Wednesday, September 02, 2015

IWSG: #TenThingsNotToSayToAWriter

It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means hundreds of us will be posting about our insecurities. If you're a writer, join in!



Over the summer, the hashtag #TenThingsNotToSayToAWriter seemed to take over the sizable writing community on Twitter. It even got the notice of Time.com:



Novelists, journalists, and freelancers from all backgrounds joined in to share their frustrations. It was amazing how passionate people were about the topic.




As a full-time freelancer and novelist, I've heard it all. From "Since you aren't working..." to "We'd love to have you write for us. We can't afford to pay, but it's great exposure."


(We make fun of people who say that last one in the freelance writing community, by the way!)



In the middle of all of this, I was at a writer's event, speaking to a fellow writer. She's just starting out in her career, having published her first novel only recently. I was telling her about my own journey and mentioned how many times I was rejected when I was writing romance.

"Really?" she said. "I wouldn't think any romance novel would ever be rejected."

The way she wrinkled her nose made it clear...romance was beneath her. I knew exactly who she was in that moment.



The sad thing is, romance novelists work hard at the craft. They spend years honing their writing skills and learning to craft the perfect story. More than a billion dollars each year is spent on romance novels. 



Some of the ONLY writers I know who are able to afford to write full-time without supplementing their income are romance novelists. Yet every time I post about it, someone in the comments section says, "They're all trash." Most of them haven't glimpsed the inside of a romance novel in at least a decade...they just have this stereotype:



So that's my #TenThingsNotToSayToAWriter. What's yours?

77 comments:

  1. Romance writers are writing a book, the same as the rest of us. It still takes effort, skill, and time. Some people are just genre snobs in general. I've run into my fair share who don't think much of science fiction.
    Saw some of those Tweets. Several of our Fellowship of the Dragon group got involved and came up with some good ones.

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    1. Freelance writers had a field day with it. As a fiction writer, I don't hear many negative things...but I deal with a lot of non-writers for my freelancing and they can say some things that make you wince.

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  2. yes, sister, but that is because most of them people think of those 90% romance writers who really aren't on a very high level :)
    I mostly hate when people think we're constantly free to do anything if we're working or writing at home.... that we are always available ... even your family members

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    1. Since most people are at work, I luckily am left alone most of the day! I will say that I often do errands during the day while people are at work to avoid the crowd, then work at night to make up for it. After working M-F for 21 years in an office, it still feels exhilarating to be able to go shopping on a workday!

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  3. I'm guessing anyone who thinks the movie was better never really read the book!

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    1. Or they watched the movie first. If you read the book first, the movie will never live up to it! Movies just can't duplicate that connection you form with the characters when you read.

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  4. I credit romance novels with inspiring me to write and major in history (how else could I write an awesome historical romance?), and I especially thank Rosemary Rogers who brought history to life and made it fascinating. Romance novels rock!

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    1. I always think of Jennifer Crusie, who was doing a dissertation on romance novels for her master's degree. She was reading them for research purposes and found herself falling in love with them. She started writing romances, was almost instantly successful, and is now a best-selling author. It makes me wonder how many others would see how great they were if they actually sat down and read one!

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  5. The Hinton and Picoult tweets made me laugh out loud. :)

    A good story is a good story, no matter the genre.

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    1. You know Jodi Picoult has had to deal with that. I'm sure John Green has, too. I sadly must admit that I wasn't sure if S.E. Hinton was still alive or not...

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  6. I tend to agree with Bijoux. I'd rather read the book than watch the movie. I still have a bit of imagination left.

    One thing never to say to a writer is "You've read one, you've read them all"
    Have a day Stephanie.
    Hugs,
    JB

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    1. Ugh. I hate that one!!! It's amazing how supportive people are of children's authors, though. "I think it's great that you're encouraging young people to read." I'd heard people complain about being asked, "When are you going to write a real book?" but not a single person has said that.

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    2. Oh Stephanie, I'm sorry for the typo. I'm always such in a rush when I comment. I meant "Have a nice day"
      JB

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  7. A good story is a good story whether its romance, murder, MG or YA. Romance writers work as hard as the other writers. Why run them down?

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    1. Oh my gosh--Phyllis Bourne is a friend of mine...she's ALWAYS on deadline. So is Trish Milburn. They'll stay up all night, working and post pictures of their screen with tons of Post-its all around!

