Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Myths About the Publishing World

I'm feeling reflective this morning...or maybe it's just my extremely boggled head from the 11-hour drive with my children through thunder storms yesterday. Whatever the reason, I'm realizing there were a lot of things that I, and others assumed, about the publishing world, and through this past year many of those ideas have crashed and burned, for better or worse.

Here are the myths I've come to realize, and I'm sure there are exceptions, but these are myths I've experienced or seen from my own personal experiences and the experiences of my friends:

~ Authors are rich. People assume when you publish a book with one of the big six the dough starts rolling in. This couldn't be further from the truth (except, perhaps, in the case of the select few who get mega-marketing and immediate bestseller status, but I don't know any of them personally to be able to ask). It's for this reason that I have to say "no" to the many requests I receive for signed books. :( 

~ Once you're picked-up by a big publishing house you get a welcome packet, you're embraced into the "family fold" and things start happening right away.  *hears crickets*

~ Authors have a hand in the cover-making process and big decisions such as publication date. Uh-uh. For this you've got to just sit back, relax, and trust.  

~ Publishers send all their authors on tours and travels to do signings. Nope. Unless you're one of those bestsellers spoken of above, it's out of your own pocket.

~ Publishers provide their authors with swag. *shakes head*

~ When you change your profiles to reflect your author status, all of the famous authors you adore will suddenly give you the time of day.

~ Authors get lots of free books and perks. *sniff, sniff* This was a hard truth for me to swallow, because I was really looking forward to free books, lol. And as a published author, I feel like it's kind of wrong to enter blogging giveaways and stuff, so freebies are out of the question. I do know of some authors who are sent free books by their editors unsolicited, for them to review, etc, but this hasn't been the case for me. (although I begged my awesome marketing girl for an Insurgent ARC and she kindly lent me hers, woot!)

~ Self-publishing is only for mediocre books that can't get published in the traditional way. Wrong. More and more people are choosing this route for their well-written, gorgeous stories because it's faster, they have control over the process, and they don't have to give 90+ percent to the publisher. In many cases it's just a smart move, especially if you have people who will do a thorough edit for you.

Please don't mistake this post for griping.  I was ignorant about a lot of things, and I'm just sharing the knowledge. When it comes down to it, publishing is a money-making business.  Publishers can't be expected to dote on hundreds of authors.  If you want those warm, fuzzy feelings, look to your fans. They're the awesome ones handing out cyber hugs and encouragement. And embrace your critique partners who are in the same boat as you.  Keep each other positive, and above all KEEP WRITING. Because that's what it's all about.

Hugs, Wendy


  1. FAB post, Wendy.

    Well said.

  2. These are right in line with other posts I've read from published authors. It's not about becoming disillusioned, it's about adjusting your expectations--and posts like this help us do that. Thanks!

  3. Ah, I remember the golden days years ago when I cherished all these myths as true... :) I think it's good you shared this post. It's so easy to get swept up in the glamour and miss out on the reality that it's a business and (an albeit amazing) job.

    1. Exactly! It's the best job in the world and I wouldn't trade it for anything! But we writers tend to romanticize publication in ways we probably shouldn't.

  4. Sounds like you've been on the same learning curve as I have in the last year or so. Shocking, isn't it.

  5. Thanks Wendy! This is a great post!

  6. Awesome post! I think there are a ton of people who probably do believe the myths. I hadn't known about the tours until I started blogging but I was pretty aware of the other stuff. But people I talk to are always surprised. They thought it was instant stardom. Or that it was one big club.

    Not quite the case. Though of course I wish all of those things were true - that you rubbed elbows with other authors at some private club, were showered with money and books, were given swag and sent on tours and got to stay in lavish hotels. Because what you guys do is amazing and you deserve it all.

    But it is a business. And there is a lot of overhead and business planning and marketing and editing that goes into putting out a book so it's unfortunate that a larger cut doesn't get to go to the author.

    Just keep writing as brilliantly as you do and hopefully some of those myths will become reality. :)

    1. Thanks Rachel! So much goes on "behind the scenes" in a publishing house. I can't even pretend to know all that goes into it.

  7. I still feel that signing with a publisher as opposed to self-publishing is that stamp of approval: you ARE an author. This is far from the truth, but a myth (or just plain prejudice) that I've come to believe for myself.

    The thing is, you can have a wonderful book with talented writing, but if the content does not suit the publisher (I would imagine it wouldn't produce enough money) they will more than likely pass it up. It's too soon, or too late.

    So, if you truly believe in your work, should you self-publish? Or, do you remain patient, and query at the right time? Or, is it different for every writer, as it should be?

    Thank you for this post.

  8. Hey Wendy - Just keep writing. One review on Amazon for me made it all worth it!