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So you want to be a "Published Author" -- facts about the publishing world

Updated on December 16, 2013
Can't wait to get swept up in success? Take a reality fix first.
Can't wait to get swept up in success? Take a reality fix first.

The Dream

So you’ve written your first book and it’s great – all your friends and relatives say so.

You haven’t worried about professional editing, because it’s the ideas, the content that’s important, and a few grammatical errors, typos and such don’t count. That’s all editing’s about right? Your brilliance will shine through despite a few unimportant little errors – things only of concern to an anal sort of person. Editing and re-writes, who needs 'em.

As soon as you finish researching how to write a query letter and write one, you’ll land an agent, for sure. Such a work of genius is bound to be recognized by anyone with half a brain and the instincts to match. In fact, let’s write our soon-to-be-agent a letter informing her/him of his/her good luck – the next John Grisham, the next Nora Roberts is here, offering them the rainmaker of the year. An agent is a done deal.

Armed with such a literary gem as yours, that agent will have no trouble selling any of the major publishing houses on your project – and your name and photograph will star proudly on the back of dust jackets in every major book store in the country. The publisher will lavish all kinds of funds for promotion of your golden words, the ‘big book’ of the day; your own publicist will send out the news releases, the advance copies to the reviewers, invitations to the press parties, the print ads, the tv commercials ….

Your book will hit all the major best-seller lists, and your name will become a household term.

And best of all, you’ll be rich. No longer will you worry about the credit card bills – you’ll pay ‘em all off with your advance, and still have enough to take the family to Disneyworld. Once those royalty checks start pouring in, life will be beautiful. Sit back and watch the bank accounts grow.

Make a list of all the cities you want to visit on your book tour, that whirlwind of four star hotels and five star restaurants, book signings where they line up around the block to get your autograph on the front page of their copy of your book, radio interviews; TV talk shows – Good Morning America, here I come. Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien can fight over you. Did someone mention Oprah?

Ahhh! Ain’t a rich fantasy life great?

Okay – time to wake up now.

Agents and finding an agent

The original request I'm to answer in this hub is can I suggest a source to provide assistance in securing the services of an agent -- in particular, considering the number of scams out there and the one I wrote about in Avoid This Agency Scam -- WLWriter's Literary Agency. linked below -- a place where trustworthy information on agents and agencies is found.

The answer is YES! I highly recommend Preditors and Editors, a priceless source and registry of agents, lawyers, editors, and publishers. The link is given below.

There is no shortage of information out there on how to write a query letter, how to approach an agent, so I won't go into all of that again. I have linked those sites on these subjects I consider useful.

But please keep in mind: an agent may receive 1,000 to 1,400 queries a month and may only have openings in their agency for one or two new authors. No matter how clever your query letter, the odds are long. Can you spell reality?

What does work? Constant work, developing a readership in other venues, social networking (and no one is beneath your notice -- you never know) and just generally building up a reputation no matter how small.

About editing and editors

Contrary to the buzz I’ve picked up here on the forums and a few questions and answers on this subject: What is more important substance or style? Is the content not more important than correct punctuation and grammar? There have been many such debates here on hubpages. A couple of times I’ve thrown in my two-bits worth, but was shouted down. Intellect wins over form it seems – at least according to the unpublished (and often unreadable) dabblers here.

Okay folks – listen up. As a professional writer with a bit of a track record, lots of friends in the industry and experience – I’m going to tell you the truth – any work you submit to an agent or an editor had better have been edited, rewritten, edited again and rewritten until it is as polished as it can be. No agent, no editor is looking for some rough gem to refine.

I am going to say this in the plainest language I can. Your work needs editing – not just for punctuation and grammar, but for content and character continuity, for plot defects and for story line lapses. You’re serious about being a writer – then find an editor!!

What can you expect an edit of a novel length manuscript to cost you? -- $1,200 to $2,500. Is it worth it? Yes. Do I personally pay for editing services? -- Yes! Yes! and Yes! And it is worth every penny.

If you can't afford it, there are many writer's coaches who will work with new writers helping them to attain a level of professionalism. Seek them out. You may contact me for assistance if you wish -- and when I am able, I will endeavor to direct you to the right source.


Let’s say that against the odds, your manuscript is slated for success – on your two hundred and thirtieth query, you find an agent who recognizes this diamond-in-the-rough and wants to represent your work. And against even steeper odds, after some judicous editing, and pruning, she sells your book to a publisher.

Now the riches pour in – right?


In fact, the percentage of authors who earn their livings solely from their writing careers --- much less make huge amounts of money at it --- is exceedingly small.

Rather, the hard reality is that the vast majority of authors cannot earn a subsistence income. Lucky are those earning even a comfortable --- much less a luxurious --- living from their writing careers, and, unless they have access to other sources of funding (such as a working spouse, a trust fund, investments income), are frequently compelled to take other jobs to put a roof over their heads, food on the table and pay off the bills. Hence – the ever popular line: Don’t quit your day job.

The reality of self-employment

All authors are self-employed, and as such, they are subject to the same difficulties every self-employed person must face: no guarantee of either a steady income or work, no company-provided life insurance and health benefits, and no paid vacations, sick days, or maternity leave.

So, just like all other self-employed people, authors must assume all responsibility for providing all these things for themselves, as well as paying self-employment taxes (because self-employed persons do not have employers contributing to social security, they must pay a higher amount into social security than non-self-employed people do).

