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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Author Insight: Publishing Misconceptions

What was the biggest misconception you had about publishing before you got a book deal?

"That bestsellers happen as a result of reader demand rather than being manufactured by the publishing industry." - Daniel Marks, author of Velveteen.

"I didn’t realize the process was so glacial. In my case, book deal to publication is 22 months. Now I totally understand authors at events when they have trouble remembering details of their just released book." - Lenore Appelhans, author of Level 2.

"My biggest misconception was that once the book was sold, the book was done and ready to be published. The book selling is really just the beginning. There’s still so much to be done in terms of rewriting and editorial work. It’s a long and arduous process so you better eat our Wheaties every morning." - Lili Peloquin, author of The Innocents

"I always looked at signing a contract with a publisher as the 'finish line' of the writing process. And what I learned was that it's actually the starting line. Yes, it took a lot of work to get there, but I hadn't even started running the race yet." - Steven Arntson, author of The Wrap-Up List.

"That getting that first book published was the hardest part. It's not. Staying published, year after year, is even harder, I think." - Lisa Schroeder, author of Falling for You

"I thought that if I got a book published, my life would be perfect.  Maybe not perfect, but definitely awesome. Instead I find that I’m just the same Allen Zadoff with a book published. It’s the kind of journey the characters make in my novels. What happens if you get what you want (the girl, the varsity slot, the respect) and it doesn’t 'fix' you? What do you do then? Sometimes getting what you want is a bigger crisis than not getting it, and it becomes an opportunity to more deeply explore who you are in the world." - Allen Zadoff, author of Since You Left Me.

"That it was all between you and your editor! I never realized the number of behind-the-scenes people involved in publishing one book. From my editor, her assistant, the copy editors, the cover and book designers, to the publicist and marketing team. I had no idea. But now I realize that it takes a dedicated team to produce a quality product." - Pamela Mingle, author of Kissing Shakespeare.

"I think I somehow fooled myself into thinking that it would get easier or less stressful once I reached that milestone. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of thinking 'if only I can get X. If I can get X, then Y will fall into place.' Sometimes it does, but not always." - Kathleen Peacock, author of Hemlock.

"I never realized that authors have to put a lot of time into marketing and promotion of their books. Publishers have to devote their marketing dollars to the books that will reap them the biggest rewards, so that leaves a lot of authors taking on the tasks themselves. It's not a complaint, just a truth I never knew." - Trish Doller, author of Something Like Normal

"That it would be easier to sell a book set in England, about an English teenager, written by an English author, in the UK than in the US. Fang Girl is out in the States now, but we still haven't found a British publisher. I've had to explain the arcane laws of publishing regions to so many friends and family members now, I'm tempted to start carrying around a pre-prepared Powerpoint presentation." - Helen Keeble, autor of Fang Girl

"My biggest misconception about publishing was that once I started getting good contracts consistently, I'd be able to support myself with writing. I didn't know things like, publishers usually only pay twice a year (hello? that would require budgeting skills far beyond my pathetic math capacity), that it takes soooo long even after signing to get the full amount of advances--I mean, some publishers break them up into signing amount, an amount on delivery of first draft, an amount on delivery of final draft, an amount at the time of publication, and so on. All of that was a mystery to me. Essentially, I had to realize that getting published, and actually supporting myself through writing novels, would be like getting multiple lottery wins. First, I had to win the lottery, odds-wise, of getting a good agent. Then I had to win the lottery of selling the book to a good publisher/editor. After that, I had to win the lottery of getting a second contract. The lottery I still haven't won, the biggest of all, is writing the story that turns out to be a best-seller." - Susan Vaught, author of Freaks Like Us

On Thursday, learn the biggest misconceptions the rest of the authors had about publishing.


  1. It's just such a hard world, the world of publishing. Getting published, staying published, staying in print...unless you're the one in a billion aka JK Rowling, you've got to stay fresh and keep producing consistently good work to stay "alive" in publishing.

    1. I agree with you, Mary, and with all the contributing authors above. This is something you do because you love it and can't do anything else--not something you do to make a quick (ha! quick!) buck or any particular number of bucks. But if it's your dream, it IS worth it.