Friday, November 20, 2009

Get it? By Erica Vetsch

There’s one thing I think all writers will agree about: nobody really understands a writer’s life like a writer. Family has a peek into part of the word, and friends try to get it, but until you actually are a writer, the challenges and subtleties can blow right by you.

In the five years that I’ve been writing for publication, I’ve learned the value of laughing at myself, at the incongruities of this writer life, and of learning to shrug off those funny things that people say when they find out I’m a writer. I just chalk it up to “They don’t get it.”

I thought I’d revisit some of those goofy things, and I’d love to hear some of yours as well.

Here are some from church: (Understand, I love my church. I love these people. They just say some funny things from time to time. Their comments aren’t intended to hurt, and neither are mine here.)

1. A woman at my church plopped herself down next to me at a dinner and asked, point blank, “So, do you make money at this? How much do you get paid? Do you get 50% of the price of the book? How does it work, I’m curious.” I was gob-smacked. I went into ZERO detail as I explained that all that was negotiable with the publisher, that’s what you have an agent for, etc. I behaved myself and didn’t in return ask her how much money she made.

2. When is your book coming out? This one isn’t usually funny, except for over a year, a dear little lady at my church asked me every week. It got to be a little funny over time, but the woman is so sweet, and so excited to read the book, it was easy to let this one go.

3. I got an email from my pastor that caught me on the hop one day. About the time my book started shipping from the distributor, he sent an email about how as an unpublished author you labor away in anonymity, then when you get a book published, you move up to obscurity. Hmm. Okay. I’m feeling pumped and loaded with confidence now! He also sends me lots of comic strips that talk about writing. Funny stuff. And he’s a great guy.

Then there are the comments from family.

1. I wasn’t going to buy one of your books. I figured you’d just send me one. (A crit buddy gave me the perfect response to this: Put your hand over your heart, drop your jaw a little in shock, blink several times, then say “Why, if I can’t count on my own family to support me by buying the book, I guess I’ll never make it as an author.” Then squeeze out a sympathy-inducing tear if you can.

2. So, these little books you’re writing are just stepping stones to writing real books, right? OUCH.

3. So, is this, um, lucrative? (Have you noticed how money keeps coming up as a topic?)

This is from random people I’ve met.

1. A waitress at a coffee shop asked what I was working on. When I told her I was writing a novel, she got all round-eyed and whispered, “So, are you a millionaire?” I think I actually laughed out loud. “Suffice it to say, Stephen King makes more money than I do.”

2. I had another author bemoan to me once, “Why didn’t I settle for writing for Heartsong? Those are easy. My trade-length deadline is killing me.” Um, yeah, nice.

3. You write novels? I’ve always wanted to write. So, should I write a story first, or should I talk to a publisher first? (0_0 smack head X_X)

So, what funny things have people said to you when they hear you are a writer?


Duluth, Minnesota in 1905 boasts more millionaires than any other U.S. city. Tycoon Abraham Kennebrae intends to marry his grandsons off to three of the wealthiest heiresses in town and allow Kennebrae Shipping to gain control of Duluth Harbor.

Tempests rage, in the board room, the ball room, and on treacherous Lake Superior. Will hearts and helms survive? Will God prove Himself sovereign over wind, waves, and weddings?

Jonathan Kennebrae, oldest of the three Kennebrae brothers, finds himself backed into a corner. Marry heiress Melissa Brooke or lose his own considerable inheritance. Can he find a legitimate reason to avoid the wedding and still keep his fortune? But as the wedding day approaches, does he want to escape?

Melissa Brooke, only heir to her father’s empire, is bartered by her parents into a marriage contract to a man she’s never met. Can she trust him with her deepest secret? Can she trust him with her heart?

Links to Order The Book: The Bartered Bride


call (740) 922-7280 to order directly from the publisher.

ERICA VETSCH is married to Peter and keeps the company books for the family lumber business. A home-school mom to Heather and James, Erica loves history, romance, and storytelling. Her ideal vacation is taking her family to out-of-the-way history museums and chatting to curators about local history. She has a Bachelor’s degree from Calvary Bible College in Secondary Education: Social Studies. You can find her on the web at On the Write Path


  1. Erica, welcome to Seekerville!

    I'm making up a breakfast fruit tray now with yogurt dip, tea and hot cocoa with blueberry muffins.