All authors are freelance writers. They conduct business by signing contracts with publishers for the production of one or more books, for which they agree to accept as payment for writing and delivering the book(s) either a percentage (royalties) of the profits from the book's sales or books' eventual sales, or else a straight flat fee (work for hire) for the book(s).

What are royalties?

When a contract is negotiated between an author and a publisher, the author is usually paid an advance -- an advance against royalties yet to be earned, and only once that advance amount is recouped through actual sales (net of returns) will any further royalties be paid.

An author signing a first contract can expect to receive an advance of anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000, on average, per book. Naturally, there are exceptions but it would be unwise to base your financial plans on being that rare, unknown author who garners hundreds of thousands (or millions) in advances. No, let’s attempt to stay within the bounds of reality; the author receives a $10,000 advance, for a single book. That means the author would need to earn $10,000 in royalties from the sales of that book before receiving any additional income from it.

How are royalties calculated?

In general practice, hardcover books pay standard royalty rates of 10%, 12%, and 15% of the cover price --- 10% on the first 250,000 copies sold, 12% on the next 250,001 to 500,000 copies sold, and 15% on anything sold above 500,000 copies. So if an author's hardcover book has a cover price of $25.00, then the author will earn a $2.50 royalty on the first 250,000 copies.

This means that if 10,000 copies of the author's book are the total sold, then the author will earn only $25,000. You’re thinking, not important, most people buy paperback. Yes, the prices for paperback are less, therefore the author earns less per book but the paperback sells in higher volumes thereby earning the author more.

But -- the standard royalty rates for paperback books vary from a low of 1% to a high of 10%, with the average royalty rate falling at 6%. So if an author's paperback book has a cover price of $6.50, then at a 6% royalty rate, the author will earn only a $.39 royalty on every copy sold. Therefore, if he sells another 10,000 copies in paperback format, he earns a whopping $3,900 in royalties.

But there’s something else entering the equation – returns. Books are one of the few commodities on the market sold as “guaranteed” sales. This means that the retailer accepts shipment of the book knowing if it doesn’t sell, he can send it back. So a publisher may print and ship a million copies of your book (but 15-20,000 is more likely) and find that 999,999 will eventually be returned as unsold. And guess what? The publisher expects not to pay royalties on books returned, and will deduct those amounts from royalties outstanding.

Here’s a true-to-life example

For a mass-market paperback book with a minimum first printing of 25,000 copies, an average return rate of 50%, an average $6.50 cover price, and an average 6% royalty rate, an author would earn only $4,875 on the sales of that book --- and 15% ($731.25) of that sum would go directly to the author's agent, leaving the author with a gross (before taxes) profit of $4,143.75.

If, as is not at all unusual, the author had worked all year to produce that book, then the author would have achieved an annual income of less than $5,000!

But I will sell millions, you protest.

Reality check number two

Publishing statistics

There are 17 new books published each and every hour of each and every day, meaning 148,920 books are published yearly in the U.S. This past year 2009, saw 1,879,000 books in print (currently available.)

80% of the book sales are controlled by five conglomerates: Bertelsmann (Random House), Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, Time Warner, Disney and Viacom/CBS. -- Andre Schiffrin, The Business of Books in the Washington Post -- with US sales of $4.102 billion and worldwide sales of $5.68 billion. (2009)

  • Random House: $2.1 billion worldwide
  • Penguin Group: $1.3 billion
  • HarperCollins: $1.1 billion
  • Simon & Schuster: $690 million (est)
  • AOL/Time Warner: $415 million

78% of the titles published come from the small publishing houses or self-publishers. So in other words, 78% of the book titles compete for 20% of total book sales.

But, I hear you protest, my work is so good, sure thing it will be picked up by one of the big five.

First of all, publication by one of the big conglomerates is no reflection on quality. Let’s not get confused with bigger equals better. Some of the best writing published is produced by the smaller publishing house.

Still, if you are dead set on landing that contract with one offshoot of the big five or other, let’s take a look at their statistics.

Book Printing Facts of Advance paying traditional publishers:

Most initial print runs are 5,000 copies. 4,986 was the average first press run; second printings averaged 4,776.

The first print run for a mid-list book by a larger publisher is 10-15,000 books. A larger publisher must sell 10,000 books to break even.

Your publisher is unlikely to lavish much in the way of publicity funds on a first time, unknown. Much of that work will remain your responsibility (and your expense.)

A successful fiction book sells 5,000 copies.

A successful nonfiction book sells 7,500 copies. (information from Author’s Guild – link to the right)

As we’ve already calculated, the author is unlikely to see more than a total of $4,000 (if that much.)

Well this isn’t easy street, you think, somewhat deflated, watching those riches dwindle until they become a payback of pennies per hour. I may as well self-publish at these rates. At least then I’ll earn more than .40 per unit.

Well, maybe so -- per unit you’ll make more. But how many units are you likely to sell all by yourself?

Self-publishing options:

“Createspace published 10,269 titles!” 352 titles or 3.4% had sold more than 300 copies. 1,463 or 14.3% had sold more than 200 copies. The average per-publication sale number of a Createspace title is about 30 copies.

“Xlibris has paid out $1 million in royalties” (to some 9,000 authors since the company was founded in 1997 -- about $111. each. Average amount paid to Xlibris by those authors to earn their $111 in royalties -- $700.) The average sales of the 9,000 titles is 33 sales per title).

Authorhouse claims to have sold 2 million books -- their 18,500 titles listed make that 108 books/title.

“iUniverse says their titles have sold 750,000 copies” -- ie. 10,000+ titles (75 copies/title). One year later they state: Of iUnivers's 17,000 titles, 84 have sold more than 500 copies.

