14 Ways to Tick off a Writer

angry man“I love throwing rocks at tigers in the zoo,” you say, “but now that the weather’s cold, I need an indoor activity.” Look no further. Writers are fun and easy to annoy. Minimum effort, maximum rage. Try these 14 simple tricks, and you might never need to pay for the Large Cat House again.

1) Go on Amazon and give the book one star because “the plastic wrapping was slightly ripped when it arrived from the seller.”

2) Ask what the new book’s about. After the writer answers, say, “Oh, that sounds exactly like that T. C. Boyle book that came out last year. Have you read that? You have to read it! Yours sounds exactly like it!”

3) When interviewing an author on the radio, make sure to give the wrong title for her book. Just wrong enough to show you care. Is her book called Please Call Home? You might call it Please Come Home or The Homecoming or Home is Calling. Sit back and watch while the author figures out how to correct you on air. Good times!

4) Email saying you want to be a writer too, and you notice the writer lives in the same city, and you wonder if he could spare two hours sometime soon to have coffee and fill you in on how this whole writing thing works. Do not give any indication that you have ever read the writer’s work or care about it in any way. Do not address the author by name. Just cut and paste.

5) “So you’re a writer. What do you write about?”
“I write literary fiction.”
“Yeah, but, like, mysteries, or…?”
“Um, sort of realistic stuff. Novels and short stories.”
“No, just…”
(whispering) “Like Fifty Shades kind of stuff?”
“Sure. Yes. Why the hell not.”


6) Approach her at a book festival with no introduction, wearing a backpack large enough to be full of explosives. Explain that you’re trying to find an agent, and no one here has been any help at all. Ask if you might give her your manuscript so she can pass it on to her agent. Then just stand there staring. Be sure your pupils are dilated.

7) Read ten pages of the author’s book. Realize that it’s absolutely not for you: you thought it was a zombie story, and it’s actually historical fiction about Alexander Graham Bell. Go on Goodreads anyway, and give it one star for not being a zombie story.

8) If you are related to the writer, be sure to ask, repeatedly, when his novel will make it on the New York Times bestseller list. Alternate this with questions about film rights, for maximum effect.

9) Email the author saying you admire her work. Once again, give no indication that this is true. Attach five of your most recent short stories, and ask if she’d mind taking a quick minute to give them all a read and respond to you at her earliest convenience with detailed comments.

10) If the author is a close friend, and especially if you’re well off, borrow her book from the library instead of buying it. Make sure she knows you spent money to go see the sequel to Snakes on a Plane. Wonder aloud, in front of her, what you’re going to get all your relatives for Christmas. Bonus points for asking if she’s making royalties yet.

11) Say in as patronizing a tone as possible, “It’s such an accomplishment just to finish a novel! You should be proud of yourself just for that!”

Annoyed_Lioness_(3869878597)12) Show up at a reading. Raise your hand to ask a question. Launch into a ten-minute description of your novel-in-progress. But in a whiny voice, with a question mark at the end. That totally makes it a question.

13) Ask what’s up “with all the ebook stuff and the self-publishing and nobody reading anymore. Does that worry you, that no one reads anymore?” Try to bring this up before nine a.m.

14) And remember: If all else fails, ask about her writing routine.

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