Friday, July 29, 2011

Thought for the Day

Just because friends, family, and coworkers tell you to write a book doesn't mean it's a book that should be published.

38 comments:

Donna K. Weaver said...

Ow! Brutal but true.

wry wryter said...

Just because friends, family and coworkers tell you to go out with the guy, or marry the guy or have a baby, or take the job or quit the job or gain weight, lose weight or jump off a bridge means you should.
If they tell you to use sunscreen listen, you definitely should use sunscreen.

Martin Willoughby said...

Or my favourite: "If a blind woman tells you you're a great looking man, it's not wise to act that way."

Rebecca Kiel said...

True. And just because your friends tell you that you should write a book doesn't mean you should put that in your query.

steeleweed said...

...unless you have a HUGE family, millions of close friends and coworkers... :-)

On the other hand, there have been great books that didn't sell.

Fawn Neun said...

My experience is that, when family members tell you to write a book, it usually means that they're tired of listening to your boring war stories and want you to go bother other people with them for once.

lynnrush said...

Totally!

Stacy S. Jensen said...

I saw this and thought: This is why I love your blog. Love this. Short and to the point.

Phil Hall said...

If every writer listened to that logic, you'd be out of a job, wouldn't you?

Joel Q Aaron said...

But my mommy likes my writing. :-)

Todd Smith said...

I wonder how many great writers started their careers because of family suggestions.

kris underwood said...

Honest and true-simple advice

Anonymous said...

I love this blog but I'm not a fan of this post. I find it insulting and harmful to budding writers. I realize you take a lot of crap from us but we are not all that way. Some of us are readers of your blog and fans of your agency. Focus on those of us who care, not the assholes.

Mint Kang said...

Truth hurts! A book that only a few people want to read may be a great book, but it's the size of the readership and not the innate greatness that gets it published. Money maketh the world go round...

Anonymous said...

dream killer

Laura said...

I don't find this post offensive at all. BookEnds didn't say that the book shouldn't be WRITTEN, the author simply said that "it doesn't mean it's a book that should be PUBLISHED." Heck, ALL authors have books that shouldn't be (and AREN'T) published. It's part of our process, isn't it?

Laila Knight said...

Hmm, I translate that into, "wean out the crap and publish the best." :)

Jen Daiker said...

The saying was funny but the comments were funnier.

Phil Hall said...

Every author starts out because someone near and dear to them said something like "Wow! This is good! You should try to get it published!"

If every wannabe felt the way BookEnds' post was, there would be no new books, period; and all the agents/agencies would be out looking for a different line of work.

I'm not saying the post is insulting, what I'm saying is that if it weren't for the n00bs, there would be only a handful of old, established authors, and no need for the whole system that has grown up around the publishing business--not to mention probably only one publisher.

I guess my total opinion is this: although off-the-cuff, and possibly thought of as thought-provoking, or potentially funny or true, it can come across as yet another mindless barrier to entry that all aspiring authors have to get through when the whole business ought to be moving toward more openness and ease of access. Throwing new authors under the bus like that from the get-go really shouldn't be done and does have a big smack of "you're not worthy."

Nicole said...

*snortle*

Bookish said...

If I had a nickel for every time someone said, "You should write a book on..."

Kate Douglas said...

On the other hand, if one more person, on finding out I'm published, says, "I'm gonna write a book one of these days," I just might scream. My answer is always the same--then do it. Don't just talk about it.

Writers write. Not because Mama said we should or Aunt Betty likes our funny poems. We write because we really don't have a choice. Publication? It happens or not, but if you're meant to write, nothing can stop you.

wry wryter said...

Jeez...some anons are sooo serious. If your dream is to write the damn book, write it. If your dream is to write it and get it published, oops talking to myself again.

Debra Lynn Lazar said...

Many people who find out I'm a writer tell me writing a book is one of their greatest dreams. I tell them they should write a book if that's what they want to do, but to realize there's a big difference between writing a book and getting it published.

Virginia Llorca said...

@Steelewood. On the other hand there have been horrible books that have sold like hotcakes.

@ Phil Hall. Every author does not start out like that. But I do agree with you.

@Everyone. Let's let the sales figures speak to us. But let's let it be like the Bible, open to interpretation.

Laura W. said...

OUCH.

While I laughed/winced at this post, I think some of the anons have a point. Just because your family told you to write a book doesn't mean you should publish it, true. But I don't think you should discount what a great support system family and friends can be for a writer's self esteem, whether they're looking to be published or not. I realize that while you didn't say that, it is the natural implication a lot of people will take from this post.

Makes me glad I am not dependent on my family for self-esteem/ambition/goals/dreams :P

Aimee L. Salter said...

*Snort* To which I might add "And if that's your bar for success in publishing, you may wish to aim a little higher."

Kristin Laughtin said...

Probably true in most cases. You have to get in the mindset of accepting your friends' and family's support without letting it blind you to any weaknesses in your writing. Your friends and family are biased.

Sara said...

and just because one agent says "thanks, but no thanks." doesn't mean that they all will.

The biz is subjective.

I feel two ways about this post.

1 - As with anything…just because you can doesn't mean you should, or will.

2 - Writers deal with the "am I crazy" thoughts often enough. It's very easy to read a post like this and let it destroy all hope.

Unfortunately, too many people respond badly to rejection. Just because everyone you currently respect loves your book, doesn't mean that it's commercial enough to sell. For writers it's a labor of love. For everyone else, I dare say, it's either artistic appreciation or a business decision. Just because you love your creation, doesn't mean that everyone else will. It's a hard truth to learn, but it is the truth.

Laurie Muench said...

Bugger, is that my problem

tamarapaulin said...

This gives me an idea. When I'm tired of hearing about the same old problems from someone, I'm going to suggest they write it into a book! And then, before the manuscript is finished, I shall move to another town.

Phil Hall said...

I'm sorry, but a few here mentioned the subjectivity of the biz, and I have to correct you: that's not true. It's very objective--it's all about one thing "can it sell." I.E.: Marketability. More than once on several blogs from agents have I seen a post similar to "this great manuscript crossed my desk, but I had no idea how to sell it, so I had to pass. :("

That's the key. In order to be published, you MUST have something that they can sell to the publisher or you're out in the cold. It has nothing to do with whether or not the agent likes it, it is entirely about if they can sell it.

Zero subjectivity, fully objective, skewed to marketability. That's the real deal.

ryan field said...

I get that all the time. Thank God I've never paid any attention to my family (smile).

Geekamicus said...

But, on the other hand, just because none of your friends and family support your passion to write doesn't mean that you shouldn't pursue your dream and take classes and read books (and blogs) and write every free moment of the day to make yourself a better, publishable writer. Just because your mother or your coworker or your spouse belittles your dream doesn't mean that you don't have talent and can't write or do what makes you happy. Sometimes you do just have to go for it to find out someone who isn't in your circle of acquaintances thinks you actually have talent and has faith in you and gets your great book published.

clindsay said...

AMEN.

Anonymous said...

This might be true in most case, but saying so out loud is unprofessional. This post smacks of a lack of impulse control. Usually I turn to Elana Roth's twitter feed for that sort of immaturity.

Kate said...

Amen, from a FORMER ghost writer.

ComfyDenim said...

Okay. I'll quit then.