So, yes you will receive more income per copy, but you will also pay for printing, shipping, registration-- everything (anywhere from $200 - $5000) and publicity expenses will be 100% yours.

Explain to me again how this is a better deal.

So, are you saying it's not worth it to write and sell your work?

No -- I'm asking you enter into this business with a sense of reality. Maybe -- just maybe, you will be one of the few whose work "catches on" and you'll find your name up there as one of the "hot" ones -- and you can then write your own ticket (more or less.)

But don't go planning your life, in particular your financial life, around that possibility. Possibly you'll win the lottery, too.

I recently went three rounds with a client who had not yet written anything beyond an introduction and wanted me to review and edit a query letter. This client had never written anything before, certainly never published and required strong editing of anything he did produce -- but suddenly he wanted to write a proposal and "line up commitments" prior to writing the piece. I asked him why he thought an editor who receives 100+ proposals a day for projects from some pretty high-powered individuals, would suddenly take an interest on a newbie, with no credits to his name, and no track record to prove he is capable of doing the work and no ... well you get the idea.

In truth, this client has financial woes and took my encouragement as to his writing ability to mean he could buck the system and the odds and parlay an undeniable talent (but one that is far from rare) into a financial fix.

If you are entering the writing world to pay your bills -- please, find another means of support.

What I've tried to show you here is the reality that is the publishing world. This reality should remain uppermost in your mind throughout your dealings with its vagaries -- always.


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    • jenslibra profile image

      Jennifer Vasquez 4 years ago from Long Beach, CA

      Thank you for this insight. I took a creative writing class a couple years ago & the instructor was very honest about the hard work & tireless dedication that goes into getting just one book recognized by an agent. Her book Damn the Rejections Full Speed Ahead is eye opening and your hub is as well.

    • Nadine May profile image

      Nadine May 4 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      This is indeed an excellent article on the publishing world. Ha Ha your hub reminded me of the wife of one of our authors that wondered when she could book a world cruise from the earnings of her husband's royalties. We though she was joking, but apparently she was quite serious!

    • Robin Beck profile image

      Robin 4 years ago from Cape Town South Africa

      I just found this and was impressed. You tell it like it is for sure. As an independent publisher of more than 20 years standing we have had our share of would be authors with inflated and totally unrealistic ideas. I am sure they have all seen those Hollywood movies where debut authors are flown around the world on book tours to all the glamorous places like Paris, France. If we get another one I would like to refer them to your article. Altogether excellent!

    • lmmartin profile image

      lmmartin 5 years ago from Alberta and Florida

      Buyer beware is the apt quotation here. It behooves us all to do a little research before signing on with anyone and the internet abounds with warnings and information about Publish America. A simple Google would have directed you to any number of reports on this vanity publishing site. So, rather than complaining, why not take this as a learning experience and go forth into the world a wiser writer. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • profile image

      crystal 5 years ago

      how do i find an honest publisher because i have been screwed by publishamerica and they claim to be honest. if they are honest i would hate to see dishonest.

    • lmmartin profile image

      lmmartin 5 years ago from Alberta and Florida

      Thank you for your kind advice.

    • profile image

      Spartacon 5 years ago

      How did I get to actually being offered a contract. Here are some thinks to do: 1) write constantly whenever you have spare time, 2) save your writing on USB to revise it, 3) be determined to become a professional writer if your day jobs become fewer and farther inbetween, 4) check the website to find everything going on not only in the literary world but also the real world, 5) learn another language, i.e. Spanish, to help your skills in English and maybe, one day, to write in that language, too, 6) Learn how to write a cover letter and proposal letter to publishers, 7) Write most or all of your book before sending a LOQ or LOP to a publisher, 8) line up your book with the right publisher, 9) act like a professional in your contacts with a publisher, 10) adapt yourself to a changing world.

    • profile image

      Spartacon 5 years ago

      Thank you Lynda (is it?). My actual name is Rick. Yeah, I wrote a book on baseball team nicknames and McFarland is publishing it this August. They also have interest in two other baseball books I'm writing now. You're right, be realistic but don't give up. The world is changing. Automation is here and people worldwide are having more and more trouble in earning a living. I used to work in health care but haven't had a job in that field for ten years now. My advice to writers is: 1) write non-fiction unless you really have talent for fiction, 2) contact established publishers (vanity and self-publish should be avoided, 3) write about a subject you like and interests you. There are plenty of reputable publishers out there, so keep at it until one accepts your book. Thanks and good luck to all.

    • lmmartin profile image

      lmmartin 5 years ago from Alberta and Florida

      Hey Spartacon, What wonderful news. However, shoot for money to pay the electric bill, not the mortgage... Let us know how it goes. Better yet, let us know how you got that far. We're all in need of inspiration and motivation. Lynda

    • profile image

      Spartacon 5 years ago

      Thanks Immartin! I just wrote my first book and was offered a contract by McFarland. My book will be published on July 31 this year. But you've helped me to be realistic. I ain't looking for millions - just some dough to pay the mortgage.

    • lmmartin profile image

      lmmartin 6 years ago from Alberta and Florida

      Hi Poetic Fool -- Doing anything for the pure joy of doing it is by far the best approach, and it shows. Those who write primarily for money -- well, that shows too.

      Hi Karen -- While you are correct that editing and proofreading are absolutely necessary, they are not the same thing. Many self-published works are without error insofar as grammar and spelling are concerned because of good proofreading, but are not up to par due to lack of editing -- deciding which elements of the story should stay or go, be cut or expanded and so forth. That is where a good editor is invaluable.

