Friday Conversations With A Self-Publishing Writer 9/20/13

One more thought about partnering with a ghostwriterTwo are better than one.  When you’ve started working with a writing-partner you’ll discover that one person’s idea spawns connecting thoughts in the other person; this collaboration produces a better book.  Much like film-making where writer and director join forces, the author and ghostwriter bring their own unique histories to play in the making of your book.  Thus I have three more criteria for finding that perfect partnership:

1)    Vision:  When you (the author) have formulated your core statement about your book—what it is, what it brings to the reader—does the person you’re interviewing share that vision?  Both you and your teammate should see that picture; have that same goal.

2)    Adaptability:  Some authors think they want a “helper” who will enhance their book by following the manuscript “exactly” as the author has written it.  That is every author’s decision to make; however, they should not waste their money hiring a true ghostwriter.  Employ the Editor who will correct grammar, punctuation, sentence structure; without creative input.

  1. However, the author who wants to explore enhancing their manuscript will be as adaptable and flexible as the ghostwriter they hire.  Their manuscript may, indeed, end up being very close to the original—or—very different with improved plot, character, setting (research required) elements that bring out the author’s inspired ideas.  This is especially true for authors in the Inspirational genre: fiction and non-fiction.

3)    Passion:  Both author and ghostwriter must share a passion for the subject matter of the manuscript.  Every book on every bookshelf was written to “tell something important.”  If the level of commitment is weak, so will be the finished product.

These three criteria also hold true after you’ve written the words: THE END.  Then the search begins for the right publisher.  Notice I’ve used the word right.  From my personal perspective I see too many authors open that door of “hope-they-will-accept-it,” then send out multiple queries to the “big” houses—and wait.  If you know that your book is ready to meet its readers, then step up and employ the best self-publishing company you can find.

There are several quality self-publishers out there (and some not so great); however, this is where you’ll use the same criteria that I’ve outlined in this and last Friday’s blog.  The self-publishing staff will become your book-making-crew—the cameraman, format editor, printer, marketing director.

  • Talk with them and ask for referrals from their published list.  Search their bookstore for two or three books in your genre, then ask for referral/contact information for those authors.
  • LOOK at the books they’ve printed—either at the bookstore or on the Internet.
  • Compare their publishing packages.  This is a competitive business, so don’t be swayed by the first dollar-difference you see between companies.
  • LISTEN to the Author Representatives.  It won’t take you long to discern whether they have a true passion for their work (helping authors like you)—or not.

Bottom line:  As the author, you are creating an alliance of experts dthat starts with you and ends when you hold your finished book in your hands.  “Two are better than one;” and a team that brings all their talents and skills together to produce your book is best.

Royalene ABOUT ROYALENE DOYLE: Royalene Doyle is a Ghostwriter with Outskirts Press, bringing more than 35 years of writing experience to authors who need “just a little assistance” with completing their writing projects. She has worked with both experienced and fledgling writers helping complete projects in multiple genres. When a writer brings the passion they have for their work and combines it with Royalene’s passion to see the finished project in print, books are published and the writer’s legacy is passed forward.

Friday Conversations With A Self-Publishing Writer 9/13/13

Today’s blog may sound a bit technical as my thoughts have turned to the importance of having your work published. The old adage is true: Everyone has a story to tell. There is another saying that is equally true: Everyone is not a writer. And, some of the books that reach the shelves and/or the internet—whether published in the mainstream or self-published—should not be there. The author may have had the best idea on the planet, but could not communicate it well, or chose a genre that does not fit the subject material. Thus the positive impact of the book is lost. Here is where a ghostwriter can make a world of difference.

Finding the right ghostwriter to assist you is likened to finding the right marriage partner. Although this writing relationship may not exist for a lifetime, the connection between writer and ghostwriter must be compatible. Here are a few things to look for when discussing your project with a potential writing partner:

