1. Have you written anything I might have heard of?
Variations on this are: “Are you famous?” “Are you on the NY Times bestseller list?” and of course, “Are you as good as Janet Evanovitch?” We usually stumble through an answer, saying something like “I hope so.”
2. Can I get your book at the library?
The answer is possibly yes, and we really should be thrilled you’re interested, but do you think we drove for miles, schlepping books that weigh a ton, wearing shoes, a bra, and all that stuff, to have you NOT buy the book from the in-person author?
3. Can you tell me where the rest room is?
Variations: “Do you sell the Detroit News here?” “Does the snack bar make espresso?” and (of course) “Where can I find Janet Evanovitch’s new book?”
4. One of my favorites (!) is when someone asks, “Did you write these books?”
The polite answer is “Yes, I did,” but you know I’m thinking, “Would I sit behind this table full of Peg Herring’s books if I were Janet Evanovitch????”
5. “Have any of your books been made into movies?”
Apparently the only way to be a truly successful writer is to have Hollywood take your book, change it into something almost unrecognizable, and pay you a pittance. Anything less is failure.
If I sound bitter, I’m not. It’s usually funny when these questions come up, and the people who ask are nice people. Still, the people who’ve actually thought about how difficult writing is as a career say things like, “Congratulations. Getting published is a big accomplishment.”
The really good ones plunk down a few bucks so they can see for themselves whether I’m as good as…You-know-who.