I don’t know exactly what to say in this post, other than I was taking a break from writing and got to wondering about the writing process and its well-held myths. Like that writers are always writing alone in a darkened room with their cat stepping all over their keyboard, writers are continually fighting the inevitable writer’s block, and writing a novel is all about a schedule. Well, I googled myths about writing, and the articles below are what I came up with. They are fascinating and eye-opening. They dispel some of the most popular myths about writing and give the truth in return. Hopefully, they will help you out in your writing as I am sure they will in mine. Below, as well, is a video on myths about writers that most people feel are facts. I hope you enjoy and use what you learn to sell more books😉
When it comes to writing, like all writers, I’m learning as I go. I was working on White Collar Girl, my fourth novel, I became aware of a few crucial things. Let’s just say I debunked some popular writing myths and have learned some valuable tricks that I’d like to now pass along.
6 Myths of Writing
1. Word count equals progress.
False. Many of us set word count goals each day. Personally, I consider 2,000 words a day to be a good, solid productive day of work. However, I’ve recently discovered that sometimes you’re better off not writing. What!? It’s true. Sometimes you need to put the pen down or step away from the laptop and do nothing. I know that sounds counter intuitive, but a big part of writing is thinking. There are times when you need to really think about your characters and where your story is going. These are times when you need to stop, slow down and do the necessary behind the scenes work that is required. Otherwise, if you’re just blindly cranking away to make your word count you could end up writing yourself into a 20,000-word corner. I know this because I’ve done it far too many times.
2. Writing has to be difficult.
True and False. Sometimes yes, it’s excruciating. But trust me, pain is not a prerequisite of good work. While we’ve all suffered for our art and will continue to do so, I have found that some of my best scenes—particularly in my upcoming novel, White Collar Girl, practically wrote themselves. They were a joy to write and required very little revising. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that because something comes easy, it must not be any good.
3. Dialogue is cheating.
This goes right along with Myth Number Two. I used to think that allowing my characters to reveal themselves and move the story forward with just dialogue was cutting corners. I was forever junking up scenes with unnecessary dialogue tags and frivolous stage direction. Lighting cigarettes, taking sips of coffee, deep sighing for no reason other than you don’t think your dialogue is strong enough on it’s own, does not justify those extraneous and often distracting activities. What I’ve learned is that good dialogue is really, really, really hard to do. If you’re lucky enough to have an ear for it and can pull it off, go with it and don’t clutter it up with unnecessary extras.
4. Writing books is a solitary process.
True and False. Of course, unless you have a co-author, at the end of the day there’s only one set of hands keystroking in all the words, but I don’t know anyone who writes a book, fiction, non-fiction, or even memoir in a vacuum. Speaking for myself, it would be impossible for me to write without the valuable feedback I get early on from my agent, my critique partner, my trusted friends and first readers. I may think I’m being perfectly clear and communicating exactly what I want, but that rarely happens all the way through the first couple of drafts. The truth is that we as authors get far too close to our material and we simply need feedback from other people we trust in order to create the best stories we can.
5. You don’t really need an editor.
False. In the age of indie authors, it’s easy to think this and assume that editors don’t really edit anymore anyway. Trust me—they do and yes, you need one—hopefully one who pushes you. While I’m sure there are some editors who have a lighter touch and some who have a heavy hand, I’ve been extremely fortunate to find the perfect balance with mine. In every single case my editor has taken what I’ve given her and helped me make it so much better than I could have imagined.
Her keen observations and critical questions have helped me take each book to the next level. If you don’t have a good editor, don’t worry. You can get one. There are a number of excellent freelance editors who will help whip your manuscript into shape. I am convinced that had I not sought the help of an outside editor back in 2011, I would have never gotten an agent or a book deal for Dollface.
6. There’s a difference between writers and storytellers.
True. You can tell someone’s a writer when their prose is so poetic, their imagery and metaphors stop you cold on the page because you can’t believe their brilliance. And okay, so maybe there’s not much going on in terms of plot, but you don’t care because you’re so enthralled with the language and the craft. That’s a writer. Then we have storytellers.
Word for word, it could be a little flat, filled with clichés and a lot of heavy handed telling but man oh man, the story is just so gripping that you can’t put the thing down. That’s a storyteller. Personally, I would love to be both a good writer and a good storyteller. Few authors have perfected both crafts, but I think it’s something that we should all be striving for.
