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Traditional vs Self Publishing: Which path for your book?

It’s hard to believe the summer is half over and I haven’t even taken a vacation yet. Have you? I hope so.

Well for those of you still hanging around, I thought this month I’d discuss the difference between traditional publishing and self-publishing. When a prospective author comes to me and wants to write a book, I ask them right away whether they plan on seeking a publisher or publishing themselves. Some are pretty clear while others don’t have a clue which path they want to pursue.

Those who are sure they want to find an agent or publisher to publish their book will take a different path from those who are clear that they will self publish their book. For those of you who aren’t sure, let me explain some of the pros and cons of each path.

This week I’ll focus on traditional publishing and next week self-publishing. With the ease and popularity of self-publishing and more recently e-publishing, it seems traditional publishing’s days are numbered. Over the years, the number of traditional New York publishers has dwindled, and of those left many have merged. Additionally, mid-size and small publishers have sprouted as digital publishing has made book printing more accessible to those who want to start a small press.

In case you’re not familiar with them, your traditional publishers are Little Brown, Random House, Simon & Schuster, Harper, Hay House, Wiley, and a few more. Look on your bookshelves at your hard cover books and you’ll find the traditional publishers.

Let’s look at why someone would choose traditional over self publishing: wants someone else to handle printing, distribution, and sales; wants the prestige of having a large publisher; wants a literary agent to handle writing career; wants publisher to arrange promotion; has a platform and wants to expand a brand; wants the support of an in-house editor. If you have any of these desires, you might choose this path.

Now, here are some of the benefits and drawbacks to traditional publishing: publisher pays all production costs, does initial promotion (in most cases), distributes books, has sales team; however, it can take years (or never) to find an agent or publisher, you’re expected to have an established following (platform), you only get a small percentage royalty, you have minimal control over cover and content, you’ll wind up doing the bulk of promotion.

If you’re still not sure which path is right for you, stay tuned to my next installment on self publishing.

Happy writing,

Andrea

Andrea Susan Glass
www.WritersWay.com


 
To Edit or Not to Edit/ How do editors work?

Once you’ve chosen your copyeditor, you’ll have a quote and a timeline. You either pay a deposit or the whole amount, depending on what the cost is. This can range anywhere from .01 to .02/word or from around $50 to $75/hour depending on the level of experience of the copyeditor and the complexity of the editing needed. So a 100-page or 30,000 word book might cost between $300 to $600.

Your editor should set up a timeline with you that meets any commitments you have. For example, if one of my clients has a conference or speaking engagement and needs a book in hand by September 1, I would want the editing completed by July 15 to allow enough time for formatting, design, and printing.

Copyeditors work on an individualized basis with each client.

Generally, you submit your book, ebook, article, brochure—whatever you need edited—to your copyeditor as an attached file. Some editors edit by hand, if the client requests that, but it’s not as effective as electronic editing.

Most editors use the “track changes” tool in Word to make visible edits on your document. This way you can see what’s been added and deleted as well as the editor’s comments. You can then learn from the edits and improve your future writing. You can also mouse over the edits and accept or reject them if you agree or disagree. Ultimately, you the author, make the final decisions.

The editor must work to preserve the tone and style of your writing, so this is a skill that takes practice. However, the copyeditor will make suggestions to improve any aspect of the writing including format, voice, etc.

Be open to your editor’s comments and edits and discuss any concerns you have. Ultimately, you want your ideal copyeditor as part of your team.

Happy writing,

Andrea

P.S. For a limited time, I’m offering my special report, “The WritersWay to Finding the Ideal Copyeditor” for 50% off the regular price of $10. Through August 15, you can purchase it for only $5 and find out all you need to know to select the ideal copyeditor for your team. Here’s the link to buy the report: http://bit.ly/oJp16N


 
To Edit or Not to Edit/ How do you choose an editor?

There’s no one-size-fits-all editing, so your specific needs must be taken into consideration when selecting a copyeditor.

As a seasoned writer you might need less help than a newbie, such as a general critique, line editing, and some light polishing. If you’re a first time or unpublished writer, you may require a significant amount of hand-holding, help in organization and development, as well as line editing for spelling, grammar, and punctuation.

So first get clear on your needs, and then start the search for your ideal copyeditor.

Just as you would look for a doctor, hair stylist, or car mechanic, start out asking for referrals. You may not have the same taste as your friends or business colleagues, but referrals are the best place to start. Next conduct some research online as well as looking in books to see who the author used for editing. You can also go to bid sites like www.directfreelance.com where copyeditors post profiles. Also check your connections through www.LinkedIn.com,  www.Facebook.com, and other social networking sites. I’m often found in professional association directories like www.SDPen.com and www.PublishersWriters.org, so look at those sites.

