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Common Lies Self-Published Authors Believe.

25 June 2012

From Jeff Bennington at The Writing Bomb:

. . .The lies run rampant. The lies are deadly. The lies set writers up for failure and they are like a disease that has the potential to thin out the indie author population within a couple of years.

Lie #1

. . .In all honesty, I didn’t want to tell myself that I’d become a bestseller for fear of sprouting arrogant wings, but in the deepest part of my mind I truly believed that it could happen with that one book — a common phenomenon for first time authors.

. . .

  • The cure to this disease is, of course, time. . . . Just because you can publish doesn’t mean you should…yet. . . .Fortunately, I found the cure: plenty of 1-star reviews and no sales. The medicine went down with a bitter taste, but it did the job.
  • . . .Instead of trying to bolster review ratings by soliciting better reviews at the expense of your integrity, try listening to your critics and make improvements.
  • Spend less time marketing your first book and study, read more, and write as often as you can.

Lie #2

. . .The first lie writers fall for is that writing a book is easy. When they finish, they discover that editing is harder. Then when they publish they discover that selling is the hardest part and nearly impossible, especially if you only have one book. This lie is perpetuated every time a new author hits Amazon’s Top 100 with their debut novel. What many indies do not realize is that authors like Darcie Chan are rare… very rare.

. . .

  • . . . When indies realize how much work is involved, and that a writing career requires a slow-boil mindset, they can relax, write more, and look forward to future success. . . .
  • . . . I recommend spending about 8 hours a month planning your next months marketing (30 days in advance) and spend about 1 hour a day with your social media. Spend the rest of your free time writing.
  • Sometimes we spend all our profits on marketing trying to make our dream a reality, when in fact, all we need is time and an adjustment in our expectations. Look to the future, my friend. Relax your expectations and let your sales grow with time and with more titles rather than expecting that rare bestseller.

-Jeff Bennington

Link to the rest at The Writing Bomb


14 Comments to “Common Lies Self-Published Authors Believe.”

  1. one hour a day on social media is too much in imho….

    • Its only too much if it is all marketing. If you add in commenting on blogs (such as here) and keeping up with friends then it realy is not much at all. Also it could be interpreted as “The best marketing is to write the next book”


  2. Hmmmm…my initial plan is still to go the “Big 6” first; however, the part about finding writing easier to do than editing..AMEN! I’m finding that SO true right now! It’s arduous, daunting, and at times makes me want to just start a new book completely!

    • I know how you feel. I’m doing a second pass on a draft I did three months ago. I’m actually quite surprised at how different my writing is now from then. There were a ton of fun things I used to do that I rarely do now, but are very fun (tricks with ‘tell’ rather than show – it’s a comedy of sorts), in a way I’m learning new stuff as I go.

      (It’s still really tiring though, but only 1 pass then I’m into my final proof, yeah… moan… cough, cough… yeah!)

    • I actually prefer editing — it is easier to mess around with words than with a blank page. But then, I am often odd.

      • I’m like that, but the way I write, I probably do most of my editing as I write. (I write in layers.)

        Which isn’t to say that I actually prefer to edit, only that it’s easier. Once the book is done, I’m really only doing line editing, and not making hard decisions. That happens earlier.

  3. I’ve heard both things mentioned as far as social media – that we SHOULD view marketing as the actual writing of another book…others keep telling me to learn twitter, which I refuse to do. Being on LinkedIn, posting on other blogs, my OWN blog, and Facebook seem to be enough for me. At least for now, since I don’t have a book yet ready for publishing

  4. Unless you’re already a celebrity, working all the social media is worthless.

  5. Hang on, do you mean I am NOT instantly headed for the Kindle #1 and untold wealth by the mere act of unleashing my masterpiece? Oh dear. That was a year wasted.

  6. Writing is fun.

    Editing is like taking a beating.

    Marketing is like drowing in a sea of other writers.

    Guess which one I enjoy most? lol


  7. I’m a little shocked by this post because I either completely did not think these things or it took very little to make me realize they weren’t going to work that way.

    Point by point:

    1) “This will be a bestseller.”
    I’ve certainly thought, “This is good… This part right here. Overall, it’s not bad.” From what I read in the writers’ blogosphere, even my mild hubris/confidence in my work is unusual.

    I think that the author did hit it on its head, though, “first-time writers”. I did experience that sort of feeling when I started publishing fanfiction… when I was 15. If I hadn’t had the wind taken out of my sails at such a young age and been gently but firmly informed why I wasn’t getting reviews when I asked, but instead went straight to, “I’m going to write a NOVEL!” – maybe I would have felt that way? Or perhaps not, since it wasn’t that many years after that where I started educating myself on the publishing industry and a writer’s chances with it…

    2) Marketing
    I don’t know that I was ever enamored of the idea of marketing my work. I’ve never done that with my fanfiction (where I started), I don’t do it with my artwork beyond simple sharing, and I haven’t done it with my writing. I figure that I’d rather spend the time enjoying my hobbies and improving my craft than going out and promoting myself/my work. It may take people longer to find me, but I’ll have more for them to find when they get there.

    3) “Indie publishing is easy”
    No. It’s easier in some ways than traditional publishing and harder in others. You have to ask yourself different questions. Some of them are very hard, like, “Is this in a state of readiness where I can ask money for it?” or “Will this pen name need the services of an editor?” or “What will be the unifying factor for this pen name’s covers?” Some of the questions are a little easier. “Can I learn how to do this myself, or would it be better to hire out this bit?”

    4) “Writing/editing a book is easy.”
    If it were so easy, why doesn’t everyone with an interest in writing have a manuscript or ten? If editing was easy, how do publishers fail at it?

    5) “You can be a bestseller with your debut book.”
    This is possibly the most ridiculous “lie” that they’re trying to “debunk”. I think many writers secretly hope that they’ll be the exception because they were in that perfect firestorm of “good enough” + “right thing, right time” + “word of mouth” – but there are so many factors that go into it that are beyond the control of the writer that anyone properly educated on the publishing industry/book market wouldn’t believe it any more than they’d buy a lottery ticket and be shocked that they didn’t win ten million their first time.

    6) re: “slow boil”
    Yes, realizing that I could do this at a slow boil was exactly what made me stop sitting on the fence and get into writing in a serious way rather than “Maybe in a year or two.” I knew enough about the publishing industry that knowing how long it took to get the point where you had a small window to prove you could “do it” didn’t appeal to me. Especially if you didn’t do well and were dropped and had to start all over again (often under a pen name) to get back to the place where you could give it another go. The knowledge that I could write and get a few sales and continue to write and maybe get a few more and then a few more and a failure didn’t mean starting over was like the heavens parting.

    7) re: “Books sell books”
    I’m not sure what they’re saying here, to be honest. It sounds like they’re saying that “books sell books” is a lie when I don’t think it is. Though, reading and rereading makes me realize they mean the lie = one book to stardom. And since I don’t have intentions to spend even an hour a month on marketing, the “moderation” they’re advising seems like overkill.


    The intentions of the article are obviously good, but I have trouble believing too many people believe those things. Unless, of course, they’re bandwagon-ing and not actually researching what they’re about to do – in which case – never mind, carry on.

    • That is exactly how I saw it C.R. Most of the lies that were debunked are obvious to someone that has looked into writing seriously.


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