      Thanks to both for commenting here. Lynda

    • Karen Wodke profile image

      Karen Wodke 6 years ago from Midwest

      Excellent article, but still, knowing all that, I self published and am happy I did. But editing? Oh my gosh, you MUST edit. In fact, my co-author and I have proofread, edited, and revised our works many many times. We are not happy with them unless we are convinced after countless readings that they are without errors. Writers - you must edit and proofread your work. If you are not lucky enough to work with a very proficient co-writer like mine, then you should spend the money for a professional editor. It is worth it.

    • profile image

      Poetic Fool 6 years ago

      lmmartin, I had no illusions about how difficult getting published can be much less to get rich doing it. Your hub really drives the point home though. Fortunately, I don't need to derive income from writing so I can do it for the pure joy of it. If anything ever gets published, then that will be gravy. Thanks for the eye opening hub.

    • lmmartin profile image

      lmmartin 7 years ago from Alberta and Florida

      Hi becca, my stats come from the American Publishing Association, and a few other places. Easy to find. What's your subject? Lynda

    • profile image

      becca 7 years ago

      Hi there. I'm putting together a proposal for a non-fiction book and am looking for some stats on book publications, writer organizations, etc. Could you tell me where you got your statistics on the number of books published annually? Thanks.


    • lmmartin profile image

      lmmartin 7 years ago from Alberta and Florida

      Thank you, Carter. We are all constantly learning, or should be. When we stop learning, we die. Glad to make your acquaintance here in life's great classroom. Lynda

    • CARTER32071 profile image

      CARTER32071 7 years ago

      Hello Lynda, thank you so much for sharing your knowledge on publishing a book. It really is a wake-up call, making ones self aware of everything needed, and what's to be expected is very helpful. I have several ideas about a few books I am working on, but I am also aware I still have so much to learn. It's hubbers like you, that makes me so happy I found Hub pages. Thank you for sharing your gift. Take care Carter

    • lmmartin profile image

      lmmartin 7 years ago from Alberta and Florida

      Not only good, but necessary, FaithDream. Only a fool leaps before looking. Know where you're going and understand books are sold one by one. Thanks for commenting. Lynda

    • FaithDream profile image

      FaithDream 7 years ago from (Midwest) USA

      Very informative and you definitely know your math. I liked your article. Let the truth be told. It's good to have some realistic expectations.

    • lmmartin profile image

      lmmartin 7 years ago from Alberta and Florida

      Tell us more about your projects. I'd love to hear. Lynda

    • falakpema profile image

      falakpema 7 years ago

      I'm ready for love! I need to dance, gotta dance! gotta dance... So I have three books written and nobody to read them... I'm like Van Gogh...I'll be famous when dead !

      C'est la they say...Where is my guardian angel?

    • lmmartin profile image

      lmmartin 7 years ago from Alberta and Florida

      Glad to hear of your success paradisehunter. Of course, for every rule there are exceptions, but best not to count on being one of them. Understanding the odds and what you're up against is important in any endeavor. Tell me, do you write fiction or non-fiction? Thanks for commenting. Lynda

    • profile image

      paradisehunter 7 years ago

      I guess I'm in that 3.4% that has sold more books than others on Createspace. If you are in a tight niche market (one that is too small for the "big boys") but big enough for a few little guys to get out there you can make a pretty good profit. I'd say the key is market research if you are to self publish.

    • lmmartin profile image

      lmmartin 7 years ago from Alberta and Florida

      Best to know your adversary, isn't that the cliché? Going into the game with a real understanding of the rules is very important, I think. Thanks for your comment. Lynda

    • Karen Wodke profile image

      Karen Wodke 7 years ago from Midwest

      Very helpful article. Thanks for the dose of reality! It's true that writers have big dreams. And sometimes those dreams might come true. Most times, they probably won't. But going into it well-informed helps a lot.

    • Mentalist acer profile image

      Mentalist acer 7 years ago from A Voice in your Mind!

      I've entered one competition"Poems a Plenty" and submitted to poetic websites,but it seems they want my money or to spend time reading other poetry and time,I'm not trying to get published,I just find the idea interesting;)

    • lmmartin profile image

      lmmartin 7 years ago from Alberta and Florida

      Hi Mentalist acer. What you want to do is submit your poetry to the many journals and competitions out there. The internet has many listings for competitions. Once your name is out there, the task becomes easier -- though, as I'm sure you know, the market for poetry is limited. Trying to sell a book of poetry as an unknown or unpublished poet is bleak, to say the least. Start small, getting a poem accepted here and there, and let it grow.

      Thanks for commenting. Lynda

    • Mentalist acer profile image

      Mentalist acer 7 years ago from A Voice in your Mind!

      I've about a books worth of poems and find your piece on publishing realities to be a humane way of letting one in on the dystopic nature of getting read genuinly should save me some time and money;)

    • lmmartin profile image

      lmmartin 7 years ago from Alberta and Florida

      Could be. I write because I don't have a choice. The words won't stay inside me. Income is a different concern, and I don't write for that reason -- don't have to. It's true there's a long tradition of the starving artist, and not without reason. In these times, it seems to me that everyone has decided they're a writer and can make money of it. And best of luck to them. I come from a place where Demand Studios is hardly what we'd call writing -- just words put together to sell something. Now-a-days, they are promoting robots to write them for you. Doesn't that just say it all! Thanks for commenting, Amie. Lynda

    • profile image

      Amie Warren 7 years ago

      This is great advice! Everyone thinks you can get rich writing a book, when in reality, you make more each year by writing for Demand Studios, or even Hubpages, if you do it right.

