The Author Myth

So, you have this really great idea for a book. Whether it’s a novel, a memoir, or a how-to book, you’re absolutely certain you’re going to have a runaway best seller, and you just know Hollywood will soon come knocking on your door.

 Well, I hate to be the one to break it to you, but you’re experiencing a phenomenon that I call The Author Myth, and I suspect most new authors, or prospective authors, experience it. I know I did. We all like to think the idea we’ve come up with for a book is so unique, or so good, that no one in human history has ever conceived it before. We all like to think we’ll end up rich and famous and live the good life.

This myth exists because there is, in fact, some basis to support it. We’ve all heard of J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, and James Patterson. However, in reality, the vast majority of authors out there, regardless of their talents and abilities, will never come close to achieving that kind of fame or financial success. Even if their names become a household word, it is rare indeed for any author to become successful enough to be able to live entirely off their royalties, regardless of how well their books were written, or how many awards their books may have won.

This doesn’t mean writing a book isn’t a worthwhile endeavor. There’s nothing quite like the thrill of seeing your idea or story published in a book and listed on Amazon.com with positive reviews. However, if your reason for writing a book is to become rich and famous, and to see your story on the silver screen, the odds are you’ll end up being extremely disappointed. For most authors, book royalties are an income supplement at best. For others, it’s not much more than beer money.

There is one reason, and one reason only, to write a book; you have something you want to share with others, whether it’s a good story, help or advice to make their lives better, or something heartfelt that will inspire them through difficult times. If this is your motivation, then the odds are you will be rewarded, perhaps not with fame and fortune, but with the joy of knowing that your words may have changed someone’s life for the better.