Review of “Killing the Top 10 Sacred Cows of Publishing” by Dean Wesley Smith

killingcowsThe more books on writing and publishing I read, the more interesting it is to see each person’s perspective on the subject. I’d heard a lot about Dean Wesley Smith in the past, as he’s a famous tutor and guide for beginning writers. So I wanted to see his perspective on the process for myself.

And Smith’s thoughts are definitely worth consideration. The most important ones for me at least being:

  • Every writer is different
  • You can’t kill your career by taking chances.

As Smith points out, writers are in a unique position where we can use pen names. So even if a writer brought out the worst book ever written, one that offended every single person breathing, they can still use a pen name and write another.

Smith’s book is a quick read, but I’d only recommend it together with a rainbow of other opinions on writing. Some of the things he says I don’t agree with. Of course, I haven’t sold as many books as he has, so I might well be wrong, but the two I disagree with are:

  • Never rewrite anything
  • Never write based on what you think will sell

As a sloppy first draft writer, if I didn’t rewrite my books would be illegible. They would have glaring logic problems and be filled with boring bits. I also don’t create compelling character or location descriptions the first time through.

Where I agree is on the endless rewriting I used to do of entire novels. I’d start again on page one and rewrite the whole thing. That’s obviously bananas.

And on writing what I think will sell, I’m in the process of an experiment. To paraphrase Smith’s own words, if I’m not selling in massive numbers, what harm can a different approach do?

Overall, I’d recommend the book. It’s a different approach to many of the others I’ve read, and different perspectives are always worthwhile. I give “Killing the Top 10 Sacred Cows of Publishing” 3/5 stars (4/5 on Amazon). Meaning that I liked it.

You can pick up a copy here:



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