I buy a copy of your new release?”
Thanks for having our back, but that’s not necessarily the type of writing we do. Unless we’ve been vocal about our need for additional work, it’s best to assume we are devoted to the projects we’re already undertaking.
Before you offer us a side job, ask us: “What’s your genre and ideal audience?”
We don’t have to defend our decision to self-publish—we know traditional publishing is no longer the only route to success, and we are confident in our choice! Self-publishing is not just a “start” but a means to an end—spreading our mission and message.
Next time, try saying: “Tell me about your self-publishing process! What are the challenges and benefits?”
We appreciate you taking the time to read and rate our books! But a three-star review might be doing us more harm than good. Prospective readers are scanning for the next best read, so if you genuinely loved our book as you claimed, go ahead and show your enthusiasm with a five-star review!
Tell your favorite author this instead: “I rated your book on Amazon! Where else can I write a reader review?
We aren’t going to lie—sometimes we do sit back and write beautiful things. But these moments are wedged between weeks of writers block, the toils of re-writing, and agonizing over how to sell our brainchild.
We suggest you ask: “What’s the daily life of an author really like? Tell me about your process!”
We LOVE that you read the gritty innards of our book and absorbed our message—that’s our ultimate goal! But we would love it even more if you remembered our titles so you could recommend it to your friends (or even enemies). Word-of-mouth is the most affordable marketing, people!
Next time, try: “I keep a copy of Why We Ink on my bedside table at all times because it offers me daily inspiration!”
We’re guessing all these underhanded comments just “came out wrong.” Don’t worry, friends and family—we understood what you really meant.
Readers, what were some of your favorite #TenThingsNotToSayToAWriter? Let us know in the comment section below!
The post What You Probably Meant to Say To Us: A Twitter-Inspired Etiquette Guide can be found on the Wise Ink Blog.
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