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Dianne Salerni : Writer of Teen and Middle Grade Fiction | The F13 Button

The F13 Button

Has this ever happened to you?
You’re at work or at a party. Someone asks you about your writing and then quickly follows up with: “Can you give me a quick tip on how to get published?  … get an agent? … get a blog started? … write a book?”
And you’re thinking: “A quick tip? A quick tip?”
If you’re like me, you’ll start to explain the whole process – the long journey, the hard work, the research, making the connections and reading the blogs.  And if you’re like me, you’ll see that disappointed face looking back at you.
It’s as if they want you to say: “Oh! To publish a book, just press F13 on your computer. It will upload directly to Amazon, and a Bat Signal will be sent out to agents, who then will flock to your doorway!”  But instead, you have refused to tell them the location of the F13 Button, just out of professional jealousy.
In the years since I first published a book, I’ve only had a couple people take my advice, buckle down for the hard work and professional research that must be done to make any progress in the writing world.  Everyone else seemed irritated by the lack of a F13 Button.
What do you do, when somebody asks you for “a quick tip?”  How do you break the truth to them and … um, not sound like a jerk?

25 Responses to The F13 Button

  1. Sarah says:

    I actually haven’t had anyone ask me how to get published. Hmmm. But if they ever do, I’m TOTALLY going to say, “Oh. Just hit F13.” Yep. Thanks, Dianne!

  2. I tell people to join on-line writing communities to start. At least that way they can hear the experiences of others and I won’t have to tell them how tough this industry really is, not to mention how tough writing a book really is.

  3. Suze says:

    F13. Clever. 🙂

  4. Linda G. says:

    LOL! Dang. If only I knew about the F13 button I could have saved myself a heck of a lot of work.

  5. Julie Dao says:

    Hahaha YES. I had a co-worker ask me to “teach” her about the whole process over dinner one night… the whole process including how to write the novel itself. *shakes head*

  6. Chris Fries says:

    The most eyebrow-raising, mouth-gaping one I’ve ever heard is:

    “Oh you’re a writer? You know, I’ve got a really awesome idea for a book, but I don’t how to write it and I don’t really have the time. Maybe I could just tell you about the idea and you could write it for me? I’d split the money with you…”

    And after I said no thanks, they tried to win me over with the “awesome idea” anyway — think yet another Twilight-ish vampire-in-love rehash. With dragons. And transformer-like super-robot cars.

    Ummmm… Right.

    Sorry, but I’m still going with “No thanks.”

  7. Darn, life would be much easier if there were colored lines we could follow to every destination and a magical F-13 shortcut button. But if there were, we’d miss the journey. (Of course, for some people, I reckon sidestepping that journey is the goal!) Very clever post.

  8. AmyMak says:

    I think I’d fall over and pretend to play dead. Or maybe I’d laugh. There is nothing quick about it!

  9. I’ve gotten some interesting comments and questions, but no requests for quick tips.

    My quick tip would be:

    1) Read everything you can in your genre and buy a Writer’s Digest Guide to Literary Agents book.

    2) Write, write, write.

    Quick enough to say, but not so quick to do.

  10. I’m just starting to set boundaries about reading others’ writing, which isn’t exactly what you’re talking about here, but kinda.

  11. Angela Brown says:

    I try to tell them they’ll get what they put out.

    If they want something quick and easy, there’s probably an app for that.

    But, if they want to get an agent or want to self-pub something they can be proud of, then I tell them to get ready for a few sleepless nights and to not quit their day job. May come off sounding like a jerk, but it’s the truth.

  12. Becca says:

    I actually am frustrated by the lack of an F13 button. It would make things so much easier.

    I’ve never really been asked for advice, mostly because I’ve never been published. I procrastinate, and I don’t have any connection, really, so I’m probably not the best person to go to anyway.

    What irks me is when people ask me why I’m not published yet, and they think “it can’t be that hard, can it?” They think just because self-publishing is an option now, all my problems should be solved. And then there’s the people that I can explain the process to a million times, and they still don’t get it.

  13. Lexa Cain says:

    At least you have people interested enough to ask. I just keep yapping writer shop-talk to my friends while they try to keep from yawning. My family’s the same. They have zero interest in publishing. My hubby’s interested — but only in asking if I’m making money yet…

  14. No one’s ever asked me either – in fact a lot of my friends don’t even like books that much, apart from best sellers. I’ve stopped recommending books to read because they never like them! Sorry, that’s a different topic lol

    If I were you, I’d be flattered that they’re taking an interest. And at least your educating them that you, I and even JK Rowling struggle.

  15. Hahahaha yeah I know. I explain. And then if they ask again, I explain again. If they ask a third time, I just don’t reply.

    Only for so long will I waste my time.

    Exception being if someone says: “How hard could it be to write a book/get published/run a successful blog?” In that case I become a total jerk, give them my best you’re-an-idiot expression and walk away.

  16. mshatch says:

    I try not to talk about my writing with my family since I can tell that A)most of them aren’t really that interested, and B) they certainly don’t believe I’ll ever get published – except for my sister in CA and my mom in FL – they believe. The rest think of it as a hobby, like knitting.

  17. Tonja says:

    There’s definitely nothing quick about it. 🙂

    Once I had someone ask me to give them a one hour crash course on software development and database design. Nothing’s that easy.

  18. BWAHAHA. I’ve only had people say “I’ve always wanted to write a book– I have a GREAT story idea.” Um, yeah…get going, then. 😀

  19. H, Dianne! I’m not currently published, so no one is asking me for advice on how to get to that point.

  20. Susan Oloier says:

    No one has asked me for any tips yet. I guess I’ll know I’ve graduated when they do. Instead, when I tell them I’m a writer, they give me a courtesy nod and change the conversation. Hmmm…

  21. LJ ODonnell says:

    We had an F-13 function in an old government IT system. I don’t recall what it did, but we had 22 function keys which did something like page forward, back, move to another function, edit some data field, go to somewhere etc.

    So all of you who want to get published the easy way- shift+F1 should provide all the help you need… Try it.

  22. LTM says:

    Would somebody PLEASE invent that F13 button??? LOL!

    No, I don’t get the “quick tip” question. What I get is, “Would you read this and tell me if I could get it published?”

    uhhh…. That one makes me feel ill all the time. Because the chances are great it’s a shelf novel, and who wants to crush those dreams? :p <3

  23. I tell them the sad truth from my own experience. Then I say, “But don’t let that stop you. Go for it. You might get lucky.” So I guess that’s my F13 button. 🙂

  24. What???? You mean that isn’t how you do it? Oh, no! I’ve been doing it all wrong. 🙁

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