    People do say the funniest things sometimes. The most common comment I get is, "So now you can help me get published."

    Oh, right. Like I have some kind of magic powers to put hypnotic "buy-it!" spells on editors. LOL!

    I have one answer for everyone who says that to me: "If you're targeting CBA, join ACFW and if you're targeting ABA, join RWA. If you don't know what any of that means, you're not ready to submit."

    It took me 7 years to sell and I got SO sick of people asking me, "So when are you going to be published." I finally adopted a routine answer for that, which was, "Ask me again in five years and I might have a better answer for you."

    I get asked the money question ALL the time. I say, "Less than I made nursing." Or "About 0.04 cents per hour...or just enough to pay for my paper and ink."

    They shut up real quick.

    When people ask for copies, and if I'm out of my giveaway copies--except when I feel I need to make an exception, I tell them that I have to pay for the books myself. If they press and I know they can afford their own copy, I tell them the truth that it's a smart business choice to build my readership and if more people would buy my books and up my sales numbers, I might eventually be able to afford to purchase more copies to give away.

    They finally stop asking. LOL!

    Great post.


  2. My wife always tells me to keep my mouth shut about my wrting so I don't have to answer questions like this. Granted, she also wishes I made enough money from my writing to pay for what I spend on "learning my craft." :-)

  3. Heading to Einstein Bros. later. Any bagel requests?

  4. Good morning, Erica.
    You're new books sounds smashing:-)

    Since I'm unpublished, I get the question Cheryl talked about all of the time. "Have you heard anything about your books yet?"
    I'm going to adopt Cheryl's answer.

    Yep, and the money question.
    My dad is the most frequent 'asker' of that one.
    "Are you ever going to hear somethin'? I want you to hurry up and get your name in print so you can be rich and famous."
    I reply: "Dad, you're a cop. You get your name in print all of the time. Any richer?"
    "Why no."
    "Same goes for writing. Unless my last name is King or Grisham, I'll most likely still keep my day job."

    You're right, though, Erica- it's so hard for non-writers to understand the simple joys of just writing.

    I'm sure seeing your book in print is phenomenal. can't wait for that moment. But even if I don't, I'm still going to write - I'm stuck with it. That's so hard for most people to get.

  5. Walt, I think I got some delish twisty thing at an Einstein Bros shop in the Denver airport, and I've been thinking about it since then. They are definitely not around here, so maybe I'll look into shipping. Please don't tease like that.

    Fun topic, Erica. I just like the look on people's faces. Because somehow they look at us differently like we're suddenly very mysterious and even odder than they originally thought.

  6. Good morning, Erica. Great to have you here! Fun post! Yeah, we've all heard the money thing. Most people are more subtle than to ask what I make. Instead I hear:

    "How's the book doing? Is it selling well?"

    "How many books do they print?"

    All asked to get a handle on earnings.

    I've had people suggest I write their story. I tell them my publisher won't allow me to write real life stories. Though I am curious why they think I'm the one to do it when I write historicals.

    It hurts when people tell me they have too many books so don't want to buy mine, then whine it's taking forever to get from the if that's my fault. Well, maybe it is. :-)

    Truly, I'm blessed that most of the people I meet are great and my friends are the most supportive people on the planet.

    Cheryl, thanks for the fruit and muffins! Waving to Walt.


  7. I laughed out loud at some of those questions and responses to your writing! The one I always get is "So when can I buy your book?" Ha! People have NO idea what all is involved. Thanks for sharing!!!

  8. Oh, Erica, so true and so fun!

    I have one lady at a local church who was very openly asking for complimentary copies for all the ladies in this 'group'...

    A MUCH TALLER woman grabbed her arm and stated (in her best teacher-like voice) "We will all be BUYING Ruthy's books and THEN getting her to sign them because THAT'S HOW BUSINESS WORKS."

    I'm taking her with me EVERYWHERE I GO FROM NOW ON, LOL!!!!

    I have a sister who constantly asked in a flip 'you-know-it's never-going-to-happen-so-why-don't-you-just-quit-now voice'... "So. You published yet?"

    I don't think she even KNOWS what to say now. Seriously. She pretends I'm not in the room, probably hoping she's not in a book.

