I mean, there are definitely myths I’ve seen debunked in my time in the trenches. Like the idea that any agent is better than no agent. (So not true!) Or the idea that the big agent is always the one to go with. (Again, not for me!) Or the the idea that once you have that agent, book deal, debut, etc., etc., etc., you’re good to go in this world. (Learning this isn’t true the hard way.)
While there are many publishing myths I’ve seen debunked, I know now that this much is true: nothing ever really makes sense. And after a long while I finally figured out why. Yes, publishing is about creativity and art. But it’s also a business with mission statements and agendas and bottom lines. When you combine the two elements, it gets down to this: publishing is not a meritocracy. You can’t get from Point A to Point B is a straight line, a measurable distance with defined goals and markers (and accounting) that tells you exactly how to get to the next step.
The business side of things can be infuriatingly opaque to writers. If you’re a control freak like me, that’s very frustrating. But thinking about it now, maybe sometimes this is a good thing. Because knowing what little bit I’ve learned so far and how confusing it all can be, maybe it’s better not to try to try to make sense of the senseless, to unravel the deeply mysterious ways it all works (or doesn’t). What I’ve learned in my debut year is that it’s best to pull together a few smart, reliable team you trust — agent, editor, fellow writer friends — whom you can call on to guide you through the chaos. Then close your eyes, take their hands, and stumble forward together.