Should You Tell People You’re Writing a Book?

So you’ve decided to write a book. Should you share that information with your friends and loved ones?

I don’t know what the “right” answer is, but here’s my opinion:

  1. Only if you’re very serious about it.
  2. Only tell people who have a track record of supporting you.

What qualifies as very serious? You’ve started writing, you have a plan, and you’re completely committed to finishing. There’s not much worse for a writer than someone asking, “What happened to that book?” when you know you abandoned it a long time ago.

My original intent was to tell no one about the book I’m writing now until the first draft was finished. I haven’t told very many people, but even telling a couple of my closest friends and family members feels risky to me. I want the people in my life to understand that this isn’t another one of my short-lived hobbies.

One of the worst questions people ask is, “what is it about?”. I read and write all the time because talking is not my forte – I don’t want to describe what my book is about. Someone asks me and I panic, because I know I can’t do my idea justice verbally. Lately, I’ve started saying that it’s a thriller so if I explain the plot it will ruin the story. Explaining the plot would not ruin the story at all, but it’s a great excuse.

Only telling people who support you – that’s a tricky one. Even if someone has been enthusiastic about every other goal you set in life, there’s no guarantee that they will be thrilled about you writing a book. Writing has been portrayed in such a grossly romanticized way in popular culture. That’s one of the reasons it took me so long to realize I wanted to be a writer. At first I thought I wasn’t worldly or tortured enough. I didn’t have a big flowery vocabulary. Eventually, I realized that my favorite writers weren’t necessarily tortured souls and purposefully kept their word choice simple, so there was no reason I couldn’t have an audience for my writing. My point is, people are going to hear you want to be a writer and have all sorts of preconceived notions about it.

If you decide to tell anyone about your book before it’s finished, be prepared to brush any negative/stupid comments off, because there may be a lot of them. Also, brush off any suggestions and advice that aren’t coming from a published author. Take even published author’s advice with a grain of salt. They found success through one avenue specific to them. Your career will play out differently. Once your first draft is done, consider all the advice you can get. Guard your unfinished first draft fiercely, that’s your baby.