    And I'll never tell, but if you read page 214...

    Bottom left...

    The murder...

    Okay, kidding.

    But it's so true.

    And Walt, get TWO of those twisty things. I live an hour or so from Deb (although we've yet to meet) and I'll make sure she gets it.

    I'm being nice.

    Every now and again, I'm nice.

    It takes practice, you know.

  9. LOL - I can so relate to these! I'm not published yet, but it seems like several people have felt the need to say something like, "Oh, my brother wrote a book and got it published." And inevitably, it's by some sort of vanity publisher. It's hard for me to maintain a level of excitement with them after that point. :-)

  10. Wow, I love your story idea for The Bartered Bride! It sounds like a GREAT series!

    At my old church, when I would tell people I was writing, they would look at me funny and not really say anything. One person told me, "It's very hard to get a novel published," and "Most people never get their first novel published." Not much encouragement--zero, actually.

    But at my new church--well, we've been there almost three years now--everybody has been really positive. Maybe it's because they didn't know before I was a writer. But they all say, "I can't wait to read your book!" And I have let several of them read my manuscripts. They always say they love them. :-) And when I got some good news last week, they were soooooo excited for me. I love those people.

    The only misconception they seem to have is they think I'm now going to be really famous, and I'm also going to be rich. Ha. I've tried to let them know that that's very unlikely. :-)

    Apparently my mother talks to my brother about my writing. She told me that one day he said scornfully, "She treats it like it's her JOB!" Uh, yeah, I do. But he heard my good news last week, too, and now he's really excited. Ha. So there!

  11. Oh, and I have people say, "I think I'd like to write a book. How do you get published?"

    That's when I stammer and say, "Email me." They never do.

  12. It's amazing the things that people say! Seriously, some folks need a censor.

  13. Morning Erica, So fun to have you back in Seekerville. And I am cracking up at all the funny things everyone is commenting on because haven't we all heard these?

    For awhile I was like Walt's wife and just never said I wrote, but then I decided I was a serious writer so I should affirm that I write. When asked if I was published I'd say "Soon" That would satisfy most. If not, then I'd say "I found a business slower than the government." That always made me laugh anyway.

    Cheryl the muffins are yummy and Walt you can order me one of the spinach, egg and cheese paninis. And a cup of coffee. Theirs is better than Starbucks, but don't tell Ruthy I said so.

  14. Okay - I'm stealing Sandra's replies too ;-)
    "slower than the government" HA!

    I think what's even harder for me is when my overzealous (and proud) mother starts telling people things that arent' true - by accident of course. Like "yeah, Pepper's book should be out any time. It's with publishers now"

    Unfortunately, 'with publishers' is the key issue here and does NOT ensure publication. LOL. She has great intentions though, but then the follow up questions bombard me at all turns. "So, I heard you're getting published."

    Er...someday - kind of like 'someday my prince will come" ;-)

    Ruthy - HA. Great way for payback by putting people in your books. Myahahaha!

    Sorry, that little person in the back of my head who writes 'villains' jumped out for a sec.

  15. Good morning, Erica -- great stuff!!

    I agree with Georgianna ... some people need a censor or a liplock.

    I have to admit, the thing that drives me more crazy than anything is when people say, "I can just see it now--you're gonna be on Oprah!"

    Uh, yeah, like that's even possible, Oprah liking Christian romance that emphasizes abstinence before marriage. I'll bet if I had one person mention Oprah, I've had at least 50 say it, and actually had one church book-signing dinner break into a spontaneous group prayer on my behalf to BE on Oprah. I mean nobody believes in prayer more than me, but isn't there something in the Bible about not tempting the Lord, thy God?? :)


  16. Erica, I'm killing myself laughing. People really ought to know when to let their inner editor take over.

  17. Good grief. I walked into Seekerville, and walked out. Cheryl is here this morning. I must be in the wrong place.

    Like Cheryl is never up this early. Sorry Squirrl. But we all have our schedules.

    So this must be a really really excellent day.

    Welcome ERICA!!!!

    I love, love, love this post.

    My favorite is: I have this idea. You write it and we'll split the profits and make a fortune.

