Crowdfunding: A Creative Way to Fund Your Book

This article was contributed by Polly Letofsky.

Money and booksOne of the greatest revolutions in the past few years of this self-publishing boom is the advent of crowdfunding.

Here’s the hard truth—up until just a few years ago big publishing companies had full control over the content that got out into the world by saying yes or no to writers and their works. They also had full control over the presses and all the distribution channels. The revolution of publishing means that as writers we can now get any content we want into the world, with full access to printers and distributors. And the last hurdle is now being tackled—financing.

Crowdfunding is the concept of an individual reaching a financial goal by receiving and leveraging small contributions from many parties. For a writer, it’s a great new way to fund your book without going into credit card debt or asking your parents for the capital.

Crowdfunding has been around in some shape or form since God was a boy, but the inception of modern day crowdfunding came in 1997 when a British rock band funded their reunion tour through donations from fans. Shortly thereafter, more crowdfunding plat- forms began to emerge, and the crowdfunding industry has grown consistently each year.

When the economy took a plunge in late 2008, banks stopped handing out loans, Small Business Association loans were few, and other finance options became significantly downsized. That’s when crowdfunding emerged as a major funding source and has sky- rocketed from a $530 million industry in 2009 to upwards of 5 billion in 2014.

There are a number of benefits to crowdfunding outside just raising the capital to publish your book. One of those benefits is that this is a great way to essentially pre-sell your book. Another benefit is to create a buzz. But please don’t think for a minute that it’s going to be easy. This is a campaign, and like any campaign you need to create a plan, implement, and follow up, follow up, follow up.

While most people do these campaigns by themselves, there have recently been companies popping up that will create the campaigns for you. But even with their help, it’s nothing you can entirely hand off to someone else. A crowdfunding campaign is about connecting with your people: friends, family, neighbors, and colleagues. Very few crowd- funding campaigns actually go viral and make a connection with people outside their circle. In fact, 20% of campaigns don’t earn anything. So hiring a company will only guide you, but it is still up to you to make your campaign successful.

To drive home that point, most campaigns are made up of 98% of people in your circle. In other words, only 2% of people that donate are people you don’t know. They might be friends of friends who bond with your project, or a pledger may have found you simply trolling through the crowdfunding site.

There are four main types of crowdfunding: donation, rewards, equity, and debt. Raising capital for book publishing is reward crowdfunding. That is to say, people give money in exchange for a promised reward.

The three main platforms for reward crowdfunding are Kickstarter.com, Indigogo.com and Pubslush.com.

Kickstarter is the most well-known platform and concentrates on more art-related projects: art, music, film, dance, books, etc. With Kickstarter your campaign has to be creating something: a book, a CD, a dance video, etc. You can’t raise funds for marketing because marketing is not creating something. You should also know that Kickstarter has a selection process with a whopping 40% of projects being turned down.

With an Indiegogo campaign you can raise capital for anything: arts, business, even a non-profit. Pubslush is a niche community dedicated to the literary world by allowing only literacy-based projects. They also offer terrific campaign support from their free Basic Support Package to the Platinum Prep for $250. A benefit to using Pubslush or Indigogo is that they do allow campaign funds to go toward marketing, PR, registration, and other elements of a project that aren’t creating something.

Crowdfunding platforms offer two types of campaigns: fixed or flexible. Kickstarter only offers “fixed” campaigns, which means that you set an amount that you want to raise and if you don’t raise that amount you don’t get to collect anything that has been pledged. In exchange for that, though, you pay a lesser percentage fee than with “flexible” campaigns.

A “flexible” campaign means you set your desired goal and you get whatever has been pledged, whether you’ve met that goal or not. If you raise your intended amount, you pay only a 4% service fee—if you don’t raise the intended amount you pay 9%—so, you can see the incentive to campaign heavily to reach your goals. (NOTE: Obviously these numbers are subject to change, so always check before you dive into a campaign.)

The bad news is that 60% of campaigns don’t reach their intended amount. The great news is that publishing campaigns have a 30% higher rate of success than other campaigns. Here are other tips, hints, and stats we know:

  • Campaigns with a video are 60% more likely to get funded. It’s your main sales tool, so make it compelling. You want to explain succinctly what the money will be used for, but not in a “salesy,” infomercial way.
  • Your video should be under two minutes.
  • While most platforms allow up to a 60-day campaign, those from 30-34 days are the most successful.
  • Be conservative with your goal. A common misconception is that people will stop giving if you’ve hit you’re goal. It’s not true. People like to be part of something exciting.
  • If you hit 30% of your goal in the first two weeks, your chances of success is 85%.

 

 

So make the hard push at the beginning and follow through.

