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You’ll never know the impact of
your story…

Until you decide to

Thinking about hiring 
a ghostwriter
or maybe even trying to

write that book

by yourself?

I’ve got you covered!

Thinking about hiring  a ghostwriter or maybe even trying to
write that book by yourself?

I’ve got you covered!

Welcome to

As a...

Ghostwriter,

Editor,

& Book Doctor,

My job is to turn your message into a masterpiece so you can turn your readers into loyal fans.​

As someone who understands the struggle of beginning that book project, I'm passionate about helping people tell their stories—whether by acting as their ghostwriter, editor, cheerleader...or all of the above. ​

Ready to learn more about ghostwriting and what it will take for you to get that finished manuscript in hand?

Keep scrolling, and don't hesitate to reach out if you have any questions.

I can't wait to hear the story you have to tell.

MEET

Eeyore

Eeyore joined the team back in 2015. Adept at cable management (eating live cables), he was eventually promoted to our recycling department, where he chews on Amazon boxes and first drafts mom doesn't want anybody to see.

Gus Gus

Gus Gus is the newest member of the team. In addition to eating three times his size in organic produce, he spends his days plotting how he can get rid of his brother. Despite repeated attempts, he has yet to pass our anger management course.

Tired of putting off your book project? Let's talk

Stop saying “one day” &
schedule your FREE consult today.

Absolutely! I went from the IT world to a decade in commercial and portrait photography and then to the oil and gas industry…all before finally realizing I could focus my career on what I’d been doing all along—writing.

What if I didn’t major in English or Journalism?

Well, you’d be in good company. I didn’t major in anything you’d expect from a professional ghostwriter. In fact, my English teachers would probably tell you that while my storytelling ability showed tremendous promise, I couldn’t put a comma in the right place to save my life.

Truth be told, I still can’t.

No matter your background, if there is a story in you that you’re burning to tell—tell it.

There’s something cathartic about getting both the shiny and painful parts of our stories on paper. Writing not only helps us put words to our joys and our pain, but emptying our hearts onto the page is a beautiful way of helping us process both.

If you’re wondering if hiring a ghostwriter is worth the expense, my answer may surprise you.

It depends.

Have you tried writing the book yourself, and you can’t even stand to read it?

If you hate writing or it simply isn’t your strong suit, a ghostwriter may be a fantastic fit for you.

We all have our skills, and if writing isn’t one of them, that’s okay. For example, a current client of mine despises writing even a simple email but put him on the sales floor, and he’s happy as a lark and downright dangerous to the economy. For him, hiring a ghostwriter to tell his story made all the sense in the world.

While it’s possible to master nearly any skill, operating inside our God-given gifts is often the best use of our time and abilities.

Are you excited about finally getting your story on paper but don’t know where to start?

If you genuinely love writing but find yourself unable to move past the outline, try hiring a book coach to guide you through the writing process.

Having someone to steer and cheer you along can make all the difference between having an idea and the thrill of holding a finished book.

Can’t find the time to pen a page, let alone a book?

As long as you can make time for the interview process and the review of manuscript drafts, a ghostwriter could be the perfect fit for your packed schedule.

Curious if hiring a ghostwriter is the right fit for you?

Book your free 15-minute consultation today!

If you want a truly excellent result, hiring someone to write your memoir will take more than a swipe of your bank card. 

Before hiring a ghostwriter, ask yourself these three things:

Have I had enough time to process my story?

Even though I’ve been writing for over two decades, I still get nervous when I give my work to an editor. I’ll never forget one day nearly a decade ago when my editor called me out of the blue—not a good sign. She generally only called when something was wrong.

Did she hate the latest chapter I’d sent her?

I hadn’t even answered the phone, and my lunch had already soured in my stomach.

Realizing I had to face the inevitable, I answered the phone, my “Hello” coming out more as a question than a greeting.

“Melanie, I just finished reading the latest chapter you sent. By any chance, is this something recent? Are you currently going through this?”