Interview three top candidates, have them do a sample edit on the same document, and get a bid. From there, make your decision and move forward. Always keep your communications clear, ask questions when you don’t understand something, and do your best to create a successful partnership.

Happy writing,

Andrea

P.S. Also check testimonials and get references. I’m happy to supply references of my past satisfied clients to anyone who’s considering hiring me.


 
How do you choose a ghostwriter?

Okay, you’ve decided you need a ghostwriter. You want to write your book, you’ve admitted you need help, and you need a ghostwriter. You want to find the right person. So how do you choose a ghostwriter?

In most cases when seeing a new service provider, you often start with a referral. So ask around and see if anyone you know has used a ghostwriter or knows of one. You can also attend writing organization meetings or meetups and see if there are any ghostwriters present. Check the organization’s website and review the members. For example, I’m a member of Publishers & Writers of San Diego (www.publisherswriters.org) and our website lists the members. And like most anything you’re looking for these days, you can do an Internet search. I’m surprised how many people find me online in the morass of my competitors. I must be doing something right.

So now you’ve found a few ghostwriters. What’s next? First, you’ll want to review their website if they have one and get a sense of what they do and how competent and experienced they seem. Then send them an email or call them on the phone. I prefer to set up phone or in-person appointments so we don’t play too much telephone tag.

Remember that you’ll be in a long-term relationship (at least three months or more) with this person, so you have to not only feel they’re an excellent writer, but that you share similar values, like honesty, good communication, reliability, and keeping agreements. This is what’s important to me. I get very frustrated when my clients continually break appointments or worse, don’t even show up. Or when they don’t return emails or phone calls!

I suggest interviewing two to three ghostwriters, get samples of their work, and check a few references. It’s best if you can meet in person, but if not have at least two phone calls. Then let your head and your heart have a conversation and make your choice. Also when you sign a contract, make sure there’s an easy way out in case it isn’t working. I have that in all my contracts.

Here’s to a successful working relationship with your ghostwriter of choice and to a fabulous book!

Happy Writing!

Andrea

PS. Please contact me about your ghostwriting needs. If I’m not the right person for you, I have quality referrals. (www.WritersWay.com/contact)


 
How do you work with a ghostwriter?

In some cases, a ghostwriter may write the whole book, in some cases parts of the book. The ghostwriter may do all the research or some of it. The ghostwriter may work on his/her own or in partnership with the “author”.

How you work with a ghostwriter will be customized to your needs. When I start working with a new author, I send them a questionnaire to get some basic information such as what their book is about, what their motivation for the book is, who their target reader is, and how much information they have gathered for the book.

The answers to these questions will determine how we proceed. If you are a new author and all you have is an idea for a book, we would sit down in person, or over the phone or skype, and discuss the answers to these questions as well as whether or not you want to self publish or seek a publisher. We’d talk about your budget and timeline.

Once we’ve established answers to these questions, we can set up the process and schedule. I like to estimate three to six months to complete a 150-200 page book. It could take less time, it could take more. It’s often up to the author as they usually have a business to run and other activities generally take priority. That is, unless you have a strong motivation to finish your book sooner, say because you’ll be speaking or attending a convention.

We work together by phone to check in regularly as you write a chapter or send me content to write the chapter. Then I send it back to you to review while I move on to the next chapter. Or in some cases, you write all the chapters and send them to me to flesh out or polish up, or I write all the chapters and send them to you to review and add and delete as the case may be.

In most cases working with a ghostwriter is a partnership, so it’s important to have a good working relationship. I’ll talk about how to choose a ghostwriter in the next installment, so stay posted.

Happy Writing!

Andrea


 
Why do you need a ghostwriter?

Suppose you want to write an article, newsletter, or column because you have expertise to share and you want to attract new business by getting this information out to potential customers. But you hate to write, you’re not a very good writer, or you just can’t find the time.

These are circumstances when you might need a ghostwriter. Let’s look at each of these reasons in more detail. Okay, you were never good in English, your high school English teacher cringed when you handed in papers, and you were never a big reader. You preferred the Cliff notes or the DVD. Writing is not everyone’s cup of tea. Most people either hate to write or love it—and a few are in between; they do it because they have to. So if you hate to write but you really would love to have articles or even a book about your experiences or your expertise, you need a ghostwriter.

