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8 Publishing Lies (And The Truth Writers Might Not Know)

8 Publishing Lies (And The Truth Writers Might Not Know)

Have you fallen victim to any of these common lies that are spread throughout the publishing industry?

These typical bits of misinformation may look harmless—but if you’re not aware of them, they can do big damage to your career and your outlook on life.

Lie #1: You have to be published to get published.

Many writers hide behind the idea that “you have to be published to get published” because in some way this belief lifts the responsibility of publication from a writer’s shoulders. But we at Writer’s Relief have seen previously unpublished writers get huge accolades from major industry professionals—on MANY occasions.

For example: One unpublished client of ours had his first short story published in a literary journal—only to see it not only nominated for but included in a Best New American Short Stories anthology. How’s that for not having any experience? We’ve also seen writers with no publication credits land major literary agents.

Lie #2: Self-publishing is the only way to get a big New York publisher to pay attention to you.

While many self-published books are accepted by New York publishing houses after they have sold like hotcakes, the fact remains that many books that are being published by traditional publishers are getting there via traditional routes. However, many authors are finding success by self-publishing their rejected manuscripts and selling them as much as possible. If you’re one of these authors and your rejected book goes on to do extremely well after you publish it yourself, you can always go back to literary agents and editors (if you want to!).

Lie #3: If you land a traditional publishing contract, you don’t have to worry about doing any publicity for your book.

Whether you are planning to self-publish or try for a traditional publishing contract, you’re going to have to do a lot of self-promotion and publicity. Your author platform is what will sell your books. It’s a nice dream to think that writers can go back to the old days when a few book signings were enough to constitute a promotional campaign. The sooner you start thinking about your online writer platform, the better! (And if you haven’t already checked out Web Design Relief, now’s the time.)

Lie #4: You have to know somebody.

Some people believe that if you want to get a literary agent, you have to schmooze and network first. And while it certainly doesn’t hurt to meet with people face-to-face, the cool thing about creative writing is that it’s not necessary to do a lot of networking. At the end of the day, the most important part of your writing career is your writing.

Lie #5: “Small” publishing credits don’t help much.

Small publishing credits—whether in your local paper or in a startup literary journal—can be hugely helpful to your writing career. They open the door to bigger publications. They get the ball rolling. They also help you make connections and demonstrate that you take your work seriously enough to submit. Watch for more information about this in a forthcoming article via our e-publication, Submit Write Now! Or learn to build your publication credits super fast!

Lie #6: All writers must “put in their time” and suffer a little while building their careers.

Sometimes, negative thoughts like this can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you are slogging through a frustrating submission process because you believe you have to “suffer for your art,” it may be time to take a new approach. Contact Writer’s Relief: We can make your submission process a lot easier. When you feel better, you write better. And you don’t even have to feel guilty about it! Just contact us, and we’ll send you more information about our very affordable (and 100% personalized) author’s submission services.

Lie #7: The publishing industry is dying.

False! The publishing industry is changing but not dying.

There’s never been a better time in all of human history to be a writer. Right now there are more options than ever before for writers who want to get published. You can publish in print, online, or even in audio form. You can publish with a traditional publisher or with a self-publishing company. Plus, more people are reading and buying books than ever before!

Lie #8: Literary agents are no longer necessary.

More and more, writers are opting not to contract with literary agents for their books. However, many forward-thinking literary agencies are willing and even prefer to work with authors who are self-published as opposed to traditionally published. And with more choices on how to get a book out into the world, having a literary agent can be a lifesaver when it comes to long-term career planning.

Literary agents know which genres are selling well in digital form and which are doing well in print. They know which self-publishers are great and which are not-so-great. Some literary agencies have contacts with the people who are in charge of marketing and promotion at book retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble—and that can mean the difference between your book wallowing or hitting a bestseller list.

So while literary agents may not be strictly necessary—especially for successfully self-published authors—they can be intensely beneficial.

Photo by tq2cute

Writer QuestionsQUESTION: Which publishing lie have you fallen for, and why?


Ronnie L. Smith, President of Writer’s Relief, Inc., an author’s submission service that helps creative writers get published by targeting their poems, essays, short stories, and books to the best-suited literary agents or editors of literary journals.

5 Responses to 8 Publishing Lies (And The Truth Writers Might Not Know)

  1. I feel that the key to the above points is “lie number 4 “. It all comes down to the quality of writing.

  2. Whenever I see these “list” articles, I smile at the nuance that’s left on the cutting room floor. I can probably cite a counter-argument for every one of these points, but let’s just take Lies #2 and 7, for now.

    Which publishing model (traditional vs. self) makes more sense? I’m sure that Amanda Hocking is happy at how she ended up (from e-book queen, to signing with St. Martin’s Press for $2 million).

    Conversely, we see heavyweights like David Mamet taking up self-publishing to exert more control of their work, and earn more money for putting it out there. Both goals are honorable, in my estimation.

    So, in reality, perhaps the best word to insert for Lie #7 is “contracting,” not “dying” — since the traditional publishing industry works much like the Electoral College (filter stuff out, versus letting it in). However, a lot of cool or interesting ideas get filtered out, too.

    Apparently, that’s why we’re expected to endure the literary musings of Justin Bieber, Snooki, Tori Spelling — and others like ’em — without a word of protest. That’s what you get in a risk-averse environment. But for those who feel that they got the raw end of that particular deal…that response doesn’t really cut it.

    So nobody should be mystified at the appeal of an option — such as the e-book — that offers a way out of the risk-averse moat. To my mind, it’s not all that different from the cut and paste/xeroxed fanzines that sprang up to document the UK punk scene of 1976-77.

    Had Mark Perry, creator of the era’s most famous ‘zine (“Sniffin’ Glue”) taken the standard advice — you need to submit those live reviews and record writeups to the music weeklies — he’d have waited an awfully long time (as in, forever) to get a response, and rock would have taken a different turn, perhaps.

    So, like it or not, the current situation doesn’t satisfy a lot of folks, and they’re going to take whatever avenues they can to get their ideas out. If your idea doesn’t connect on some level, the reader isn’t going to plunk down a fiver, tenner or twenty in your favor, anyway…regardless of the medium that you choose.

  3. My first book will be coming out soon. It’s a nonfiction, and I’m both eager and fearfll of the sales side of this situation. But I have begun to make strides to get out of my office and set up readings etc.

    Most of all, I have to thank Writer’s RelieF for all the work they have done to help me publish my work in numerous journals. That has given me the strength to “carry on.”

    I hope all of you writers out there will continue to publish and embrase all aspects of your writing careers.

  4. I’d say that I’ve suffered from “You Have To Know Someone”, because I’m naturally very introverted. The effect it has had on my writing is incalculable: “Why should I bother to write something when I have to shmooze and lie and generally interact with people to get it sold? Maybe I should just not write at all.” This is almost as toxic to my writing discipline as the fear of having nothing worthwhile to say. I’d like to think that I’ve gotten over the lie of “Putting In My Time” in terms of the submission process, though I still need to work on putting in more time with fingers to keyboard or pen and paper.

  5. I think there is tremendous benefit to putting in the time to learn something about the publishing business from the ground up. One way that is often recommended by successful writers is to start with articles for periodicals and smaller publications. Doing queries, and working through the editorial process really helps build confidence, which naturally comes with having lots of rejections. Honing one’s craft and devloping a strong work ethic is the foundation on which to build a successful career. I’m sure every agent or agency will have a greater chance of selling the work of a seasoned pro, with a number of credits and an established platform.

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