    • lmmartin profile image

      lmmartin 7 years ago from Alberta and Florida

      Glad to be of help, Dave. Feel free to contact me at my website if I can of any further help.

    • DavePrice profile image

      DavePrice 7 years ago from Sugar Grove, Ill

      This is a great article, thank you for all the information and links - I found this just as I have begun searching for an outlet for my writing. The links have been most helpful.

    • lmmartin profile image

      lmmartin 7 years ago from Alberta and Florida

      Hi Charles,

      For textbooks, how-to's, prescription books, and some other non-fiction, yes, self-publication (not necessarily vanity publishing) can be a viable alternative. It is easier to build your platform and market for such material.

      Fiction is a totally different problem, and much more difficult to 'platform'. As I am a fiction writer, I chose to go with a small,independent publisher who would allow me to retain control of artwork, style, etc. And I am quite happy.

      Most of the time, self-publication for fiction is the proverbial kiss-of-death.

      Thanks for commenting and I wish you nothing but good luck. Lynda

    • Charles James profile image

      Charles James 7 years ago from Yorkshire, UK

      Publishing has its own problems, as any publisher will tell you.

      Many published authors complain privately about their publisher, their agent, and the inadequate marketing and publicity.

      With vanity publishing, at least the tail can wag the dog. It is a one person operation, and I/we will receive immediate reward and feedback from our marketing efforts. And compile email addresses of those who bought our first book to inform about our second book.

      On the textbook I am writing I am looking at a £19 per copy return, as against a £1.50 -£3.00 return going through a conventional publisher. There is really no contest!

      I accept that for fiction writers marketing is much harder, as the bookshops often trust the publisher rather than the unknown author.

    • lmmartin profile image

      lmmartin 7 years ago from Alberta and Florida

      Whether one wants to publish to make money, or because one wants to reach people with our stories, we still need a publisher. So no matter what the motivation we are faced with the same problem. Thanks for your comment Sharonl.

    • profile image

      sharonl 7 years ago

      The thing to realize is just this: Write because you have a story to tell, something you want to share with the world. Don't write because of the money you hope to make.

    • lmmartin profile image

      lmmartin 7 years ago from Alberta and Florida

      You're not serious -- your final tuppence-worth? Surely not! I will be seriously disappointed if it is so. Lynda

    • John Yeoman profile image

      John Yeoman 7 years ago from Story writing land in the centre of England

      My final tuppence-worth. Writing is an addiction, like tobacco, but worse: it's hard-wired into us. We all need to impose pattern on the chaos of the natural world. So the unlettered tell anecdotes and the rest of us write stories. We couldn't stop if we wanted to.

      Couldn't we lobby for government help? I'd be the first to register for a subsidised Quit Writing support programme. It would be of unspeakable benefit both to myself and the community.

      Save trees, kill an author! What a vote-winner for any political candidate! (Sorry, Lynda. You have made it clear: publishers are already fulfilling that role...)

    • lmmartin profile image

      lmmartin 7 years ago from Alberta and Florida

      Good plan, Lora

    • Lora Palmer profile image

      Lora Palmer 7 years ago from Warrington, Pennsylvania

      It's fun to dream, but it's also important to not lose sight of the reality. Well, this serves as a great reminder to remember to write for the love of it and to make our work the best it can be, whatever does (or doesn't) come of that.

      I'll save the fantasy for my stories :)

    • lmmartin profile image

      lmmartin 7 years ago from Alberta and Florida

      Certainly we may dream Mojojojo but when we act it must be from an understanding of reality. Thanks for your comment.

    • MojoJojo49 profile image

      MojoJojo49 7 years ago

      Very useful and Im glad I found your hub. But I still think that deep down all us budding writers think we'll be "the next big thing." It's a subtle arrogance passed down through the years from Shakespeare to Wilde, and from Wilde to Bukowski, and so on, and so forth.

    • lmmartin profile image

      lmmartin 7 years ago from Alberta and Florida

      Hi ladjane -- bubbles are better burst -- don't you agree?

      H ar.colton -- glad to be of help. We're all better off dealing with reality rather than drifting about in a fantasy world of how we'd like things to be.

    • ar.colton profile image

      Mikal Smith 7 years ago from Vancouver, B.C.

      Your hubs are like a peak into a world that is kept very shadowy. I don't know why it's so hard for aspiring writers to get all this information. I really appreciate you offering it up so succinctly, and not in the form of a 12$ ebook. Thank you!

    • ladyjane1 profile image

      ladyjane1 7 years ago from Texas

      Helpful info and all around hubpages the sounds of bursting bubbles are deafening. lol Cheers.

    • lmmartin profile image

      lmmartin 7 years ago from Alberta and Florida

      Thanks Jason, and how true.

    • profile image

      Jason Moser 7 years ago

      Thank you so much for the information throughout your article. Many useful tips and tricks. I was very impressed with the details. Many young and aspiring authors never know the true facts until it is too late.

    • lmmartin profile image

      lmmartin 7 years ago from Alberta and Florida

      Thanks very much Pamela99. Writing without expectation is by far the best way.

      Skip the depression, Tina V -- not worth it. Better to know ahead of time, rather than walk in blind and foolish, don't you think?

