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The Successful Author

Writing about Your Health Issue

Writing about Your Health Issue

Many writers want to write a book about their health scare that almost killed them. But will publishers be interested in that book?

These stories are very personal for the writer, very real and raw. Unfortunately, it isn’t unique, and publishers want unique books. (Unless a writer has a big platform that will move books. Then publishers won’t care so much about the topic, because the size of the platform will overcome it.)

Publishers interested in your topic already have one or more books on the subject, and taking on another one could hurt the sales of the books they already have, so they’ll pass.

And publishers who haven’t published a book on your topic haven’t done so because they’re not interested in the subject.

The only likely scenario is a publisher who has published a book on your topic, but it’s dated and not selling well anymore. Then they may look to replace it with a new book—providing the author has a platform to move books and an agent to represent them.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

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The Successful Author

Writing Investment

writing investment

For years I made the mistake of not investing in learning the craft of writing. Though I certainly put in the time, for years I was reluctant to spend money. But taking the cheap way out merely held me back.

Here are some investments I’m now making to become a better writer:

  • Study magazines about writing and publishing
  • Read books and blogs about writing and publishing
  • Listen to podcasts about writing and publishing
  • Attend writing conferences
  • Hire editors: developmental editors, copy editing, and proofreading
  • Join online classes about specific writing-related topics
  • Take part in online writing communities
  • Hire mentors and teachers

Of course, none of these things would help if I weren’t regularly applying them every day by writing. This is a long list, but don’t let it overwhelm you. Pick one item to invest in and add more over time.

Note that not everything costs money but merely time. Reading blogs and listening to podcasts is a free option to learn about writing and publishing.

Bonus tip: The one mistake I almost made but didn’t was quitting my day job to write full time. This was about eight years before I was ready. Yikes!

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

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The Successful Author

Book Publishing Options

publishing options

Writers often wonder if they should I indie publish their book or publish with a traditional publisher. I understand the question, and without sounding like a jerk, let me rephrase this question about publishing options.

The question should be: Should I self-publish it or pursue a traditional publisher?

Traditional Publishing

I reworded it because we have no control over whether a traditional publisher will want to publish our book. What we do have control over is pursuing a traditional publishing deal.

I wouldn’t recommend you try to find a traditional publisher. That left self-publishing sometimes called indie publishing.

Indie Publishing

For indie publishing I recommend the book Successful Self-Publishing by Joanna Penn. Do everything she says, and you’ll be ahead of most people. Expect indie-publishing to cost about $1,000 to $2,000 per book, but it can go much higher. This is mostly for professional cover and editing.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

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The Successful Author

Keep Up on Evolving Writing Conventions

Evolving Writing Conventions

Do you want to stay current with other changes in writing conventions? I wish there was a site, a book, an app, or a publication that would answer these questions.

But if there’s a one-stop resource, I don’t know of it. Besides, there would likely be disagreement over it, anyway.

Here’s how I work to keep up with ever-changing writing trends:

  • Participate in critique groups.
  • Network with other writers.
  • Go to writing conferences.
  • Take advantage of every opportunity to have a professional editor look at my work.
  • Learn from the recommendations of editors.
  • Study the latest edition of the Chicago Manual of Style.
  • Look at the conventions followed in books recently produced by major publishers.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

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The Successful Author

Ghostwriting Rates

ghostwriting rates

I didn’t know what I was doing for the first book I ghostwrote and charged in the mid-four figures. But it was an easy project, so my compensation worked out okay.

My second ghostwriting experience was much more involved, and I charged twice as much. The fees for that book turned out okay, as well.

I understand that the minimum going rate for a ghostwriter is $15,000, with experienced ghostwriters in the $25 to $35,000 range. (And I’ve heard of much higher numbers too.)

As a means of comparison, Book In A Box, now called Scribe, is a business that offers a turnkey solution to authors. Scribe will ghostwrite, edit, and publish a nonfiction book for $36,000. They may effectively be your competition.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

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The Successful Author

Tips for Ghostwriting Books

ghostwriting

I’ve ghostwritten a couple of books and enjoyed doing so. The payment is almost always a fixed rate, paid in installments. The first payment is required to start the work, and the final payment is due when the writer submits the finished product to the author. (The person who hires you is the author—you are the writer).

The number of installments for ghostwriting books is up to you and the author. Two, three, or four are common, but my last book was in ten installments (per the author’s suggestion). Also, try to frontload the installments so that you receive more money in the beginning. That way if things don’t work out, the author changes their mind, or they stop paying, then you have received most of your compensation.

Don’t write on spec or have it contingent on them getting a book deal. Also, avoid a 100 percent revenue share based on books sold. Though you could negotiate a base fee plus a revenue share unless the author has a large platform and can sell books, assume there will never be any significant revenue for them to share with you. So make your base fee large enough to make the project worthwhile.

Two related items: When it comes to ghostwriting books, always have a contract that states your fee, the installment amounts and dates, and details of what is and isn’t included. A basic “work-for-hire” agreement should work. (Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice.)

The other item is to be aware that you are selling your words and cannot claim them as your own or reuse them for another purpose. (Though a nice author may share the byline with you or acknowledge you were the writer.)

I hope this helps, and I wish you the best.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

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The Successful Author

Put Our Writing Platform in It’s Place

a place for platform

At one time, I became preoccupied with my writing platform. This was a huge mistake.

It nearly ruined my career and almost destroyed me as a writer. I lost the joy of writing and was ready to give up. It wasn’t until I stopped fixating on growing my platform that my passion to write returned.

Having said that, I’m still working on growing my writing platform, but I’m not putting an unhealthy amount of pressure on myself. I do what I can and don’t fret (too much) about the results.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

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The Successful Author

Quantity versus Quality

quantity versus quality

For years my goal was to write faster, but I made no effort to write better. Though I did improve, my progress was gradual.

When I got serious about improving as a writer, I had to force myself to slow down and be more deliberate. Now after many years of focusing on the craft, my speed has returned and then advanced even more.

But I lost a couple of decades focusing on quantity instead of quality. If I could have a do-over, I’d focus on content first and not worry about speed.

I call this my quantity versus quality error.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

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The Successful Author

Tips on Getting Feedback

tips on getting a feedback

After writing regularly, the second most valuable thing I did was to get feedback on my writing. It was scary at first (and sometimes still is).

But to get feedback from our family or friends doesn’t count. They love us and will only tell us good stuff. Or even worse, they’ll say our writing is good when it isn’t.

Instead, get feedback from serious writers and readers. But don’t request feedback from someone who doesn’t write or read in your genre; they’re not qualified to give valuable input.

Here are some ideas for getting feedback:

  • Join a critique group, either online or in person.
  • Work with another writer to provide feedback to each other.
  • Hire an editor or mentor to help you hone your words.

Something that’s important to me when I give and get feedback is to “speak the truth in love.” I’ve worked with some editors who gave me good feedback, but their delivery was so caustic that it made me ill.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

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The Successful Author

Write Every day or At Least Write Regularly

write everyday

The one single most important thing I ever did was to make the commitment to write every day.

This principle to write every day, however, is shorthand to write regularly. At first, I wrote five days a week, Monday through Friday. Then I made it six days and eventually seven. Now I’m back to six. It’s a rhythm that works for me in this season of my life.

Through all these variations, the one constant is that I get up every weekday morning and shuffle off to my writing desk. Whether I feel like it or not, I sit down and write. I commit to at least an hour each day, but my goal is to write longer. Usually, I make it.

Until I began to write regularly, the writing was ancillary. Now it’s central, and that’s made all the difference.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!