Many first-time authors make assumptions about the book writing and publishing process, so I’ve created a quick resource to help dispel some of those myths. If you are writing a book, or considering it, congratulations – there are few things in life that will be so hard or rewarding as having put in the work to create a tangible book of which you can be proud.
Myth 1: All I need to do is write
While writing is the primary task of the writer, it is not the only one.
The book must have a form/structure, direction, a certain command of the English language, and offer some level of value to the intended reader. Without that, it is simply words and not marketable, nor readable, in many cases. Be sure to learn about the craft of writing, whether on your own or with a book coach. So, now you are probably facing the question: “But, isn’t it the editor’s job to clean up my mistakes?”
Myth 2: It’s my editor’s job to fix all my mistakes
An editor’s role is to polish the very best you can send them. They don’t write your book for you. Let me give you an example: If I’m sitting at the table with a friend and tell her an idea for a story and write it all out on a paper napkin, that is not a book. It is a book when I take that story and create characters, plot, conflict, and resolution and weave them all together. It is only a book when I take my command of the written word and make it the best it can be.
Asking my editor to take what I’ve written on a paper napkin (basically an undeveloped concept) is asking them to write my book. When I submit a first draft to my editor, that is, frankly, lazy, or at best, ignorant. And, it will end up being very expensive. That is, if the editor decides to even take it on.
Your editor is not going to fix your lack of research, your problems with flow, or structure. They will likely reject your manuscript or send it back with so much red ink – and a big fat invoice to match it – that you will want to give up.
As a writing coach, it is my goal to help you get the cleanest manuscript to your editor as possible. This will save you money and heartache. I have spent years getting critiqued, edited, and even downright attacked for the words I’ve put on paper. I’ve grown a thick skin and have vowed to help my clients never feel the pain of the red ink rejection.
Myth 3: I need an editor right away
No, you may need a writing coach right away, but your editor doesn’t come into play until your manuscript is COMPLETE. Complete means you have written it, self-edited it, and maybe even already had a peer review of it. Do not send your manuscript to the editor until you feel it is in its best shape.
I had one client (who I had to fire) send the manuscript to the editor and to several peer readers (aka beta readers) at the same time. She then changed the manuscript based on the peer reviewer’s comments, which forced the editor to start over (which costs more money). Consider your editor as the final polisher and last step in your manuscript process.
Myth 4: I need a book cover right away
Nope. You may want to get some front cover images for pre-promotion purposes, but your true book cover can not be created until you have a page count – which means your book will have had to be edited and formatted first. In addition to front graphics, your cover will need a spine width, publishing logo, ISBN, back blurb, author photo, etc. You can start working on your cover while your book is being edited if you’d like, but it can’t be complete until your manuscript is.
Myth 5: Writing a book doesn’t cost anything
This is another myth I hear very often. Authors believe they simply write a book and start earning royalties. They believe a publishing house is eagerly awaiting their creation and will pick them up and start sending them checks. This is not the case. In today’s world there are several publishing options available and they offer different costs, benefits, and downsides.
While I believe very strongly that your book sales should offset the costs of book production, it is not automatic – it takes time and effort to sell your book. And, if someone offers to split costs with you, be sure you know what you are getting into as you will likely be paying them on the back end, which is a legal contract and will be like a divorce to get out of.
Overall, writing a book is a process and should be treated as such. There is a lot of hype in this industry – from people telling you that you can write a book in 10 days, be a best seller in 30 days, need to spend thousands of dollars to get published – and this is crap. Yes, there are great programs out there but I just say, buyer beware. I offer a free consultation to answer your questions about the industry and find you honest answers. I’m a writer too and believe together we can watch each other’s backs and become more successful than ever.