Bizarre Things People Say to Authors


by Lev Raphael

Nobody tells you that when you publish a book, it becomes a license for total strangers to say outrageous things to you that you could never imagine saying to anyone.

I’m not just talking about people who’ve actually bought your book. Even people who haven’t read your book feel encouraged to share, in the spirit of helpfulness.

At first, when you’re on tour, it’s surprising, then tiring — but eventually it’s funny, and sometimes it even gives you material for your next book. All the comments on this list have been offered to me or other writer friends in almost exactly these words:

“I liked your book, but I hated the ending.”

“Your characters shouldn’t be so nice.”

“Your characters should be more likable.”

“You need more sex in your books.”

“There was too much sex in your book.”

“The book doesn’t make sense unless there’s a sequel.”

“You used too many words I had to look up.”

“Too bad you’re not better known.”

“It was fun but it’ll never sell.”

“My bookstore doesn’t carry any of your books.”

“I found some typos in your book — you should fix that.”

“I’d like you to write my book.”

“Ewww.  What’s up with that cover?”

“Can you tell your agent about me?”

“You have a way with words.”

“Your stories are too short.  Did they leave something out at the factory?”

“You need to put a nice lesbian in your next book.”

“I have a 2,000 page manuscript, I think you’d really enjoy editing it for me.”




Guest post contributed by Lev Raphael. Lev is the author of Writer’s Block is Bunk and 24 other books in genres from memoir to mystery which you can find at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Check out more of Lev’s work on his blog, Writing Across Genres.

49 thoughts on “Bizarre Things People Say to Authors

  1. “Why don’t you write something your family could be proud of?” or “Well, sure it’s a fun hobby, but not very lucrative.” – That last one was said by the guy at H&R Block, you know the one hoping I’ll come back next year? Heh

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I wrote a book about a teenage girl and a reader said she was too angry and disrespectful. I laughed. What teenager is not angry and disrespectful about something? They are still learning. Laughter works for me. People like that are clueless most of the time. A lot of folks cannot even craft a letter. Enjoy the day.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I have seen so many ‘on-tilt’ book reviews/comments the past three years as an editor and a self-publisher. Some range from the bizarre to the completely ridiculous! The best response is to forge ahead with an even better publication next time around! So many comments are non-specific and are highly questionable as to their very intent. Thanks for the chuckles here!


  4. Thanks to everyone who re-posted. This is just scratching the surface. Before I ever starting publishing, someone said, “Don’t you think there are enough books out there already?” I count that as the start of my career. 🙂


  5. Hilarious!! Thanks for sharing great to laugh on a Monday night 😀 I’ve heard, “,She’s not here? Oh what a shame, I really wanted to talk to her about my life story, I want her to write my biography.” (Someone I have not seen for about twenty years…)


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