Shouldn’t you be Famous?

“You wrote a book? Why do you still work here? Shouldn’t you be famous?”

Someone asked me this when a co-worker asked me where they could buy my book. Of course I was forced to laugh it off and tell them I’m not a best-seller… yet.

This misconception can sometimes be quite irritating. As writers, we work and work and write and sweat and bleed to create powerful, well-written stories in hopes that people will enjoy it and praise it. The last thing writers need is someone rubbing it in our faces that we aren’t living off our writing.

Now, I’m sure they don’t mean it in that manner; they just don’t quite understand the fact that just because you write a book doesn’t make you famous. They don’t realize that when they ask, “You wrote a book? Why do you still work here?” that it translates to: “You slaved for days, weeks, months, or possibly even years to try and form a cohesive story written with proper grammar, punctuation, and spelling to be pushed out to millions of viewers who can tear it apart in a matter of seconds, and you still work here? Why aren’t you famous?”

I mean, sometimes it’s hard to explain to someone who doesn’t write, or isn’t around writers, just all that is behind it. Sure, they understand that writing a book is difficult. But, having not written one themselves, they just kind of generically categorize writing a book as, “hard.”

I think that may be the case because the general population doesn’t hear about a lot of the indie authors, or the small-name authors still working their way up. They mainly focus on writers like J.K. Rowling, Stephenie Meyer, and every other author who has also scored a movie deal and lives the glamorous life of a best-selling author, because that’s all they really know.

Side note: I am in no way saying that writers are better than those who don’t write. Please don’t mistake my noticing (assuming?) the lack of understanding by those who don’t write as arrogance.

Has this ever happened to you? Do you think it is possible to, in a way, educate those who don’t realize the blood, sweat, and tears that go into writing a book?

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17 thoughts on “Shouldn’t you be Famous?

    • I agree completely. I know plenty of people who haven’t had anything published are most definitely writers. My point was that people who don’t write assume that just because a person has written a book, sometimes without knowing if it’s published or not, they assume that the writer should be famous.

    • 😀 That’s some comment! But we do have weird characters who are writers in our story. Now, Agatha Christie’s Ariadne Oliver is this elegant writer lady, always spilling apples…. but she also has very stupid dialogues at times, and her mysteries are shown typical by Christie. Also, writers LOVE ridiculing their profession, as a joke, no? We love having a douche writer as a character and put all the things we feel, and want to do and all the silly plots that come to our mind on him! What do you say?

  1. Probably not, unless they’ve tried to write a book themselves. I believe that most people don’t think that writing is hard, which I know is the opposite of what you said above. It’s always made me a little sad when I realize I’ve read a book in a day that took someone months or years to write. It’s hard to fathom all the effort it requires to craft an excellent story.

    • I have heard other writers say they’ve heard people make the claim that writing is easy.

      As far as reading these books, I agree. Sometimes it is hard to imagine that it took the author to create this idea, and spend so long making it perfect, just to have someone read it and either love it or hate it.

  2. I agree, most people assume my first book will be sold everywhere, and translated into 30-some-odd languages, and have a movie deal. It’s tough to explain that it won’t start out like that, and might never be like that. Although, I suppose it’s even more of a downer when people think you’ll be just another poor indie author. I was hanging out with a friend of mine who comes from a rich family. She graduates in May with a degree in Computer Science and has a $90,000 job lined up right out of college. It’s easy to happy for her, until she makes comments like “Yeah, but you and your boyfriend will be poor writers who can’t even afford to go on dates.” Ouch. Thanks for believing in me.

    I’d rather explain to people that I won’t be rich, than explain to them that I’ll at least be able to afford a date every once in a while.

  3. The reality of writing is that most books sell less than 1000 copies, and authors who think they are going to wtite “a” book, get rich, and live like celebrities are dreaming. I’ve been hammering away at it for 25 years – I’ve written 47 books, most latterly published by Penguin and Random House. Once I had a job as a historian where I was paid to write ’em. That was worth it, because I was on salary. The rest? No. But it’s fun, and isn’t that really why we do it?

    Matthew Wright

  4. I think it’s a case of not knowing until you try it. I was going to live the dream…I picked a new dream. People who have not tried will never understand that for most writers there is no choice, you just have to write regardless of fame and fourtune.

  5. I haven’t had this experience because I’m not published yet, but I do run into what I call the first-draft misconception. I say I’ve written a book each month this year, and they automatically assume its ready to go and am I publishing all of them? Uh, no. No, this is just a rough draft. Getting published will probably take me another few years. Thanks for reminding me.

  6. I have read several articles that point out that the J.K.s, Meyers et al.. are quite literally the 1%. More realistic as a novelist is living hand to mouth, or even more likely keeping a day job. I have to say I walk that particular walk every day. I wonder if I did not have a day job would I be more prolific? Would I be able to support my wife, son and myself? This is the head of my one regret: not writing throughout my 20s and early 30s. When I was single, or dating and risks could be taken, jobs treated with less reverence. That last bit meaning that I was not under the gun of a car loan, home loan, medical bills, regular bills and all of the financial detritus that comes with a family. Please do not misinterpret this. I would not trade my current life for anything. Not money, nor fame, nor a dozen best-sellers. I have changed outlooks and expectations. So a week where I kick out 2000-3000 words is a good week and you know what, it adds up. Since starting my own little online experiment I’ve written about 19k (started Mar 5.) Anyway, I have yet to officially publish anything other than online through my own site or an e-zine. I am striving to change that this summer, and maybe then I’ll have to fend off questions about being a best-seller. It seems unlikely, but hey I can dream big!

    • That is one thing I’m glad I did — I started early. I’m only 21, and, forgive me if this sounds like bragging, but I’ve been receiving some fantastic comments on my short stories and excerpts, which leads me to believe that it could lead to something bigger. I’m glad that I still have a lot of years to flourish as a writer.

      However, I would love to start a family, as well. I’m engaged, and would like to have children, but financially that isn’t in the cards. But, if I did become a best-selling author, with millions of dollars, it certainly would help pay the bills.

      I wish you the best of luck with all of your writing!

  7. This is why I don’t like telling people I’m a writer, as they expect you to (a) have had a novel published and (b) be famous and/or loaded lol.

    And as (a) and (b) are still illuding me I guess I’ll just tell them what my day job is instead 😉


    • Generally I don’t hear the comment when I tell people I’m a writer majoring in journalism and minoring in English. But, as soon as I mention anything about writing books, the assumptions begin showing their ugly little heads.

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