These beliefs slow down the process of writing and selling a great book. Sometimes they even cause people to abandon their projects.

Do you have any of these beliefs?

If so, don’t worry. Read on and get the knowledge you need.

Myth 1: I just need to write a draft and the publisher will take care of everything else.

In truth, the best books go through several revisions before a publisher even sees the manuscript. Depending on what kind of writer you are, you may even need to completely rearrange your content in the second and third drafts until your ideas start to really work on the page.

If you are not able to revise – for some people it’s a very painful process – you might need to hire a collaborator, a professional who can take those first drafts and turn them into a book that a publisher wants to buy.

Be prepared to invest in you editorial work upfront, since in-house editors are often overloaded with projects and unable to give your manuscript the attention it needs to develop fully.

Myth 2: The best writing is wildly creative and expressive.

If this is your most comfortable process for getting ideas down, go ahead and write your first draft this way.

But know that a good book is well structured, thoughtful and precise in its delivery. So, somehow you will need to get from your freewheeling first draft (which may be necessary, don’t get me wrong) to a structured and deliverable manuscript that meets a publisher’s expectations.

You may need to face your belief that being freely expressive is all you need to publish a book. And, you may need to hire a strong editor.

Myth 3: My book idea needs to be 100% original.

Yes and no. Yes, you need an original perspective, a unique voice, or a dramatic story that we haven’t quite heard before. There has to be something about your book that stands out.

But, as the saying goes, “there is nothing new under the sun.”

The coming-of-age memoir is a classic, for example. There are hundreds of these books on the market already. But that doesn’t mean your exact story has already been told.

Think of Tara Westover’s best-selling 2018 memoir Educated. Westover grew up in rural Idaho in a Mormon family that didn’t believe in educating their children, yet she went on to get a PhD from Cambridge University.

How she did it makes for an incredible story, one we’ve never quite heard before

Authors often retell old stories, or re-explain old problems in a new way. We love to read about wealth, power, bizarre circumstances and difficulty overcome. We also need lots of help navigating life, from raising children to managing money to having better sex to understanding our deepest desires.

As long as your perspective or story brings something fresh  to a topic – or a new twist to it – your book idea could work.

Myth 4: Writing a book will solve my financial worries and make me a celebrity.

These days, big advances are not so common. Often, first-time authors, or authors of niche genres, will receive advances of less than $10K.

Keep in mind that no matter how big or small, the advance is paid out in thirds: one third on signing the publishing contract, one third on delivery of the manuscript, and the last third on publication.

If you have an agent, you will pay her out of the advance. You also need to pay taxes on the advance.

So, plan accordingly. (In other words: don’t quit your day job!)

And about becoming a celebrity… 

This can certainly happen, but you need to already have visibility in your field. This is something you can build by planning a great strategy for engaging your audience.

A book alone likely won’t bring you fame and fortune. But, if you’re smart, you can get the attention your ideas or story deserves by leveraging your book in the market, before and after publication.

So, work smart!

Myth 5: I don’t need a book proposal to sell my book to a publisher.

If you intend to sell your non-fiction book to a traditional publishing house (this includes memoir), you need a book proposal.

Even if you have the most insider-y contact at a publisher, your contact will still request a proposal.

Even if you have published a book in the past, and you’re working with the same agent and editor, you still need a proposal.

Even some fiction these days needs to be presented with a brief breakdown of the market, the book’s audience and competing titles.

In short: you need a book proposal.

(And, to write a great book proposal, you need to know what your book idea really is, and how it fits in to the market today.)

If you have any of these five beliefs, don’t stress. Getting to know a new industry is a process. Almost no author comes to publishing fully informed.

My advice? Learn as you go, stay calm, and get the writing done!