Friday, July 6, 2012

This is Your Lucky Day! I'm Going to Let You Write My Book for Me....

We've all had family and friends ask us, "When are you going to get a real job?" Some writers even hear it after they've made their first sale. But some of us also hear this one: "I have a great story to tell and I'm going to let you write it for me."

Sound familiar? Either we're not taken seriously at all or we're taken for granted. Those who realize we are professionals and have real careers as writers will often assume we're just sitting around waiting to write their story. We don't have ideas of our own--or if we do, we can just set our own works-in-progress aside to write whatever they bring to us.

About a year ago--I'm not sure exactly how long (this is just a guess, as I've been trying to forget)--I got an email from a longtime friend. Her brother had decided to write a novel. Never mind the fact that this guy would be reaching to write a grocery list, he was going to write a novel. Let me rephrase that: he had an idea and I was going to write his novel. If it sold (and let me say here that this project had worse odds of success than being struck by lightning), we would split the profits. 


I told her, as politely as I could, that I was not interested. I had projects of my own in the works and did not have time to write his too. That didn't work. I discovered that he had contacted a family friend, asking for my phone number. He'd had his nephew contact the same friend, also asking for my number. When she didn't give it to either of them, he turned up at my MySpace page (one of the reasons I ditched MySpace). Then he showed up at Facebook. Finally, I got enough.

I sent him a message. He could leave his manuscript and $100 in cash with Collin at the restaurant and I would read it, critique it and tell him what he needed. I never heard from him again. Thankfully.

He's not the only one who's brought ideas to me, but the other two were well-meaning friends who wanted me to put worthwhile true stories into words for people who couldn't write them themselves. It's not easy to say no in such cases--but I'm a novelist, not a nonfiction writer. This may surprise some people, but most writers are one or the other. Rarely can we do both. I'm strictly a fiction writer. I'm no good at coloring inside the lines--bios and memoirs are not my thing. And I already have a full plate. Make that an overflowing plate. I have one ebook edition of  a backlist book about to be released and three more to be scanned and reformatted (not an easy job, believe me) and three more waiting to be done, plus four original works in progress. Add to that the fact that my eyesight is so bad that I have to compose on my phone or by dictation because when I look at my computer screen, all the words seem to run together. No fun!

I'd have to be cloned in order to have time for anything else....


  1. Funny how so many people think writing a novel is a lark, and that it's not an actual job! I've had people offer me their diaries and memoirs... um, no thanks.

    1. And no matter how much work you have to do on your own book, they're insulted if you don't make time for theirs!

  2. Oh Norma, what perfect timing I have been thinking of you.
    Have I got this great idea for a book it's perfect
    It is a story about a woman who has to leave the home she loves and how she and her two valiant Scotty dogs carve out a new life for themselves in the Desert of.....

    Really, what a great idea to tell the friends brother drop off the scrip and 100 dollars so you can critique it. I would have ask for 500.

    The same thing happens to commercial artist.
    Oh can you just sit down and sketch out this idea for me. Oh then get it camera/print ready and can you take it to the printers 'cause I don't know what to do and oh could you.....
    Or the one I like best is "I saw this painting yesterday could you do one just like it but in orange because my new sofa is orange but don't put in the flowers I don't like the flowers, can you add a dog ?"

    But really what do you think about a book filled with valiant Scotties or at lest add some to your next book, who could then save the ........

    cheers, parsnip

  3. Do the Scotties slaughter sparkly vampires, by chance?

    1. Yes they do, it's all about the fur.
      They fear no sparkly vampires. Plus they don't listen to or obey any other thoughts but their own so no mind control either.

  4. This is a real job, and unfortunately the people who think this sort of way that you'll go out of your way to cater to them... will never get that.

    1. Only those of us who have done it can really understand it.

  5. I can relate! Here I am minding my own business, writing about dogs. Suddenly, helpful voices tell me I ought to write about psychics, my geneaology, a Horror novel...

    Amazing, isn't it? Folks think they know better than you, what you SHOULD write about. I've taken to responding with, "there are many things I SHOULD do, like flossing more than once a day. Thank you for your interest."

    I like your method Norma. Ask for cash.

  6. As soon as you quote a price, they're gone!


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