Blogger: Rachelle Gardner
Several people have told me about how their friends and family don’t quite understand the process of publishing. One writer wrote:
“If you even mention an agent or editor is looking at a proposal, my family wants to know when the book is coming out! They’re excited about having a famous relative. Hold on folks, it’s only a proposal and a rejection could be on the way!”
Many of you have experienced similar things. The minute you have an agent, everyone wants to know when they’ll be able to get your book at Barnes & Noble. It can be difficult, and a little humbling, to try and straighten them out on the facts.
There’s another scenario that illustrates how most people are clueless about publishing. It’s when you’re sitting around shooting the breeze with your friends, telling about something that happened to you, and the friends start saying, “You should write a book!” Maybe it’s because of an amazing incident or an inspiring life journey. Maybe you’re funny or have a way with words. Whatever it is… it causes otherwise totally rational people to exclaim, “You should write a book!” I get several query letters each month that begin with some variation of: “For years, all my friends have been telling me I should write a book.”
Even though most people don’t know anything about publishing, it sure is flattering when they say, “You should write a book!” We want to believe them. If we hear it often enough, we start to take it seriously.
The way I see it, this makes about as much sense as watching your friend shoot hoops in the driveway, seeing them sink five in a row, and exclaiming, “You should play for the NBA!” In reality, you know nothing about what it takes to play in the NBA. And five baskets does not a Michael Jordan make.
But everyone is familiar with books. We’ve all been reading them our whole lives, so it’s easy for people to feel like they “know books.” And it’s easy for people to believe there’s nothing difficult or specialized about writing a book and getting it published… after all, so many people do it, right? (It can’t be as hard as training to be a professional athlete.)
Most people don’t understand the business aspects and the daunting competition, let alone the difference between being able to write, and being able to write something people will want to read. Most people simply have no idea what they’re talking about, whether they’re asking when your (unwritten) book will be on the NYT bestseller list or saying you should write a book.
What’s the point of this blog post? I’m not sure! Maybe I just want you to make sure you’re writing a book because that’s want you really want to be doing, and you’re willing to commit to the hard work of it. Don’t write a book just because everyone says you should.
And if you’re in the writing/publishing process, be patient with friends and family who ask when your book will be in Barnes & Noble. Try not to be annoyed when a stranger, upon finding out you’re a writer, asks, “Anything I might have heard of?” Most people just don’t get the world of books.
Are you a writer partly because others told you that you should be? True confessions, now. Share your story.