In my long and sometimes bizarre career, I have been asked to do a lot of things, by my publisher and others. The former once decided to send me to various festivals, not to sell my books, but to promote those of a male author who didn’t sell that well with women. It was their nickel and I liked said author, so I went and hopefully sold a few of my own books, too. But many years on, this still hurts.
Other things I’ve been asked to do include:
“helping” someone I’ve just meant by writing a story they could put their name on to get their career going.
traveling overnight to speak at a group or library for no compensation. When I mention this, the response is always “But you’ll get to sell your books!”
sending a manuscript I haven’t read by someone I don’t know to my agent with a recommendation.
You get the idea. I suppose I’m an awful curmudgeon who doesn’t want to help unpublished writers because I’m afraid they’ll steal my readers (?) But there are things I will do. I’ll talk about writing at my local libraries and schools. I’ll recommend work I like. I’ll encourage people who say they want to write (as in Camille’s piece) I’ll attend signings by people I know or whose work I like and even buy the books and make cookies.
I know people ask doctors and plumbers for advice at parties but you wouldn’t ask them for a complete physical or to put a new bathroom in your house without paying, would you? But I often am asked to do the equivalent by people who seem to think I’d be thrilled to give up my time and integrity for them. The older I get, the grumpier I become. Actually, it’s been a couple of years since I’ve been asked something beyond the pale. Maybe word has gone round that I don’t appreciate their kind offers.