1) It is preferred to meet with and interview the ghostwriter in person. However, if this is not possible, telephone conversations can provide you with enough information to make your selection. I have successfully worked with several clients long-distance yet we have never met in person.
2) Ask for information about their past projects. If referrals are available—authors who will talk with you about their experience with this ghostwriter—this is the best resource.
a. Responsibility and reliability are two key components in a writing partner. When talking with referrals, ask about the timeliness of the ghostwriter’s production work.
b. Your budget is important, too. Although the former clients may not choose to reveal their personal payment plan, you can ask them if they felt they received poor, fair, good or excellent value for the amount paid.
3) As you talk about your project, listen carefully to the ghostwriter’s responses.
a. Are they knowledgeable about your genre of choice?
b. Do they actually hear what you are saying?
c. Do you find it easy to talk with them—as if you are already friends?
4) As the author of your project, you have a distinct writing voice. If you have quickly established a comfortable rapport with the ghostwriter, chances are good that they will be able to identify your voice and use it to enhance your project. This is vital to the authenticity of your book. When you are asked to a book signing and/or speaking engagement, it is essential that you speak in the voice of the book.
5) Your writing partner must have an excellent “handle” on the English language.
a. Grammar, sentence structure, and punctuation all hold a valuable place in communicating with the reader. However, I’m one of those people who believe that the concept of communication is the key component in the use of grammar and spelling skills. This skill must be used in maintaining the author’s voice throughout the book.
b. If you are writing a technical document for publication at the university-level of academia, you definitely need a ghostwriter who has that experience.
c. If you are writing in the genre of historical fiction, romance, mystery, science fiction, memoir, pet stories, cookbooks, etc. then the ghostwriter who loves language for its communication value is the preferred choice.

Bottom line: Harmony between author and ghostwriter is essential and produces excellence.

Royalene ABOUT ROYALENE DOYLE: Royalene Doyle is a Ghostwriter with Outskirts Press, bringing more than 35 years of writing experience to authors who need “just a little assistance” with completing their writing projects. She has worked with both experienced and fledgling writers helping complete projects in multiple genres. When a writer brings the passion they have for their work and combines it with Royalene’s passion to see the finished project in print, books are published and the writer’s legacy is passed forward.

Friday Conversations With A Self-Publishing Writer 9/06/13

Today I’ll step a little aside from speaking with self-publishing authors to encourage all writers—whether published, not published yet, or who never plan to publish yet seem to find themselves “writing little things” all the time.

Last week one of my very, very best friends (yes, I know, it’s not quality writing to use the word very, let alone use it twice; but the truth of it stands as is) passed from this earth. She was one of the people I consider to be an extraordinary writer; one who could write with great empathy whether she was developing a children’s novel, poetry, or creating magazine articles. Her gift of writing extended beyond the written page as she used those intricate, intuitive skills to bring out the best in all the people she knew—whether a writer or not.

I will give my friend the name Annie, so this will read more smoothly.

Annie never wanted to stop learning. This desire sent her back to school in later adult years, where she graduated from college the same year as one of her sons. Of course, her favorite class assignment was writing essays, and she was often acknowledged for the excellent work.

This love and passion for writing was what drew both Annie and me to the same creative writing summer class, which eventually spun itself into the cocoon of our own writer’s workshop. We both fed off the high energy of our eclectic group of writers and were inspired through the many hours of weekend critique and work sessions.

Over these many years, being privileged to know numerous writers, I’ve developed a great appreciation in the uniqueness of each individual. But it was Annie who taught me how to listen to their writing voices and see their unique perspectives—ideas that must be put forth. Yet, that won’t happen—can’t happen—until the writer becomes the author who releases their work for publication.

Much of Annie’s work has been published, especially in her magazine editorial years. But she always returned to her prose writing. At one point Annie became a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers, which helped her hone this specific genre. One story in particular carried such intensity of emotion, woven with the power of colliding circumstances, that I have not forgotten it—in twenty-plus years. The characters were alive and the workable resolutions were clearly demonstrated; inspiring to all of us who were privileged to read the manuscript. However, she never published that novel.

So it is that I dedicate my writings today—in honor of my very, very best friend Annie—and to all those writers out there who are holding tightly to a manuscript that needs to see the light of day. Don’t hold back! If you need help to complete it, call a writing friend, join an active workshop, or find a ghostwriter who shares the passion for your topic, and GET IT PUBLISHED!

Royalene ABOUT ROYALENE DOYLE: Royalene Doyle is a Ghostwriter with Outskirts Press, bringing more than 35 years of writing experience to authors who need “just a little assistance” with completing their writing projects. She has worked with both experienced and fledgling writers helping complete projects in multiple genres. When a writer brings the passion they have for their work and combines it with Royalene’s passion to see the finished project in print, books are published and the writer’s legacy is passed forward.

Friday Conversations With A Self-Publishing Writer 8/30/13

From my perspective—over 50 years of living with the writer-within—I’ve come to greatly appreciate the freedom that self-publishing offers.  When ideas, plots, characters and scenarios flow so quickly, there are literally flying pages circling around you.  That is the time to slow down and find a home for at least one of your favorite pieces; the time to develop a relationship with a publisher or self-publishing press; the time for readers to have access to your best work.

The majority of writers I know seem to possess an extra DNA molecule, a dominant genetic inclination to create volumes of pages that literally bleed their ideas onto paper.  Yet only a few—within this circle of friends—are published.  Instead, most have a large file of politely phrased reject letters.  For some, this file has created a trapdoor in their minds; when they fall into it, they wonder what—if anything—will ever happen to all those masterpieces.

