How To Piss Off A Writer In 10 Easy Steps

by sjbgilmour

Don’t you just love these little lists?  I do.  In my dim-dark past when I used to write and publish newsletters (among other things) as part of my first job in the world of publishing, we used to call them perve lists, and every newsletter, every week had to have at least two of them.  Here’s mine on how to piss off a (self-pubbed) writer:

  1. Ask for free copies of my work.  Holey-moley, that annoys me.  I don’t care about the money I’d lose giving away the book.  Seriously, I don’t.  The thing that pisses me off about that request is that if you make that request, it’s clear you don’t fucking get it.  I need the sales through the legitimate channels to boost my rankings.  I need to see my title up on that all-important top 100 list.  If you’re really so tight you can’t afford my book, then maybe you can wait until there’s a freebie promotional period on Amazon, or be willing to write a review, in which case yes, you can have a free copy.
  2. Tell me about your great ideas for a book.  Dude, come on.  I’ve got more ideas for work than I know what to do with.  If your idea is so good, you write the fucking book.  Go ahead.  I hope it becomes a bestseller.  Good luck to you.
  3. Expect to interrupt my writing without a fucking good reason and live.  Writing’s not like putting together a Lego set.  You can’t just stop and start repeatedly and expect to be able to pick up exactly where you left off.   I need time – long chunks of uninterrupted time – to concentrate on what I’m doing.
  4. Tell me you’d like to write a novel one day when you have time.  Listen mate, I work too.  I have a family and a life as well.  You have the time already.  If you really wanted to write a novel, you’d be writing it.  I don’t know a single writer who can stop writing.  You either are or you aren’t.  You may become one, but that will happen when you have that urge to write that you can’t ignore.  Wanting to write “one day” just doesn’t cut the mustard.
  5. Make like what I do is easy.  Oh yeah?  Look, I love writing, which is a good thing because if I couldn’t do it, I’d go fucking postal and die.  And, it looks as though there’s a very real chance I’ll be able to ditch the day job some time in the next few years and work from home, turning what I love doing into a living.  BUT, please don’t think I just sit there at my screen, muck around on Facebook and watch porn.  Writing is tiring.  Editing is exhausting.  The read-through stage, where you read out-loud every word, is so physically and mentally draining, I need to boost my calorie intake while doing it.
  6. Tell me all about someone else’s book and how wonderful it is.  Mate, I’m glad your writer friend has you to spruik their work.  They sure are lucky.  Tell me, are you doing the same thing for me about my work?  Didn’t think so.
  7. Ask me when I’ll be a “real” writer and get published.  Oh fuck me.  I’ve got three novels out.  Four short stories.  People are buying them.  I’m not going to weigh into the debate of self-pub V trad-pub here.  It just shits me to tears that you think I need a trad-pub house taking a cut of my income to validate me or what I do.  I am a real writer.  I have fan mail and sales records to prove it.
  8. Ask me to “have a look” at your manuscript.  For free.  Umm…  NO!  If you want me to sub-edit, proof-read, line-edit, or assess it – and they are very different services by the way, and there’s a different rate for each (if you don’t know that, fuck off and do some research to find out why) – you can pay me.  Rates start at $0.50 per page, double-spaced, A4, Times New Roman font size 12.
  9. Ask me to review your work online.  Listen, putting a general post out there that you’d like some reviews is one thing, but asking me directly to read and review your book is another entirely.  It’s bad form.  Rude.  It makes me feel obliged to do so and that’s not something you want me to feel if you want anything nice said about your work at all.  Here’s how it really works.  If I have time and if your work is even remotely interesting to me (remember I’m a writer, so being narcissistic is part of my DNA and no, I’m not going to apologise for that,) I might read your work.  Since I’m not going to post reviews of books I think aren’t worth at least 4 stars, don’t get pissy if you don’t see my review out there once I’ve read it.
  10. Ask me for writing advice.  No, I’m not talking about the odd curly grammar or spelling pickle we all find ourselves in.  I’m talking about advice on how to pursue, hone or otherwise engage in the craft of writing.  Jesus.  I’m not a mentor.  Use you head.  Read a fucking style guide.  Get your work edited.  Get beta readers.  Get your work edited.  Pay a professional to do your cover art.  Get your work edited.  Get the message yet?  That’s all the advice I can give.  The rest is up to you.

There.  Now all that makes me sound like a complete and utter narcissistic asshole.  Well, duh. The narcissist bit should be obvious.  I’m a writer.  The asshole bit?  Well, I’m ticked off enough to write this post, so maybe it’s the rage talking.  Lovely day!  Toodle pip!

PS:  There are a few friends out there for whom I will gladly volunteer my time if they have anything they’ve written and think it’d benefit from me having a poke at it.  They know who they are and needn’t worry about ever paying me a damned thing.