Feeling exposed, I placed the last of my pasta on the kitchen counter and gulped nervously. “Umm…yes. Why?”

Though my editor went on to explain her reasoning behind the odd questions, it would be years before I truly understood her explanation. At the time, I was so close to the subject matter of that chapter that I couldn’t see how my raw emotions had affected my writing. While still good by most standards, that chapter wasn’t my best work, but I was too close to the subject to see it.

While it was one thing to “bleed” onto the paper, as one writer so famously said, it’s another thing if our emotions get in the way of the story we’re trying to tell.

If you want a truly exceptional memoir, it can be hard to capture your story if you haven’t had enough time to explore and process the emotions that come with the message you ultimately want your book to deliver. If you’re anything like me and a pro at avoiding those painful places, it can be tough to walk back into them and willingly face those emotions.

The Why Behind the Wait…

For many, processing their story takes time, and it takes place with friends, mentors, pastors, or mental health professionals…or all of the above. Whether a ghostwriter belongs in that mix is up to you.

Personally, I’d suggest waiting until you feel like you’re in a safe enough place to share your story without the retelling creating additional trauma. While some parts of our stories take days to bounce back from, other parts may take years to process…and that’s okay.

Healing takes time. Your story will always be there, and there will be a time to tell it.

Why do I want to tell my story?

You may have heard Zig Ziglar’s quote, “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.”

Your “why” will not only help you stay motivated during the project, but it will provide a clear goal and direction for the book.

That’s why before we even begin the interview process, you and I will discuss questions like:

  • What value do you hope your book will add?
  • What does success look like on the other side of this process?
  • If your audience could walk away with one message after reading your story, what would that message be?

For some, writing a memoir is a simple act of obedience. Despite every fearful or insecure voice screaming in their head, they know it’s time to break their silence and finally tell their story. For others, their “why” is to help others avoid disastrous pitfalls or to offer a way to follow in their successful footsteps.

Every author has their “why”—it just may take some digging to discover it.

What do I plan to do with my book once it’s finished?

Nearly a decade ago, the CEO of a hybrid publisher sat me down and told me that the book I was writing would only ever be read by friends and family. It was all I could do not to balk at the smirk he sported or how much he seemed to enjoy his little dream-crushing routine.

What’s ironic about that conversation is that the publisher hadn’t read a word of my manuscript.

Not one.

Had he been held for ransom by an overmedicated and undercaffeinated author and asked to state the book’s subject, I doubt he could have come up with it.

While the gentleman’s ill-chosen words still make me shake my head, I know why he felt the need to warn me. From his experience in the industry, he assumed my motivation was fame or money. He attempted to “set me straight” because he’d seen too many authors saunter into his publishing house with dreams of pots of gold on the other side of the process, and he knew success wasn’t that easy.

NO ONE INVESTS IN GHOSTWRITING TO SEE THEIR MEMOIR SIT IN CARDBOARD BOXES IN THEIR GARAGE, BUT FOR MANY, THAT’S THE SAD REALITY.

Now, that’s not to say that you can’t make significant returns on your book’s sales and speak to stadiums full of fans—you can. BUT… your book’s success hinges on so many other things, like:

  • Are you partnering with a publisher you can trust?
  • Who will manage the distribution of your book? Will it simply be listed in a catalog, or will a skilled sales team pitch your book to bookstores and distributors nationwide?
  • Have you identified your book’s ideal audience?
  • Is your platform packed with the right people?
  • Is your audience engaged and steadily growing?
  • What strategies will you use to market your book?
  • Are you willing to put in the needed legwork?
 

As you can see, getting your book from your garage to climbing the sales charts takes a LOT of work.

CAN’T I SIMPLY HIRE A PR AGENCY TO HELP ME SELL MY BOOK? ISN’T IT THEIR JOB TO MAKE MY BOOK A SUCCESS?

Before you even think about a book launch, you’ll need a platform, and not just any platform—one filled with the ideal audience for your book.

