13 Helpful Comments to Inspire a Mystery Writer

Yesterday I saw an S.M.S. (Save My Sanity) tweet from a mystery author I’ve never met. Let’s call her Angie. She was manning her table at a book festival when a passerby noted her banner and estimated the likely number of readers for Angie’s sub-genre: 3. That could have ruined Angie’s day, if she hadn’t sold a bunch of books—and figured out a crucial element for her next mystery at the same time.

Most people have no clue they’ve touched on a writer’s last nerve (or at least deflated an ego). They don’t understand the crazy business of writing and publishing. Hey, who does? And sure, some authors might be a teensy bit sensitive sometimes. But mystery writers actually welcome this type of helpful input.

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You never hear about mystery, thriller, and suspense novelists taking revenge on their muses in real life. Well, rarely, anyway. They really do appreciate any inspiration you can give them for their characters and plots. Maybe you’d even like to appear in someone’s next book, but you don’t have the inclination to enter contests or bid at a charity auction for naming rights. Well, you’re in luck. Here’s a baker’s dozen list of handy-dandy things you can say to get a mystery writer’s attention—and appear in one of their books for free!

13 Helpful Comments to Inspire a Mystery Writer  

#13: Have I ever heard of you? I don’t think I’ve seen you on any bestseller lists.

#12: You’re kidding, your book’s not done yet? You’ve been working on that thing forever.

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#11: A mystery writer, huh? So you’re like Kathy Bates in Misery. (Answer: Yes, but she didn’t play the writer character.)

#10: Wow, I saw online that your book is $2.99 already. Too bad your publisher had to put it on fire sale so soon.

#9: Oh, you’re an ebook author? I only read print books. You know, real ones.

#8: (Same commenter as #9): I need to get rid of all my books at home. I can’t stand clutter.

#7: (Sipping a 6-buck latte): I never buy books. They’re so expensive. I save my money for important things.

#6: (Strangers on planes): Hey, can you sign one of your books and send it to me?

#5: (To kids’ book and YA authors): When do you get to graduate? You know, write grown-up books?

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#4: That must be fun, getting to write. Wish I could do that, too, but I have an actual J.O.B.

#3: So how much money do you get? I bet Stephen King makes tons. But you’re not Stephen King, ha ha.

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#2: That’s funny, you don’t look like your author photo. When was it taken? (Answer: 6 months ago.)

And the #1 Most Helpful Comment to Inspire a Mystery Author (*drum roll*):

 #1: Eww. How can you write about murder? (Answer: Very easily, heh heh).

Readers and writers, what’s the most negative (er, helpful) piece of advice–or inspiration–you’ve ever received? Have you ever appeared (to your knowledge) in a book?

51 thoughts on “13 Helpful Comments to Inspire a Mystery Writer

    1. Ha, not sure which is worse–the idea that books aren’t important, or that the commenter knows they’re addressing a penniless author. Or maybe I just want that latte…

      Liked by 2 people

  1. I should be so lucky to receive any advice, snarky or otherwise. However, I will share my fave 1-star review for my book Sniper!:

    0 STars (sic) I don’t know why I even finished it ! Two lesbians and one man living together as a fam.

    Well, at least she finished it…

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Dear Liza~ Uhhh, Lisa, 😉
    There is one author I read who had photos taken and just changed her hair afterward. LOL! I am guilty of thinking, “wait… that’s XYZ?! ” A new color threw me.

    Heck, I just try to not fangirl out when I get to meet an author I adore. While I will say how awesome I feel y’all are, I try to limit it to once, twice tops- not 50,000 times. That’s my biggest blunder. Hey, have I told you you’re awesome yet today?

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Dear Jean… Uhh, Jen~
        What IS in my coffee this morning? Anyway, want to meet at a night market sometime? Just a random suggestion. Means nothing. I’ll spring for some Bubble Tea and a Hot Pot… means nothing…

        Liked by 2 people

  3. I get the bestseller list question a lot–or the corollary: What have you written? Then they proceed to think really hard whether they’re heard of my titles or not. And just the other day, I was asked what I did for a living. I said “author,” which they misheard as “doctor.” They were quite impressed until I had to correct them–ha!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Ouch! Great passive/aggressive list, Lisa. There’s also, “Do they really sell your book in bookstores?” And you saying your name and getting, “that’s not your real name, right, because who’d have a name like that?”

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Moi? Passive aggressive? I truly meant every word. 😉 But those are great adds to the list, Priscilla! I’ve had a lot of people ask whether the “Q” in my name stands for “quirky.” As if I’d have picked that letter for my (now maiden) name, lol.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Does my confession that I’ve bought the book but haven’t read it yet go on the list?

    And I have appeared in about half a dozen books by name. Not so much me personally, but my name. Anyone looking to name a character is free to grab Mark Baker.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Okay, we’re on it, Mark! You’ll be the most popular and prolific character ever. And as to the confession, hardworking book blogger/reviewers are always off the hook! (Readers, carstairsconsiders.blogspot.com is Mark’s wonderful blog!)

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I get #6 a lot. Or they’ll ask if they can borrow the book from me to read. (I generally respond with: “Why don’t you ask your library to get it?”)

    The other one I get a lot is: “Hey, I have a GREAT idea for a story for you!” Which I don’t particularly mind, as even if they’re lousy ideas (which they most often are), sometimes they’re quite entertaining, and they say a lot about the person telling the story….

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Leslie, I am always impressed by your glass half-full (all-full?) attitude! Usually I react to story ideas with genuine enthusiasm and then 5 different ways the story could go and I can tell right away the commenter is horrified by the reality of me “helping.”

      Liked by 2 people

    1. But Kathy, it’d be so eeeeeeazzzy!! Hmm, maybe it actually would be, if we all traded manuscripts mid-way. I seem to remember such an assignment in grade school. (We had to illustrate each other’s stories, too.)

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Love these and I’ve heard most of them. One of my favorites is at a booksigning when they ask if you’ll sell your book at half price. Also, when someone asks my husband why he still works since I’m an “author.” LOL!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I hope your hubby isn’t getting too many big ideas about how to spend all that cashola, Mary! I remember my dad turned one of my Lizzie McGuire Mystery paperbacks over in the early aughts to see the price and said, “Less than a greeting card?” He wasn’t commenting, just kind of musing aloud as he puzzled out the economic model. At today’s prices, one book at 50% discount = how many greeting cards? (Just in time for the holidays!)

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Omg, I laughed out loud. Then cried a little. I’m relatively new to this writing gig, but I still can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been told, “I wish I had time on my hands to write a book…” Or something to that effect. As if I was sitting around on my chaise lounge eating bon bons (what even are bon bons…?) and suddenly picked up a pen and jotted down a book…

    Liked by 2 people

  10. There are two that get repeated to me over and over, by the same two people, that crack me up every time (Every time, but these people need to
    get new material, not everyone would know how unwittingly revealing they are.)

    1. I read your first book…

    2. I have a bunch of ISBN numbers. Do you want them?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, these are priceless, Mary! And sure, who couldn’t use a few extra ISBNs–something to consider as the holidays approach?


  11. Old faves:
    -Me, sitting behind a stack of my books in a bookstore, holding a pen. Shopper asks, “Are you the author?”
    Can’t believe how many times this has happened!!

    – “What kind of books do you write?”
    Me: Mysteries, cozies
    “Oh, I never read those!”

    Liked by 1 person

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