Publishing Myths I Wish I’d Known | 10 Misconceptions About Writing and Selling Books

Marylee MacDonald is the author of MONTPELIER TOMORROW, a novel about caregiving and ALS. Her short story collection, BONDS OF LOVE & BLOOD, was a finalist in the Foreword Reviews' INDIEFAB Awards. Her fiction has won Gold and Silver Medals from Readers' Favorites International Book Awards, the Barry Hannah Prize, the Ron Rash Award, and many others.

Which publishing myths cloud your vision? By “publishing myths” I mean misconceptions about the world of publishing today. To succeed as a writer, you must write a great book. To succeed as an author (meaning you intend to have a career writing more books) you must educate yourself about the marketplace of books.

Publishing is an industry. The industry produces books. Of course, authors write the books, but once they’re written, the books have to compete in a marketplace. Picture one of those big European market halls where vendors hawk vegetables, sausage, and cheese. That’s where your book will compete.

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Image from Pixabay via Medienservice

Many writers have only a partial understanding of this marketplace. Writers my age grew up with the notion that books were sold in bookstores or checked out of the library. Such writers want to finish their books, find an agent, and let the agent and publisher take it from there.

Younger writers jump onto Wattpad. Wattpad’s online community lets writers publish serially, meaning put up one scene at a time and see how readers react to it. Writers and readers form a connection even before a book “comes out.” Popular Wattpad writers have a ready-made audience for their books. This trend is one way the marketplace has changed.

Of course, the existence of Wattpad is only one example of the way the marketplace is vastly altered. Amazon now sells seventy percent of all books. E-readers and cellphone apps mean readers may be reading our books in fits and starts. (I was astonished when one reader told me she’d read Montpelier Tomorrow while standing in line at the post office and waiting for buy groceries.)

What is the difference between the publishing world “as it is” and “the way you would like it to be?” The