One of the greatest feelings on earth that one can experience is joining the ranks of published authors. Once his book is published, he joins the ranks of the immortals. You start rubbing shoulders with legends like Homer, Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Frederick Douglass, Virginia Woolf, Tom Peters, Peter Drucker, to name just seven.
With the advent of the internet, many are enthusiastically joining the book writing bandwagon, but the vast majority are held back by widespread myths about book writing and the book trade in general. This article sets out to debunk the top 8 myths, clearing the way for you to jump into the book writing fraternity and publish your New York Times bestseller from now on. Dive in, the water is warmer than you think, but first, the myths.
1. Book writing is for the most educated people
The most educated people are the professors, some with triple doctorates. People like Marshall Goldsmith, Michael Porter, Ali Mazrui come to mind. But do you know that the first writer had no education at all? Homer, one of the first writers whose works date back more than 2,500 years, did not have an academic degree. If Homer could do it then, you have no excuse with all the resources available on the internet, Google, Amazon, that make writing a book a walk in the park.
2. Only old people write books
This myth is related to the fact that the first drawings and works of art of the writers always represented them with long white beards. The early writings of the prophets, apostles, and disciples all had this nuance. While that might have been the case in ancient times, today a writer can be of any age. Dorothy Straight was just six years old when her book, How the World Began, was published in 1962. Christopher Paolini, the author of The Inheritance Cycle, a best-selling book series that has sold more than 20 million copies, was 15 years old when he published the first cycle. . So he starts writing your book as young people also write books.
3. You have to be wise to write a book
This myth is closely aligned with myth one, but takes the myth one level higher. Wise men, by definition, have a stellar education, have white beards and a blessing sprinkled from on high, the saying goes. Nothing could be further from the truth as myth two already debunked above makes clear. Some of the world’s most beloved authors are ordinary men and women who have found their passion and a message to share with the world. Such is the case of the Delany sisters, Sarah Louise Delany and Annie Elizabeth Delany, who wrote their first book in 1994, when they were 106 and 104 years old. Sarah was a school teacher and Annie a dentist. Her book, Having Our Opinion: The Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years, set the reading world on fire and became a New York Times bestseller. The importance of history is that you are never too old or too young, and you don’t have to be a wise person to write a book.
4. You must be an expert before you can write a book
This myth is closely related to myth two, also debunked above, but with the added twist that you have to be a world-renowned celebrity as an expert in your field before you can write a book. In this regard, Ben Carson, widely recognized as one of the most talented neurosurgeons in the world, quickly comes to mind. Ironically, none of Ben Carson’s 10-plus books, including The Gifted Hands, The Big Picture, and A More Perfect Union, are about neurosurgery. Neither are Bill Gates’s books The Road Ahead and Business At the Speed of Thought on coding and computer programming. So you don’t have to be an expert to write a book, as you can write about any topic that tickles your fancy.
5. You need an agent to publish your book
This must have been the case in the era that no longer exists when powerful publishers and monopolists ruled. Today, with self-publishing companies, once widely ridiculed by powerful publishing monopolies as vanity publications, helping lesser mortals like you and me get our ideas and stories out there, anyone can write a book and publish it. So say goodbye to literary agents and get your book off to a great start from now on.
6. It is very expensive to publish a book
This was the case in the analogous era when literary agents ruled. It cost a small fortune in those days to get a literary agent. Literary agents were like investment bankers, they charged by the hour and only the wealthiest could afford them. Thanks to technology, today that is no longer the case. In fact, some desktop publishing technologies like Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), Create Space, and ACX are so simple, you can produce an e-book, paperback, or audiobook from the comfort of just your laptop. You don’t even need to convert your book to any arcane language like mobi or epub, Amazon’s platforms do it all for you. Write your book in MS-Word and leave the rest to Amazon platforms and you will be a published author. So, is it very expensive to publish a book? The answer is obvious.
7. You need seven years to write a book
This point is both myth and fact. It is a fact, in the sense that anything worth doing is worth doing well. Take Michael Jackson, widely revered as the “King of Pop,” as an extreme example. On average, it took between three and five years apart to release his mega albums like Off The Wall (1979), Thriller (1982), and Bad (1987). At the same time, you don’t need seven years to come up with a well-crafted story. John Locke, who has written more than 12 books and sold more than a million e-books, publishes his books an average of nine months apart. I recently learned a “secret” from Chandler Bolt on how to write a 200-page book in 90 days, so rest assured, you don’t need seven years to write a thriller.
8. Writing books is difficult
This myth is a summary of all the other myths we have covered so far. If you’ve read this far, you’ll agree that writing a book and publishing it is easy and within everyone’s reach: baby, man, woman, educated and not-so-educated. Whenever any of these myths rear their ugly heads, take a deep breath and yell at the top of your lungs: I know what it is, it’s just a myth, and I’m going to write and publish my book right now.
There is no better time in all of human history than now to write a book and make your voice heard around the world. Everyone has a story, tell yours as others have told theirs. You could become a New York Times bestselling author. Take the case of JK Rowling of Harry Potter fame. Her first book was rejected by several publishers, but she persisted and today she is one of the richest people in the UK. The same can be said for Jack Canefield and Mark Victor Hansen of Chicken Soup for the Soul fame. According to them, the first book in the series was rejected 400 times, but they kept going and today the Chicken Soup for the Soul series has sold over a billion copies. So she starts writing even if you hate writing. There is a trick you can unleash to start loving writing. I promise to reveal the secret to you if you are willing to let me show it to you. This is the secret: start writing now. Take a piece of paper and a pen and write on the top of the blank paper I LOVE TO WRITE and keep writing until you have written 250 words. Wasn’t that easy?