22 things that really annoy authors - Elizabeth Kay

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Jinx-Divide-The-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00ANV9D2Mhttp://www.amazon.co.uk/Divide-Trilogy-Book-ebook/dp/B00A2ESS3KTHESE BOOKS ARE THE GENUINE 


Pirated downloads of my entire trilogy -The Divide, Back to the Divide, and Jinx on the Divide. Get it free, complete with mistakes. Be put off the author for life.

Emails from people asking for free books, preferably signed, because you obviously don’t have to pay anything for them yourself.

People who come to a talk, and ask you to sign copies of books they’ve bought second-hand. They think you ought to be equally delighted that they managed to find a copy at a fraction of the list price.

People who come to a talk, and ask you to sign copies of someone else’s book.

Kids who only want to know how much you earn, and whether you’ve met anyone famous.

Teachers who think you have it so easy compared to them, and refuse to keep order when you’re doing a talk at their school – usually free of charge. Fortunately, many authors have been teachers in a previous incarnation. If you control the class better than the form tutor it will not go down well.

Kids who want to know why you obstinately refuse to make a film of your book, and have them in the starring role.

An entire class who write to you because they’re doing book reports, and want you to write back to them all individually by next week. Usually on another continent, in which case any stamped addressed envelopes will be useless. Usually there aren’t any, of course.

Kids who write to you about a book by someone else.

People who turn up to an event to buy a book, but don’t have the correct money and want you to accept half the price in very small change.

People who think they’ve found a spelling mistake on page 342. They haven’t. They’re American.

Someone who asks whether you’ll give them the rights free of charge so that they can translate your book into Mongolian/Mandinka/Quechua. Explaining that translation rights are held by your publisher only results in another email asking the same thing again, and whether you’ll pay for them to come over and discuss it.

Someone else writing a book with the same title. Titles aren’t copyright.

Someone else with the same name with a URL very like the one for your website. You’re a children’s writer and they’re a porn star.

A publisher who will neither produce a digital version of your book, nor revert the rights to do so to you. And you can’t claim it’s out of print because these days they publish on demand.

People you don’t know you from Adam who want you to read and critique an entire manuscript of 150,000 words.

An illustrator who hasn’t read your book, and gets everything wrong.

A reviewer who gives you one star on Amazon because they’ve muddled you up with someone else, and the plot they’re talking about bears no resemblance whatsoever to your book.

A reviewer who tells you you’re destined for hell because you mentioned evolution.

Someone who books you for a conference, and then tells you the night before that it’s been cancelled when they’ve known about this for ages.

A bookshop that asks you to do a reading, and then does no publicity and puts you in a corner next to the toilets.

Children who pick up books with chocolate-covered fingers, and then don’t buy them.

BUT all this is counteracted by the emails that tell you your book was the book that started them/their daughter/their grandson reading, and they've named their puppy after you.


madwippitt said…
I don't know whether to weep or laugh reading this - or maybe a bit of both ... what a ****** about the pirating though. That is so unfair - do you have any action you can take against them at all?

(And can we see a picture of the puppy please? :-D )

PS I'll be the one waiting shyly at the end of the signing queue with a battered, dog-eared copy - not because it's secondhand but because I've read it so much!
Lee said…
Anyone who pirates my work may even be reading it, so I'm happy to oblige.