  • 10% of those you reach out to will give to the campaign.
  • Your pledgers should hear from you every couple of days throughout the campaign. You do this to keep them interested, up to date, and to create the buzz.
  • Regarding timing, summer is a tough time to do the project, with so many people vacationing at that time of year. Fall and early spring are preferable. Never host a campaign over a holiday season.

 

 

REWARDS

The rewards in your campaign are what your pledgers receive from you in return for a stated amount. It’s best to have between five and seven rewards that might vary from a $5 reward for a public thank you on your website up to a $1,500 reward for naming a character, town, or street after them in your book. You want the larger rewards to be unique and experiential. For example, for a $500 reward you could offer lunch with the author. If it’s a memoir, you could offer lunch with a number of people who are mentioned in the book.

Other good ideas for rewards could be an author appearance at their book club, a speaking engagement, an ad on your website or at the end of the book. To gather ideas for rewards, it’s a great idea to troll through some of the campaigns with books and genres similar to your own and see what has been successful. If anything, it will get your creative juices flowing.

Best practices for rewards are:

  • Offer five to seven rewards
  • $25 is the most popular reward
  • $25 should be the least amount donated to receive a reward of your book
  • $100 is where you’ll make the most money
  • Make two of your rewards experiential. People like something unique. The zanier the better.
  • When you’re creating your rewards don’t forget the cost of postage, packing, service fees, payment fees, etc.

 

 

In summary, a crowdfunding campaign is a brilliant new way to finance your book project. But please don’t take it lightly; it’s a full-time commitment if you are going to be successful. Good luck. And congratulations for stepping into the world of publishing at the most exciting time in history.

How to Know if Your Book Will Be Successful First

Are you someone who dreams of sharing what you’ve learned, created or discovered but worries that you don’t have what it takes to write a book? You know the positive impact you can have and you’d do write your book if only you knew people really wanted it.

Does that sound like you? You are absolutely not alone. Over 80% of Americans say they would like to write a book. What holds them (and maybe, you) back is the stomach-turning fear of being a flop. Nobody wants to be the author of a book that doesn’t sell.

Stuck between a rock and a hard place

I felt that same way after I wrote my first book. I had something I really wanted to share that would help others yet I didn’t want to blow it.

I felt the same after my second and third book. In fact, I had several finished books and almost complete ones on my hard drive, where their titles shot me accusatory glances.

‘Why did your write me if you weren’t intending for anyone else to read me?’

I was totally frustrated with myself. A bit of soul-searching revealed the answer. I was afraid to look dumb.

Mired in Self doubt

Even though I’m an award winning-mediator, former attorney whose work has gotten national press, I didn’t think anyone wanted to hear what I wanted to say in my book.

Ever the creative-problem-solver, I decided to look for a solution to get unstuck. My assumption was that: People won’t buy my book.

I decided to test my assumption to see how accurate it was, being the nerdy, logical type I am. If you doubt about your book idea, here are 3 ideas that can move you beyond your negative beliefs.

Here comes the cavalry- Fiverr!

I consider Fiverr to be my secret weapon (that I’m now sharing with you-shhh).

Fiverr is the largest online marketplace for creative and professional services starting at $5. It’s a godsend for authors because it allows us hone our book ideas and book marketing so we present the most professional book possible in a way that attracts our best readers.

I love not having to learn 20 new things to get the answers I want. I
simply employ the talented providers to help my book shine and me.

1.Solve a problem your readers want to fix

As authors, coaches and consultants, when we see a problem we want to fix it. But you know the old saying, ‘You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.’ Write about what your readers want to improve.

Hire a research provider on Fiverr to research for you.

Compile a list of:

-Linkedin, Facebook, Google Plus, Yahoo groups on your topic

-Bloggers and forums on your topic

-Internet radio shows and podcasts on your topic

Once you have your master list, hire a VA to search thru the archives for questions about your topic. Ask her to keep track of words and phrases they see repeatedly.

Each list will run your around $15-20 and be done in less than a week. Having that much data makes it easier to shape your book to fit the needs of your readers and be a best seller. That’s not much to pay to be sure there is a market for your book.

Be sure to your gig request clearly specifies what kind of data to collect, i.e. contact info, group/site owner, member numbers and how you want to receive the data, i.e. Google spreadsheet or Excel.

2. Make sure readers want to pay for your solution

Just because something is a problem doesn’t mean we want to fix it or pay for it. I learned that the hard way after doing a lecture series on how to handle difficult clients for architects. They definitely wanted the knowledge, but their margins were so thin, they couldn’t afford me.

Then, that fact meant I stopped looking for opportunities. Now, I’d just write a book for them so they could solve the problem within their budget. Would that work for you?

Hire a writer to create a custom survey for you.

Ask potential readers what problem your book solves and if they are willing to pay for that. Not in those words exactly. That’s where the Fiverr provider comes in.

A writer or copywriter will know the best way to ask the obvious questions you might forget and ‘squirmy’ questions like ‘how much would you pay for that’ without introducing bias.