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  8. Yeah, romance writers still have to write the book like any other genre, stupid to think less of them. It's a story and they seem to be the only ones to make a living as you say, so they can just sit back and laugh at the snobs.

    I tried the freelance thing, uggg how do you do it? Some of those topics had me wanting to beat my head against the wall.

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    1. It was worse when I started! Some topics are better than others. I got to write about campus consent yesterday...but my niches are business, finance, and technology. The latter two can be really challenging at times, but I get to learn about new things. Often I'll find I'm assigned something and I fear I won't be able to handle it but somehow I make it work! I still know my limits, though. I once wrote about induction furnaces...ONCE. I realized there's just not enough money in the world!

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  9. I read a lot and romance is just as good and in a lot of cases better than anything else out there. Plus, like the 400 Garfield books on my son's book if people are reading isn't that the important thing? ;)

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    1. I think that's absolutely the important thing. I know far too many adults who never read.

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  10. YES! THIS! Such a great post, Stephanie. Thanks for pointing out that romance writers work just as hard at their craft.

    I laughed out loud at the coffee mug! Hehe. That's right!

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    1. I honestly think they work harder...the ones I know who write for Harlequin and other category lines are under a lot of pressure because they put out several books a year. It seems to be one of the few genres where you actually can publish regularly...most publishing houses want to space books out a fair amount, but those publishing houses put out new books every single month and the old ones come off the shelves completely. So the most prolific authors for those lines can publish several books a year. That's a LOT of work, between writing and revising and revising some more!

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  11. Not all romance novels are created equally. Sandra Brown does very well, but Danielle Steele I won't read. I need a touch or romance and lots of other stuff, like murder and who done what. I certainly wouldn't ever call romance novels trash though. To each his own.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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    1. I read Danielle Steel when I was younger...I liked her books then, but I was 14! I LOVE Sandra Brown. She's a great suspense writers but that woman could write a romance back in her day. She was my idol when I was writing romance. I met her once and told her that reading her books keeps me going. She seemed very shy and nervous, but SO sweet.

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  12. I think its always good to read the book first. Greetings!

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    1. I deliberately wait to see the movie until after I've read the book.

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  13. Good list! I hope not many people think you're dead!

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    1. I would hope not...that means a ghost is writing these blogs!

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  14. Great tips, I'll be sure to never, ever say any of these things to an author.

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  15. So I'm going to completely date myself here, but I remember an episode of Blossom (yes, I watched it as a kid... :) and she was all "romance novels are all so easy to write" yada yada yada. Then the show's about her actually trying to write one...and how hard they are. I always think of that when people are The Snob (hah, I may have to steal that image for someone ;) about romance novels--I'd love to see them try it!

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    1. I remember that on Friends--Rachel had too many typos! Chandler's mom (Morgan Fairchild) was a very successful romance novelist. People have to respect that works into writing, editing, revising, publishing, and promoting ANY book, no matter what the genre.

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  16. I'm not a fan of romance books, but I do admire anyone that gets a book published. Your list of top 10 things not to say to writers makes me think of the top 10 things not to say to anyone who works at home :)

    betty

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    1. Yep...I learned from a young age that people don't really respect your schedule when you don't have to be at a physical location every day. They think you're free to wander in and out of your work throughout the day. I have flexible hours, but many people I know who work at home don't.

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  17. As a romance author I HATE that stupid stigma and I like to point out to people that romance is the biggest selling category of books by a long shot and has been for AGES. The same people crapping on people wanting to read about love are the ones crying when their favorite TV couple doesn't get together.

    One I hate: Oh you got a book published?! When are you buying a bigger house/nicer car/going on an expensive vacation? Hahaha you're all very naive...

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    1. I had someone ask how much I made on my first book. I just stammered around...how nosy! But I earn a good salary writing--only a small percentage of that salary comes from writing fiction. I'm writing about the Internet of Things right now.

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  18. Love this post! I abhor when people ask: So, how's that book coming along? Which one? The one already published like a year ago, the newly finished one, the one I'm currently working on??? UGH. I just wish they didn't ask:)

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    1. I KNOW! "How's that book coming along?" What does that even mean? Usually they're talking about the last one they paid attention to...which has probably released, sold, and been taken off shelves by then. I don't even like, "What are you working on now?" because I don't like to talk about my work while I'm working on it. Makes me uncomfortable.

