One of the greatest feelings on earth one can experience is to join the ranks of published authors. Once your book is published you join the ranks of the immortals. You begin to rub shoulders with legends like Homer, Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Frederick Douglass, Virginia Woolf, Tom Peters, Peter Drucker, to mention just seven.
With the advent of the internet many are joining the book writing train with gusto but the overwhelming majority are being held back by pervasive 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 best seller starting now. Jump 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 professors, some with triple PhDs. The likes of Marshall Goldsmith, Michael Porter, Ali Mazrui all come to mind. But do you know the very first writer had no education at all? Homer, one of the earliest writers whose works date back more than 2500 years ago had no academic qualification. If Homer could do it then, you have no excuse whatever with all the resources available in the internet, Google, Amazon, that make book writing a walk through the park.
2. Only old people write books
This myth is related to the fact that the earliest drawings and artworks of writers always depicted them with long white beards. The earliest writings by prophets, the apostles, and disciples all had this hue. While that might have been the case in ancient times, today a writer can be of any age. Dorothy Straight was only six 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 over 20 million copies was 15 when the first cycle was released. So start writing your book as young people write books too.
3. You must be wise to write a book
This myth is closely aligned to myth one but takes the myth a notch higher. Wise men by definition have stellar education, have white beards, and a sprinkling of blessing from on high so the saying goes. Nothing can be further from the truth as myth two already debunked above clarifies. Some of the world’s most beloved authors are ordinary men and women that 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, aged 106 and 104. Sarah was a school teacher and Annie a dentist. Their book, Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years, set the reading world on fire and became New York Times best-seller. The import of the story 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 aligned to myth two also earlier debunked but with the added twist that you must be a celebrity recognized the world over as an expert in your field before you can write a book. In this regard, Ben Carson, widely recognized as one of the world’s most gifted neurosurgeons, quickly comes to mind. Ironically none of Ben Carson’s over 10 books, including The Gifted Hands, The Big Picture, and A More Perfect Union, is on neurosurgery. Neither are Bill Gates 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 on any subject that tickles your imagination.
5. You need an agent to get your book published
This must have been the case in the era that no longer exists when the powerful and monopolistic publishing houses held sway. Today, with self publishing companies, widely derided before by the powerful publishing monopolies as vanity publishing, helping lesser mortals like me and you to bring our ideas and stories to light, anybody can write a book and get it published. So say goodbye to literary agents and get your book off to a roaring start starting now.
6. It is very expensive to publish a book
This was the case in the analogue age when literary agents held sway. It cost a small fortune in those days to get a literary agent. Literary agents were like investment bankers, the charged by the hour and only the most financially well-heeled could afford them. Thanks to technology, today that’s no longer the case. In fact, some self publishing technologies, like Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), Create Space, and ACX are so simple, you can produce an E-Book, a paper back or audio book from the comfort of your laptop only. You don’t even need to convert your book into any arcane language like mobi or epub, the Amazon platforms do everything for you. Type your book in MS-Word and leave the rest to the Amazon platforms and you’re a published author. So is it very expensive to publish a book? The answer is self- evident.
7. You need seven years to write one book
This point is both a myth and a fact. It is a fact, in the sense that anything worth doing is worth doing well. Take Michael Jackson, widely revered as “King of Pop”, as an extreme example. On average it took him between three to five years apart to come out with his mega albums such as 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 eBooks publishes his books an average of nine months apart. Recently I learnt from Chandler Bolt a “secret” how to write a 200-page book within 90 days, so be rest assured you don’t need seven years to write a thriller.
8. Book writing is difficult
This myth is a summary of all the other myths we have so far covered. If you have read up to this point, you will agree that writing a book and getting it published is easy and achievable by anyone – baby, man, woman, educated and not so educated. Anytime any of these myths rear their ugly heads, take a deep breath and shout at the top of your voice, I know what you are, you are just a myth and I am going ahead 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 get your voice heard the world over. Everyone has a story, tell yours as others have told theirs. You could become a New York Times best-selling author. Take the case of J. K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame. Her first book was rejected by several publishers but she persisted and today she’s one of the wealthiest people in the UK. The same can also be said of Jack Canefield and Mark Victor Hansen of the Chicken Soup for the Soul fame. According to them, the first book in the series was rejected a whopping 400 times but they pressed on and today the Chicken Soup for the Soul series has sold over a billion copies. So start writing even if you hate writing. There is a trick you can unleash to start loving to write. I promise to reveal to you the secret if you are willing to let me show you. This is the secret: start writing now. Pick a piece of paper and a pen and write on the top of the blank paper I LOVE WRITING and just keep writing until you have written 250 words. Was that not simple?
*Start small and aim high!
Here is a great book to start: Self Publishing