Now if you do enjoy writing, but for some reason everything you write sounds like it came from your 4th grader—let’s face it, you may not have the skills or talent. Not everyone does. I wouldn’t be in business as a ghostwriter and copyeditor if everyone was good at writing. You also may not know how to get started writing a book, as the whole process can be overwhelming. A ghostwriter can walk you through the process, hold your hand, encourage you, keep you on track, and do all or some of the writing for you or fix what you’ve written.

The most common reason I’ve found that someone needs a ghostwriter is they don’t have the time, can’t find the time, or won’t make the time. Take your pick. I’m not saying they’re making excuses, but they have busy lives, they can’t focus, they get distracted, they want to have a book yet can’t seem to make it a priority in their life. A lot of would-be authors don’t know if they’ll make any money on their book, so they find it hard to put it as a priority.

However, they want the book, so they need a ghostwriter. What I do is make weekly appointments with my authors and make sure they carve out time each week to work on their book. I hold them accountable and help them keep their commitments. I have a successful track record of guiding over 100 individuals through the process of completing their books—whether they hate to write, can’t write well, or couldn’t find the time.

Let me help you through your writing challenges. Sign up for my complimentary session at www.WritersWay.com/contact.

Happy Writing!

Andrea

PS. Your comments are greatly appreciated. When you comment on a blog, you create a link back to your website! It’s a win for everyone.


 
What does a ghostwriter do?

When I mention I’m a ghostwriter, some people get that glazed look in their eyes and say, “Oh. That’s interesting.” I know they want to ask me what a ghostwriter does but don’t want to appear ignorant. And some people say, “That’s great. I’ve never met a ghostwriter. What exactly do you do?”

So to clear up the mystery and mystique of us ghostly creatures, I thought I’d talk about ghostwriters this month. Though I probably should have waited until October to fit in with Halloween. Oh well, anyway, here goes.

So what does a ghostwriter do? What a ghostwriter does is write something for another person under that other person’s name. That way the book, article, column, etc. appears to have been written by the person whose name is on the book, etc. but it was primarily written by the ghostwriter.

The person who hires the ghostwriter has something to say and for whatever reason needs someone else to put it into words. Words are the tools of the ghostwriter. They take the ideas from the person’s head, from research, or other written materials and formulate the finished product: book, article, etc.

The ghostwriter may write the whole book or parts of the book. The ghostwriter may do all the research or some of it. The ghostwriter may work on his/her own or in partnership with the “author”. The ghostwriter may get credit as co-author, editor, or in the acknowledgments as some sort of help. Or there may be no mention at all of the ghostwriter.

Generally the ghostwriter gets paid up front for the job, but in some instances the author may negotiate a partial payment with partial royalties. Each situation is unique.

When I work with an author, I customize my agreement and process to the individual and it’s different in each case. Find out more about my ghostwriting services at www.WritersWay.com/services.

Happy Writing,

Andrea

PS. PLEASE feel free to leave comments. I love to know someone is reading these articles! 😉


 
Staying on target; staying the course

Let’s say at this point you’re well into writing your book or ebook. You’ve established a sort of rhythm. You get up at 5 am and write until 8 am. You do this five mornings/week. (Or you’re a night owl and write from 10 pm to 1 am)

At this rate you’re putting in around 15 hours/week, which at an average of one hour/page is 15 pages or a typical chapter. If your book has 10 chapters, you’ll be finished writing in 10 weeks. Not too bad!

But what happens when those 15 hours don’t happen? What gets in the way? Lots of things, like…

* Emergencies, both personal and business: a family crisis, or that last minute contract

* Distractions and interruptions: the dog barking outside your office, the phone ringing endlessly

* Unforeseen circumstances: your computer crashes, you run out of paper or ink

* Challenges: writers’ block, you’re stuck, your mind keeps wandering

* Personal issues: your back hurts, your best friend needs your support

* Temptations: you’re invited to a playoff, there’s a party at the office

Okay, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about here. We all get sidetracked, off target, even me. So what are some tips, tricks, tools, & techniques to stay the course and circumvent these inevitable disruptions of your routine?

First, get back in touch with your motivation. Imagine your name on the cover of your book or ebook. I often have clients design a temporary book cover, just to get that image in their mind. Now imagine a long line of people waiting to get a signed copy of your book. Get excited, get into all the feelings of meeting your goal and giving readers an exceptional book that could change their lives.

