Guest post from the venerable Nick Stephenson of Your First 10,000K Readers
Lies we all believe
Tell me - what's the single WORST piece of advice you've ever received about writing or publishing? Over the last few years, I've heard some great ones. And I want to share them with you - and get some of your thoughts too. You know how it goes...unsolicited advice - bad advice - can be difficult to handle. But when it becomes generally accepted as "wisdom" it can be truly damaging. Here are a few examples.
Writing fast = writing bad
George was 22 when he started his novel...
"You need to slow down. I write one book a year. Maybe one book every two years. Because I want to write a great book, and writing any faster than that means the quality will suffer."
How many times do you hear this? Look, it's all well and good if you have the time to retreat to your garden shed once a week to hammer out a few hundred words on your vintage typewriter, but the rest of us need to earn a living. Writing 1,500 words a day isn't hard. With enough practice, you can do that in 2 hours. That will get you a novel-sized first draft in as little as 60 days if you plan it all out properly. What are you doing for the rest of the year??? Your book isn't better because you are inefficient.
Self-publishing = they couldn't make it as a "proper" author
Shakespeare was never "published" during his lifetime.
They just kinda sat around a table and made it up as they went along.
Then performed it.
Worked out pretty good.
"Despite royalty rates of 70%, I think self-publishing is a terrible idea for serious novelists (by which I mean, novelists who take writing seriously, and love to write)."
This quote was actually taken from an article over at The Guardian (a UK publication that abhors anything related to self-publishing). There are plenty of authors who couldn't get a publishing deal turning to self-publishing. But there are plenty of authors who DO have publishing deals turning to self-publishing too.
And there are even more authors who never even bothered with traditional publishing in the first place.
If $7,000 for 2 years' work sounds like fun, by all means go the traditional route. But the numbers don't lie. Self-published authors earn more per sale. On average, self-published authors make more money (you can look this up over at AuthorEarnings). They can also release books as fast as they like and have creative control over their marketing. Self-published authors have access to everything a traditionally published author does (like editors, designers, etc) and don't have to deal with corporate nonsense or give away their rights for life.
The #s don't lie. Self-published #authors earn more per sale. #iartg #indieauthors #amwriting
Maybe self-publishing is better for you. Maybe the traditional route is more suitable. But at the end of the day, one choice over the other doesn't make you a "real author". Only you can make yourself one.
Whether you upload your manuscript to Amazon, or Bob from Marketing does it, the reader doesn't really care.
The industry needs gatekeepers!
After a failed career as a Kindergarten teacher,Quentin finally found his calling.
"You need to submit your books to agents so you know it's good enough. Gatekeepers are there to protect readers from bad work and protect authors from their own egos."
Do you mean to suggest that there isn't a single bad book produced by a traditional publisher? That an artist somehow requires someone else's validation to share their work with the world? Does anyone lambast the street musician for not having a record label? It's amazing how far some authors will go to justify losing 75% of their paycheck. Look, if your book sucks, nobody's going to buy it. Readers don't need gatekeepers to make decisions for them. That's what the reviews section is for.
A real full-time author only writes
And the award for best advice goes to...
"Just concentrate on writing 100%. You're not a full-time author if you spend time marketing and promoting your books. That's what your publisher is for."
I hear this one a lot too. Or variations on that theme of "I don't want to do any marketing". Reality check - you're a business owner. You're in the business of making money from your writing. What other business would recommend spending 0% of your time on marketing, sales, or promotion?
"You're not a full-time chef if you negotiate contacts, source ingredients, or buy advertising for your restaurant."
"You're not a full-time actor if you go to auditions or send out your resume."
"You're not a full-time painter if you try to get your work into a gallery."
WTF?? A traditional publisher isn't going to do your marketing for you, either. That's still your job. If you want to get read and make money, you're going to need to justify your existence. And that means producing great work and growing an audience of fans who love you. Be proud of your work. Shout from the rooftops. Nobody else is going to do it for you.
The Starving Artist
"Every writer should write for the love of the words, not for money. There is dignity in being a starving artist."
No, there's dignity in paying your heating bills and being able to afford food. Nobody needs to be starving. An artist - any artist - deserves fair compensation for their work. If you buy into self-limiting beliefs like this, how can you expect to succeed?
These are just a few of the commonly held views I've come across in author land over the last few years. Can you imagine a career where you work for 2 years, get paid next to nothing, and are expected to be happy about it? That's not a job offer I'd be taking any time soon. But for some reason, many authors accept this as "the way things are".
But the real winners - the 1% of the 1% - reject these ideas and form their own. They take control and build something worthwhile.
I want you to be one of them.
So, tell me - what's the single WORST piece of advice about writing or publishing you've ever heard? I know there are going to be some crazy stories to share...Happy Weekend!
Yours, Nick Stephenson
Your First 10,000 Readers
Our thanks to Nick Stephenson for this Ingenium Books' guest blog!