5 Obnoxious Questions People Ask Writers

Today, I have a guest post from the wonderful Sarah E. Boucher, we met through Twitter, and have regular chats about all things writerly. She has two books, Midnight Sisters and Becoming Beauty, both twisted fairytale retellings. I can’t wait to read them.

If you fancy a proper giggle, you have to read this. So without further ado, over to Sarah.

People make weird comments to writers. It’s like we’re this second class of humans that should be caged and only occasionally fed on schmancy words and diet royalties. I’ve selected the best (or most abhorrent) questions I’ve been asked by non-writers. (By the way, shouldn’t we develop a proper name for non-writer folk? Like Muggles, but less magicky and more writerly? I’m going to work on that!)

The 5 Most Obnoxious Questions People Ask Writers

1) Can I get your book for free? 

What we want to say: If by FREE you mean you will trade paper or plastic money for one of my books, then YES. Because it turns out this nice slim volume actually cost me time, money, and more emotional damage than you can probably comprehend. So just pony up the cash already!

What we actually say: I’ll be holding a giveaway on such-and-such a date! Follow me online for details! Also, my books are available in eBook for (whatever the price is)! And I’m running such-and-such a deal RIGHT NOW!

Moral: It turns out writers need to be salesmen. I didn’t see that coming when I penned my first novel.

2) I’m writing an awesome book! Mind if I send it to you?

What we want to say: Um, that’s really kind of you to offer me your crappy novel, but it turns out my time is at a premium. When I swap favors with other writers and/or readers, I sacrifice some of my writing time to help them and they do the same for me. I only do that for people I really really like. So, sorry, but no. I don’t actually like you that much. Also, your book is probably crap.

What we actually say: I have a wonderful editor friend who would love to take a look at your novel! Her prices are very affordable and she’s excellent at helping young writers move through the editing process. Let me give you her contact information . . .

Moral: If you send newbies to an editor, they’ll stop bugging you. Either because they’re ready to move forward or basically they can’t afford an editor. Basically win-win!

Image from Amazon

3) Do you think you’ll ever write something original?

What we want to say: Well, Sweet Pea, it turns out NOTHING is original. We’re all influenced by the environment around us. Take those leggings you’re wearing as pants, Honey. You think that’s original? Nope. Some psycho thought, “Here’s a way to make plumpy girls look plumpier! Stretch a loud pattern right across their . . .” Whatever. Nothing is actually original. So, do you wanna buy my book or not?

What we actually say: I’m working on several story ideas at present. Stay tuned! There’s sure to be something you will love!

Moral: Biting your tongue is something writers learn to do early on. Because we’d like to sell books! Also it’s much more satisfying to murder them in fiction later.

4) I have this great idea for a novel! How about if you help me write it?

What we want to say: If you can get the voices in my head to shut up long enough to listen to the voices in your head, then go right ahead. But you can’t. So don’t even try. They basically run my life at this point. I’m like a glorified schizophrenic. Incidentally, do you wanna hear about the 17 plots playing out in my mind right now?

What we actually say: I always enjoy connecting with other writers and readers! Feel free to connect with me online!

Moral: We keep the crazy under wraps, because non-writerly folk do not understand. They’ll just tell us we need therapy, medication, or a new hobby. (Do your best not to grind your teeth when they mention that last one.)

5) Why don’t you quit writing? It seems really stressful.

What we want to say: Ohmigosh I wish it was that simple! But an entire cast of characters have taken up residence in my brain. And they are all clamoring for attention. Also, it turns out I like writing! I know, SHOCKER! Would you stop doing something that makes you feel amazing just because the process gets a little difficult? And, you know they pay me for it right? Even if it’s only enough to get the occasional pedicure, I’d rather give YOU up than my writing career. So go. Now. Unless you want to pay for my next pedicure.

What we actually say: It’s true that it sucks at times, but it’s amazing to create new worlds and change the way readers think. That’s worth all the trauma that writing, publishing, and promotion can bring to my life.

Image from Amazon

Moral: It’s important to know why you want to be a writer. Not only will it keep you firmly on the path but you will have to rationalize your decisions to idiots.

Bonus Bonehead Statement:

6) I’m writing this epic series of books, but I don’t read books.

What we want to say: DUH. What is wrong with you? How will you have any idea what people will want to read if you don’t pick up a book? Do you think they all just want to live in your fancy fairy world for funsies? Maybe you should pick up a book that has actually been published. Just to see what kids are actually reading these days.

What we actually say: [Sorry. There’s no script for this one, friends. If a dude pulls this out on your first date—ahem, yes that happened—just smile and nod and change the subject as quickly as possible. Also make a mental note to never look for his books on bookshelves. Because they either won’t be there or they’ll be sporting a cover across between Harlequin’s ripped bodices and Dungeons and Dragons.]

Moral: There is no cure for stupidity. But you can always humor idiots. Or at least smile and be pleasant so they will buy your book

Dear friends:

Should you choose the writer life, obnoxious comments are sure to come your way. Just remember to smile, nod, and leave a good impression. (Later on you can blog about it or add it to one of your novels.) At the end of the day, it’s all about selling books and reaching new readers!



About the Author:

Sarah E. Boucher is a lover of fairy stories, romance, anything BBC and Marvel, and really, really cute shoes. On weekdays she wears respectable shoes and serves as Miss B., the Queen of Kindergarten. On school holidays she writes stories about romance and adventure. And wears impractical super cute shoes.

Sarah is a graduate of Brigham Young University. She lives and works in northern Utah. Midnight Sisters is her second novel. Visit Sarah at SarahEBoucher.com or connect with her on TwitterFacebookInstagramPinterest, Amazon, or Goodreads.

Blurb for Midnight Sisters:

Do not meddle with the Master’s daughters.