Second, get support or accountability. I have several accountability partners who hold me to my commitments. I’m happy to serve in this capacity for you as well. Check out my accountability coaching services at www.writersway.com/services.

Third, tell everyone that you’re writing a book and are not to be disturbed during your writing time. Then make that commitment to yourself that you won’t vary your routine (well if you want to add an extra hour or write a little later or earlier, that’s fine). Being accountable to ourselves seems to be more difficult than to others, but it’s worth it.

And lastly, keep your eye on the goal, the finished product, that extraordinary book or ebook with your name on the cover and your invaluable wisdom between the covers. What a remarkable accomplishment! You can do it!

Happy Writing!

Andrea

PS. Happy Memorial Day! With some extra time off from work, this is the perfect opportunity to log in some extra writing hours.


 
Gathering content; What goes inside my book?

Once you have your outline for your book, you can refine it and it becomes your table of contents. Once you have your table of contents, you have the structure for your book or ebook. All that’s left is what I call “filling in the blanks”!

I find it’s also helpful to create a structure for each chapter. If you’ve seen a “For Dummies” book, you’ll notice how each chapter has similar elements. For example, a typical structure for a how-to book would be…

1) Inspiring quote

2) Topic, lesson

3) Story, example of people living the lesson

4) More lesson

5) Action steps

How this would look in the example of our book on Overcoming Obesity would be:

1) quote: To say that obesity is caused by merely consuming too many calories is like saying that the only cause of the American Revolution was the Boston Tea Party.  ― Adelle Davis, author

2) topic: Discuss your views on the subject, your expertise.

3) story: Talk about your own experiences losing weight or those of people you’ve worked with.

4) topic: More lesson, comments on the story you just told.

5) Action steps: Buy a journal you will use throughout this book to keep track of your meals.

Look easy? It is! This is how you create content, by filling in your template.

Have you written articles, blog posts, white papers, brochures, web content? All of these may have content you can draw from to write your book or ebook. Gather all the content you already have and see what you need to fill in. You can get additional content from doing research, conducting interviews, talking and recording yourself then having it transcribed, or just sitting down and letting your brain empty out through your hands and onto the page.

As a professional ghostwriter, I provide a valuable service for people who can’t seem to get organized to write their book or can’t seem to pull the content out of their head. I have several ways of working with people, each customized to their needs. Call me for a 20-minute complimentary consultation if you find yourself stuck at this point. My specialty is getting you unstuck and moving toward your goal of being a published author!

Happy Writing!

Andrea

PS. Remember, if you live in the San Diego area, I’ll be speaking on Monday, May 23, at the San Diego Writers/Editors Guild. My topic is Turn Your Book into Your Business. The meeting runs from 6:30 to 8:30 pm and is at 3851 Rosecrans St. Visit www.sdwritersguild.org for additional information. Would love to see you there!


 
What comes next? How do I start to write my book or ebook?

Okay, you’re motivated! You know what your motivation is for writing your book and you know the reader’s motivation for buying it. What’s next? You need to start writing!

I know, it seems overwhelming. How can I write a 100-200 page book if I’ve never written one before? Well, there’s a first time for everything.

This is how you start…

You have the author motivation, maybe to share an area of expertise with as many people as possible. As an example, say it’s “how to overcome obesity”. Then you have the reader motivation for buying your book, maybe to “learn how to drop two pounds per week in a healthful manner, and keep it off”.

So, your book will take the reader from where they are when they buy the book—they can’t seem to lose weight—to where you want them to be when they’re finished reading the book: learning a healthy lifestyle plan to lose two pounds per week and keep it off.

Also, by the end of the book you want to make sure you’ve achieved the author motivation: to share your expertise. If for example, you specialize in devising vegetarian diets to overcome obesity, you’ll want to showcase that expertise in the book and have links to your website throughout the book. And, you’ll want information on your services and how to contact you at the end of the book.

This is the way you create your outline or table of contents for the book: taking the reader through the journey from where they are to where you want them to be.

When your book is done—and believe me, some authors never feel their book is done—you’ll have achieved the author and reader motivations. As a copyeditor, along with finding grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors, I confirm that the author has met these two goals.

And PLEASE, always get your book edited—with a professional copyeditor, not your spouse or next-door neighbor, although I’m sure they’re very competent.

If you’re sharing expertise, building your brand, wanting passive income—any of these great goals—you want a well edited book that meets the needs of a defined target audience, your readers!

Happy Writing,

Andrea

PS. Please contact me for your free 20-minute consultation where I will help you with any editing or writing challenges. www.writersway.com/contact


 

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