How do you build that platform? Digital marketing agencies like Unmutable can help you not only identify your target audience but locate, relevantly engage, and market to them.

Defining, engaging, and retaining your audience is absolutely crucial to building a platform that will last.

Can’t afford to hire a digital marketing agency? Look for a masterclass by someone with a solid track record or scope out YouTube for marketing-related content from companies like AhrefsDigitalMarketer, and StoryBrand and individuals like Neil Patel and Gary Vaynerchuk who can provide the tools you need to succeed.

Only after you’ve spent significant time and effort building your platform will you want to approach a PR agency experienced in marketing books like EPICMMPR, or Alive Literary Agency. If you come to them before building your audience, expect to pay heavily for your lower numbers.

Of course, if budget isn’t an issue, you can delegate most of the above to the trusted agency of your choice. While they will likely ask you to be heavily involved, they’ll take whatever budget you have and make the most of it.

Is it time to tell
your story?

Book your free 15-minute consultation today!

It can cost anywhere from several thousand dollars (expect an AI-generated manuscript) to well over six figures to hire a ghostwriter. I have talented friends in the industry who won’t accept projects for under $125,000, while others, like myself, charge about half that.

WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT TO

LOW-END:

$30,000

AVERAGE:

$60,000

HIGH-END:

$125,000+

Beware of companies online that claim to have experienced ghostwriters in their back pockets. I’ve seen packages with as little as four hours of interview footage included to ghostwrite an entire book.

Can you imagine trying to sum up who you are, what you want, and your life story in the time it takes to get through the line at the DMV?

Sadly, you’ll likely get what you paid for, and your investment will have been wasted.

While there are credible ghostwriting agencies out there, they’re slim pickings.

Keep in mind that while you may succeed in landing a fantastic ghostwriter at a great price, you’ll also need to budget for a developmental editor, a line editor, and a copyeditor if they’re not included in your ghostwriter’s package. (If you’re writing the memoir yourself, expect these editing costs to come out of your pocket.)

Lastly, if you’re working with a ghostwriter, transcription costs need to be taken into account. This is when the audio files from your interviews are taken to a transcription service and transcribed for easy reference. Usually, the ghostwriter covers this cost, but that’s not always the case. Always read your contract carefully because these costs can add up quickly!

THE FOUR TYPES
OF EDITS TO INCLUDE
IN YOUR

Developmental Edit

Think of a developmental edit as big-picture feedback. A developmental editor will examine things like character development, overall structure, and whether your timeline makes sense. While they will likely not make any tangible changes within the manuscript, they’ll provide actionable, constructive feedback that either you or your ghostwriter can implement.

Concerned about inflating costs when it comes to editing? Ask your ghostwriter if they’ll consider including the developmental edit and the implementation of any suggested changes as part of your original contract.

While copyeditors normally charge per word, developmental editors can charge by the hour, page, or word, depending on the editor. Some developmental editors may request an excerpt of your work to give you a more accurate estimate.

To be safe, budget at least $2,000 for each edit, assuming your manuscript is around 50,000 words. For larger manuscripts, you’ll need to increase your budget.

If you’re curious, the Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA) has median rates many freelancers reference for establishing their fees.

Line Edit (or Paragraph-Level Edit)

During my freshman year of college, I had a best friend and editor who used to joke with me that I might want to have a drink ready before I opened her edits.

Michele was right. I was new to writing anything outside of schoolwork and poetry, so the rough drafts I sent her almost always arrived in my inbox awash in a sea of red.

While the sheer amount of finetuning needed in my early days of writing practically had me crying in my coffee, with every set of edits that arrived in my inbox, Michele was making me a better writer.

Typos were fixed, sentences were rearranged, alternate word choices were suggested, and unnecessary text was removed. I didn’t know it at the time, but what Michele was doing was a line edit. She was making edits that addressed everything from run-on sentences to the tone of the writing. Each change was focused on polishing the manuscript’s overall readability, pacing, and flow.

