As writers, we are often viewed by “normal” (read: non-creative types) as strange and exotic creatures, something in a zoo to be studied, fascinated. People ask us all kinds of questions. I am always split on how I feel about these questions. If I’m being asked about my work, the world I created, the characters, what I’m working on now, etc. by somebody who obviously is genuinely interested, I get excited, because, like anybody else, I really enjoy talking about all those things. This is my passion, and I love to share it. I mean, that’s why I write, after all. I want to share these stories. If I’m asked the same stuff by someone who’s asking because they feel like they ought to, but whose eyes immediately glaze over two sentences in to an explanation of how I just got to the first pinch point and hero and heroine are getting their butts kicked, I wind up feeling bad, like I’m boring them, and then I wished they hadn’t asked at all, but instead just said “that’s interesting” and moved on to safer conversation waters.
I tend to have more of the latter conversations in real life. Which is why when those isolated truly interested folks pop up, it’s such a joy. One of hubby’s BFF’s was in town with his wife and kids over Christmas and we went out to dinner with them. First thing out of her mouth was to ask how the work was going and what I was working on. I totally wanted to hug her neck and cry because she was honestly interested and not just paying it lip service.
But there is one area of the whole writing gig that I feel is completely off limits. Something I feel falls into the same dicey bracket as politic, religion, and exes.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I have no problem whatsoever discussing sales with people who are IN the industry. People for whom ranking and number of copies sold and profits actually MEAN something because they have a frame of reference for interpretation or because they’re using them in their pitches of your awesome to other people (that would be my agent, yo). I talk about sales with my CP all the time as we discuss marketing strategies and such. I’ve even made periodic reports talking about sales in general here on the blog because I know I’m a hub for a lot of indie authors and it matters to us. But these are effectively intimate business relationships. That’s where it ends for me.
Sales are not something I think is an appropriate topic of conversation with writers. There is a family member in my life who only EVER asks about sales. Every time the subject of my writing comes up. Down to wanting specific “How many have you sold this week? How many today? How much money have you made?” This, to me, is tantamount to asking to see into my bank account, which is just flat no one’s business but my own. It’s never asked in conjunction with how the work is going, what I’m working on, or any of the legitimate questions, which generally makes me feel like, to her, my writing has zero value outside the dollars and cents that it makes. It makes me really, really angry. I’d rather she ask nothing at all than ever bring up sales again and it makes me never ever want to talk about my writing.
I don’t write because of the money. Obviously, I love doing it and I hope to be able to do it for a living someday. But the money is absolutely the least important part of the equation. The value of my work is not measured by profits. Not by me and not by my legitimate fans. It’s measured by good reviews and fan mail from people squeeing over how awesome they thought this or that story was and OMG when is the next one coming out. It’s measured by the joy and pleasure I get writing and by the improvement I see in my craft from book to book. To ask about nothing but sales, to me, devalues all of the important stuff.
So writers, weigh in on this. Do you agree that sales are a taboo topic to be asked about by non-writers? Or am I being overly sensitive?