6 Misconceptions I Had About Writing

When I started writing, I had several misconceptions.

(1) I thought all I wanted to do was write and sell one book. Just one book, and I would be happy.

Ha! The first book led to a second, and then a third, and… I just sold #29, and I’m hoping to sell one more. Just one more. Right?


(2) I thought if I didn’t have something right in the manuscript I submitted, the editor would catch it and correct it. (After all, I thought editors knew everything.)

I quickly learned that editors don’t know everything. In fact, there have been a few times when I’ve had to correct their misconceptions. (Yes, moose do sometimes attack sled dog teams, and no you can’t simply unload a horse from a horse trailer sidelined on Michigan’s I-94 and ride cross country for help.) And there were times I’ve had to provide evidence that the information I’d included in a story was correct.

(3) I thought my publisher would handle all of the publicity for my books, that all I had to do was write, and once in a while attend book signings and PR events the publisher set up.

Well, even back in the ‘80s, when publishers did do more promotion, it was generally to promote their company or big name authors, not the majority of us. But I will admit there was more support from the publishers then than there is now. Nowadays publishers do very little. It’s up to the writer to not only write but also promote.

(4) I thought once I signed that contract my money worries were over.

It didn’t take me long to learn that writers, like actors, singers, artists, etc. all have the “big names” who make a lot of money and get a lot of publicity while the majority range from making a decent income to poverty level. Even today, with far more opportunities due to e-publishing, 80% of self-published writers and 54% of traditionally published authors make less than $1,000 a year. (http://publishingperspectives.com/2014/01/how-much-do-writers-earn-less-than-you-think/ and http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/sara-sheridan/writers-earnings-cultural-myth_b_3136859.html )

(5) I thought once I sold a book I wouldn’t have any more rejections.

Not so. Although the number has decreased, I still receive rejections. Not all of my story ideas are great, some need refining, some need to go to a different publisher/editor, and some need to go in a drawer (or the waste basket).

(6) I thought once I was published I’d feel confident about my writing. No more self doubts.

The only thing I can say is even some of the writers I admire most, ones who are award winning best sellers and considered excellent by peers, editors, agents, and critiques have admitted self doubt. I guess those self-doubts never go away.

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9 Responses to 6 Misconceptions I Had About Writing

  1. Melissa Keir says:

    I loved your list. I also thought once I had one book, it would sell and make millions. After all isn’t that what happened to people like JK Rowling?

    I’m glad I’m not the only one with doubts and who still get’s rejections. 🙂 Tweeted and shared on Google+

  2. Diane Burton says:

    Your list is great. I had all those misconceptions myself. Even before your list begins, I had another one. My first story was so good, of course an editor would buy it. Such optimism got shot down quickly. LOL I collected a LOT of rejections. But I learned from editors who were kind enough to write comments. Writing is easy, submitting is not for the faint of heart.

    • Maris Soule says:

      You’re right, Diane. When I first started writing, I thought the words I put on paper were wonderful. My story was great. I was certain to sell the book. After a while I started rating my writing by if and what the editor said in the rejection letter.

  3. Thanks for the insider dope on these hard facts, Maris.

    What makes us want it be in the business and stay in the business so much?

    All the best with your “one more book.” Annette

    • Maris Soule says:

      Annette, most writers I’ve talked to or read about indicate that they simply love writing and love telling stories. The financial gain is less important than the opportunity to get their stories in print…or out there electronically. Get them read by others.

  4. Oh, I’m so glad I’m not the only one who had those misconceptions! For most of us, writing will never be our single source of income, and yet…we keep at it, because we have to.

  5. Lucy Kubash says:

    Guess we’ve all had misconceptions. I thought once you sold a book you were on your way with that publisher. I didn’t know about a publisher closing down a line and giving your book back to you or going bankrupt with your rights being held up in court until I had to deal with those situations. It’s been a learning curve and now with self-publishing, there’s even more learning to do. Hoping my brain will still be able to do that!

    • Maris Soule says:

      You’re so right, Lucy, about dealing with unexpected changes with a publisher. Three of the lines I once wrote for no longer exist. As for learning about self-publishing, I’ve heard it’s good to learn new things, that it’s one way to avoid or at least delay Alzheimer’s. I’m hoping that’s right.