Writers Abroad Blog
Question Time
Posted by Vanessa Couchman

You know that thing where you look at the WA planner and realise itís your turn to write the weekly blog post and youíve been occupied with visitors all week and your head is devoid of ideas and other members seem to have far better ones than you do. That.

So I sat down to chew over what I could write about. After a few minutes looking at a mental blank sheet of paper, my thoughts turned to other things. Chief among them was an author session Iíve been invited to do at a literary festival soon. Iíve done a few of those in recent years (pic of me above signing copies at one) and I always enjoy the opportunity to talk with readers and other writers in person. You get some great insights and they are an excellent sounding board.

Occasionally, though, you come across someone who wrong foots you with an undiplomatic or just slightly daft remark. These are the ones that leave me struggling for a response.

So, today Iím imagining that I have carte blanche to be honest with impunity. Here are five selected observations/questions Ė all of which have been addressed to me Ė and my imaginary responses.

Will I like your book?

Since I donít know what you like to read, itís hard for me to answer that. Naturally, I hope you will, but if you donít, please donít give it one star on Goodreads without saying what didnít appeal to you about it.

How much money do you make from writing?

I think you might object if I asked you what you earn. You would be surprised at how low the figure is, anyway, at least for fiction. Very few authors make a living from writing fiction.

I lent my copy of your book to all my friends.

I hope your friends enjoy it, too. And if they do, perhaps they will buy it as a present for their friends and family.

Iíd love to have a copy of your book! (I.e. please give me one).

Iím so pleased youíd like to read it, and you can buy it from these retail outlets (list).

Iíve just finished a novel. Would you read it for me?

I lead a busy life. I work, write and have plenty of other activities to keep me occupied. I also do this for a number of writing colleagues already. So, no, Iím afraid I donít have time. And if I criticised it you would probably be very unhappy. I suggest you find a writing buddy/buddies and/or a writing group and share your work with them.

This is all tongue in cheek, of course, and the vast majority of the time one has sensible and enlightening conversations with readers.

As fellow writers, what tactless questions have you had to parry? And how did you reply?†

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