I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Monday, February 20, 2012

Top 8 Ways to Make a Writer Cringe

By Teri Dawn Smith 

Alternate title:  Top eight questions a writer never wants to hear and the answers she’d really like to give, but doesn’t dare.

1. So why is it taking so long to get your book out? Answer: Have you never heard of rejections?

2. If you wrote 3,780 words yesterday, that’s only seven words a minute for an eight-hour day. Are you just a really slow typist? Answer: It’s not the typing, dummy. (Oops, sorry, that’s one of the words my mother wouldn’t allow me to say.) It’s the plotting, the hours of research, the rewriting, etc.

3. What do you mean you’re waiting to hear back from an agent? Just send me your manuscript by e-mail. I’d like to read it now. Answer: Are you willing to pay $14.99 for it?
4. To a contemporary romantic suspense writer: Maybe you could use my story of growing up in the depression in your book? Answer: I could if I wanted to do an elaborate back-story on the heroine’s grandmother.

5. So you wrote a novel? Why not get Bethany House to publish it? Answer: Refer to the answer of question #1.

6. What’s your book about? Answer: Authors go to seminars to learn how to answer that question. It’s not easy to condense your 80,000-word book into a sentence, but go ahead and ask this one since authors need the practice.

7. You wrote a book? So like now you’re gonna be famous…on TV talk shows and everything? Answer: I’ll be just about as famous as I was before, but if I was on talk shows before I wrote the book, an agent might pay attention when I first gave him my pitch.

8. You wrote a book? Wow, it must be nice to have all that money! Answer: Keep going back to that answer for number one…that’s what all aspiring authors do!

Yes, believe it or not, I’ve been asked all of these questions!

If you’re a writer, what wild questions have folks asked you? If not, what would you like to ask your favorite author?


  1. Brava. This is exactly what I needed on a Mon. morn., Teri. Well done, refreshing, and made me smile. You are definitely running on all cylinders.

  2. "When's your book going to be finished?" or "You're still working on that book?"

    Great post, Teri. I've had all those questions, too.

  3. Thanks, Dolores! Although not quite all cylinders yet...but at least some are firing up.

  4. Yes, Pat! Is a book ever really finished? There's always a change that could be made!

  5. Haha! Love it, Teri. What a refreshing post that speaks to the heart of every writer, I'm sure. Non-writers don't get it. They don't understand the time and energy that goes into writing a book.

    At a family reunion several years ago, a relative asked what I did now. I explained about my day job, and then said I was writing a book. She said, "Oh, anyone can write a book."

    I was so annoyed by her answer and vented halfway home to my husband. Once I took a breath, he calmly replied, "She's right, you know. Anyone can write a book."

    Before I could begin a new rant about him siding with her, he said, "BUT not everyone will get published."

    Oh the words of wisdom from my voice of reason....I will never forget his answer because he's absolutely right.

    Writers write because they simply can't imagine stopping. And we persevere because we long to see our books in print. God's timing is everything, and He will throw those doors wide open when He knows you're ready.

  6. Teri,I laughed at some of the questions and answers. :) They were great. I haven't braved telling lots of people I'm writing. One time, when I tried to explain what my book is about (very poorly, BTW), he said, "How depressing." Not quite what I wanted to hear. :)

    Thanks for the perspective and the chuckle. So good to see you posting here again. :)

  7. Teri, How refreshing!
    People always ask what I write. When I say contemporary christian romance, this expression almost always comes on their face. It conveys the look of "how frivolous". Awww well. I love romance and happy endings

    Alena T.

  8. Jeanne, I'm sure your story isn't depressing! But I'm glad you understand how I feel!

  9. Wow, Lisa, I can't believe the "anyone can write a book comment"! I really don't think it's true.

  10. Alena, We know that Christian romance doesn't have to be frivolous! Not when you have the Black Moment, the lie they believe and the truth that sets them free. I like to think that we simply portray God's truth through a story.

  11. Great post. My personal favorite..."Why don't you just self-publish?"

  12. Loved this!

    I've actually mostly received encouragement, but people assume my book will be out and ready to read sometime soon. Ha. Then I have to explain how I need an agent first, and that that STILL doesn't guarantee publication... I just think that a lot of non-writers don't understand the process. I definitely didn't before I immersed myself in this world.

  13. Hahahaha!! Thanks for the laugh this morning. You hit the nail on the head. Excellent!

  14. Glad to bring a smile, Donna!

  15. I get the same looks as Alena - or a horrified look as they picture Fabio on the cover, hair blowing, holding a half-naked woman on the top of a cliff overlooking a castle...

    But that's okay - love rules!

  16. I love it when I tell people I'm a writer and they say, "Oh, I want to write a book one day."
    I always want to say, "Let me know how that works out for you."
    They have no idea what the challenges are.

  17. Indeed, Beth, but look at you! I'm looking forward to reading your book real soon!

  18. Teri, thanks for the cheery beginning to my Monday morning! Your questions and answers are too funny. :-)

    Personally, I don't mind being asked questions about my writing. What's really awkward is getting a less than enthusiastic reaction to my answer.

    Person: What do you write?
    Me: I've written two Sci-Fi novels.
    Person looks shocked and concerned for my welfare: Oh. That's ... nice.

    That scenario happens often. Oh and recently, I had two short stories featured in a Chicken Soup for the Soul publication, which raised new questions from friends and family such as, "How much will you make in royalties?"

    To that question I say, "If only!" :-)

  19. This is both hilarious and sadly accurate! I'd love to print it out and hand to some of the people in my life. However, I really didn't want to know the actual figures for number 2. Really? Only seven words a minute?--and I write way less than 3,780 words a day. That was a little depressing. Still, so glad you wrote this post!

  20. Oh my gosh, Teri, that post is hilarious!!! You hit the questions and answers on the head! I'm so glad you are back firing on cylinders.

    Love you!

  21. Oh, I can echo so many of the comments so far - especially the skeptical "isn't that frivolous?" looks...Oh, I also love it when I'm telling someone I'm writing Christian fiction and they immediately say, "Oh, like Karen Kingsbury?" (Nothing at all against Karen K...I just get that question constantly!)

  22. I understand, Melissa. Karen Kingsbury seems to be the only Christian writer some folks have heard of. Great to read her books, but branching out some might widen their horizons.

  23. Angela, I'm so ridiculously happy about your stories in the Chicken Soup series!! And to think someone once told you to forget about writing!!!

  24. Bahahahah! This was brilliant! Thank you for a light hearted read today. I needed it after a hard day at work. :)