Misunderstandings, Misconceptions And The Western Book Business: The Truth Behind Some Of Those Publishing Myths


I was talking to William H. Joiner, Jr. a few days ago. His race to success has become one of the benchmarks or blueprints for Western success in 2019. He wanted to know what I felt the most commonly misunderstood parts of the Western book industry are.

The first of these misunderstandings in my opinion is when the author finds their own book and cover irresistible. This is marvellous for the author—but what will the reader think? If the reader isn’t caught in the web of book desire, they won’t purchase or read the book. I believe each author must ask themselves what the reader wants. What does the reader expect? What does the reader yearn for? It’s only when you start thinking about the reader that the reader will start thinking about you.

The other thing many don’t understand is that a book, series of books, (or publishing company, for that matter) can’t be judged and structured in the traditional corporate way. The book business doesn’t lend itself to that; it’s too mercurial and up-and-down. You can’t count on a book, series or even a publishing company to give you a predictable level of earnings every year. It just doesn’t work that way.

The third thing is that one hit book doesn’t necessarily mean a series of hits. Randall Dale, one of the most astounding sellers with nearly ten million pages read over the last few months, tried long and hard with many false starts and splutters before finding himself one of the most popular Western authors of today. A nibble doesn’t necessarily translate into huge success. It takes a series of nibbles, hard work, and reader-friendly books among other things to create wild success.

Content is the fourth thing. There are those who believe one book will make them enough to retire and die happy. This might be true for some authors out there— but for the majority that’s not the case. It takes constant content to keep the brand moving forward. Take a publishing company like Dusty Saddle or Outlaws Publishing. A high percentage of their authors are profitable, but those authors are “ABW.” What’s that? It’s the rule at those companies—ALWAYS BE WORKING. Authors are expected to create and release books on a regular schedule. There’s no five-year gap between works. No, sir.

One of the big sticking points that holds back many authors is self-thinking. I think there’s a misconception that it’s dog-eat-dog and authors must only work as singular units, running down their fellow creatives, thinking only of what that author as an individual wants without care or regard for other authors, readers, and others working within our industry. The selfish author is a friend to no one. That’s why authors I work with are encouraged to work with their brother and sister authors. From forewords through to multi-author projects, we are cutting out the self-thought and bringing together talent. When looking for long term success, there is no singular author. There’s a genre filled with many different authors, pulling together in one direction.

I’m sure there are many more misconceptions about our genre— but these are just a few to get your teeth into. As always, you can contact me via the form below.