Short Saturday: If You Love an Author … Don’t Say This

Not too long ago I wrote a post called “How to Love an Author”—about how to help an author you love when he or she has just published a book. This morning a friend of mine directed me to this article from the folks at Bethany House: “Ten Things You Shouldn’t Say to Authors.”

The list is spot on—

1. It must be so relaxing to have a job you can do on the side, at home.
2. So, you write novels like [Insert Famous Author Name]?
3. You mean people still read novels these days?
4. Let me tell you about my idea for a novel!
5. Are your books any good?
6. Since you’re just sitting at home writing …
7. Will you present my manuscript to your agent/publisher?
8. I only read real books, not [your type of book].
9. When will the book be on sale?
10. Why don’t you hurry up and write the next one? How hard can it be?

—and anyone who has ever admitted that she or he is a writer has had to contend with tone-deaf comments like these.

Some of them are so utterly rude they make me cringe. I work from home myself, have publicly admitted I am an editor, and have personally heard 1, 3, 4, 6, and 7—to which I would like to answer On the side from what? Every day. Only if you pay me. I can fit a quick cup of coffee in three weeks from today; now hang up and leave me alone. No. Sorry. (Not really.)—as well as the inevitable mashup of “I’d love to work from home in my sweats, and I like to read. How do I get in to your line of work? Can you give me some tips and introduce me to your network?” I won’t tell you how I’d like to respond to that one. :)

My friend—author Becky Melby—noted that she’d add two more things to this list:

11. When are you going to be on Oprah?
12. Are your books at the library? (Said at a book signing.)

If you’re a writer, I bet you’ve heard a few doozies yourself. If you’re not a writer but find yourself face-to-face with one, for the love of pete, please don’t say any of these things!

Tweet: So utterly rude they make me cringe: don’t say this to a writer.
Tweet: “Are your books at the library?” & other insensitive things writers hear.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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  1. Amy says:

    Let’s just say, I hear these SO often that I’m not going to share this post, to avoid offending the offenders. ;)

  2. Becky Melby says:

    Can I also add: “When are you going to be on the New York Times Bestseller List?” To which the snarky side of me wants to say, “When are you going to be Teacher/Plumber/Secretary of the Year?”

    • Jamie Chavez says:

      See, I think we SHOULD say these things—with a twinkle in the eye, of course. It would be (ahem) an education, but with a laugh. :)

  3. Sacha Black says:

    I also hate it when people that say ‘oh i’ve written a book too… yeah, I’m an author, whacked it on amazon so I did, its an ebook thing.’

    ‘thing’????? THING??????????

    Do you know how much that makes me want to gouge their eyes out? Having just finished the first draft of my novel, that believe you me, I bled, sweated and got finger blisters typing. ‘Just whacking it on amazon’ DOES NOT MAKE YOU A BLOODY AUTHOR.

    What’s wrong with these people, don’t they understand you’re meant to bleed for art? :p :p :p