Copyedit

Copyeditors are a special breed of editors who have my deep respect. Not only do they know the Chicago Manual of Style inside and out, but they’re great at catching inconsistencies, misspellings, unintended tense or tone changes, syntax errors, and punctuation mishaps.

(Note: Many publishers cover the cost of the paragraph-level or line edit along with the copyedit.)

IMPORTANT TO NOTE: You do NOT want your ghostwriter to complete the developmental edit or the copyedit. Similarly, you don’t want your developmental editor to tackle your copyedit. You’re much better off with a fresh pair of eyes for each type of edit than someone already familiar with your manuscript. The only exception to this rule is when working with a book doctor. A book doctor will do a combination of a developmental edit and a line edit, along with some ghostwriting, if needed. 

Proofreading

A proofreader is essentially your book’s last line of defense—they check to see if any errors slipped through the cracks. They’ll scour your manuscript for issues with grammar, spelling, punctuation, typos—anything your editors may have missed. Lastly, a proofreader will ensure the formatting of each page is correct.

If you decide to invest in a proofreader, keep in mind that if you’re going with a hybrid publisher, they will charge you for this whether it’s already been done once or not. A reputable publisher won’t want to take any chances on a proofreader they don’t already trust. After all, a proofreader is the last pair of eyes to catch any errors in your book before it goes to print.

 

Sick of saying “one day”?
Start your book project today!

Stop saying “one day” &
schedule your FREE consult today.

So, you’ve decided to hire a ghostwriter to help bring your memoir to life… Congratulations! You’re one step closer to a finished manuscript! The next step is to pick a ghostwriter, but is that as easy as it sounds? 

Not quite. 

Here are some tips to help you pick a ghostwriter you can trust with your story.

Nail Down Your Budget

Before looking for a ghostwriter, decide on a budget and stick to it. Breaking that budget will only put you in a tricky place financially, which won’t bode well for you or the writer in the long run.

When it comes to billing, many ghostwriters ask for a sizable percentage of their fee upfront, while others accept monthly payments or installments at various milestones throughout the project.

Regardless of your financial situation, don’t hesitate to ask a writer if they can work with your budget. The worst thing they can say is “No,” and you’ll be right back to where you started and free to move on to the next ghostwriter.

Confirm the Chemistry Clicks

While you don’t want to set your heart on a writer beyond your budget, you also don’t want to partner with someone who isn’t a good fit.

We’ve all had those conversations with someone who made us wonder if we’d somehow forgotten the English language. Instead of an understanding nod, our words are met with puzzled looks or maybe even eyes glazed over.

Or worse…our story about Mom’s famous apple pie somehow pissed them off.

Something got lost in translation…and it wasn’t our fault.

Needless to say, that’s not the kind of partner you want when writing your book.

So, what should you look for in a ghostwriter? 

Have you ever met someone who just seemed to get you, and you didn’t have to explain yourself repeatedly because they heard you the first time? Communication feels nearly effortless because you’re speaking the same language.

That’s what you want in a ghostwriter—someone who just “gets you.”

The chemistry has to click.

Decide if They’re a Safe Place for Your Story

When hiring a ghostwriter for your memoir, it’s not only imperative that their personality draws you out, but they also need to offer a safe place for your story. No one wants to tell their story to someone who will make them feel judged or, even worse, make them a nervous wreck.

The right ghostwriter:

  • Sets you at ease
    While it’s normal to be nervous when meeting someone new, no one wants to feel that way for the entirety of a relationship. Pay attention to your body language—is it defensive, or do you find yourself relaxing when chatting with a ghostwriting candidate?
  • Doesn’t rush you
    No one likes to be rushed when they’re paying for a service. You should be able to tell your story at a pace you’re comfortable with—and not feel like someone’s watching the clock.
  • Creates a safe environment
    Let’s face it—sometimes our stories aren’t for the faint of heart. A good ghostwriter creates a safe place to tackle tough topics.
  • Is invested in your story and its success
    If you feel like just another number to your ghostwriter, it may be time to cut your losses and move on. Your ghostwriter should be invested in your book’s success and driven to do your story justice.

