A few weeks ago, I took my daughters to the optometry department of Sam’s Club. One of them needed glasses, having lost the pair we bought just last year! That, however, is a discussion for another time.
As I was saying, we were at the optometry department. While my younger daughter and I were perusing the frames and trying to find something that met both of our needs, affordable for me and stylish for her, my older daughter was chatting up the clerk. I don’t know how the conversation got started, but the clerk ends up telling my daughter that he’s a writer. In his spare time, he’s been working on his book. He then proceeded to trot out a bound, paper manuscript.
My daughter is one of my biggest public relations reps. She will tell anyone, anywhere, anytime that I’m a writer. Naturally, she told this man that I was not only a writer, but I had some novels published. This caught the man’s attention. In between our time selecting and ordering my daughter’s glasses, he plied me with a number of questions. At some point during this exchange, he apologized for his questions, and I assured him no apology was necessary.
This is not the first time this scenario has played out. It seems that whenever someone new learns I’m a writer, that person either knows someone who’s a writer or is an aspiring writer, and the questions come out.
People want to know how I became published. Did I use an agent or submit directly to publishers or self-publish? If I used an agent, how did I find him? If I did, or even if I didn’t, how did I know whom to submit my manuscript to? How long did it take me to become published from the time I started writing? Is it as difficult to break in to the business as everyone says? And the list goes on.
What’s somewhat amusing is that the question about what type of books I write is often an afterthought, if it’s even asked at all. You’d think that would bother me, but it doesn’t. Nor does it bother me to be asked the questions.
Believe it or not, I’m happy to answer questions about my personal journey in the hopes that fledgling authors will benefit from my experiences. When I was first starting out, I had my share of heartache, including being scammed by a dubious literary agent. Maybe if I’d known someone who was a writer, I might have been able to avoid that fate. If I can help someone else avoid it, I will.
So, if you see me in the store, at the game or anywhere, and you want to ask me questions about being a writer and getting published, ask away. It’s okay!