28 Sep

Publishing According to Non-Writers

I truly had a marvelously comical thing happen to me the other day.

It was last hour and I was sitting in class talking to a friend of mine. I haven’t known this girl very long. We officially met last year, but only really started talking this year and getting to know each other.

We were talking in class and she mentioned something I’d posted on Facebook (what exactly it was, I can’t remember now) and she said: “Your status made me laugh so hard, Grace, you should really just become an author; I would read all of your work.”

I looked at her for a moment. Blinked. And started laughing.

Now all of my close friends know I write. They’ve been around my craziness too much to not have figured out that the imaginary friends in my head are what cause my insanity, but this girl knew nothing of my writing.

This isn’t the first time I’ve gotten a comment like this. English teachers have suggested it, classmates have mused about it, but I always find it funny how easy it sounds when non-writers say it.

Not too long ago I had some classmates figure out that I’m an aspiring novelist. One of them asked what my novel was about and I gave them a watered-down premise.

“Sounds cool,” one of them said. “You should publish it.”

This picture amuses me. It's what happens when you type in "author" into ClipArt. If only we all looked this epic while writing.

This picture amuses me. It’s what happens when you type in “author” into ClipArt. If only we all looked this epic while writing.

If only it were that easy.

About a month and a half later this same classmate came up to me. “Hey, Grace, have you gotten that book published yet?”

I just stared at him, wondering if he seriously thought a book could be published in such a short amount of time and if he really thought it was that easy. Apparently he did. I bit back the sarcastic remark of  “really swell actually, I’ve been on the New York Times best-seller list for a few weeks now, haven’t you noticed?” and just settled for “not yet. Still workin’ on it.”

As some non-writers see it, getting a book published is probably sort of easy, right? I mean James Patterson gets like three books a year published, doesn’t he? I mean if your book’s good there should be lots of people who want to publish it, I mean, I know I’d buy it.

This never fails to entertain me.

When people who don’t know about my writing comment on my writing ability, it’s always flattering but often a bit humorous.

So when my friend told me “you should just become an author. I would read all your work.” I gave a sincere smile tinted with a bit of wry amusement, looked at her and said:

“Ah, thanks. I’ll be sure to get right on that.”


Little Lady out 😉


  • Grace, I got a kick out of this! And yes, I’ve been there, too. But not in a LONG time, because now I only hang out with Writer-Friends, and friends who truly understand about my writing! LOL
    Years ago after someone knew I was a writer, the question that used to bother me the most was, “Oh! What books have you written?” And at least at that time I could say, “None yet, but I’ve had a couple of stories published in Chicken Soup for the Soul books.” Some people would be impressed by that, and others just acted disappointed!
    Oh well….I guess no one really knows what other people go through when they’re “performing” or “working” on their passion. You’re sweet to just answer politely, although inside you know what you’d LIKE to say!

  • And then if you begin a feeble attempt to explain the publishing world’s intricacies, that it’s not like what people think, and it’s definitely not like it used to be, their eyes start to glaze over. I can’t really blame them on that one. Mine do too sometimes. 😉

    • Haha last year in my Public Speaking class I had to give a speech using visual aides so I talked about the publishing process and used all sorts of fancy pie charts to depict the number of people who query agents vs. the number of people that actually get offers of representation. Everyone in my class was like O.O “well how do any books ever get published then?” and I was like “exactly”.

  • At least she didn’t say: your Facebook statuses are so dumb–don’t ever consider being a writer. 😉 LOL

    I also have to say that these people talking to you are at least in high school with you and not adults who should know NOTHING is easy. One of my friend’s husbands used to ask me that all the time: Got any books published yet? Still writing books?

    Umm no, ummm yes.

    I try really hard not to ask other professions stupid questions, but I bet I do.

    • Haha, I bet I do too. And yes, at least these kids are in high school, I at least have that to be thankful for. Hopefully they’ll learn…

  • You’re sweet, Grace. Just smile and nod.
    I’d hand them my card and say, “Oh, I’d love to have your reactions to my work! There is a list of my publications on my website.” Then just wait to see if they ever respond. Most won’t. (Of course, that is, if I ever get my website up and running …)

  • Scary thing is, any yahoo with a manuscript can “publish” work on any POD website or e-publish with little effort. When people learn THAT, then they really seem confused that you haven’t self-published. Yet, one of the reasons self-publishing has a bad rep and is hard to succeed with is that so many bad books get out there in the field without enough editing/revision. People generalize that all SP books are bad. Just like any other field, you simply don’t understand the difficulties and complexities of success – the difference between mere publishing and selling a lot of books – until you’ve been in the trenches for a few years. Good luck and keep up the good fight!

  • Thanks for all the comments, everyone. That’s why I love building relationships with other writers, they know how hard it is out there and they don’t judge others writers for it 😉 I love celebrating writing victories with other writers no matter how “small”. Keep writing everyone, keep submitting, and I’ll keep rooting for you 😉

  • I love this…now that I am published I get “So how are book sales?” “Best seller yet?” “When’s the next one coming out?” It was a long road to get published and it’s a long road to get noticed :)

    *sidetrack* I just received an e-mail from James Patterson – tiltle “Who wants to win a 55” Ultra HD TV?” Obviously not the James Patterson I was thinking of :)

  • Yes. Just yesterday I had a neighbor ask me, “Are you published?” And then she proceeded to tell me about a few people she knew who are published either self-published or through a local press here in town. I think your work is amazing and you will definitely get it out there when the time’s right. I’ve started an area on my book shelf of people I know who have been published and it just keeps growing!!

So, what do you think?