Dear Advice Person Lady: Advice for Writers


People sitting at a desk, one in front of a computer, working.
Writers are neurotic. Are we more neurotic than other artists? Definitely. And it’s time we had our own advice column. A Dear Abby for our literary breakdowns. And if I have to volunteer to be that person, so be it. The letters have been pouring in—which is weird, because how did you know I was going to do this?—and here they are.

Dear Advice Person Lady:
I’m in an MFA program, and there’s this famous writer I kind of have a huge crush on. I’ve never met him, but he’s coming to campus next week, and I don’t know if I’m going to be able to control myself around him. I mean, he’s not only talented, but he’s sooo beautiful. How do I keep from acting like an idiot?


Dear Smitten:
Oh, honey. I promise he’s not as attractive as his author photo. Like, I’ll bet you six hundred bucks. Have you seriously not met a writer before? Problem solved.



Dear Advice Person Lady,
An interviewer said she loved my book, but all the questions she sent me were based on the acknowledgments at the back of the book. And the questions were stupid—she clearly hadn’t read it. When I write back, can I say something snarky like “I hope you do enjoy the book if and when you get a chance to read it”?


Dear Annoyed,
That depends. Are you a child under the age of ten? Then go for it.

Good luck,


Dear Advice Person Lady,
My publicist told me I need a Facebook page. I think I’ll just make an author page that people can “like,” and once every three weeks I’ll post something there in the third person. Cool?

Above It All

Dear Above It All,
Not cool.



Dear Advice Person Lady,
This one woman I met at a conference keeps emailing me about every poem I publish, and she’s really sweet, but I keep getting the feeling she’s about to ask me for a favor, and it makes me really uncomfortable. Can I unfriend her on Facebook?


Dear Nervous,
I’m sure it’s nothing. Some people are just poetry fans. Yay, verse!



Dear Advice Person Lady,
I became Facebook friends with a well-connected poet. I’ve liked 300 of her statuses, written to her about all her work, and when she tweets photos of her dog, I always tweet back something like, “Haha, cute dog, LOL.” Have I earned the right to ask her to read my 400-page novel in verse and get back to me this fall with her edits?


Dear Hopeful,
Oh dear. Oh, dear God.

Deleting Her Internet Presence,


Dear Advice Person Lady,
I know you’re not supposed to respond to reviews. But someone in a national newspaper made a big deal about my character’s dog, and my character doesn’t have a dog. And he quoted me out of context, so it sounded like the homophobic thing a character said was really what I thought. And he said I was 58, when I’m only 36.

Can I sue him?


Dear Livid,

Dear APL,
But can I, like, get him fired?


Do they not have fact checkers at these places?
—Still Livid

Afraid not.

So he can just make stuff up about my book, stuff that makes me look bad, and I can’t do anything?

Poor Livid—

Okay. Cool.

Dearest Livid,
Here, have a drink.
Love, APL


Dear Advice Person Lady,

Six months ago, I submitted a story to Tuskamawchee Review. Their website said they accept online and paper submissions, so I thought I’d submit on paper to stand out from the pack. I stapled the story in the left-hand corner. But a friend of mine says she never staples paper submissions, because some editors want to lay the pages out on the desk. Now I can’t sleep, and I’m worried the reason I haven’t heard back yet is that I’ve made this terrible first impression. Is there some way to call them and ask for the submission back without saying why, and then resubmit it with a different title, with a paperclip instead? Will they know?


Dear Flummoxed,
What the hell is wrong with you? All of you? I mean, all of us? Okay, yes. What you need to do is sneak into the office in the dead of night. If you can’t find your submission, just burn the place to the ground. Wait six months, and resubmit.

Go For It,


Dear Advice Person Lady:
So there’s this woman who reviewed my book on Goodreads, and I—


Wait, what?

The answer is stop.

You haven’t heard my question!

Yes, I have. Stop what you’re doing, and step away from the computer.

Can I just ask my question?

Okay, fine.

Okay, she said some really unfair things, and I was thinking that maybe I could start this second Goodreads account under a fake name and then—



Dear Advice Person Lady:
An agent replied to my query and asked for ten pages. She declined, based on those pages. I sent her a follow-up fax, and she didn’t respond. She didn’t respond to my subsequent offers of revision, or to my invitation to meet for lunch. But in the cease and desist letter, she used my first name. Should I take this as an invitation to resubmit?

Looking on the Bright Side

Dear Bright Side,
Yes. Yes, that is definitely what that means. Good luck, Bright Side. Godspeed.



Dear Advice Person Lady,
I’ve started using the #AmWriting hashtag in everyday conversation, because I feel it helps people to see me as a writer. For example, if I’m sitting at the bar scribbling in my Moleskine, I’ll order up a Negroni and then do the pound sign with my fingers at the bartender and say “Am Writing,” and he’ll look at me in this sort of knowing way. But lately my girlfriend has been threatening to leave me. She’s just jealous, right?

#AmWriting #MenWrite #WritingLife #WriteStuff

Dear Hashtag,
Oh, for sure. Time to move on and move up. I have several letter writers to fix you up with.

#AmQuitting, #SolveYourOwnDamnProblemsWriters,

Similar Posts