Annoying Questions Authors Are Asked And What You Should Ask Instead

Updated: Jan 21

Don't get me wrong. I absolutely love being an author and I am always more than happy to answer questions I get asked about my writing journey. However, while talking to a bunch of my author friends, I discovered that all authors occasionally get asked similar questions that are just off-limits. Here are some of them:

"How much money do you earn per book?"

Authors don't go around asking others how much money they make. Being an author is no different than any other profession. It's extremely tacky to ask someone how much money they earn. A guy once asked me this question on a first date and you can guess how that evening ended.

"Can I get a copy of your book for free?"

This is the equivalent of walking into a grocery store and asking the owner to give you a bag of apples for free. Sorry folks, authors need to pay rent and need food on their table too.

Writing a book takes a lot of work. Authors spend years interviewing experts, reading research papers, editing, and revising their work and deserve to be paid.

"Can you review my school essay, resume, or cover letter for free?"

The answer is no. Reviewing, editing, and writing are skills that take years to develop. It boggles my mind how people think authors can review their work for free. It takes a sharp eye and a lot of time to catch typos and grammatical errors. As an author and someone who has taken multiple writing courses at university, I can tell you that writing is not as easy as it seems. You wouldn't do your job for free and writing is no different than the rest of the jobs that exist.

"Can you reveal the real names of the people in your book?"

As someone who wrote a non-fiction book and interviewed a bunch of people for it, I've kept my interviewees' identities anonymous at their request. So nope, I cannot reveal anyone's real names. Additionally, any personal questions that have nothing to do with writing are also off-limits. This means questions related to the author's dating life, familial relationships, or religious beliefs are not the best questions to ask. While most authors might hate answering the questions I mentioned above, here's a bunch of questions that they usually love answering and that you can ask:

What does your writing space look like? Where do you like to write?

What inspired you to write the book?

What was the most challenging part of writing the book?

Have you always wanted to be an author?

How long did it take you to write the book?

Who is your favorite author?

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

What is your writing schedule like?

What was your favorite part of writing the book?

What was your research process like?

Which was the hardest chapter to write?

How do you deal with negative book reviews?

How did you come up with your book's title?

Authors love answering your questions (as long as they are appropriate). The next time you meet an author, feel free to ask them my suggested list of questions above.

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