Have you made up your mind yet as to which path you’ll choose for your book? The reason I ask is that if you decide to submit your book to a traditional publisher, you don’t need to write the whole book. So before you write “the end” it would be best to choose one path.
So let’s say you’re looking for a major publisher. You might want to look in books similar to yours to see who publishes them. You can also look online on Amazon and in the library in Literary Marketplace. Additionally Writers Digest lists publishers and their specialties/genres such as women’s fiction, memoir, spirituality, or young adult.
You’ll need to do some research on the publisher and see if they’ll accept queries or if you need to find a literary agent first. If you need to find an agent, then go back to your research, see which agents represent the books in your genre, and do some searching in the resources I mentioned as well as online.
For both fiction and nonfiction books, you’ll first submit a one-page query letter. Find out if the agent or publisher accepts e-queries. If not, use snail mail. E-queries tend to get much faster responses, so do as many of those as you can with the appropriate agents and publishers, that is, those who represent your genre. I’d highly suggest you have a professional writer/editor like me review your query letter before submitting it.
If the agent or publisher is interested, they’ll ask for a synopsis or the whole book for fiction and a book proposal for nonfiction. Writing a book proposal is like writing a mini-book. I’ve written several of them and I really enjoy it, because it encourages the author to take a global look at the book: overview, market, promotion, author bio, book outline, sample chapters.
Either have a professional write your proposal or at least have it edited. Remember, this is your first impression and you won’t have an opportunity to make a second. The agent or publisher wants to see your writing style and gauge the success factor of your book. Less than 1% of proposals get accepted, which is why so many authors are turning to self publishing.
We’ll look at the self publishing process more in depth next week.
Andrea Susan Glass
PS. If you’d like to see a sample book proposal I’d be happy to send you one I wrote for a client. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I hope your week has gone well for you. To pick up from last week, now that you know a bit more about traditional publishing, I’d like to discuss the reasons you might choose the self publishing option and the benefits and drawbacks of this path as compared to traditional publishing.
Today, self publishing has never been easier with computer design programs, digital printing, and POD (print-on-demand) presses. I remember the first book I ghostwrote for a client about 10 years ago. We printed 10,000 copies to get a break on the price. That book went on to win the San Diego Book Awards for best how-to book, but we also got stuck with thousands of books we couldn’t sell.
So why would someone choose to self publish? You might want to self publish if: you like to control everything; you want all the profits; you’re clear about your target audience and how to find them; you want your book out sooner than later; you have a team of people to design your cover, format your book, copyedit the content, and help you promote it. If you have any of these desires, you might choose this path.
These are some of the benefits and drawbacks of self publishing: quick turnaround time for producing books, keep all profits, low set up and printing costs, full control over content and cover, can easily add other books, CDs, or other products, comfortable promoting book; however, you may not have distribution to get into book stores, in some industries self published books have less prestige, quality may be inferior, and you have to handle all aspects of production and promotion.
Now not all of these apply in every situation; I’m just trying to give you an overview so you can see the primary distinctions between traditional and self-publishing so you can make a wise choice. And it’s not unheard of for a self published author to later be picked up by a publisher if you’ve done a good job promoting and selling your book.
So weigh both options, choose your path, and go build your book to bestseller status! Next week I’ll go over the process of obtaining a traditional publisher.
Andrea Susan Glass
PS. Please feel free to contact me for a complimentary discussion if you’re still undecided or have more questions. Sign up at www.writersway.com
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.
Andrea Susan Glass
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.
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
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!
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
PS. PLEASE feel free to leave comments. I love to know someone is reading these articles! 😉
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!
PS. Happy Memorial Day! With some extra time off from work, this is the perfect opportunity to log in some extra writing hours.
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!
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!
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