    Why do they think writers don't have ideas. I have ideas. I have so many ideas I have files filled with them, and before my computer was my very own, a recipe box filled with them.



  18. Cheryl was still up from last night...

    If I'm reading the time correctly.

    But I did a double take too, Tina. Like, WHOA!!!

    Who is that cute, vixen girl casting knowing looks in that direction???


    I brought more coffee. And Sandra (shh, don't tell) I love Starbucks frappuccinos (my butt doesn't, but that's a different blog, best left for January) BUT for regular coffee give me Dunkin' Donuts anytime.

    Starbucks regular coffee is too bitter for me. I have to drown it in sugar and cream and my family looks at me like I'm a crazy woman.

    I'm such a baby.

    But Panera's good stuff too. And I love their multi-topped Danish with cheese, apple and strawberry. Yum.


  19. I had a neighbor who went to college (many years ago) with a fairly successful author. The author, from my homestate, was holding a book signing nearby and I called my neighbor and said, "We've got to go."

    I got her convinced and off we went. There was a line so we waited and, since I'm an avid reader of this author's work I picked up some of her backlist to buy, the only ones I didn't have. My neighbor was just standing there sort of watching the fun and I leaned over and said, "For heaven's sake, buy the woman's book!"

    My neighbor acted surprised, like she'd never thought of that. She says, "I don't read them."

    I said, "Well, buy one and donate it to the local library then, but BUY ONE, the woman isn't here for the socializing. And don't tell her you don't read her books either, please."


  20. Hi Erica,

    I think my favorite comment I get on my children's stories that appear in Sunday school papers is: "You can't get paid much for this. You really need to write longer stories." At first I tried to explain publishers word count limits but now I just smile and say, well the editor was happy with it.

    My pat response to how much I make per short story/article for children is: "Most publications pay by the word and the amount varies."

    But I am in awe at the number of people who do actually ask how much money is made on writing. No one comes up to me and asks the salary of my day job!

    At least we aren't alone in this!


  21. When people, mainly family, ask for freebies, my standard response is one of two.

    "Wow, if I can't get my FAMILY to buy my books, I'm doomed."

    or, in mock sternness, I point my finger straight at their nose and say, "You're buying ten copies of it, and giving them away to all your friends, and order your FRIENDS to all buy ten copies of it."

  22. Also when money comes up, my usual answer is, "I make Don't-Give-Up-Your-Day-Job money."

  23. Good morning, all you fabulous Seekers!

    Cheryl! Thanks for the blueberry muffins.

    Hypnotic Super Power over Editors? LOL!!!

  24. Walt, I've never been to Einstein Bros, but I'll take one of whatever twisty things the girls are talking about. :D

    And yeah, my husband was really pleased when I told him I had a little income to offset the steep price of the learning curve. :D

  25. Pepper, sometimes those questions can feel like a little kids with


    And it doesn't help if that refrain is also coming from inside your own head.

    I'm so glad we have places like Seekerville where everyone "gets it" and can encourage, cajole, or in some isolated cases, kick us in the patoot to remind us of why we're doing this and that we're not alone.

  26. Debra, that is SO the truth. People look at you like, "I've heard of authors, but I've never actually seen one in captivity before!"

  27. Janet, I busted out laughing.

    What do you say to someone who knows you write historicals, and yet wants you to write about them?

    Contact me when you've been dead fifte years?

  28. Sherrinda, I think one of the most baffling things I've encountered is:

    Prepubbed question: "Where Can I Buy Your Book?"

    Answer: "I'm not published yet, but I hope someday to be."

    Post-Release of First Novel Question: "Can you give me a copy?"

    Answer: Doh!

  29. Ruthy, I have told people to be nice to me or I will kill them in my next novel. :)

    They get a little 0_0

  30. Sarah, that happens a lot with someone who pubbed through a vanity press. I just smile and say something like "isn't that nice?"

    We had that happen in our church a few years ago. I was feeling discouraged that two years of hard work on my part to find a traditional publisher hadn't panned out, when I heard that a teenager in our church had a publishing contract. Talk about a busted bubble.

    Then it came out that her parents had bought a package from a vanity press for her.

    Oh. Okay. That's a different path than I wanted to go, and though most people don't know it, it's comparing apples to orangutans.