Be sure to share your goals, how many questions you need written and that you want original work. Isn’t it amazing to know that for only $

3. Send up a test balloon

How about creating a smaller version of your book as a ‘test balloon’? Getting that immediate feedback might be just what you need to stay the course with your book. You can use the Kindle Single program to share your test book. Singles are books from
5000-30,000 words.

Hire a formatter to prepare your single for publishing on
KDP

Yes, you could do it yourself with a free online formatter but why spend your time. The Fiverr provider can have it done quickly and correctly.

Be sure to contact the provider first with questions about what format they want the book in to begin formatting (not pdf).

I still remember how delighted I was to get my first comments back on my book, The Essential Fiverr Buyer’s Guide.

Readers raved with comments like, ‘Awesome guide’ and ‘Wow, very impressed’. My confidence soared. My book was a success and
yours will be, too.

Following these three tips will give you the data you need to feel confident that your book will be successful and help lots of people.

About the Author

Combining her electrifying energy, warm personality and boundless positivity with the skills of an educator, mediator and marketer, Dina Eisenberg is the voice of spirit and wisdom for midlife women small business owners and entrepreneurs.

As an Outsourcing & Remote Work Maven, Dina helps you recapture the value and time you invested in your old content by upcycling it into new digital income streams via her consulting and products.

Her book, The Essential Fiverr Buyer’s Guide is available here on her website.

Perfectionists Rarely Publish or Promote Their Books

Bag over HeadThere may be a point where you stall in the publishing or marketing process of your book. Deep down inside, you want to give birth to your book, but the fear of exposing yourself in such a public way terrifies you.

You may become overwhelmed with the fear of judgment and criticism. You may feel naked and vulnerable. These are normal feelings for both the first time author and even for seasoned authors with each new book creation.

You may suddenly doubt yourself and wonder if your book is good enough or if you are good enough. You may begin to think your book is not perfect enough and begin to feel it needs more editing or a rewrite.

Then if your book is done, you may feel book shame. You or a reader may have found a mistake. You may go into hiding and hope no one finds your books or sees you.

Let me reassure you that most every book I have read has contained an error of some sort and I have had to correct one or more in every book I have published. (Professional editing helps, but things still slip through the cracks!)

My first book was not very good and my first public talk about it was embarrassing. I also got a bad review, which felt humiliating. As a result, I stopped writing and speaking for 5 years! I hid and pretended writing and speaking didn’t matter to me.

I finally got brave and dared to write again. And then again and again. I gave talks that were not perfect, and I sometimes watched people yawn or doze off. But I also had people tell me that they got something out of my book or talk, and that gave me the courage to keep going.

I began to realize that I had a deep passion to write and that I loved it so much that I would continue to write even imperfectly. My books and articles do not resonate with everyone, and I am okay with that. I have decided to share my story, my wisdom, my experiences and myself. By bravely sharing publicly and being visible, I have the potential to make a difference to even one reader and a whole lot more.

So my advice is to go for it! This life is not a dress rehearsal. Write and then promote and market your book. I don’t want you to have any regrets! Play big in the game of life! As Maya Angelou says, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you.”

View Lisa Shultz’s books!

Book Contests

As your book approaches launch or soon afterwards, you may want to consider entering it into a few book contests. Usually these contests are for the year your book is published, so you should check deadlines and be aware of them.

There are pros and cons of entering contests. If your book does well and wins an award, you can add this accomplishment to your marketing efforts. If you attend the awards ceremony, you can add pictures of you receiving the award to your website and post on social media giving you increased exposure, credibility and an excuse to shout out to the world again about your book. Sometimes book agents review contest winners, so there is a possibility of being contacted by an agent and having more opportunities for your book.

Upon winning, you may also be given an emblem or sticker that can be place on your book cover. You may even elect to edit your back cover copy to include the award designation.

The cons of entering contests are the cost and potential for disappointment. If you might regret not giving this opportunity a chance, then go for it.

Here are a few contests to consider entering.

(You may also want to research online for local contests and others that might fit with your particular genre.)

Colorado Book Awards

www.coloradohumanities.org

Benjamin Franklin Awards

www.ibpabenjaminfranklinawards.com

Foreword Book of the Year

www.forewordreviews.com

Next Generation Indie Excellence Book Awards

www.indiebookawards.com

The National Indie Excellence Book Awards

www.indieexcellence.com

IPPY (Independent Publishers)

www.independentpublisher.com

Readers Favorite

www.readersfavorite.com

Good luck!

E-Books & PDFs & Apps—Oh My!

E-Book AppDid you know that 50% of Americans now own a tablet or e-reader device? A new Pew Research Center survey shows that e-reading has been rising along with tablet ownership. This is encouraging if you are considering publishing your book digitally. But which would be a better way to go: e-book or app? Let’s take a look at how they compare.