 

Don’t be afraid to talk to multiple ghostwriters to find the best fit for your book and your personality. The worst thing you can do is to settle for a writer who’s just “good enough.”

Just “good enough” is not good enough. You and your story deserve the best possible fit.

Scope Out Their Skills

Before hiring your ghostwriter, ask for samples of their work from multiple projects.

Early in my career as a ghostwriter, a client hired me to write her memoir without asking to see a single example of my work. Granted, the CEO of a marketing firm had recommended me to her, but still…she took a huge risk because of how quickly we hit it off.

Thankfully, she loved my writing, but what if she hadn’t? What if she’d wanted someone who had the lyricism of Anthony Doerr or the mythical imagination of C.S. Lewis?

While anyone who knows me would tell you that I have no shortage of imagination, I’m no Lewis, and my style of writing is far from Doerr’s. Had my writing style not been the right fit for her memoir, she would have been sorely disappointed.

Tune Into Their Tone

Finding a ghostwriter who can capture your voice is vital to your book’s success, especially if your memoir is geared toward an audience already familiar with you. The last thing you want is for a fan to pick up your book and have them respond with, “This sure doesn’t sound like them!”

For your book to capture you, your ghostwriter needs to understand what makes you…YOU.

Your personality, energy, vocabulary, and tone all come into play when putting your story onto the page.

A good ghostwriter pays attention to not only your vocabulary but also to your unique voice. Whether your memoir centers around a battle with mental health or combat abroad, your ghostwriter’s ability to “be you” when writing is essential to the process.

Does your vocabulary rival Grammarly’s? Stupendous! Look for a ghostwriter whose vernacular shows off that part of you.

Are you an energetic go-getter? Awesome! You want a ghostwriter who can deliver an animated and motivational memoir that packs a punch.

Stop sitting on a story that’s meant for the bestseller’s list.

Book your FREE consultation today.

The interviewing process for a memoir is fairly straightforward. I typically spend the first two or three interviews getting to know you, what you want, and an overview of your story. Unless you want to dive into the deep end on the first day, we’ll stay in the shallow end for at least the first few conversations.

Once I have an eagle-eye view of the story you want to tell, we start to dive deeper. I spend more time on interviews than the average ghostwriter, so this typically can be anywhere from 15 to 30 hours of interviews, depending on you and your story. Ultimately, my goal is to know you practically as well as you know yourself, at least as far as it relates to the story you want to tell.

If you’re comfortable with the idea, I’ll also likely ask to speak to some people close to your story. These interviews not only help fill in any gaps, but they often provide a much richer narrative. 

A BEHIND-THE-SCENES GLIMPSE: I once had a memoir client who wanted to include a story in his book about a stroke he suffered over a decade ago. As you can imagine, his memory of the incident had faded and differed from those on the scene that day. Talking to the first responders helped both the client and me understand what happened in those moments of crisis, making for a chapter that, in the end, kept the reader on the edge of their seat. 

While reputable sources on this vary in opinion, the average length of a memoir is about 250–300 pages. When a client asks my recommended length, I typically suggest around 50,000–60,000 words, especially for non-established authors. Some sources say the average length is as much as 65,000–80,000 words. Altogether, that’s a range of about 165–300+ pages.

Unless your publisher has a target word count they’d like you to aim for, I try to let the story determine that for me. 

Longer isn’t always better. Sometimes it’s just…longer.

At the risk of sounding like a stereotypical writer, only the story knows what length it needs to be. The right length should become clear to your ghostwriter as they begin to put pen to paper.

