Until I became a writer, I had no idea how mysterious the profession was for non-writers. For the most part, I'm happy to answer questions. I try to be gracious, but there are always a few people who throw out the most bizarre comments/questions you could imagine. They always take me by surprise, but I've crafted my responses to actual comments below with a little tongue-in-cheek humor:
1) How much do you make? I think this one makes the list for obvious reasons. I will happily tell you what I make if you'd like to whip out your tax returns from the last three years along with your debt to income ratio, current credit card statements, and balance of your checking and saving accounts. What? You don't want to because that's too personal? Huh. Go figure.
3) It must be so nice to work from home. Um...sometimes it is. Actually go ahead and say this to a writer. Unless they have a day job, which most do. If that's the case, you should say, "Wow, you find time to write on top of a 40 hour a week job? That's amazing." Because it really is. Please don't follow it with anything related to ignoring their children.
4 & 5) Publishing must be easy, right? Followed quickly by, I should write a book. Sure it's easy. For those of us who can write. Just like singing is easy for those who have an amazing set of pipes. Or being a first draft NBA pick is easy for guys with phenomenal basketball skills. Writers work hard to master the art of story telling. Anyone who tells you it's easy is a liar.
6) Can't you stop writing long enough for the BBQ (movie/camping trip/meeting/etc.)? Absolutely. As soon as you clear it with my editor, publisher, publicist, and the other people waiting for me to make my deadline. Also, next time you have a big project due at work, I want you to skip it so we can get a mani/pedi and a latte. Sound good?
7) Said with a sneer, You write romance (urban fantasy/YA/books about Bigfoot)? Why yes, I do. Tell me again why you sell nuts and screws for a living/sit on a tractor/make sandwiches/defend criminals/answer phones/draw blood? To each their own, my friend.
8) Will you recommend my book to your agent/editor/publisher? Nope. For two reasons. First, I have no idea how well or how poorly you write. When you ask me for a recommendation, you're asking me to put my reputation on the line. Second, published writers busted their butts to get where they are. Earn your own stripes. I'll happily recommend books and websites for you to get started.
9) Can I have a copy of your book? Of course. Feel free to purchase it at the nearest bookstore or online. I appreciate your support. Oh, you wanted a free copy? Wow, so do I. Guess we're both out of luck. Wait, don't you work on a car lot? How about I'll buy you a copy of my book, and you get me a newer car. Deal?
11) How did so-and-so writer get a book deal? Their writing sucks. Good question. Go ask their editor and agent, and be sure to tell them that you think the author sucks. You should also ask the thousands--or millions--of fans who bought the book. By the way, disgruntled writers are easy to spot. Instead of insulting another writer, why don't you focus on getting your own book deal?
And that, my friends, is a brief list of things you should never say to a writer. Did I miss any?