7 Biggest Lies Writers Tell Themselves About Their Books

By on March 13th, 2013

Today we’re delighted to invite guest blogger Karen Rowe to Spirit Authors. Karen is a ghostwriter and editor who works with non-fiction authors. Today she “tells it like it is” about the many ways authors deceive themselves. 

It takes an average of about 400 hours to write a book. That’s a lot of time and effort. I’ve had many authors approach me who have poured blood, sweat and tears into a manuscript without the first clue how to get their book edited and published properly and out to the masses. Others have published their book without one ounce of marketing. And it has flopped. When I asked them about this, I find that they’ve been making assumptions based on myths they believe about the publishing industry.

Here are a few of the biggest mistakes writers make before they publish, and the lies they tell themselves:

LIE #1: “I can write about whatever I want.”
I’m always interested to hear what people are writing about. I’m often surprised to discover, though, that a lot of authors haven’t done any research or taken the time to familiarize themselves with what’s selling in their industry. You need to know who else is writing about your topic. Have you bought or read their books? What’s hot in your market, what’s selling and what isn’t? Reading other people’s work is important because you really want to know what’s being said about your topic, and how it’s being addressed. Not only that, these people will become an important part of your network.

LIE #2: “If I write a great book, it will sell itself.”
I’ve had many clients who are unknowingly under the impression that if they write a really fabulous book, people will somehow intuitively and magically just “know” and their book will become a bestseller. Hey, you wrote the book and that should be enough, right? Quality isn’t a guarantee of success. Two things make a successful book: strong, solid content and a great platform. You need to be your own biggest advocate, and you are going to be the greatest asset to getting the word out about your work. And if you’re terrible at it, then hire a professional to do it for you. 

LIE #3: “I’m going to get famous.”
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but chances are you’re not going to get famous. What a lot of people don’t realize with best-selling authors such as Charmaine Hammond  — whose book is getting turned into a movie — and others, who have started with nothing and become success stories, is that fame is always preceded by hard work, and a lot of it.  It’s wonderful to have a goal of ‘making it big’, but it’s not always realistic. Most authors who have attained great success didn’t just show up at the fame-party ready to sign autographs. They spent months working tirelessly to get the word out about their book and building a strong and solid platform, both before the book was released and for many months after. Could fame happen? Anything is possible. But first focus on the work.

LIE #4: “I’m going to get rich.”
I’m always saying to keep the end in mind when writing, but trust me when I tell you that money is not the end game. You can’t guarantee book sales. Ever. You can build a strong campaign, and enroll many launch partners. What you can’t do is predict how many copies of a book will sell. Create other goals or other milestones. Yes, we all want to sell books and with a strong platform, you can, and as my previous point, this is always preceded by a lot of hard work.

LIE #5: “I can market my book after I’m done writing it.”
I often have clients approach me when they have completed their book and ask, ‘now what?’ They’re in trouble. Why? Because there were 300,000 books published in 2012, and the time to start marketing your book was about 3 months ago. If you want to break through you’ll need a minimum of 6 months to get a solid campaign up and running. And the time when traditional publishers did that for you is gone. Publishers are now looking to sign authors who make it easy for them. They want great reads from authors who already have a following and are willing to promote their own work.

LIE #6: “I don’t need a marketing plan.”
Since publishers are looking for authors who understand the game, you should have an idea of what you’re going to do to market your book. It doesn’t have to be formal, but some kind of guideline that gives a structure to your plans, your goals, and your marketing efforts is essential.

LIE #7: “My mom can edit my book.”
Oh, please don’t do this. Writing a book is the fun part; editing is where the real work takes place. You need to hire a professional. Authors often overlook this extremely important step. It’s easy to find someone to edit a book, right? My mom/sister/cousin’s dog is good at English. Wrong. Editing is a pretty specialized skill set; someone who can find “typos” isn’t a good editor. You want someone to help you raise the bar on your work and create a final product that is something you can really be proud of. An editor will give you critical feedback (especially if you’ve hired a content editor, which I highly recommend), and often improve your work beyond what you might have been able to do on your own.

It’s good to remember that publishing isn’t just about finding the right place to print and publish your book. It’s about a lot more than that: publishing is a business; if you treat it as a business model you will always succeed.


A two-time published author, Karen is the owner of Front Rowe Seat, a training company for writers and business owners. She is an expert in non-fiction and can help you position yourself as a Leading Authority in your niche. Karen develops professionally written and designed books, done-for-you in 90 days. She has ghostwritten books for some of the most fascinating people in the world but, as a ghostwriter, she can’t tell you who any of them are! The key to a successful ghostwriter is absolute discretion. What she CAN tell you is that her clients include an actor, and a gold-medal Olympian and some of the top self-help leaders in the industry. Read more of Karen’s content-rich blog posts at


Later this week, we’ll return with Part 2 of our Tutorial on “How to Make a Video Book Trailer for $77 or Less”

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LYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketer, social media expert, radio host, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She was recently named one of the Top 100 marketing authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was selected as a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. Her eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Through her company Spirit Authors, her marketing campaigns have  produced a long list of bestselling self-help and mind-body-spirit authors. Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project, a budding social enterprise whose aim is to help grow a new generation of passionate entrepreneurs who want to serve both people and planet through innovative, ethical, independent enterprise.

@LynnSerafinn @SpiritAuthors @7GracesMarketng @GardenOfTheSoul


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  1. […] be at the bottom of your list, right before ‘Get Rich and Famous.’ See my earlier article, ‘7 Biggest Lies Writers Tell Themselves About Their Books’ for more on […]

  2. […] can be tempting to think you don’t need this advice but maybe 7 biggest lies authors tell themselves will give you a laugh. Even Huffpost is in on the act with their volume turned up to 11. And […]

  3. […] 7 Biggest Lies Writers Tell Themselves About Their Books […]

  4. […] Rowe, ghostwriter and editor, shares the 7 Biggest Lies Writers Tell Themselves About Their Books: You’ve got to be realistic if you’re going to be successful and that means…well, […]

  5. pragati says:

    All the 7 points are sound advice, but I think I have spent way more than 400 hours on our recently released book. While I don’t expect to get rich on it, I do hope it gives some returns. Marketing is going to be a mammoth task, I can already tell.

    Look forward to checking out all the great resources you have for authors here. Thanks..

  6. I agree, Pragati. I spend WAY more than 400 hours writing a book. But Karen Rowe (the guest author of this post) is a ghostwriter who is frequently on a tight deadline, so I think she’s learned how to ‘write on demand’ over the years!
    ~ Lynn Serafinn


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