Yes, someone said this to me. It took a huge amount of self-control not to burst out laughing. A small percentage of authors can live off their writing. A much, much smaller percentage get rich from it. Most of us are lucky to get a month’s wages out of a year’s worth of writing income.
2. Once you get one book published, it’s easy to get published after that.
While it is easier to get the second book published than the first, easy is a relative term. It’s still highly competitive and has to be what the publisher or agent happens to be looking for at the time. Unless you’re a household name, there are no free passes.
3. If I quickly write a book and upload it to Kindle, the money will just start rolling in.
Kindle is home to millions of books. MILLIONS. The only way readers are going to find your book is if you put in the hard work of marketing to bring it to readers’ attention. About a decade ago, authors were making a bundle on ebooks, but that era has passed.
4. I managed to get a literary agent, now I’ve got it made in the shade.
Finding an agent who is interested in representing you is a huge feat, and I don’t want to belittle that in any way. However, the agent has to pitch your book to publishers, and if there are no takers, you’re back where you started.
5. I had a friend who is good with grammar edit my book, so it’s ready for publication.
Editing for grammar, spelling and punctuation is only one small part of the editing process. When people hear the word “edit”, they usually think of copy editing. Your book should undergo four levels of editing before it lands in the hands of readers—developmental, substantive, copy edit and proofread. There’s much more to making your book shine that setting commas in place.
6. Publishers are crooks who take all the money and give authors a tiny share.
In reality, publishers end up with about the same share of the retail price of the book as authors. Who takes the largest chunk of money from book sales? Retailers take between 40 and 55%. You must also figure in the costs of printing and distributing the book. The author and publisher end up with what’s left.
7. I’ve written an awesome book, so I need to get it on the market fast.
Nope. Take your time. Make it the best it can be. You can’t predict trends and behaviors. The book that has the best chance in the marketplace is the book that’s well written, well planned, well edited and well designed and these things all take time. Publishing is a marathon, not a sprint.
8. I keep getting rejections, so I must not be a very good writer.
Every writer faces this thought. Maybe your book could be better, so learn more about the writing craft, get some honest beta readers, attend a conference or take some classes. If you’ve done those things and the rejections continue to roll in, keep in mind that finding the right agent or publisher on the right day for the right project is all luck. Pure and simple. If you’ve honed your writing and haven’t found a home for your manuscript, keep trying. Eventually, your number will be up. It’s all about perseverance.
What were your misconceptions when you first started writing? Share them in the comments below.
Melinda Marshall Friesen writes sci-fi novels and short stories for teens and adults, and she works as marketing director at Rebelight Publishing Inc. She lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada with her family.