  31. Melanie! Thank you for your kind words re The Bartered Bride.

    And treating it like your job?

    Good for you! If you don't take it seriously, no one on the outside of this crazy writer life will either!

  32. G- you know me, I often enough need a censor myself! LOL

  33. Sandra, "A business slower than the government" is perfect! Like Pepper, I'm so swiping that line!

  34. Julie, I'm laughing fit to kill.

    A spontaneous Oprah prayer meeting? LOL

    Not that you wouldn't ROCK an Oprah appearance, and not that her audience wouldn't benefit from reading one (or all) of your books!

  35. CJ- You know me well enough too, like G, that my own inner editor doesn't pop up often enough to keep me from saying something stupid.

  36. Tina, isn't that the truth?

    People either want to give us ideas to write about (and split the profits) or they are baffled about where our ideas come from.

  37. Jenny, thanks for stopping by, and I'm glad you enjoyed the post.

    Mary, You are a stitch! Your 10 Book Policy is excellent!

  38. Erica, thanks for the post. Made me chuckle. Also reminded me that, once again, there's another person who is nicer than I am. Kudos, girl, for holding your tongue and not asking that woman how much money she makes. I would have.

    The other day I was in Wal-mart and I knew there was a book I wanted to buy. Only I couldn't think of what it was. (My memory is worse than bad these days. If only I had one less kid to clutter my thoughts.) Anyhoo, it was your book, which I couldn't buy in Wal-mart anyway.

    Lovely title, lovely cover, great blurb.

    Off I go to

    Oh, Ruthy, I just finished a Starbucks frappachino. My tooshy isn't happy about it, but my sore throat is loving me at this moment.

  39. Erica, what a beautiful book cover. Since I'm unpubbed at the moment, I don't usually tell people I'm writing. Family and friends that do know are quietly supportive. I guess if I was more vocal, they would be, too. Great to 'meet' you.

  40. Gina, how nice of you to be looking to buy The Bartered Bride.

    The easiest place to get it is from or right from Heartsong Presents.

    I don't think it is available on or B& just yet, but soon!

  41. Connie, great to 'meet' you too!

    I love the cover of The Bartered Bride, and I also just got a peek at the cover for the next book in the series, The Marriage Masquerade. It's sooooooo pretty!

  42. Hi Erica:

    Your ‘About the Book’ copy is outstanding. Did you write it or did an adman? It just doesn’t sound like ‘author speak’.

    I have two stories about romance books.

    I was at the checkout stand in a drug store when the checker looked hard at a romance book among my things. She said, “Is that for your wife or are you going to read it?”

    I said, “I’m going to read it. Do you read romances?”

    “I used to but I found out that life wasn’t like that,” she said giving me the saddest look.


    I was teaching a new real estate class and calling the roll when I noticed a student had the same name as a famous romance writer. I asked her if she was that writer. “No, I’ve heard of her but I don’t read those trashy things.”

    I said “I’ve read some of her books and she is a very good writer.”

    The next night after the class she came into my office with a brown bag which had six romances novels in it. She said, “Actually I do read the ‘better’ romance novels. I’ve finished these and I thought you might like them.”

    The rest of the class she never mentioned romances again but I always thought that this woman was very conflicted about reading romances.


  43. Hi, Vince,

    I've met people who are conflicted about the merits of reading/writing romances. In fact, before my pastor knew I was a writer, he made a rather snarky comment about "Christian Romance" novels.

    We've since had several convos about the subject, he's read and reviewed my book on his blog, and though it will never be his 'go-to' genre, he has come to realize it has a place in the Christian community and has something of value to offer.

    As to the About the Book copy:

    I wrote that myself. It was, in fact, some of the copy I used on my pitch sheet to sell the book idea to the editor.

    I'm glad you like it!

  44. Welcome Erica,

    I've heard the how much do you make, and the oh that's a nice hobby.

    Other things I've heard, are...

    "So you're a writer."
    Me "Yep"
    "I'm writing a book myself, plan to get it published as soon as I'm done."
    Me. "That's nice. Understand it can be hard to get published." I've been at it for several years.

    "Well, and mine should get published right off, because I have a PHD."

    Me.. "I hope that works."
    HMMM this person is stilling trying to get pubbed.

    "so you're a writer. I know someone who needs their story written, maybe you can talk to them.

