The truth is that most writers can't even make a meager living writing. Various studies consistently show that half of all published writers earn less than €3000 a year (!), and it is estimated that fewer than 100 authors in Germany can make a living from writing alone. Whereas Germany, together with Austria and German-speaking Switzerland, is the world's third-largest book market; in smaller language areas, the situation looks even bleaker. If you want to get rich, you better start a company instead of writing. You can only become really rich (even richer than the much envied top managers) as a – successful – entrepreneur.
"Writers become famous."
The truth is that even best-selling authors are only so-called "C" celebrities in the jargon of the media are: Only worth reporting if you have to fill free space – at most, the death of the author is news. There are exceptions (Nobel Prize winners and a few particularly scandalous authors or particularly good-looking female authors), but the normal author is almost never mentioned in the media. And on the street he is not recognized either. If you want to be famous, you'd better go to television instead of writing.
"Writers lead exciting lives." The truth is: writers primarily lead a lonely life. One spends most of his time alone in a quiet room and writes. And when you're with others, what you've written may continue to work in you in such a way that you're not really there either and get strange looks. If you want to lead an exciting life, you'd better do something else than write. Almost no matter what.
"Those who write, stay."
The truth is that most new publications are almost ephemera. A paperback that doesn't sell well from the start is often gone from the shelves after two or three months, a hardcover gets half a year's time. There are still a lot of former bestselling authors alive, none of whose books are available anymore. The number of works that are still read after a hundred years is small. (Although they exist. Even some Roman authors – Seneca, Flavius and so on – still sell well today, after two thousand years.)
"Having written poetry is proof of literary talent." The truth is that at some point in their lives, almost everyone has a phase in which they try their hand at writing poetry – usually at a young age, when either violent infatuation or dark world-weariness determines their sense of being. The vast majority of these works are hidden away and eventually thrown away, and usually not to the detriment of literature. So far this would be alright, if publishers and reasonably well known authors would not be bombarded incessantly with poems by people who consider themselves to be unrecognized geniuses. Sandra Uschtrin once rightly pointed out that poetry would be the most important market for fiction if everyone who wrote poetry also read poetry. But since no book of poetry has ever been sighted in German bestseller lists, one can assume that there is a lot of self-deception involved in writing poetry: That is, most people who write poetry do it because it's so easy to finish and it looks simple – put a few words together in a darkly meaningful way, and that's it. But without real engagement with the works of others – a bookcase full of volumes of poetry, from Goethe and Heine to Kirsch and Rühmkorf, and hundreds of poems you can recite by heart – it's at best a kind of diary by other means.
"You have to write high literary, everything else is worthless." The truth is that you can only write what you read. And one does well not to lie into one's pocket here: If the shelves in your bedroom, basement and hallway are bending under crime novels, then the three little books you bought over the last five years on the basis of hymn-like reviews in the feuilleton and still haven't quite read and draped on the coffee table simply don't count: then, if anything, you should devote yourself to writing crime novels. Or whatever it is you really like to read. Because that's the only thing you've been able to develop the necessary feeling for in the course of your years of reading. In every genre there are some really great books and a lot of crap – and that also applies to so-called "high literature".
"There are secret tricks to writing."
The truth is: Nowhere is everything so exposed as in a written text. It is simply words strung together, and all the impact it achieves is due to the choice and order of those words. Nothing is behind, nothing is hidden. The author's art lies solely in choosing the words and arranging them in such a way that they achieve exactly the effect they are intended to have on the reader.
"You can only write when you are inspired."
The truth is rather the other way round: You will only be inspired if you also write. Whereby it is quite true that an inspiration (one can also simply say: an idea) stands at the beginning. An idea for a story and the desire to write it down. But the fact is that the distance between that moment and the finished manuscript is not always a walk in the park, but quite often just a lot of work. And that you need lots and lots of additional ideas on top of the original idea – and they don't come from waiting, but from writing.
"When you've finished writing your novel, it's best to send it to a publisher as soon as possible." Better not. Because this is only the first mount, and "the first mount is always crap", says even Hemingway, whose first versions were undoubtedly better than much of what makes it into print nowadays. No, it is better to put the manuscript aside for a while, think about something else and "forget" it. Then – at least six weeks later, better still after three months – you take it out again and read through what you have written. Most of the time, you're glad you haven't shown this to anyone yet. You paint everything that can't stay like that, revise the text. Then one looks for humans from its surrounding field, on whose literary judgement one gives something (if one does not find there in its surrounding field, one should extend this by an appropriate group, as it gives it almost everywhere at people's high schools and the like), gives it to these to read and listens attentively and without justification attempts (because later one will not be present as an author also, if a reader reads the own book, and will not be able to intervene thus then also explaining – d.H. Everything has to be exactly the way you meant it to be!), let it sink in for a while, and then revise the text in the light of that. And maybe a few more times – until you can honestly say: That's the best I can do at the moment. Only then should you consider offering your manuscript to publishers (or agents).
"When a publisher is looking for writers, they place ads for them." It is true that publishers are looking for new, promising authors – but they can (rightly) rely on being known enough by promising authors (who are also readers) to offer them their manuscripts in this way. Behind all advertisements that say "Publisher seeks authors", hide so-called printing subsidy publishers who offer to print the book – if you pay for it. That is not fundamentally unserious. Those who are obliged to print their diploma or doctoral thesis will have to use the services of such companies. Some simply want to hold their book in print in their hands and give it away to friends and have the necessary money for it – autobiographies are common here, volumes of poetry or the like. (It should be noted that for those who are good with the Internet and computers, there are now low-cost alternatives at www.Bod.En, www.Lulu.Com and others gives.) It becomes dubious when such companies try to make hopeful authors believe that they can take the first steps of a successful writing career in this way. The opposite is the case: Once a book has been self-published (because this is self-publishing), it can practically no longer be published by real publishers.
"If you want to publish a book, you first have to pay for it." This is a legend, which the just mentioned unserious printing cost subsidy "publishing houses" distribute tirelessly. The truth is the exact opposite of this: In fact, the word "publisher" appears from the word "advance, in the sense of "advance, pre-finance". The publisher has always been the one who advances the costs of printing and distributing a book, i.E. Who bears the financial risk. In return, he and the author share the profit in a certain, previously contracted ratio. It is strongly recommended that an author who wants to publish a book should first make himself aware of the rules of the game in the industry.