    • TINA V profile image

      TINA V 7 years ago

      This is a reality check for aspiring writers before ending up in a state of depression. LOL! But seriously, you've shared a good advice and thoughts to ponder on. We can really learn a lot from experienced people like you. Great hub!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 8 years ago from United States

      I very much enjoyed you hub and the dose of reality that went along with it. This is a very good fact filled hub, although I must say the first part sounded lovely. I am working on a book but have no real expectations at this point in time. Thanks for all the great information.

    • lmmartin profile image

      lmmartin 8 years ago from Alberta and Florida

      You're very welcome. Lynda

    • bonnebartron profile image

      bonnebartron 8 years ago from never one place for too long

      I respect people that don't sugar coat. Way to tell it how it is! Thank you.

    • lmmartin profile image

      lmmartin 8 years ago from Alberta and Florida

      Why thank you, Mr. Happy.

    • Mr. Happy profile image

      Mr. Happy 8 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Thanks again for a brilliant post!

    • Mr. Happy profile image

      Mr. Happy 8 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Very good and usefull blog. This is like a A+++ lol Not that you did not know that.

      In my opinion, pay ahead for all the publishing costs if you want to publish something without headaches.

    • lmmartin profile image

      lmmartin 8 years ago from Alberta and Florida

      Thank you ECDupree.

    • ECDupree profile image

      ECDupree 8 years ago

      Wonderful insight into the "world of writing and publishing"

    • lmmartin profile image

      lmmartin 8 years ago from Alberta and Florida

      Glad to hear your not discouraged. It's not my goal to stop anyone, only to encourage going forward with knowledge of how things really work. Thanks for your comment. Lynda

    • profile image

      Duchess OBlunt 8 years ago

      Ah, Lynda, I can always count on you to give it to me straight. I've pretty much come to these conclusions all on my own in the past few months, but it hasn't stopped me. I'm still working on my novel. And the learning curve for all the different aspects are kinda cool (a little difficult maybe, but I love to learn).

      The one thing I keep hearing over an over again is that even with the traditional publishers the new author must do most, if not all, of their own marketing. That strikes the biggest fear in me. I'm so bad at it!

      It hasn't stopped me though.

      But you don't just stop at giving us our dose of reality, it appears you have provided a huge resource of information, which I will be following up on!

      Great article and greatly appreciated.

    • Jersey Jess profile image

      Jersey Jess 8 years ago from USA

      Amazing Hub, thanks!

    • profile image

      Fangirl 8 years ago

      Wow... did you channel parts of my brain? *grin* I compare editing to tidying a house--we tidy a house before guests arrive--so tidy up the writing before you send it out.

      Thank you for all your advice--and the reality check.

    • lmmartin profile image

      lmmartin 8 years ago from Alberta and Florida

      Much as it sucks, reality is better. Thanks for your comment. Lynda

    • WA Christopher J. profile image

      WA Christopher J. 8 years ago from First American Ruins, MI

      This Hub is the cold glass of water I've been waiting to have dumped on my head. I'm awake. I'm aware. The dichotomy between the writer's reality and the writer's dream has resurfaced, thanks to this insightful article.

      I appreciate you putting it together.

    • lmmartin profile image

      lmmartin 8 years ago from Alberta and Florida

      I don't have advice; I'm sorry to say. I don't have those kinds of answers. I believe self-publishing is a dead end for most of us for the very reasons you state here. It is a huge drain on the writer's finances with very little to show for it. (That's why it's called vanity publishing.) If your book is well written and has something of importance for a good sized audience, then I would query it to agents and editors, and focus on the Christian press market. Oh -- and definitely, you need to get an edit. Just reading your comment, I see editing will be a necessity (run on sentences, strange phrasing -- a book for women by God (?) This doesn't mean your book isn't good -- it means you need to have someone take care of the technical matters because they are important. If you wish, you can send me a sample -- 2,000 words for me to review and then, I may be able to give you a more informed suggestion. You may send the sample through my website

    • profile image

      Katrina Cook 8 years ago

      Hi, Thanyou for the information you provided. I have a question. I was impressed to write a book for women by God in 1998, I just recently got it published in 2008. I have struggled for years in hopes this book would open doors of success for me and my family. I understand ministry is the key but I still struggle financially, I don't have many friends, I have been a loner all my life, but it's discouraging to know that this passion has been placed in me and I stepped out to do it.I didn't have any help or support, I blindly felt my way around and I didn't have my book edited, but over 200 women plus have read the book and I know the message in itself is powerful, I received a lot of phone calls, most books I gave away because I wanted the message to get out.I keep asking God what is it about me that I cannot seem to climb that ladder of success financially. It does not feel good when you tell your child you don't have $5.oo for lunch. I'm discouraged because my finances are still from pay check to paycheck, it's still hard to promote the book. it's been sitting with creata space for a year and I don't have the funds to even order 25 copies of my own book not to mention a workshop to promote the book. What kind of advice would you have for a person like me?

    • lmmartin profile image

      lmmartin 8 years ago from Alberta and Florida

      Good -- you've made my day Ms. TyTy. Certainly, approach the publishing industry, but do so understanding how it works and what to expect. Thanks so much for leaving your comment. Lynda

      Hi Roxciheart -- thanks for your comment and I do hope you find this helpful. Lynda

    • Ms.TyTy profile image

      Ms.TyTy 8 years ago

      Thank you so much for this insight. I am currently writing my first novel and want it to be great! I have read many publications on how to put fire in your fiction and make it catch the eyes of agents/editors and the like. At the end of the day I don't want to make millions just get my story out there. I am very appreciative on your realistic view on the publishing industry. It definitely put things in perspective for me.

