The Top Ten Writing Myths We Still Believe: Myths 6 – 10 by Catharine Bramkamp

The Top Ten Writing Myths We Still Believe: Myths 6 - 10 by Catharine BramkampLet’s welcome back monthly columnist Catharine Bramkamp as she shares with us “The Top Ten Writing Myths We Still Believe: Myths 6 – 10.” Enjoy!


Before you can move forward with your writing and your work, here is a chance to leave behind some of the more pernicious myths of writing and publishing. Do shed some of this mythological baggage so you can travel forward lighter and faster.  

You can access the full talk at the end of the article.

Writing Myth 6: I’ll sell my book and become rich and retire. 

Ummm.  When I hear some hopeful person say they need money so they will write a book and it will make them rich, I want to quietly sit them down, tell them the truth, and hand them a drink.

Writing a book is great for many things, not the least of which is personal satisfaction and creating a stronger voice in your professional field. Books are art. Writing is enormously satisfying. But more often than not, publishing your book costs money, and if you do make some cash from sales, the amounts will get you coffee, maybe this week’s groceries, but rich? Probably not, don’t quit your day job just yet.    

Writing Myth 7: I need an agent. 

You may. You may have written the most insightful, forward thinking book on the planet and want an agent to shop it out for you. You may have written a book that is ahead of the next trend and really does have a shot of making the NYT Best Seller list and all that. And an agent is very helpful when approaching larger publishers. In fact that is the only way to get the attention of larger publishers.

But you don’t need an agent for poetry, essays, business books, how-to books, or genre fiction.  

You can approach indie publishers directly. You can publish your books yourself. You do not necessarily need or want an agent.

Writing Myth 8:  Big, name brand publishers are the only way to go.

A long time ago, in the dark ages, the only way to get published was through the big gates of the big publishers. In this hero’s journey myth, the large house takes the author under their promotion wing. Sales people get the books into bookstores, a promotion team schedules book signings and speaking engagements, and run the publicity campaigns, print posters, etc. The author just basked in the glow of the crowd, the sound of applause.

About that.

Even if a published big house author does get a book tour, she often must drive herself and pay for her own gas as well as her meals. 

Even if a book merits the limited resources of a promotion team, the author still has to drag her sorry butt to the computer and work on her own social media.   

In other words, there is no free lunch. There is no lunch offered at all. Knowing that can free you to search out better, more flexible options for your book.  

Writing Myth 9: You want a large advance for your book.

Along with the myth of the big brand name publisher and the laid back author who just shows up at the bookstore to sign books is the myth that if a large advance is good, a bigger advance is better. We think a large advance would be headline making great. 

It’s not. 

The publishing/book sales business works on the strangest model ever cobbled together in the history of business and the loser is the author.  

Your book must earn back every penny of the advance before you earn your small royalty percentage.  

If the book doesn’t earn out, the author may be responsible for returning a portion of the advance. Most authors opt for a smaller advance and a larger royalty percentage.   

Writing Myth 10: If I write it, they will read. 

God, I wish this was true. Even “Best Selling” authors need to get the word out: paid ads, social media, reviews, lectures, workshops, conferences. It all adds up to exposure and new readers.

Five or six authors will be popular and expensive enough to rate getting the full big house publicity treatment, but most of us need to do it ourselves.  

There are plans. There are ways to promote your book that don’t cost much upfront cash, but know if you want to make sales, you need to become a salesperson. Bummer, I know.

Myths are fun. Myths are wonderful to consider and dream, and I encourage you to dream big about your book. But information will save you from watching your dreams dash on the rocks of reality. There is help easily available. Take advantage of classes, conferences, and coaching. Find the right outlet for you and for your book!

Visit the whole workshop at

Or go to for more classes and opportunities. 



Catharine BramkampCatharine Bramkamp is the co-producer of Newbie Writers Podcast that focuses on newer writers and their concerns. She is a successful writing coach, Chief Storytelling Officer, and author of a dozen books including the Real Estate Diva Mysteries series, and The Future Girls series. She holds two degrees in English and is an adjunct university professor. After fracturing her wrist, she has figured out there is very little she is able to do with one hand tied behind her back.

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