The time involved in ghostwriting a memoir can take anywhere from 3 to 18 months. If your ghostwriter promises they can turn a bestselling-quality memoir around in less time than that, expect them to be either lying through their teeth or operating on caffeine and little sleep.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather make sure anyone to whom I’m entrusting my story (and my savings) isn’t under duress.

When investing in your manuscript, why would you want it rushed?

Quality work takes time.

I typically aim for around 10–12 months from start to finish for the memoir ghostwriting process. This includes time to take a step back from the manuscript in the final stages so I can return to it with fresh eyes. I’m always amazed at the difference even a few weeks can make to an all-too-familiar first draft I’ve already spent hundreds of hours staring at.

Can this process be faster? Absolutely, but it all depends on your availability and your ghostwriter’s schedule.

Month 1: Interviews & Transcription

After you’ve filled out an initial questionnaire, the interview process begins over the phone in 30 to 90-minute timeslots, depending on what you’re comfortable with and our mutual schedules.

I approach every interview with a list of questions, but if you’re in the mood to shift off-topic to something relevant to the book, we temporarily ditch the list and explore the direction that feels right for you and your story.

As the interview process unfolds, so will your story. My clients and I are often surprised at what comes to light as old memories surface.

Month 2 A: Timeline

Once the interviews are wrapped up, I send them off for transcription. These files will provide the framework for your timeline.

When dealing with decades of information, timelines can be complicated. Getting this nailed down will help us with the order of the book, especially if the story will be told chronologically. Even if the story isn’t told chronologically, a timeline is a great way to see the transformation of the main character (you) as time progresses.

Month 2 B: Outline

Should your book be a collection of essays, a chronological story, or something altogether different? During this time, I read through the transcription files (often hundreds of pages) and decide what would make the most sense for your story. Once I have the development down, I’ll craft an outline that shows how each chapter will unfold and present it to you for your approval.

Month 3: Sample Chapters

Providing you with two sample chapters is vital to the process. Before I get any further into your memoir, it’s imperative our visions match. Are you on board with the tone I’ve established? Is my writing style what you expected?

Thankfully, I’ve never had anyone reject those early chapters, but as with most things in life…there’s always a first time.

Months 4–7: The Bulk of the Book is Crafted

Now that your outline is nailed down and you’ve approved the sample chapters, my real work begins. I’ll frequently touch base with you during this time to garner additional details and clarify parts of your story. Sometimes that communication will be handled with a simple text or email. Other times, a phone call might prove more efficient.

I always try to work within whatever means of communication my client finds easiest.

Month 8: (Buffer Month)

Just as any good home project needs a contingency budget, I like to add at least one month to the timeline for any unforeseen delays.

Month 9 A: First Draft

Here comes what may as well be Christmas…you get to see the first draft of your story!

Once a first draft is provided (usually via Google Docs), you’ll have two weeks to provide feedback. After I’ve received your feedback, I’ll make any changes necessary and return the manuscript to you for final approval.

Month 9 B: Developmental Edit

Now that you’ve approved any changes made, it’s time for a developmental edit. This is where we invite an editor to give us big-picture feedback for the second draft. While they won’t make any changes to the manuscript itself, they’ll provide insight into things like character development, pacing, and any potential plot holes in the storyline.

With the developmental editor’s critique in hand, I get to work on making the proposed changes so I can send you a new, polished draft. If the editor recommends any big changes (for example: removing a scene), I’ll run that by you before we change a thing.

Month 10: Copyedit & Final Manuscript

Copyeditors are a special breed who can practically quote the Chicago Manual of Style (a grammar and style guide used by most publishers) in their sleep. The copyeditor we choose will take the latest draft of the manuscript and ensure every comma is in the right place, clean up any grammar faux pas, and fix any tense changes I may have missed.

And then…drumroll please…a final clean copy of YOUR BOOK is placed in your hands.

Congratulations!

Tired of everyone telling you your story belongs in a book?

Start your new chapter today.

WHAT TRAITS SHOULD I LOOK FOR IN A GHOSTWRITER?