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  19. Omgosh hahaha. Sad because largely the books are so much better than the movie! Except The English Patient. Worst book everrrrr. As an aside, moving from grad school writing style to law school killed me. Because you're allowed to start sentences with "because" and "and" in legal writing. It's pretty much the sloppiest writing ever, but don't tell any lawyer that! I unlearned all my good skills!! Ahhhhh

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    1. You're even allowed to start sentences with "because" and "and" in fiction now. It's all loosey-goosey. I even start sentences with "because" for business writing sometimes. They don't seem to mind. But "since" is usually safer!

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  20. Grr! People who don't write, just don't get it. You have to be in this industry to understand how difficult it actually is. To everyone on the outside, we're just playing around and typing away while sipping our drinks. Don't we have the life?

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    1. Ah yes...sipping coffee to stay awake. Sipping water because we haven't had time to get up and eat lunch! Writers DO drink a LOT, I've noticed...and not alcohol. We're just a dehydrated bunch.

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  21. I'm a wife and a K Mart shopper, so bring on the romance!! I love romance. I write it. I read it. I try to live it, but I'm married to a man ;)

    Thank you for the support. You're all sorts of awesome!

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    1. LOL! Writing romance is hard. Describing a kiss, a touch...and all that other stuff. People should try it sometimes. It's really hard to capture all the emotions that come with all of that in words.

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  22. I wrote a bunch of those. Here were my favourites:

    "So how's the book going?"

    "This is pretty good. Did you plagiarize it?" <- My dad actually asked me that one.

    IWSG September Post

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  23. I've never understood the snobbery. I have a deep respect for anyone who can get published. Saw this happen in a book club. The book (not a romance) was crucified dead and buried in one small discussion. Certainly their right, but at Amazon the author appears quite successful. She's written a popular series. Pooh on the snobs. I know how hard it is to write.

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  24. I am in awe at all writers. Even those whose books I don't like. Even those whose books I think are bad. They still have put a great deal more energy, imagination and sheer bloody effort into it than almost any critic.

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  25. To be honest when I hear romance novel I think of a cover of some girl with a Fabio-ish guy with his shirt off. We had a old lady neighbor who had yard sales all the time. That was the majority of her books. Though this was mid to late 90s

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  26. people can be just downright silly and sad. So what did that fellow writer who was a snoot actually write? I'd like to know just to go "Oh" and then roll my eyes. It takes a lot of dedication to be a writer no matter what the genre. So many have these judgements when it comes to romance, horror and science fiction I think never mind if it is then based to a certain age bracket. I am in awe of anyone who can write and have books published.

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  27. Romance is really hard! I used to write romance when I was in college, but I got away from it and pursued contemporary lit instead. Now I'm trying my hand at it again, and I'm finding it very challenging! :)

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  28. There is trash in every genre. I don't read much category romance - I'm not the HEA kind of reader - but it is the biggest selling genre out there. Must be more closet romance readers than any other genre :)

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  29. I have heard that romance books sell more than any other genre (not sure where I heard it, but it stuck with me). Great advice about things to never say to a writer. :)
    ~Jess

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  30. Thanks for a good laugh! I would add, "Aren't you done with that book yet? What's taking so long?"

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  31. I remember seeing that hashtag. It was hilarious. In a sad way. (And I partake of romance novels, too. Some are really good. Some suck, but that's true for all genres.)

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  32. Writing for any genre is a ton of work. Romance writers get a raw deal because non-writers seem to think they can just spew words onto paper and get themselves published. I've seen bad writing in ALL genres.

    This is a great post and I'm glad you shared it. Hugs. Eva

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  33. Ooh, good topic! I missed the hashtag while I was abroad, but S.E. Hinton's made me laugh out loud--thanks for sharing.

    And I agree completely with about romance. I've even started to write one, because it's one of the best ways to make a living writing. Not that I think it will be easy, but I had an idea that seemed like it could be fun.

    I guess mine would be "Why don't you self-publish?" - like it's the easiest thing in the world. People seem to think that anything that takes time and effort--in my case, getting an agent again and a traditional deal--should be avoided like the plague.

