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The 10 Worst Things You Can Say to a Writer During a Book Launch

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Remember “Romper Room,” that classic children’s TV show? There was this giant bee that would come on, cautioning kids to mind their manners and be a “Good Do Bee.”

This week I feel like that giant bumblebee is sitting on my shoulder while I launch my new novel, BEACH PLUM ISLAND. I’m doing everything a Good Do Bee should: social media, radio interviews, library and bookstore readings, even TV. I’m also trying not to play the Don’t Bee by avoiding the constant temptation to Google my Amazon numbers. The song playing in my head goes like this: “Do bee a book tweeter! Don’t bee a review reader!”

I’m lucky to have such wonderful friends and a supportive husband who have been propping me up and hauling me off the ledge during this head-spinning time. Those of us who are writers, or friends of writers, know that writing a book is a lot like the first weeks of motherhood, where you’re binge eating, weeping, laughing hysterically, and want to sleep but can’t. You admire your little miracle but are terrified to take it anywhere; you mostly want to hole up alone in the house, but there are all of those darn doctor’s visits and people dropping in unexpectedly. Some people say things that help you get through the day, but others make you cry all over again.

For anyone who knows a writer launching a book, therefore, I have compiled a list of things NOT to say if you want to avoid provoking a tearful outburst:

1. “You’ve got a book coming out? Congratulations! I sure wish I had time to read.”

2. “So you’re publishing a book, huh? Good to know. I could use your help. My book’s only halfway done, but I’ve already got over a thousand pages.”

3. “I’ve heard that bad reviews are better than no reviews at all.”

4. “Where’s your publisher sending you on tour? That must be so cool to ride in a limo.”

5. “I’d never have the free time to write a book.”

6. “Hey, now that you’ve published a book, can you give me a blurb for mine?”

7. “I’m surprised the publishing industry hasn’t gone under. You know, with video games and NetFlix. Oh, and did you hear they’re closing that bookstore downtown?”

8. “I’ll have to look for your book on Amazon. It’s amazing how many books I’ve downloaded for free on my Kindle.”

9. “I’ve heard that to make money writing, you really should try erotica.”

10. “When’s the movie coming out?”

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