Enter the self-publishing press—stage right.  Gone is the stigma of self-publishing.  A new pride now comes to the authors who take that step and release their books to the readers of the world.  The doors are now wide open to every author in every field of writing.  And, other creative industries are watching, especially agents looking for the next Stephen King, Ted Dekker, Dan Brown or Debbie Macomber.

Sometimes when I talk with writers I hear a slow release of energy as they express their doubt that their particular project(s) will ever be published.  Then we leave the topic of publishing behind for a while and share the stories: the stories of their writing lives, the development of their manuscripts and the heart behind the imaginings that push them to write the stories.  Once a writer realizes that their works are meant to be published, the progress to reach that goal becomes much easier.

Personally, I enjoy working with new authors or writers whose lives took a turn and they are just returning to their projects—writers who present me with artistically written materials in the genres of children’s books, young adult fiction, historical fiction, science fiction and especially Christian fiction and nonfiction.

Have I ever had to respectfully decline a project?  Only twice.  The gift of writing does not come to everyone in spite of the old saying that “every living soul has a great book manuscript in their desk drawer.”  The words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs, pages, must flow and offer the reader either excellent information or a moment of vision into another perspective, another life, another world.  What a gift to the ghostwriter who can be part of that!

Royalene ABOUT ROYALENE DOYLE: Royalene Doyle is a Ghostwriter with Outskirts Press, bringing more than 35 years of writing experience to authors who need “just a little assistance” with completing their writing projects. She has worked with both experienced and fledgling writers helping complete projects in multiple genres. When a writer brings the passion they have for their work and combines it with Royalene’s passion to see the finished project in print, books are published and the writer’s legacy is passed forward.

Friday Conversations With A Self-Publishing Writer 8/16/13

What a joy to be completing yet another memoir!  When a ghostwriter is invited into a person’s life, it is like becoming an adopted child who just happens to have a passion for writing.  The excitement really explodes when that memoir becomes a self-published book—156 pages of adventure—true-life risk, reward, romance, beautiful moments and tears.

When I re-read last week’s blog, I couldn’t believe that I left out one significant category to consider when writing your memoir—pets!  For many people the critters in our lives become like family, maybe even closer than some family members.  Their daily walk with us—their unconditional love and acceptance—enhance our lives in varying degrees as well as bring smiles to visitors and neighbors.  So, I’ve developed a little “What my pet means to me,” list to help folks recall those little details about their pet that have added so much to their lives.

  • How did this animal come into your life?
  • If it is a dog, cat, horse, goat, pig, (etc.) what breed is it?  Was that important to you?  Why?  Why not.
  • Did this pet have a “story” before coming into your household?
  • What are the human characteristics that you see in your pet?  (loyal, courageous, shy, happy, playful, dedicated, helpful, ornery, a clown, rescuer, fearless, etc.)
  • What greeting (type of greeting) do you receive from your pet?
  • When did you first realize this special connection to your pet was more than an owner/pet relationship?
  • How would you describe that connection and its development over time?
  • What unique expression(s) or action(s) communicate this connection?
  • What events—during the life of this pet—have demonstrated this connection?  (brought you to someone who needed help; rescued you; alerted you to something you can’t explain; etc.)
  • There are now verified benefits to inviting a pet into your life.  Review these and express your personal experience with your pet as you recognize these benefits in your own life.
  • Social benefits:  Members of families feel closer to one another and generally happier; Pets are excellent topics of conversation; Friendly interaction with other people—pet owners and non-pet owners alike.
  • Physical benefits:  Calming effect, especially after a major physical event; Decreased blood pressure and stress levels; Reduction of minor health issues and/or need to see a doctor; Increase in physical activity, strength and wellness.
  • Emotional benefits:  Unique companionship after the loss of a family member or close friend; Less depression, anxiety and fear; A consistent uplifting effect that carries over to a willingness to step beyond ourselves and help others.

Although yet-to-be-completed, I have one client who is using this list to write a book dedicated to her best friend—a dog whose breed will remain unidentified until the whole story is lived, written, edited and self-published.  This author often tells me that she knows that God, Himself, sent this animal into her life for many purposes and, “some (if not most) of those purposes just might bless other people, too.”

These types of projects are just one of the many reasons I love working with self-publishing authors.  What they reveal are the moments in life when a person actually stops, identifies and shares the beautiful things in life—the gifts that enrich us and bring us joy.

