Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Book Biz



Photo credit: Google Images
Naturally, my ghostwriting clients are not writers. If they were, they wouldn’t need me. Because they are not writers, many of them, especially those wanting to author memoirs, know little or nothing about the Book Biz – like publishing options, book design, or marketing. 

Although my job as the ghostwriter does not include publishing or marketing services, I’ve been in the game long enough to have some excellent contacts in the Book Biz, which I always share with my clients. I do not like to see them fall into the clutches of an unscrupulous “vanity publisher” company, spending thousands of dollars for little or no return. I also don’t like to see my writing skills wasted on books that no one will read because of the author’s inexperience in the Book Biz. It’s not easy for a newbie to tell the difference between good help and bad. Recently a prospective client told me his horror story of spending $25,000 with a self-publishing company to get his first book (which I did not ghostwrite) “out there” – and in return has received royalties of less than one hundred dollars in three years. This time he is going to do a better job – but it was an expensive lesson.

So when I first talk to a prospective client, I explore their knowledge about the Book Biz, and  always recommend that before they spend a bunch of time and money on a ghostwriter, they contact someone who does have extensive knowledge of that Biz. The person I recommend is Jan King, a book coach and publishing strategist who has helped many of my clients successfully negotiate the wilds of the Book Biz without losing their proverbial shirts. 

Jan has been in the Book Biz for over 30 years, working for (as the CEO) a traditional mid-size publisher, and is now dedicating her expertise to helping authors not only explore the traditional route, but successfully self-publish by using the skills of various freelance professionals. She calls this assisted self-publishing

If you or any of your editing clients are thinking of going the self-publishing/ indie route, I highly recommend you check out this website. Here hopeful authors can get detailed information about the best ways to publish their books, find out what help they need and is available, how long it should take, how much it should cost, what is reasonable to sign in a contract and what they should never agree to. And more.

In addition, the blog hosted on www.assistedselfpublishing.com takes you on a “real life” journey from book idea to book release, covering all the steps and including posts written by the author and the freelancers – book coach, content editor, copyeditor, proofreader, indexer, virtual author assistant, marketing guru, book designer. (Full disclosure: I was the content editor on this project.)

The Book Biz can be a scary place for newcomers. It really helps to have a guide.

Kim Pearson is an author, ghostwriter, and owner of Primary Sources, a writing service that helps others become authors of professional and compelling books and articles. She has authored 6 books of her own, and ghostwritten more than 30 non-fiction books and memoirs. To learn more about her books or services, visit http://www.primary-sources.com/.
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12 comments :

  1. Kim, this is very valuable information for anyone who self-publishes. With the mind-boggling number of books glutting the marketplace, it's next to impossible to get noticed unless your name has been up in lights or bandied about in the media. Expert help can definitely make the difference in sales success or failure.

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  2. Writers often post questions about who to turn to if they need assistance. I will keep this name in my files. Thank you!

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  3. The 25k debacle aside ... I would tell anyone considering the indie publishing route that selling a book is like selling anything else ... it's all about the marketing. If you have the right marketing strategy ... and enough money ... you can sell anything ... just ask the folks who brought you Pet Rocks. Unfortunately, many indie authors lack in both areas ... me as example numero uno.

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    1. Christopher, I agree that marketing (or the lack of it) is an absolute necessity, no matter how good your book is. However, if you have a bad book that sells like hot cakes (or pet rocks) because you're a super marketeer, in the end all that means is that a whole bunch of people know you wrote a bad book.

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    2. But it's comforting to know he made a lot of money and had a few laughs all the way to the bank. :D

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  4. Self-publishing is more than just writing - it's running a business. Most businesses hire help for various stages of their production and this is no different. Good to have these kinds of referrals! There are plenty of editors in our group, and we've blogged about book cover and book design. Lots of resources here!

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  5. Very helpful information for all writers, Thanks, Kim. The more you know, the better the outcome will be.

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  6. Wow, Jan King's website is one-stop shopping for the ins and outs of publishing. Thanks for sharing. Yes, successful self-publishing is a business, and not for everyone, but Jan's site helps make the learning curve less sharp.

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    1. Jan has been my go-to person for over 10 years. I am so grateful for her insights and her help.

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  7. Thanks for this. I just got a 'blind' email from someone starting a proofreading business and it would be nice to have a price comparison. She did offer a 'free in return for a testimonial' introductory offer, and clearly that price can't be beat, but I've never hired a separate copy editor just for proofing.

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    1. I wonder if it's the same person who sent me an email in the LPP submissions mailbox. Terry, I know a terrific line editor in COS if you're interested. I'll email you.

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  8. I was just talking to another writer who does pretty much the same thing you do, Kim, although she does help clients actually through the production phase. She shared a similar story of some unfortunate eager writer who got bilked by a vanity publisher. It is so sad that there are companies who simply take advantage like that. Thanks for sharing a resource to help writers avoid the trap.

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The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.

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