As to the rest of your complaints, I'll be frank: even if some of the stuff is meant to be humorous, you seem easily annoyed. Is this the face you want to present to the world? the way to attract potential readers?
JO said…
And, when it wrote professional child protection stuff, students who wrote with a list of questions, the answers all in my book if they could only be bothered to read it.
Chris Longmuir said…
I loved it, and the paragraph at the end was brilliant. I had a lovely phone call yesterday from someone just to say how much they enjoyed my latest book and it really made my day. It makes up for all the other things.
Wendy H. Jones said…
What a great post. Particularly the one about spelling. I'm laughing yet
Bill Kirton said…
Very enjoyable, Elizabeth. I haven't experienced all of them but I bet we could add some of our own and make the count even higher. The problem is that, in a big audience, all laughing at our jokes or smiling at our insights, the one we always notice is the one who'd yawning or frowning.
Bill Kirton said…
'who's' - grrrr, why doesn't blogspot have a quick edit facility so that I can correct my laziness?
Nice one! To which we could add,depending upon the genre we write in: 'My life would make a book (or I've got this great idea for a book) - if I tell it to you, you can write it up and we can split the proceeds 50:50', also 'I'm going to write a book when I have the time,' and 'Are you still writing?' and 'That's a nice little hobby for you' and 'I lent my copy to all my friends' and 'I won't buy one just now. I'll see if I can find a second hand copy' and (just this week) 'how could you possibly write a book in the voice of such a totally unsympathetic character?' But really, we all love MOST of our readers, don't we!
Dennis Hamley said…
Great stuff. Hilarious but all too true. Anybody who's worked in schools, signed books in shops or been asked to talk will recognise it all. To be accused of being easily annoyed because you make a joke of it is just crass. I've had all these things happen to me and been quietly furious - just for a moment. But I get over them, put them in the box labelled 'Pity/joke/to be laughed at in print' later and get on with my life, which certainly does not include being easily annoyed.
Mari Biella said…
Fortunately, most of these things haven't happened to me (yet!). I'm with you on complete strangers who email me and demand that I buy, read, and review/critique their book, though. That's just bad manners...
Lydia Bennet said…
I've done a lot of performing and workshops, and signings, so I've had a few of these! I find them funny rather than annoying these days. Pirating's not funny, however, and I was pretty annoyed when my quantum sheep got rustled by a plagiarist who claimed credit for the idea! Very enjoyable post, loved it! May I add the one person who asks masses more questions than anyone else at great length, sometimes in an accusing tone, hogs the time others need to ask their questions - they NEVER buy the book! Also the creepy intense man who waits til all have gone before invading your space, staring into your eyes, and trying to find out where you live and how he can contact you... 'Security!'
Kathleen Jones said…
Thank you for making me laugh Elizabeth! Had several of these things happen to me, including a man who wrote to inform me that at 4.20pm on the ??? of ??? Wordsworth was taking tea with the letter writer's gt gt gt grandfather and I hadn't mentioned it! You have to have a strong sense of humour to be a writer and go out there in front of the public. You can, of course, just hide away in the closet ......
Elizabeth Kay said…
Thank you for all your lovely comments - I laughed at several of them. Lee - I've been a professional writer for nearly forty years; it's not a hobby, it's the way I earn my living. If I were a nurse I wouldn't expect people to fail to pay me because I was so glad they let me treat them. Madwhippet - sorry I don't have a photo of the puppy. Or was it a tarantula?
Ooh yes, Valerie. I once had a strange guy who sat right at the front and asked creepy questions about 'writing about sex'. My then sixteen year old son who had come along for the jolly was sitting at the back, already his full height of 6ft 4, arms folded, grimly staring at the back of the guy's head. He was lucky to get out alive! Still have a chuckle about it now. Cally, who was there, will remember it well!
Elizabeth Kay said…
OMG, spelled Madwippit incorrectly. Hides head in shame.
Lydia Bennet said…
haha Catherine, I'd like to have seen the guy's face when he saw your son! some of my poems (and some of the crime fiction) are erotic and some of these guys think that means it's ok to ask you about your sex life. Ick!
madwippitt said…
That's OK Elizabeth ... I only spell it that way to see if people have actually read properly or just scanned LOL
Debbie Bennett said…
The people who say "Oh, I'd love to write a book if I had the time."
Sandra Horn said…
Thank you for the laugh!
The parents who pull an interested child away from the books and say 'You've got a book'
Lee said…
Elizabeth, interesting that you mention nursing. One of my closest friends, a trained and experienced theatre nurse, has done several overseas stints per year with a team of doctors who operate on an entirely voluntary basis in difficult conditions to give something back to others. I have never once heard her remark, 'Oh but it's not a hobby, I am so a professional'. And she is often moved by the gratitude she encounters. This too is a form of payment.

You seem to think I object to others earning their living from writing. Please don't make assumptions. The issue is one of piracy, and how much it genuinely hurts writers. And if we can't stop it, which we can't in the internet age, is there a way to turn it to our benefit?

As to my being crass, Dennis, perhaps I have a different sense of humour than most of you. And a different sense of professional behaviour. My view has always been: criticise the writing, not the writer, not the reader, and most certainly not the child reader.
Elizabeth Kay said…
One final remark on this, Lee. I too do plenty of voluntary work in schools, both here and abroad, also in difficult conditions - Uganda last year. But, like your nursing friend, this is my choice, not someone else's. Piracy is not my choice; it is imposed upon me by an individual who may well be hoping to spread a computer virus. I don't think that's good publicity in any way whatsoever.
glitter noir said…
Great post, Elizabeth. How about a sequel to it, if you've ever in the mood? 22 more things...:)

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