The words rattled around Jonas’s head. What was the punishment again? Death? Dismemberment? Jonas, the newest addition to the gardening staff, couldn’t recall the exact penalty for breaking the rule. What does it matter anyway? He would never dream of meddling with the Earl of Bromhurst’s haughty daughters.

Until he comes face to face with Lady Ariela, the eldest of the Master’s daughters.

Her elusive smile and open manner cause him to question his convictions. In no time, he’s drawn into Lady Ariela’s world of mystery and intrigue, a world where she and her sisters will do anything—including leaving twelve empty beds at midnight—to escape their father’s strict rules.

Only Jonas can uncover the truth and save them from their father’s wrath and their own folly, if he is willing to risk everything he’s ever worked for.

Book links:

Midnight sisters is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions.

Becoming Beauty, a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Find Becoming Beauty on AmazonBarnes & Noblebooks & thingsiTunes, and Goodreads.



        1. Colleen Cheesebro? I didn’t know she was an editor. Ahh, I feel your pain Marje, I thought I was on the final run for Keepers, I ended up re writing the first 10,000 words. Super painful, and means theres still a long road ahead.

  1. Love those responses. I’ve heard all of those, but never got that extra part of #5. It’s usually a ‘when are you going to get a real job?’ thing. Have you ever gotten the ‘I don’t really like the kind of books you write, so will you write anything in *insert genre*? Been getting stuff like that for years.

      1. I got the ‘I don’t read fantasy’ comments a lot. Those I got used to, but then it seemed like people thought they could make requests. Sometimes it happened in response to me saying sales weren’t doing well and the suggestion was to copy the popular franchises. Apparently, the world craves another Harry Potter/50 Shades/Game of Thrones/etc. instead of anything different. Yet, I also get that originality question, so I’m just baffled.

  2. The first one is painfully familiar. I’ve had ‘Could you bring a copy next time we meet and I’ll buy it from you.’ When you know full well they have no intention of buying it from you. They think you’ll hand it over for nothing!

  3. Ha! Okay, I loved this and enjoyed it immensely, perhaps a little too much. Thank you Sacha for introducing me to Sarah! I love fairytale retellings, and I’m definitely intrigued by her books, voice, and style.

  4. I had a good time reading this post. I couldn’t help it. I had to write a response to each question.

    I’ve had one person ask me for a free copy. It was on a first date. We never dated again and she never got her free copy.

    My answer to this question is always the same and might not be possible for most states. California has the second oldest writing club in the country that was started by Jack London and friends in Berkeley, California more than a century ago. I say, “Sorry, I don’t have the time to read all the books people ask me to read so I say no to everyone, but I can suggest a great club I belonged to for more than a decade that offers great help for writers. Then I give them the Website address for the California Writers Club. “It’s a big club,” I say. “There are 18 branches with about 2,000 members.” I never hear from them again. http://calwriters.org/

    No one has asked me #3 yet. I’m waiting, This will probably be my answer: “Every person is original because no one else has walked the path they have walked through life, and if they write from that experience, then the work is always original. If they are a hack who writes only for fame and fortune, the books will probably be crappie and unoriginal.”

    Yes I have been asked this one. I say, “No, I have more to write than I have time for and I don’t work well with others when it comes to what I write .I have no problem with BETA readers telling me what they think about a work in progress, but not cowriters. I’m a loner for a reason. I have combat PTSD and sleep with loaded firearms.”

    I say, “I can’t quit. If I tried, I’d leave claw marks on my walls. I’d end up shooting myself or someone else like someone who asks me this question. Writing is an addiction worse than sugar and heroin and once you are addicted, you have to write to feed the beast and you have to write what’s in your head even if the books never sell.”

    And I’ve heard #6 too. I avoid eye contact, change the topic, and never talk to that person again if I can avoid them.

    1. Lol, you’re polite, much politer than me!

      Sorry about your PTSD too, such a debilitating illness at times. I hope the vets are helping?

      Totally agree about writing being an addiction, and the worse I’ve ever known too!

      1. I wonder if the writing addiction damages our health and shortens our life, or we live longer because we have to write another book and death has to wait until it’s done but then it’s never done so writers live forever.

  5. Ha ha ha. I giggled throughout this. Too funny, Sarah. I was way too nice at the beginning of this writerly process. Now, I’m tough but tactful. A lesson we all must learn, it seems. Loved the post. 🙂

  6. The majority of authors I know do read a lot, but I also know a small minority who don’t. Usually because ‘they don’t have time’.
    Kind of like, ‘I want to be a ballerina, but I really don’t have time to practice’.

  7. Ha, that’s the spirit, Sarah, keep encouraging those daft questions and turning them into entertaining blog posts. Thanks for raising a smile on this rainy day in England.

  8. I’m feeling the love, people! Thanks for letting me invade your blog, Sacha! Is it bad to admit that I crack myself up sometimes too? I’d forgotten about half of this post before it went live. And your graphic is BRILLIANT, Sacha! ?

  9. OMG such a fabulous 5! Yes, sales time cutting into writing time sucks and wasn’t considered. And don’t you just love our friends and loved ones needling us, asking why we write because it takes up all of our time and is stressful. Thank goodness for writing friends, nobody else understands us! 🙂 <3

  10. I’ve seen it at author meet-and-greets. Can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to this when I get my little diddy out there–brays like a donkey.

  11. Hello Sacha, Yes, I have had to listen to several of those inquires by strangers and family! Your “I-wish-I-could-say” responses are great. Most often, I hear, “why do you write?” and I would like to say, [to them] “because I fell on my head as a baby and I have been this way ever since.” I actually did say that one time. The response was, “Oh, I am so sorry!” and I responded with,”Yes, I am probably disabled”…and she bought 2 books! 🙂

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