If you've ever watched a movie or TV show about a writer, you've likely noticed Hollywood has a lot to say about writers. Unfortunately, all too often they get it wrong. Which is frustrating for writers, to say the least.
Odd...since movies and TV shows are written by writers. They seem to not quite have a firm grasp on how book publishing really works.
Here are a few myths I'd like to bust wide open.
#1. We publish the first book we ever write.
For this one, I'd like to point to Mike & Molly--a great show. At the beginning of the most recent season, Molly headed off to a writer's retreat and returned, eight weeks later, with a hefty advance from a major publisher.
Okay...let's say an editor at a publishing house agreed to read the work produced at an eight-week retreat. Even if that publisher liked a writer's work, the editor would demand a full manuscript before offering a contract. Half the check would arrive when she signed the contract and the other half would arrive when she delivered the full manuscript. But then Hollywood loves to hand characters big advance checks for books they haven't written yet, which leads me to my next Hollywood myth...
#2. We're handed six-figure advances before we start writing the book.
Stephen King is guilty of this one. We get it. It's so dramatic for a writer to be under the gun to get a book finished. One way to crank up the drama is to give that writer a deadline to get the book published.
In truth, new authors turn in a complete manuscript before we get a dime. Once we're established, we turn in three chapters and a full synopsis before the publisher even agrees to buy it. Often they don't, even after you've published your first book. If they buy it, you get a portion of the advance at contract signing and the rest once the complete manuscript is turned in. Of course, if you're Stephen King, I'm sure they throw money at you to go to a cabin somewhere and look all dark and brooding.
#3. We breeze in and out of our publishing houses.
Whether authors are discussing our next work or we're turning in our manuscript, Hollywood thinks we all do it in person.
Most major publishing houses are in New York City. Few novelists are within a few hours' driving distance of New York City. Need I say more?
#4. We all drink while we write.
Okay, I get it. A writer sitting down at her laptop with a glass of wine and dim lighting sets a tone. Drinking and writing seem to be inextricably linked in movies...and history.
Some writers seem to believe the "write drunk, edit sober" mantra works. Most of us, however, live on bottled water, chocolate, and a lot of this:
What movie stereotypes have you found to be untrue?