    "What do you write."
    "Wow that must take a lot of time."
    "I'm going to write a story too."

    "What do you write?"
    Christian Historical Fiction
    "oh, I didn't know there was such a thing."

    or alternative ending.

    "I didn't realize you could do that."

  45. Enjoyed everybody's posts.

    4 cents an hour.

    Well, we finally found something that pays worse than farming ;-)

  46. Erica,

    This is your pastor...

    ...glad I can be an encouragement to you. By the way, how's that obscurity thing going?

    By God's Grace,

    Pastor Kevin (with grins and giggles)

  47. OOOOH Erica I think you've been roasted.

    Hiya Pastor Kevin.

    Stick around and you can win lots of romance novels.

  48. Tina P. "That's a nice hobby." I bet we'd be hard pressed to find an author who hasn't heard that one sometime or other. Maybe that's a sign you really are an author, when someone calls it a nice hobby. :)

  49. Ann...less than farming? LOL

    Funny, but kinda sad.

  50. Kevin, thanks for stopping by!

    Obscurity: not working so great when I'm laughing during a church service and hoping no one is seeing it. :)

  51. Tina, if you only knew all the guff Kevin and I give each other, would make you want to come to our church! :)

  52. Hi, Erica! Sorry to pop in so late, but I've had an unusually busy day.

    Oh, I SOOOO relate to so much of your post! It gets to where I cringe whenever someone new I meet asks me what I do, because I just dread what they're going to ask when I say I'm a writer. Without fail, they will want to know what's involved in getting a book published. Try explaining THAT in 50 words or less!!!!

    Great to have you in Seekerville today! Come back often, okay?

  53. I read this post earlier but am now just getting to comment. Great examples! You made me laugh with some of them. :-)

  54. Oh, Erica, these are priceless!! Thanks so much for sharing them with us today. :)

    I spent the day with middle schoolers yesterday for career day. I had a few ask me if I'm famous. I thought that was so cute. And of course, I'm too honest. I had to tell them no. :)

  55. Erica, this was a hilarious post. I love how you keep it real, girl!

    Though I am far from being published, I have just recently started telling people that I am a writer. See, I've always been a stay-at-home wife and mom. My son is ten years old now and people can't believe that I still stay at home. Talk about rude questions! The top one being, "So, what do you do all day?"

    So, now I tell people I'm a writer and they get excited! I tell them I've finished one novel, working on another, and trying to get published. No other questions asked yet! I'll gladly take the writer questions over the SAHM questions!

  56. I'm just now getting a chance to follow some links mentioned on CWGI which I do read often. My husband and I wrote a Christian suspense novel The Last Reunion. After a pile of rejections, we decided to go through iuniverse. My husband is over 70 in age and a perfectionist, so it seemed like a good idea to draw the editing line and get it in book form. By the way, we know the PhD and MD titles don't help much. What we mostly get in comments is "that's nice" and the sales are slow. We just put some of it on youtube. Even people who have read it (The Last Reunion) don't seem to buy more or chat it up much. I'm not sure I want to spend the time putting another novel out there...
    Thanks for all the comments. I'll have a coffee and one of those things with cinnamon in it:-)

  57. Erica:
    People don't realize that the phases of getting the book before the people are long and sometimes hard. There's the actual writing, and rewriting. Then there is the search for an agent or a publisher/ then the process the publisher goes through/then the marketing work.
    I am not published in name magazines. But my friends know it takes a while. The thing is, I must have unusual friends- they don't ask me these types of questions.

  58. Dear Erica,

    Love the post. I can relate so much to the questions.
    When someone learns that I am a writer, they say, "I have this story that I would like someone to write." This one woman kept on talking and when I asked how much that she wanted to pay a ghostwriter, she answered, "Pay?" Now we are supposed to work for free!
    I also have people saying to me, "At least it keeps you busy!" Busy? Would you go into your doctor's office and say, "I see you have a lot of patients. At least it keeps you busy!!!" Why can't we just get repect for what we do?
    Have a great weekend, everybody!
    Linda Cacaci

  59. Oh my...

    I am not published, and I am so loathe to hear anyone's comments that I just keep the whole thing under wraps.

    I'm a homeschooler, too. :)