Urban Myth #1: They say you can't get an agent unless you're already published, and you can't get published without an agent.
My experience: When I got my agent I had published squat. She wasn't a new agent looking to build her list; she had been in the business for 25 years, was highly respected and successful. Her clients include household names. Agents take chances on untried writers all the time. They just have to love your book enough.
Urban Myth #2: They say you must have publishing credits before an editor will take a look at your manuscript.
My experience: I had no pub credits when editors began asking for my full manuscript but hey, having those clips (from magazine sales, for example) can't hurt! Again, most editors consider the quality of the writing and their needs, not necessarily what and where you've sold before.
Urban Myth #3: They say the industry is incestuous and if you don't know someone it's hopeless.
My experience: I knew no one. The vast majority of authors don't when they're starting out. It's about the story, the writing, and the existence of a big enough market for what you write, not about having the right contacts.
Urban Myth #4: They say queries should be no longer than a single page.
My experience: I didn't know this when I was starting out and my first query was three pages long. An editor requested the full manuscript on my first try.
Urban Myth #5: They say if your romance novel is set in an 'exotic' country no publisher will buy it. As a matter of fact, a popular agent who didn't deign to respond to my query did a presentation at an RWA conference not long after I contacted her and said a foreign setting in a romance novel tops her auto-rejection list.
My experience: Café au Lait is set on a tiny Caribbean island. That's foreign to 99 percent of the market. The book sold, and the feedback from reviewers and readers indicates that the exotic setting is one of the most enjoyable aspects of the book. There are similar myths about other genres. They are not cast in stone.
'They' say lots of stuff. Very little of it really matters: what matters is that you write well, query widely, learn all you can about the industry, and persist. Would anyone decide to become a professional diver and proceed to suit up, jump in the water and start raking in the big contracts? Or would he learn all he can about the business, practise until he's pretty darned good at the underwater stuff, and then have reasonable expectations that he can grow with?
So, which publishing myths have you shot down lately?