When looking for a ghostwriter, there are some non-negotiables you want to keep in mind to protect you, your story, and your investment. 

Integrity. Integrity. Integrity.

First and foremost, you want a ghostwriter you can trust.

DO THEY KEEP THEIR WORD?

…or do the terms of your agreement keep changing?

 

DO THEY SET CLEAR EXPECTATIONS?

…or are they making promises they’ll never be able to keep?

 

ARE THEY UPFRONT WITH YOU ABOUT ALL POTENTIAL COSTS?

…or is their contract vague?

Not only are you entrusting your ghostwriter with a chunk of your hard-earned paycheck, but you’re also entrusting them with your story. Are they worthy of that trust?

Find a ghostwriter invested in your story.

Not every ghostwriter is a fit for every story. If a ghostwriter shows little interest in what you have to say, that’s going to reflect on the page.

What you have to say is too important to be taken lightly.

When it comes to putting pen to paper, you’re going to want a writer who is practically as invested in your story as you are.

Lastly, look for a ghostwriter who:

LETS YOU BE YOURSELF

Is it easy to speak your mind around them without worrying about what they think, or do you find yourself censoring your words before they even come out of your mouth?

 

KNOWS HOW TO LISTEN

Are they okay with silence? Do they give you the time you need to say what you really think, or are they too busy talking over you?

 

LEAVES YOU EMPOWERED

When you get off the phone with them, do you find yourself feeling empowered or feeling smaller?

 

PROVIDES A SAFE PLACE TO FACE THE TOUGH STUFF

Do they provide a safe place to face your demons—those tough parts of your story that you’d love to erase, or do they leave you wishing you’d never shared these details?

There are many factors to consider when choosing a ghostwriter, but only you can decide who fits you best.

If you pay attention to any red flags and listen to your gut, you’ll pick the right person.

 

DO I NEED A BOOK PROPOSAL?

Are you planning on submitting your book to an agent or a traditional publisher who accepts unsolicited manuscripts? If so, you’ll need a book proposal long before anyone will be willing to see your completed manuscript.

Here’s where having a book proposal will come in handy:

Elevator Pitch

Have you ever seen the TV show Entrepreneur Elevator Pitch? Contestants have 60 seconds to pitch their business or product to investors. A book proposal holds just as much weight when looking for representation from an agent or pitching your book to your ideal publisher. Crafting a book proposal forces you to sum the heart of your book up concisely, capturing both your message and the attention of its intended reader. In other words, it’s your elevator pitch.

Market Analysis

Many ghostwriters recommend that writers start with a book proposal (along with sample chapters), especially when the author wants to sign with a traditional publisher. Publishers use Acquisition Editors who know what’s performing well in the market and whether or not your book will likely sell based on your proposal and sample chapters alone.

But why start with a book proposal?

Assuming the proposal is executed well and pitched to the appropriate publisher, it will help you understand if a traditional publisher will pick up your book before you go to the trouble (or expense) of completing it.

Does that mean they’re always right? Of course not. Your book may be the last thing the market expects, but precisely what it needs.

Scope Out the Competition

One aspect of a strong proposal is a solid grasp of your book’s competition (aim for books published in the last few years) and what sets your manuscript apart. While this may feel intimidating, it’s the perfect opportunity to make your manuscript unique so it stands out from the crowd.

Marketing Plan

Publishers want to see that you plan to hit the ground running long before you have your book in hand.

What’s your marketing plan?
Will you be doing a social media campaign, a bookstore tour, online book clubs, etc.?

Since publishers no longer have the big budgets to put into the typical author’s marketing campaign, they need to know their investment will not be squandered.

IMPORTANT TO NOTE: If you plan on self-publishing or going the hybrid route, you probably won’t need a book proposal. Unless your dream hybrid publisher requires one, save your money and skip the proposal.

IS IT HARD TO GET A MEMOIR PUBLISHED?

MAIN MENU

The difficulty of getting your memoir published all depends on the type of publishing you want to pursue.