So those are the top myths and why we should not let them dictate what we can and can’t do on the page. Now let me shift gears and share a few of my top tricks that I used while writing White Collar Girl and my previous novels.
Before we even get started, there are some expectations that need to be set. I constantly see advertisements in my Facebook feed for free book writing webinars (they are only trying to sell you something, btw) that promise success, wealth, and lazy days languidly writing in a leather notebook on a tropical beach. Can I just say, that’s all bullshit. Writing a novel is hard work. You will pull your hair, want to bang your head on your desk, and try to throw your laptop out a window. But, don’t worry–I swear it’s a lot of fun.
But, before the fun starts, I want to set a few expectations. Remember–writing a novel is like a marriage. The first time for love, the second time for money!
After you hit ‘publish’ on Amazon or email your completed manuscript to your agent, you will not receive a call from Oslo begging you to come pick up your Nobel. Oprah will no call and tell you that your brilliance has inspired her to reboot her book club. Besides–you’ll be too busy getting started on your next book to take those calls.
This book will not make you rich. If you make enough to buy a fancy coffee every day, you will be among the apex of writers. One book will not make a splash in the world. Could you make millions off one book? Sure. But, you won’t.
Let’s talk about Amazon. The vast majority of people who self publish one book on Amazon lose money–as in money out of their pocket, not into it. The chances of making money increase exponentially the more books an author has. Visibility is everything, and lots of books increases visibility. But, we’re talking about your first.
Amazon has a couple of options. If you decide to go exclusively with Amazon, you can get your book in Kindle Unlimited. That means that people (like me) who pay the monthly $9.99 can borrow your book. When they do that, you don’t get paid because they borrowed it, you get paid for every page they read.
To get paid for that, all of the money Kindle Unlimited customers pay is added together. Then Amazon takes their cut… amount unknown. Then all of the page-reads for every book in the program are added together and the money left is paid out per page read. I just checked the last month I was paid for. The rate was $0.015 per page, which isn’t terrible. If your book is 200 pages long and someone borrows it and reads the entire thing, you would get $3.00 at that rate. Sometimes it drops down to half a penny a page. That would be $1.00 for every time someone reads all the way through.
As for sales of your book–the percentage you make depends on the price. Under $2.99, you make 35%–at $2.99 and over, you make 70%.
Going wide (publishing on iTunes, Kobo, etc.) knocks you out of the Kindle Unlimited option, but gets your name out a little wider. It also means that Amazon, the absolute largest ebook seller, will do even less to promote your book. If you only have one book, it’s probably best to be Amazon exclusive. When you have a whole series, then it’s time to consider branching out.
But, as you can see. There’s not a lot of money in one book.
The times, they are a changing. The days of the astronomical advance are over. If you get a contract for your first novel with a publisher, your advance will probably run $5,000 to $10,000.
An advance is what the publisher assumes your book will make in the first year. Unless you have a runaway success on your hands, it’s actually more like the first three months. The chances of them pumping any real money into promoting your book are slim, which makes it die on the vine fairly quickly. And it’s unlikely it will make enough money that your royalties will go beyond your advance. Your royalties will be roughly $1.25 per book sold. It will take a lot of books to eat up that advance.
That means, the advance is probably the complete payment you receive for your novel… and you don’t own it anymore–they do, for years and years and years. Can you tell that I think traditional publishing is the new vanity publishing?
If you just absolutely have to have your book in bookstores, it’s almost the only way to go though. There is Ingram Spark, which I’ll discuss at the absolute end of this, about a hundred posts from now. Create Space–not a good way to get your book in stores. Ingram Spark–more of a chance. I’ll tell you why way later.
Writing is Easy
Oh, good googly moogly–no. But, there are ways to make it easier. The main way? Plan, plan, plan. But, the best way to ruin your writing career in its infancy? Overplan, overplan, overplan. I’ll see what I can do about coaching you through that.
Despite what you may hear, the characters do not control the story and tell you where they want to go and what they want to do. They do NOT magically write your story for you. You are the not-always-benevolent god of the world you create.
Now that all of the horribleness is out on the table, here are some things you’ll like to hear:
Writing actually is fun.
Writer’s block doesn’t exist.
Once you have the fundamentals, you can write all the books you want.
Getting the first payment for your book, no matter how small, is one of the most life-affirming things that will ever happen to you.
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