10 Reasons Not to Write a Book

1. Think of the trees.
People talk of carbon-neutral schemes for airlines and supermarket foods, but what about books? Each batch of books is one less carbon devouring, oxygen replenishing living organism. And no, hardly any publishers use recycled paper*.

2. Those rejection slips.
So taking a look around and realising how almost utterly insignificant your life is, isn't enough? Now you need to receive streams of demoralising, soul-crushing impersonal messages underlining your Continuing Unimportance? Please, keep your masochism. No, really, I insist.

3. 15% royalties? Screw you.
That's if you're lucky. Otherwise I believe the industry average is 10%. So, considering that a first book is deemed very successful if it sells about 10,000 copies, then at an average cost price of $10 a book (across all markets), that's only about $10,000. After how many years of toil and anguish? I'd rather invest in stocks, as unpredictable as they may be.

4. The reviews.

5. The book tour and signings.
Long, tiring journeys (which also help rack up your carbon footprint, please note) spent in nerve-wracking agony about what you are going to say during the haphazardly put-together reading at another cramped bookstore in a city you don't particularly want to visit, which you are forced to attend despite trying to explain to your agent that you're a writer.

Each of which is then followed either by hours in which you self-inflict cheek- and arm-cramp by smiling blandly and writing out tedious and unimaginative platitudes for people who're mostly just waiting to go sell their copy on eBay, or spent in cringing embarassment waiting for anybody to turn up, while trying to avoid the pitying glances of the staff who realise you're not famous enough
even for eBay.

6. The public burden of being a writer. Nay, an author.
You're either a super-snobbish elitist, or a popularity-seeking fan-mingler. People will expect you to have imaginative and instant opinions on every possible topic they can think of. Papers will expect you to churn out erudite deliverances on the state of the world. TV channels will hound you to appear on their programmes, expecting you to deliver detailed solutions to the world's problems in three sentences. And peers will expect you to have read at least one book by all the other well-known and critically acclaimed novel.

All this, when all you want to do is watch a football match, then read the new Pratchett while listening to Shakti.

7. The fans.
aka, those Weird Shits Who Can't Get A Life Of Their Own.
Over-eager, desperate creatures who will constantly pester you into trying to explain to them exactly how, when, where, and why you thought up your ideas. They will then go forth and propagate and populate 1,631 online forums in trying to understand the underlying symbolism and metaphors of your work, even though you try to tell them that it "just felt like a good story to tell".

Some of them will also send repeated emails, cards, letters, painted t-shirts, strips of skin off their back, or stone tablets telling you that "u Are the 1st person WHO has ever undrstood mE!!!! I heart you! Uis the Bestest wow!".

8. The anti-fans.
Who will blame you for adding to global warming, deride your style as artistic affectation, and denounce you as the vessel for all the myriad dark forces of hell.

9. The Expectations.
Of your fans - who will pester you for decades to come up with more work, or produce prequels/sequels so that the "truly imaginative" world that you have described can be mined in exquisitely boring detail. And who won't let you rest till you do.

Of the critics - who will be gleefully waiting for another chance to rip you to pieces.

And of your agent and publishers - so that they can screw you some more.

10. Think of the trees.
No, really.

* This is why I now almost exclusively tend to buy secondhand books**. A lesser sin, if you will.
** Y
es I know it's not supposed to be fair on the author, because they won't get any royalty for it. But really, the kind of books I pick up are by authors who don't really need that extra amount.


km said...

Whether or not this was meant in jest, those are ALL good points :)

May I humbly suggest #11:

Shakespeare, Proust, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky and Chekhov have already made those same observations and more elegantly.

Space Bar said...

i feel your pain. i shall now write a twee poem to celebrate.

??! said...

thankee. and that was to be point No.1, but then I realised it doesn't apply to SF&F.

thankee too. will wait for poem.

Falstaff said...

Re: Point 2. See, this is why I don't date. All the rejection I need in my life I get from editors / publishers.

Espèra said...

Also, if the book doesn't make it, you're tagged a failed writer, an out-of-work author.

And assuming by chance, some other out-of-work author has written an unheard-of book that resembles your book vaguely, people are quick to tag you a plagiarist (no matter you've never read that book). And of course, your books are pulled out while that other author goes on to make a million.


Although, the tree-reason is, by far, the best.

??! said...

Awww. Somebody give the boy a hug.

Right on both counts. I missed those.

Szerelem said...

Point 7. Me and Pamuk. Though I haven't had any contact with him yet and I would communicate my love more elegantly than u Are the 1st person WHO has ever undrstood mE!!!! I heart you! Uis the Bestest wow!". I hope - who knows what I'll turn into if I meet him.

Did you finish reading the man?

??! said...

Would you giggle and swoon?

I started with Istanbul, and then finished The Black Book. Not perhaps the best way to do it. I got a little frustrated because I feel a loooot has been lost in the translation. Especially in the latter book.

Szerelem said...

would totally swoon. Absolutely. Which tranlation of The Black Book did you read? I did not like the one by Guneli Gun but thought Freely did a very good job.

??! said...


It was good, but you always lose something of the lyricism when translating into English. Or so I feel.

Espèra said...

BTW, did you receive any of such mails? The "fan mails"? That you're talking of?
Are you (surprise) an author?

??! said...

Oh I got fan mails alright, but not because I wrote a book. Heh.