Royalene ABOUT ROYALENE DOYLE: Royalene Doyle is a Ghostwriter with Outskirts Press, bringing more than 35 years of writing experience to authors who need “just a little assistance” with completing their writing projects. She has worked with both experienced and fledgling writers helping complete projects in multiple genres. When a writer brings the passion they have for their work and combines it with Royalene’s passion to see the finished project in print, books are published and the writer’s legacy is passed forward.

Friday Conversations With A Self-Publishing Writer 8/9/13

I love working with Memoir writers!

Just this morning, I spoke with a gentleman who is “just about ready” to begin the process of telling his Granddad’s life story and wants to be prepared to self-publish it “because the New York Library folks are waiting.” WOW! That is the first time I’ve heard about a library historian contacting someone and requesting a detailed manuscript.

“I don’t want a bunch of pages that have no life to them,” he continued. “There will be personal photos and historical references; even illustrations of tools that only exist in museums now.” Needless to say, I’m very excited to begin this project. I gave him my short outline of topics hoping that he will follow my suggestion and sort his “box full” of materials into category-specific file folders.

When I created my own mother’s Memoir book, I jumped into the project with little organization and no thought of self-publishing. Since then I’ve learned many lessons and realize that even if a person has no living blood-relatives, the historians of our world crave detailed stories of “real lives.” My local history librarian reminds me often: “Every person has unique experiences and life-lessons to share and the people walking the earth today need to know them.”

So to those who are considering writing a Memoir—your own or that of a family member—here is my short list of File Topics to get you started.

  •  Start with photos; a favorite picture of the main “character.” Then add all the photos you can find—even photos you don’t think you’ll actually use—as often a part of picture can be cropped to enhance the story.
  • Collect copies of documents. Birth certificates, marriage licenses, graduation certificates, baptism announcements, ID cards from military service and/or companies worked for, award certificates, driver’s licenses, etc.
  •  Print out the Family Tree. Just looking over the growth of this tree is exciting and gives valuable information.
  •  People in My Life. This file is really fun to build. I’ve seen a bit of everything in here including a photo torn in half with a note attached that said, “Missing piece is a reminder of my best boy-friend who moved away when I was 11 and we never saw each other again. I kept this half—the picture of him—and he has the other half, the picture of me.”
  •  States lived in. This can later be expanded to the trail taken by parents, grandparents…etc.
  • Education and Extra-curricular activities…
  • Marriage and Children…
  •  Faith and Beliefs…
  • Career(s) and Stewardship of Finances
  • My favorite…books, TV shows, movies, radio stations, etc.…and why.
  • Maturity (at any age)
  • Tough Times and Victories
  • The Legacy I hope to pass forward

These topics are then extended into numerous categories which become specific to your story as it is developed. This is where a ghostwriter can be of assistance. The old cliché quote, “No man is an island,” (John Donne, 1624) remains especially true in this genre of writing. The Memoir writer is so close to the events and emotional connections that often valuable pieces are lost. Building your Memoir with an unrelated writer who has experience in this field can create magic in the memories.

Royalene ABOUT ROYALENE DOYLE: Royalene Doyle is a Ghostwriter with Outskirts Press, bringing more than 35 years of writing experience to authors who need “just a little assistance” with completing their writing projects. She has worked with both experienced and fledgling writers helping complete projects in multiple genres. When a writer brings the passion they have for their work and combines it with Royalene’s passion to see the finished project in print, books are published and the writer’s legacy is passed forward.

Didn’t Finish NaNoWriMo? No Problem!

So you tried your best to complete the NaNoWriMo challenge, but you just weren’t able to finish the manuscript. Don’t feel guilty. It happens to the best of us. Sometimes, our daily lives prevent us from committing our time to writing. While all self-publishing authors would love to dedicate their free time to their manuscripts, life often has other plans for us. Or maybe you had the time, but you just couldn’t find the words to explain the story bubbling in your head. It happens, so don’t feel like a failure.

Just because NaNoWriMo has ended, that doesn’t mean you should give up on your manuscript. Set realistic goals to help you complete the book. If time is an issue, space out your writing and give yourself a longer deadline. Maybe three or six months is a better goal for you. If finding the words is your challenge, brainstorm ways to get your creative juices flowing. Take a creative writing class. Pick up a new book on writing. Read books by your favorite authors. Google writing prompts.

If the above ideas still aren’t enough to help you finish your book, there is another solution: hire a ghostwriter. Many self-publishing authors choose to hire a ghostwriter to help them finish their book. Whether you don’t have the time to commit to your project or you need help getting your ideas on paper, a ghostwriter can help make your dream of self-publishing a book come true. Outskirts Press offers ghostwriting services. You can also get recommendations from other writers or look for freelance ghostwriters online.

I’d love to know, would you consider hiring a ghostwriter? Why or why not?

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog at http://kellyschuknecht.com.