Twenty-five years ago, when I was stalking my mailbox for a reply from the top publishers in my book’s genre, it was a very different world. These days, an unsolicited submission is ignored by almost any traditional publisher. No longer do publishers simply look for a good story that they think they can sell—they require an author with an established platform. (Think 100,000 followers across social channels, minimum.)

THE FOUR TYPES OF

In case you’re starting to sweat at the thought of drumming up that many followers, you have other options. Traditional publishers aren’t the only ones out there. There’s also self-publishing, hybrid publishing, and vanity publishing (avoid this last one at all costs).

Here’s a quick breakdown of each type of publishing:

Self-Publishing

Self-publishing is exactly what it sounds like—you’re the one driving the process from start to finish. You’ll be the one figuring out everything from what kind of paper you want your book printed on to how your book will ultimately be distributed. This can be as simple as using a service like Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing to print your eBook or as hands-on as working directly with a local printer to design the perfect, economical hardback.

Hybrid Publishing (sometimes called a “partner” publisher)

Hybrid publishing is my suggested route for almost any new, unestablished author. A good hybrid publisher not only produces quality work (ask them for some samples), but they also should have close ties with distributors who can get your book into sales channels from Barnes and Nobles to Walmart.

Unlike with traditional publishing where the publisher carries the financial burden, the cost of hybrid publishing falls solely on the author. In other words, you’ll be the one paying for a publishing package that includes everything from editing and printing to warehousing and distribution. Expect to pay anywhere from $30,000–$60,000 for a reputable hybrid publisher.

While the financial investment of hybrid publishing may sound daunting, it offers the benefit of you keeping the rights to your book and it should offer higher than standard royalties (think greater than 50% of net on both print and eBooks versus only 7-15% on average for traditional publishers).

Before you think about robbing your local bookstore to pay for partnering with a hybrid publisher, many have payment plans that allow you to break up the investment over a period of six to nine months.

Vanity Publishing (sometimes called a “subsidy” publisher)

Sadly, vanity publishers are a marketing ploy designed to target authors who don’t know any better. Unlike hybrid publishers, vanity publishers aren’t invested in seeing your book sell. Instead, they profit from the exorbitant fees their authors pay upfront only to produce a subpar product.

At best, a vanity publisher will waste your money. At worst, they’ll steal your book.

If you’re having trouble distinguishing if a publisher is a hybrid or a vanity press, the IBPA has a list of criteria for a hybrid publisher you’ll want to read.

A few potential warning signs of a vanity publisher:

  • There was no vetting of your submission
  • They’re offering you a royalty under 50%
  • They don’t have a strategic distribution plan (aside from simply making your book available for purchase)
  • The contract requires that you sell X amount of books

Traditional Publishing

In the past, traditional publishers were every writer’s dream. Not only was zero financial investment required from the author, but a healthy advance was often extended upon signing a new book contract.

Thanks to the transformation the publishing industry has undergone over the past several decades, signing with a traditional publisher these days looks very different.

Advances are slimmer, and publishers are pickier. Forget handing a traditional publisher all 200 pages of your completed manuscript. Unless you’re a celebrity, getting even your four-page book proposal in front of a traditional publisher takes an act of God.

Okay, not really, but getting your book proposal seen will likely require hiring a literary agent to advocate on your behalf.

Access to a traditional publisher is not the only thing that’s changed about the market.

Twenty years ago, traditional publishers did most of an author’s marketing for them. It was just part of the cost of doing business.

These days, traditional publishing houses have much smaller marketing budgets. No longer are new releases given the red-carpet treatment with all the bells and whistles. Instead, authors are expected to essentially be their own advocates and marketing machines.

If an author isn’t willing to put in the necessary work, more often than not, the book won’t sell.

So, with all these publishing choices, which is right for you?

Only you can decide that. 

But, as you explore your options, keep one thing in mind—as the author, you will always be your book’s biggest and best advocate.

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