    • Roxciheart profile image

      Natalie Barahona Sanford 8 years ago from Under the Korean stars

      Wow! Thanks for the major insight!

    • lmmartin profile image

      lmmartin 8 years ago from Alberta and Florida

      Thank you ramkkasturi for your comment. I am referring to fiction and non-fiction in the traditional publishing sense. Textbooks are a specialized type of publishing with its own rules -- which will never apply to most of us.

    • ramkkasturi profile image

      ramkkasturi 8 years ago from India

      Thanks for exposing the realities of being an author. You are mostly talking about novels and freelance writing.Text books earn good money if the authors are well known.It is really a good income.


    • lmmartin profile image

      lmmartin 8 years ago from Alberta and Florida

      Perhaps you could learn how to finish a sentence. The reason for punctuation is so we can understand what is being said, and how it is being said. And before we publish -- self-publish or otherwise, it's good if we know the difference between right and write. But thanks for leaving your comment Transformtruly. I don't think we are all doing something wrong.

    • Transformtruly profile image

      Transformtruly 8 years ago

      I write because i usually am the one with the different perspective on things I write because the stories come to me an unpublished author who got the hustle down to the t just remember me Mario Darvin my first book is title trulytransformed mind,body,spirit(already copyrighted) self help books is what I right here is my advice to you unsure authors evaluate,educate,&elevate then maybe you will find out what you are doing wrong

    • Zac828 profile image

      Zac828 8 years ago from England

      Very good advice, thank you.

    • lmmartin profile image

      lmmartin 8 years ago from Alberta and Florida

      Thanks Swan of War (what an interesting pen name) definitely we should write because we want to, not in search of fame, celebrity and riches. Thanks for your comment

      Hi John Yeoman -- yep, reality sucks. But I don't think that means we can't try -- just know the reality of the industry and keep your expectation reasonable. Thanks.

      Hello T.F. Hodge -- thanks for leaving this thoughtful comment and excellent advice.

    • tfhodge profile image

      tfhodge 8 years ago from California - U.S.A.

      Good information. Thank you. The few lessons I learned during the process of writing my first book is, don't rush, be patient, and don't wait on the 'right' time - just start writing!

      T.F. Hodge


    • John Yeoman profile image

      John Yeoman 8 years ago from Story writing land in the centre of England

      A brilliant hub. Congratulations! As a much published author (albeit in non-fiction), I agree that breaking into print today is tougher than newbies ever imagine. Yet thousands of dreamy-eyed writers continue to attend creative writing classes (I confess it, I run some of 'em!) - or worse, pay big money to unscrupulous writing 'colleges' - lured on by illusions.

      A top London agent Luigi Bonomi of LBA told me recently that he receives some 10,000 submissions annually yet takes on only 5-6 new authors each year. Your chances of impressing him are 0.005%. It's just as bad with other agents. And worse, publishers have become more cautious now than ever before, he said.

      Yes, the creative writing industries are churning out far, far too many newbies. Even if all were as talented as Hemingway, the market couldn't hope to absorb them all.

      Moral: write for fun. But don't ever expect to make a living out of it!

    • SwanofWar profile image

      SwanofWar 8 years ago from In My Imagination

      All that you said is very true, I know this. My personal aspirations as an author are not to be rich, though I do enjoy imagining myself as famous. Or, more so, imagining my WORK as famous. However, I don't think the answer to this 'reality' is self-publishing. I've read countless articles on the subject over the past few years, and it seems to me to be just a plan for the desperate. It allows to you to say "I am published!", but that is about it. Rather, I believe in the traditional system. No, it is not 'easy', but if it is one's destiny to be a great author it will work. After all, you should be writing because you love it and because you feel you were born to do it, not because you hope to get rich or become famous.

    • lmmartin profile image

      lmmartin 8 years ago from Alberta and Florida

      Thanks for the comment Rose.

      You too, jamesbrownbete.

      And thanks to katrinasui as well. Glad to know you find it helpful.

    • katrinasui profile image

      katrinasui 8 years ago

      What a fantastic hub. I have a dream to be a published writer and this hub is a guide for people like me. Thanks for sharing such an educative hub.

    • jamesbrownbete profile image

      jamesbrownbete 8 years ago from Philippines

      A very good hub and very informative. Thanks immartin!

    • rose56 profile image

      rose56 8 years ago

      Thanks for that information i am sure it will be helpful.

    • lmmartin profile image

      lmmartin 8 years ago from Alberta and Florida

      Hi Merlin -- went and read your hub and linked it here. Thanks for steering me to it -- good read and excellent information. Lynda

      Hi hgbotoe -- thanks for the comment.

    • hgbotoe profile image

      hgbotoe 8 years ago

      WOW! Thanks for the insight. Great information and practical.

    • Merlin Fraser profile image

      Merlin Fraser 8 years ago from Cotswold Hills

      Hi Lynda,

      You are so right about publishers chasing guarnteed profit, and let's face it who can blame them it is after all they who risk all to bring a book to market.

      True, they also have the ablity to 'Hype' a book into the best seller list if they want to because people are still gullible!Such is the media driven cult of celebrity.

      If I may be so bold you may like to steer some of your readers to one or two of my Hubs that warn the unwary about the cost and hidden costs of Vanity or Self Publishing.

      But if I sometimes come across a slightly negative I am not, I struggle on and still dream, 'One Day !'

