Challenge,  Fun Stuff

Myth Believer

With Apologies to Jeff Foxworthy…

I deal a lot with writer myths. And I will be doing new Killing the Sacred Cows of… posts soon.

But one thing I noticed back when Foxworthy was doing his “You might be a redneck…” jokes is that they always had a ring of truth in them.

So for fun, I thought I would show how that truth can sometimes be pointed at those who believe in the myths of publishing. If one or two of these strike home, don’t blame me. It’s your myth.

Not the Top Ten Myth Believer Sayings…

(Just ten random. Trust me, there are a lot more.)

1… If you think traditional publishing is there to help you, you may be a myth believer.

2… If you think your agent won’t steal from you, you may be a myth believer.

3… If you think you are a better writer than Nora Roberts or Dean Koontz or Stephen King, you may be a myth believer.

4… If you think you need to buy a lot of advertising and promotion on Facebook to sell well, you may be a myth believer.

5… If you think Amazon Select gets you long-term readers, you may be a myth believer.

6… If you think you need to write sloppy first drafts and then rewrite five or six times to make your stories perfect, you may be a myth believer.

7… If you think you need at least six or more beta readers for everything you write, you may be a myth believer.

8… If you think you should be making a living after writing four or five books, you may be a myth believer.

9… If you think that anything written fast and in one draft must be bad, you may be a myth believer.

10… If you think your fiction writing should be hard and painful before it can be good, you may be a myth believer.

(To be continued…)


  • Philip

    The beta readers get me every time. Why on earth would a writer want a bunch of amateurs having “final cut” on their work?

    Funny thing I’ve noticed in the indie world since I first got involved about 8 years ago: in the beginning, everyone raved about the fact indie meant no more gatekeepers, yet over the years the indie gurus have added more and more of their own gatekeepers (beta readers, editors, street team, various creative coaches, etc).

    • Sheila

      They get beta readers so they can get by without an editor. Or that’s the idea.

      I hate seeing the “get paid beta readers!” mantra. Bunch of nonsense. No one sees my work until it’s published. I self edit,one drat and done. 🙂

      • dwsmith

        Agree, Sheila. And I just laugh when people make excuses like what you said they do. (I have heard it as well many times.) There always seems to be a reason for stupidity.

  • Harvey Stanbrouigh

    A fun list, though I can’t agree with number 3. Somebody eventually will be as good as or “better” than those esteemed writers but it won’t be anyone who follows the myths. They won’t have gotten the practice. (grin)

  • Kristi N.

    Dean, thank you for being so consistent over the years on #8. It helped me be realistic and your Magic Bakery opened my eyes to what is possible over and above just book sales. I’ve listened to/read discussions here about promotion, and about a viable catalog size. It helped me stay on an even keel, especially when I dipped my toe into the free giveaway pond and discovered I couldn’t give my books away, even as a charitable endeavor, because none of the people wanted them. (Ouch.)

    Keep fighting the myths and telling the truth. There are plenty of us out in the pond who are listening.

  • Topaz

    Thank you Dean, for this list. It made me laugh and have a wonderful time, by reading it multiple times.

    Looking forward to the next set. 🙂

  • J

    Dean, do you have experience with or tips about writing anxiety? Like when it feels like too much to even look at a blank word document? How to tone these anxious feelings down?

    • dwsmith

      You have to ask yourself what you are afraid of. Nothing in fiction writing can hurt you and the honest truth is that no one cares what any of us do. Just no one cares.

      Anxiety comes from letting the critical voice make you believe that if you do something wrong (which actually may be right, but the critical voice will make it feel wrong), bad things are going to happen to you. But the only thing bad that can happen is that you don’t write. Not writing and not publishing is a failure and you need to be a lot more afraid of that then worrying about typing something wrong.

      No one cares. It is a very freeing truth for all of us.

  • Rita Crossley

    It great to hear this list again.
    It’s been a long time since I’ve though5 of these points.
    Cheers, Rita Crossley

  • B Litchfield

    When I read this list, I wondered what myth would make anybody think they were better than Nora Roberts or Dean Koontz or Stephen King. Then I remembered . . .

    Years ago, before I’d ever written anything, I overheard a conversation in a locker room between two literary types. One made the comment that writing wasn’t going so well for him because he was unwilling to “sell out.” Lower himself to the level of those names above, among others. To hear him describe it, he was like the classical violinist who refused to play fiddle at a square dance.

    Of course, I started out believing that my early stuff had to be better than those so-so bestsellers. No delusion there at all.

  • Vincent Zandri

    I would add:

    If you believe writing is a mysterious, magical thing that comes from the heavens you might be a myth believer (I used to truly suck but worked really hard at it LOL)

    If you believe it’s not possible to write a novel in a week with time to spare screwing around or engaging in other business activities, you might be a myth believer.

    If you think Amazon is your friend, you are defintiely a myth believer…

  • Joanna Jones

    I love Jeff Foxworthy’s “You might be a redneck” jokes, but I think there are a lot more myths out there about publishing than he lets on. Here are ten of my favorite myths about publishing, based on what I’ve heard from readers:
    1) Traditional publishing is there to help authors.
    2) Agents won’t steal from authors.
    3) Writing is better than writing for agents.
    4) traditional publishing is a scam.
    5) traditional publishing is a dying industry.
    6) traditional publishing is a dead end for authors.
    7) traditional publishing is a scam for writers.
    8) traditional publishing is a scam for readers.
    9) traditional publishing is a scam for writers.
    10) traditional publishing is a scam for readers.