Myths About Writing a Novel

I’ve decided to take my website in a different direction. I want to help people who haven’t written their first book yet. There are enough sites out there with more than enough information if a self-pub author gives a damn about editing. I mean, not one with my voice, obviously–but screw that. I spent twenty years trying to write my first book–now they come fairly smoothly. If I can get one person past that hump, I will feel fulfilled. So, as I write content for the website, I’ll drop each page as a blog post. The order will probably be random, because that’s how things are coming to me.

So the ‘repair’ in ‘writing repair’ now refers to repairing the poor, tortured soul of the person who’s been “writing” that book forever. And by “writing,” I mean hasn’t done a damned thing but talk and dream about it.

Before I even get started, there are some expectations that need to be set. I constantly see advertisements in my Facebook feed for free book writing webinars (they are only trying to sell you something, btw) that promise success, wealth, and lazy days languidly writing in a leather notebook on a tropical beach. Can I just say, that’s all bullshit. Writing a novel is hard work. You will pull your hair, want to bang your head on your desk, and try to throw your laptop out a window. But, don’t worry–I swear it’s a lot of fun.

But, before the fun starts, I want to set a few expectations.

Myths about writing a novel writing repair money

Myths About Writing a Novel


After you hit ‘publish’ on Amazon or email your completed manuscript to your agent, you will not receive a call from Oslo begging you to come pick up your Nobel. Oprah will not call and tell you that your brilliance has inspired her to reboot her book club. Besides–you’ll be too busy getting started on your next book to take those calls.


This book will not make you rich. If you make enough to buy a fancy coffee every day, you will be among the apex of writers. One book will not make a splash in the world. Could you make millions off one book? Sure. But, you won’t.

Self Publishing

Let’s talk about Amazon. The vast majority of people who self publish one book on Amazon lose money–as in money out of their pocket, not into it. The chances of making money increase exponentially the more books an author has. Visibility is everything, and lots of books increases visibility. But, we’re talking about your first.

Amazon has a couple of options. If you decide to go exclusively with Amazon, you can get your book in Kindle Unlimited. That means that people (like me) who pay the monthly $9.99 can borrow your book. When they do that, you don’t get paid because they borrowed it, you get paid for every page they read.

To get paid for that, all of the money Kindle Unlimited customers pay is added together. Then Amazon takes their cut… amount unknown. Then all of the page-reads for every book in the program are added together and the money left is paid out per page read. I just checked the last month I was paid for. The rate was $0.015 per page, which isn’t terrible. If your book is 200 pages long and someone borrows it and reads the entire thing, you would get $3.00 at that rate. Sometimes it drops down to half a penny a page. That would be $1.00 for every time someone reads all the way through–and there’s absolutely no guarantee a person who borrows your book will ever get around to reading it.

As for sales of your book–the percentage you make depends on the price. Under $2.99, you make 35%–at $2.99 and over, you make 70%.

Going wide (publishing on iTunes, Kobo, etc.) knocks you out of the Kindle Unlimited option, but gets your name out a little wider. It also means that Amazon, the largest ebook seller, will do even less to promote your book. If you only have one book, it’s probably best to be Amazon exclusive. When you have a whole series, then it’s time to consider branching out.

But, as you can see. There’s not a lot of money in one book.

Traditional Publishing

The times, they are a changing. The days of the astronomical advance are over. If you get a contract for your first novel with a publisher, your advance will probably run $5,000 to $10,000.

An advance is what the publisher assumes your book will make in the first year. Unless you have a runaway success on your hands, it’s actually more like the first three months. The chances of them pumping any real money into promoting your book are slim, which makes it die on the vine fairly quickly. And it’s unlikely it will make enough money that your royalties will go beyond your advance. Your royalties will be roughly $1.25 per book sold. It will take a lot of books to eat up that advance.

That means, the advance is probably the complete payment you receive for your novel… and you don’t own it anymore–they do, for years and years and years. Can you tell that I think traditional publishing is the new vanity publishing?

If you just absolutely have to have your book in bookstores, it’s almost the only way to go though. There is Ingram Spark, which I’ll discuss at the absolute end of this, about a hundred posts from now. Create Space–not a good way to get your book in stores. Ingram Spark–more of a chance. I’ll tell you why way later.

Writing is Easy

Oh, good googly moogly–no. But, there are ways to make it easier. The main way? Plan, plan, plan. But, the best way to ruin your writing career in its infancy? Overplan, overplan, overplan. I’ll see what I can do about coaching you through that.

Despite what you may hear, the characters do not control the story and tell you where they want to go and what they want to do. They do NOT magically write your story for you. You are the not-always-benevolent god of the world you create.

Now that all of the horribleness is out on the table, here are some things you’ll like to hear:

Writing actually is fun.

Writer’s block doesn’t exist.

Once you have the fundamentals and get over this initial hump, you can write all the books you want.

Getting your first payment for your book, no matter how small, is one of the most life-affirming things that will ever happen to you.


7 thoughts on “Myths About Writing a Novel

      • I used to be a buyer for bookstores, and I can tell you that the 50 Shades, Outlanders, and Stephen Kings carry the weight of 99% of the new releases that come in, sell a few copies and the rest get sent back to the publisher to be marked down as remainders. Sometimes one will break out, like Girl on a Train, etc. But bookstores get tons of new titles a week…

        But, because the heavy hitters keep writing books, publishers can afford to keep taking chances on schmucks like us 🙂


      • I understand…
        What about all those contests for the novels blah blah…I’ve seen lots on WordPress, for published and unpublished books.
        And thx. Good luck with ur non-fiction book 🙂 ✌️


      • Hey, it could happen! But, getting published is just a teeninsy part of having a successful book. (I’ve said that word before, but never actually written it. I have no clue how to spell it.)


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