- by Laura Resnick
Further to our November 5th discussion about what on earth to say to a novelist if you happen to get trapped with one (in an elevator, for example) and cannot escape….
10. “What do you write?”
Asking this question is much nicer than saying “I’ve never heard of you” to the unshaven, bleary-eyed writer who’s been seated at your table at a second-cousin’s wedding. (And if you don’t read the sort of book the novelist writes, responding with, “Ah!” is better than saying, “I don’t read that kind of trash.”)
9. “I just bought one of your books.”
Have I mentioned that writers like to eat? In order to do so, we need to sell books. So we love hearing that someone has bought one of them.
8. “I just bought five of your books, and I intend to spend my vacation reading them.”
We like this even BETTER.
7. “My kids are voracious readers.”
In a society where most people don’t read books, the best chance for the survival of my species (writers) is if more people start reading books. So writers like hearing that there’s some hope of the younger generation saving our kind from extinction.
6. “There’s a wonderful bookstore in my community that’s always full of customers.”
Writers love bookstores—which is a struggling species, much like writers themselves. We like hearing about successful, beloved booksellers, because we’re unlikely to keep eating if too many of them shut down. And we really like to eat.
5. “My favorite book is [enter title here].”
Writers like talking about books—even books that we didn’t write. So, sure, go ahead and mention your favorite books. (However, if your favorite novel is the latest trendy “it” book, that’s a lot like saying to a chef that potato chips are your favorite food.)
4. “Now that I’ve met you, I’m going to go buy your books.”
The hope of hearing this is the only reason most writers ever bother meeting anyone. (Most writers are people who like spending their time alone in their offices with only their characters for company.)
3. “This is your editor calling. The new manuscript is your best work ever, and every penny of this house’s promotional budget will be devoted to making you rich and successful beyond the dreams of avarice.”
What most of us actually hear is, “The new manuscript is okay. I’ll send you my revision notes when I have time. What was that you just said? Promotional budget? Don’t be absurd.”
2. “I run a major movie company and want to acquire the film rights to your latest book. Money is no object.”
Need I say more?
1. “Can I buy you a drink? Or dinner?”
We rarely turn down free booze. We even more rarely turn down free food.