The Biggest Fallacy about Publishing

This is actually a message of hope, though the initial premise is rather gloomy!

I think, that for debut authors, the biggest fallacy about publishing, is that writing a brilliant story will somehow make your manuscript leap to the top of the slush pile, where, glowing like a gold ingot it will be seized upon by a grateful literary agent or publisher. Your brilliant novel is instantly valued for your pure writing style and compelling skills as a miner of the human condition.

I’m not arguing against striving as hard as you can to make your story as good as possible—of course, you should—after all, publishers are assessing your attitude as much as your ability. It’s just that there will always be hordes of less worthy writers in the queue ahead of you, such as already rich and famous stars and manufactured celebrities from reality shows. This iniquity was recently brought home to me when I came across a chilling comment in Margaret Atwood’s excellent Negotiating With The Dead which was compiled from a series of lectures she gave on the writer’s role:

“We don’t sell books,” a publisher said, “we sell solutions to marketing problems.”

Image result for atwood negotiating with the dead

Think about that for a moment: a publisher is already ahead of the game of selling a book if it’s written by someone that the public recognise. Never mind, that they have the writing skills of a turnip—that’s what ghostwriters are for!

Then, there’s the question of luck. Jean Cocteau, author and painter, rather wryly observed, that, We must believe in luck. For how else can we explain the success of those we don’t like? It was an ungracious thought that I’ve had many a time when reading overhyped bestsellers that are abysmally written.

It proves what Don Maquis advised: If you want to get rich from writing, write the sort of thing that’s read by persons who move their lips when they’re reading to themselves.

I’m not sure that I can write that badly, which might mean that I’ll never be a success, though I firmly believe that good quality prose, tight plotting and characterisation that shows humanity will win an audience, so I’ll endeavour to persevere.

What fallacies, untruths and hoaxes to do with publishing sap your creative ego?

A magic glowing book! 

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