This is important.

Very, very important.

Do not, and I repeat do not email, tweet, DM, Facebook message, or otherwise contact me asking for advice when you don’t know who I am. And do not, and I repeat do not do this while also insulting me. Remember that old Yiddish proverb: don’t waste your time trying to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and annoys the pig. Likewise, I’m going to be annoyed–and think a whole lot less of you. Because I know that, chances are, you’ve sent the exact same missive to a dozen other people. Or more. And that you’re not invested enough in your own success to ask yourself the most important question: is this someone I want to be more like?

You should never take advice from anyone you don’t want to be more like.

Commonly, people message me asking for advice about the craft, or their career, and are unable to name a single one of my books. How’d they find me? Who knows! I’m not such a megalomaniac that I think everyone needs to read my books but if you haven’t, how on earth can you know whether you want my advice? More than one person has contacted me, told me quite confidently that no they haven’t read my books, and then rhapsodized about how they want to be just like Brandon Sanderson. Putting aside the fact that no one ever set the river on fire with plagiarism, however well-intended, I am nothing like Brandon Sanderson. If you love his stuff, you’re going to hate mine. So listen up, Sanderson-ites: I am the last, the very last person whose creative depths you want to plumb.

And he and I, our careers are also nothing alike. Asking someone who made a conscious, mindful decision to reject traditional publishing for advice on how to succeed within the framework of traditional publishing is…not logical. Now, do you want to talk about traditional publishing and racism? I’m your girl!

People also contact me, via Wattpad, to ask if I have any advice on either a) growing one’s follower base or b) growing one’s writing abilities. Why yes, I do. A ten second perusal of my profile is going to indicate that. And my purpose isn’t to call anyone out, here, or to be mean but–come on. You’re going to get more out of your conversation with me if you’re actually, like, talking to me. You know, the individual. As opposed to spamming everyone with a story that’s gotten over a million reads. You’re not just wasting my time, in this scenario; you’re also, (much) more importantly to you, wasting your own.

And finally, don’t insult me.

Don’t tell me, someone you’ve literally never interacted with before, that you write for love. That you don’t care about filthy lucre, that you’re not like those assholes who only do this to turn a profit. That’s kind of putting me down, dude. And, thus, not starting our relationship off on a high note. The fact is, writing is a bitch of a career and all of us, regardless of our level of success, are doing it out of love.

No one–no one sane, anyway–decides to make some “easy money” by pouring their heart and soul out. You write for profit, because you’d still be writing if you were alone on a desert island but the vagaries of modern society mean you’ve still gotta eat. The average self-published writer, according to Forbes, makes 5,000 USD per year. The average traditionally published (as in Top Five) author, meanwhile, makes the far princelier sum of 10,000 USD. Those of us in the “winner’s circle,” the top 5% of earners, often make as much as a cashier at a supermarket!

So listen. I want to make friends. I really do. But you’ve got to do your part, by…well, doing something.