Tuesday, September 03, 2019

Trials and tribulations

by Rick Blechta

I guess this week’s post might be of more interest to authors than non-authors, but I believe anyone might find my topic interesting.

Here it is in a nutshell: as an author, what is the most annoying thing you face? I’m not talking about the big-ticket items such as agents or publishers not getting back to you, having your novel’s title changed because of a “marketing decision”, or maybe being interviewed by someone who has not read your book or who has any idea who you are.

So, we’re talking about the more petty annoyances. Here are the top three on my hit list:
  • At a signing, being buttonholed by someone either telling you their life story or asking questions about how to get their novel published — but at the same time having no intention of purchasing your novel.
  • Someone you hardly know or maybe don’t even know asking you to introduce them to your agent/publisher, maybe even going so far as to ask you to recommend them.
  • Someone who tells you they have an amazing idea for a novel. “I’ll tell you my idea. You can write the novel and we’ll split the proceeds fifty-fifty!”

The first one on my list is the really sticky wicket, mainly because it takes place in public. It doesn’t take long for an author to spot these folks. The obvious solution is to tell them something like, “I’m signing right now. It’s not kind to make the folks behind you wait. Perhaps we can talk after the signing concludes.” Trouble is: what if there no one else in line?

I’m not by nature an unkind person, but there have been times where I’ve wanted to scream, “Look here! If you want advice, I'll give you advice! Just bugger off!” But I often wonder why these people never buy your novel.

The second one is very awkward. I’m not willing to risk my reputation recommending someone whose writing skill I don’t know, nor do I have sufficient time to invest in reading their manuscript. They don’t seem to realize it’s a pretty big request to make. My default is to tell them to contact either my agent or a publisher through the normal channels, then contact either of those and tell them what I’ve done and that I have no idea whether this person has anything usable on offer.

The last one is less fraught. I simply say, “I’m sorry but I can’t work like that. But I wish you great luck and may you make me regret my decision for the rest of eternity.”

So those are my top three. What are yours?

1 comment:

Susan D said...

About that 50-50 proposition. I heard about the perfect response from some writer (I forget who). You just say, "Oh, I have lots of ideas already. Why don't I give you one of mine, and YOU write it and we'll split the money."