    • lmmartin profile image

      lmmartin 8 years ago from Alberta and Florida

      You have a good attitude Matt. Keep on writing. Lynda

    • Matt Maresca profile image

      Matt Maresca 8 years ago from New Jersey

      Well that was depressing, hahaha. Thanks, though for providing the real story. It makes me want to work harder because success in the industry is quite an accomplishment!

    • lmmartin profile image

      lmmartin 8 years ago from Alberta and Florida

      I think that's part of it Merlin, but also because the industry has changed somewhat. Most of what is printed is "guaranteed" money makers -- the big names (no matter how repetative the work may be.) Unless a publisher believes a work/writer to be profitable, they are unlikely to take a risk.

      Thanks for your comment. Lynda

    • Merlin Fraser profile image

      Merlin Fraser 8 years ago from Cotswold Hills

      What a fantastic hub and a great reality check !

      some great comments too from your many readers... I'm only sorry your hub was not around before I thought I may be the next Dan Brown.

      For what it's worth I think all us wannabe writers have the same problems, writing is the easy bit. Finding a half decent agent is quite a challenge and like most I could paper a good sized room with rejection slips. Yet I know I can tell a yarn and hold a readers attention to the end.

      Could it be that there are just too many of us Newbees around and too few opportunities for discovery ?

    • lmmartin profile image

      lmmartin 8 years ago from Alberta and Florida

      Mboosali -- thanks for coming by. Certainly, we writers will not stop writing simply because the going is rough. Lynda

    • mboosali profile image

      mboosali 8 years ago from Minneapolis

      yeah. . .

      that's a reality check, HA!

      Kinda expected that much. . .But I still like the idea of writing and editing. . .


      but I'm still just 20, I got a lot of time to figure this out.

    • lmmartin profile image

      lmmartin 8 years ago from Alberta and Florida

      Hi Karen -- it is what it is. Thanks for the comments,

      Hi Charles -- yes I am aware of Lulu and used them to create ebooks for trial readers and know exactly how they work -- and it is a more likely model for non-fiction than fiction.

      However, not all authors are marketers and a look at their statistics shows an average of a whopping 30-50 units sold per title -- which is okay, provided you haven't put much out in expenses.

      But the truth is -- anytime an author foots the bill to print his own books -- it is vanity publishing. You tell me the difference.

    • Charles James profile image

      Charles James 8 years ago from Yorkshire, UK

      Have a look at .

      They appear to have a better business model. You upload your book to their site. Theirs is a "print on demand" operation and they insist you buy one copy of your book, so you can be sure it is exactly what you thought you wanted.

      Your own marketing allows customers to buy the book from Lulu at the price you set, plus postage. They take out their production price and a share of your profit. The rest is yours.

      When I finish writing my textbook, all the production thinking and editing is for me to do. All the marketing is for me to do. Every time a customer sends £30 plus p&p to Lulu, Lulu print and post a book, take their cut, and send the rest (about £19) to me.

      All I need to do is finish the book!

      Sounds better than vanity publishing.

    • Karen Ellis profile image

      Karen Ellis 8 years ago from Central Oregon

      This is all so true. It is too bad, though.

    • lmmartin profile image

      lmmartin 8 years ago from Alberta and Florida

      Hi Jwestcattle and thanks for your comment. yeah -- reality sucks. Lynda

      Hi cupid 51, and thanks for your comment. Lydna

      Hello Nellieanna, and if you gave it up so easily then writing truly wasn't for you. Most of us could papers every wall in our homes with rejections (though the trend now is not so much of a rejection notice but total silence -- ignoring you -- which is harder to take. Thanks for dropping by. Lynda

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 8 years ago from TEXAS

      I was 12 or 13 when, with high hopes and a sense of heady elation I sent off my story, "The Lettuce Leaf", to Seventeen Magazine for a writing contest. I received my first and only rejection letter, not because of a fabulously successful writing career thereafter, nor because I decided to end it all (writing, that is) but because it definitely dashed my hopes and brought reality in their stead. The letter on SEVENTEEN letterhead began: "Dear Nellie: We can't all be champs. . . ."

      Even in the Olympics, when the contenders are almost evenly matched - they can't all be champs. One might think that only the gifted would think they could write - and be champs at it - but it can't be so, and even among those with (varying degrees of) writing gifts and skills - all can't rise to the top.

      Thanks for your well-detailed article about why it is so in the writing world. It's valuable information, knowing what lies between one's hopes and their fulfillment!

    • cupid51 profile image

      cupid51 8 years ago from INDIA

      This is a fantastic hub! Every hubber in hubpages must have a dream to be a published writer and this hub is a guide book for them. Thanks for sharing such an educative hub!

    • JWestCattle profile image

      JWestCattle 8 years ago from Texas

      Thanks for your hub, it was enlightening. And had no idea an author received so little of the price of a book, no idea! Ouch! Lots of good information here, thanks again.....great hub.

    • hair2nv profile image

      hair2nv 8 years ago from Huntsville, Alabama

      Writing the book is the easy part. Going back and editing it is the worst. I had someone else edit my manuscript, there were a lot of errors.

      So I do agree that the big picture is what you should look at. Writing ain't easy! The information on your hub is very informative. Thanks


    • lmmartin profile image

      lmmartin 8 years ago from Alberta and Florida

      Oh - okay. Funny how a little type can lead us to say the very thing we didn't want to say. Thanks again. Lynda

    • Polly C profile image

      Polly C 8 years ago from UK

      Sorry, I meant NOT following the self publishing route is the best way! It must have been the way I worded it!

      I think I got the 1% thing from one of the writers handbooks - an older one - if I remember rightly.


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