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  34. That person does indeed sound like a snob. Writing romance takes the same amount of craft and hard work as anything else.

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  35. Definitely had a good giggle over this!!! And the insight! Although admittedly, I can't say I know a lot of novelists/authors...!

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  36. Most of what I've seen from this hashtag seems to being saying either "Don't belittle what I do".

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  37. Romance is something that I got interested in very late in my life (like 2009) and I'm very picky about what I read for romance.

    As for ten things never to say to a writer, my two major pet peeve happens to be when people ask, "how goes the writing?" and "how goes the book?"

    Father Nature's Corner

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  38. I am not at all a fan of romance books, I mostly read non fiction, self help and books that encourage and inspire such as the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. :)

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  39. Someone needs to start one for things not to say to mothers. For me, I find advice that includes the word "just" to be particularly annoying. Usually, there is no "just".

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  40. Someone needs to start one for things not to say to mothers. For me, I find advice that includes the word "just" to be particularly annoying. Usually, there is no "just".

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  41. As a science fiction writer, I occasionally read romance. Writers can learn a lot by seeing what's going on outside their own genres. You don't learn much by being a close-minded snob.

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  42. But but but . . . I love a good heart-wrenching romance novel to carry me over through out the year! HEA's make me smile in between the horror, the YAs, the sic-fis, etc, etc, pffft. lol As a writer, you'd think she would respect that all books take hard work. And romance? Being the billion dollar winner? It would make the writers work so hard to give the reader a unique experience. All writers rock, dammit. That's all lol.

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  43. Loved this post! Exactly what I needed today to put a smile on my face. My favorite has always been "You should get on Oprah!" Geez, why didn't I think of that??
    Thanks for posting something humorous. I really Laughed Out Loud:)

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  44. Hi Stephanie, I don't understand why Romance novels gets a bad rep. I'm more of the YA, NA and adult fantasy, mystery/thriller, contemporary and literary fiction side. But I do occasionally read Romance. And out of all the other genres, aside literary fiction, Romance is the most relatable novels you'll ever read. Meeting and falling for a prince (literal and figurative), CEO, millionaire/billionaire can happen. Has happened. Basically, love happens and it does exist. And you have to give props to the writers who can you make you feel the romance between the couple. Make you so invested in the couple's happily ever after. Or wish you can trade places with the female character. That is not easy writing. I'd like to write a romance, hell even have a story idea about a doctor and her patient. But for now it's filed away until I'm ready to write it.

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  45. I finally got an extremely small published interested in my novel after years of rejection. I will not pass judgment on romance writers or anybody else. We're all trying to get it right (write?), we're just taking different roads.

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  46. Great post and insightful comments. My pet peeve...Are you really published?...But just have to grin and bear it.

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  47. If people knew how hard writers work to get their stories just right, and how many years it takes sometimes to be published, they'd be a lot nicer. Some people are just rude. Ignore them. Cry in the closet. Great post.

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  48. I am not a writer -- you have my respect!

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  49. A great post, Stephanie. Some of the most interesting, warm and friendly authors I've met have all been Romantic writers. I must admit I can't write romance, I don't read too much of it either, but I admire the writers that can. It takes a lot of skill.

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  50. I think one of the things that annoys me is when a friend or family member needs something creative done. Be it a team name for a trivia group we are in at the pub, or being assigned to write letters to other members of the family. They say, "You're the writer. Come up with something." And yet, they've never read a thing I've written. Now suddenly I am the "writer" they are proud of. I could use a little more support than that.

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  51. Now I know what I have to avoid while chatting with the writers ;). Thanks for the heads up ..

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  52. Stephanie, I can't believe someone would say, can you write for us but we can't afford to pay you... honestly, writing is your career. I wonder if they would like someone to ask them to do what they do for a living for free... Sorry I haven't been around, I took a bit of a blog break, I hope things are going well :)

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  53. Aw, the writer snob. So many opinions, so little the rest of us want to hear them over reading. Sorry, I mean breathing.

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  54. Aw, the writer snob. So many opinions, so little the rest of us want to hear them over reading. Sorry, I mean breathing.

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  55. I heard it all too. In fact there were friends I thought would be more supportive and who were actually just the opposite. Interestingly...they're not really friends of mine any more. Now, I usually don't tell people and if I do, I say very little. They honestly don't need to know. Great post.

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