An advantage to reading e-books on a digital device is the flexible text which allows the font size to vary and reflow to fit the screen. Additional features such as highlighting, note-taking, read-along audio, and a built-in dictionary are important to readers of e-books. If your book is mostly text, with few images, an e-book would be a great publishing option.

What about picture books that are mainly full-page illustrations with very little text? An e-book option might be to export a PDF of the print book layout. A PDF, or Portable Document Format, is fixed and preserves the look of the printed book. One drawback to a PDF, however, is that the pages are usually too large for digital screens, forcing the reader to scroll around to see the entire page. Also, since most e-book distributors do not support PDF uploads, the author would need to set up a shopping cart capable of delivering digital files in order to sell PDFs online.

Another option for picture book authors would be to create an app from their story and characters. By adding games, animation, and activities, readers become engaged with the book in a whole new way. Education and entertainment combine in an app for a fun, interactive reading experience.

To find out more about digital publishing options, please contact Gail Nelson at e-book-design.com.

From Self-Published to Book Contract

Cheap CabernetCathie Beck shares her success from Self-Published to Book Contract:

Striking a book deal with VOICE Books in November of 2009 and then watching my memoir, “Cheap Cabernet: A Friendship” hit bookstores across the country on July 20, 2010 is a saga that looks a lot like many other book authors’ publishing tales.

I drafted “Cheap Cabernet” in 1999, all 90 pages of it. Those 90 pages gave me something to work with and for the next two years, while still working full time as a freelance writer, adjunct professor and PR hack, I worked the manuscript into something palatable and 250 pages long.

Then I went to New York and, while interviewing agents for a magazine article, I surreptitiously interviewed each of them to potentially agent my book. Many agreed to read it and one agent committed to representing it.

Then the fun began. She took it to all “the houses” and a year and three-dozen rejections later, we decided the book needed a rewrite. So rewrite I did. Two years and a second round of rejections later, I threw the thing on a shelf (even as it won regional writing awards).

By then, it was 2008 or something and I read an article about online book marketing. I’ve been doing public relations for ten years and I like “social media” and so with the manuscript collecting dust on a shelf, I went to the 2009 New Orleans Jazz Fest and mulled over self-publishing and an online book launch.

A week of Aaron Neville and Dr. John later, I came home and thought: What if I hosted a “Cheap Cabernet: A Friendship” online book launch party, with the goal of blowing the top off Amazon.com Best Sellers lists? And what if I looped in some agents and book publishers while the book climbed the best-seller ranks? What if I made a Launch Day of Oct. 6, 2009, a date purposefully chosen because it was a Tuesday (agents and publishers are working) and the publishing industry is active (not out for the holidays or summer vacations)?

I decided to go for it. I built a Web site and media lists and wrote press releases. I edited the book one final time, hired a book jacket designer, got it printed and then built “marketing collateral packages” — little gift boxes with plastic wine glasses printed with “Cheap Cabernet” on the side, plus a press release and an autographed copy of book.

I pretended “Cheap Cabernet: A Friendship” was the most critical piece of break-through literature the world had never heard of.

I got other Web sites to post announcements of “Cheap Cabernet: A Friendship’s” Big Launch, and some donated product as giveaways to book buyers. I put all this action on Facebook and Twitter and shamelessly continued five months of constant, driven, excitement-laden activity. I asked all friends and family to not just buy books, but to sell “Cheap Cabernet” to all their friends.

On October 6, 2009, “Cheap Cabernet: A Memoir” hit No. 12 on Amazon.com’s Memoirs Best Seller List (jockeying all morning long with Madeleine Albright’s memoir, “Pins”). It hit overall books Best-Seller at No. 67 and hit No. 1 on Amazon.com’s “Movers & Shakers” list.

Over 500 carefully selected agents and publishers got emails from me all morning long with “print screen” images of “Cheap Cabernet’s” rising up the Amazon Best Sellers Lists. Many were not happy and demanded I remove them from my mailing list, but never-you-mind. Twenty Two publishers and 16 agents asked me to overnight them the book as a result of all that effort.

On Oct. 26, 2009, Dorian Karchmar, a rock star agent, agreed to represent the book. She held a 3-house auction and on Nov. 6, 2009, we sold “Cheap Cabernet: A Friendship” to Brenda Copeland at Hyperion’s VOICE imprint and accelerated its editing and publishing schedule so that “Cheap Cabernet: A Friendship” hit bookstore and retail shelves across the nation on July 20, 2010.

Some might call it a Cinderella publishing story. It is. Only it took the Princess about 10 years to finally find the shoe that fit.

Take-aways:

Decide what you want. Be specific. (Do you want to sell your book or self-publish for the long haul?)

Take an online book marketing class (I teach one now). Learn what works.

Write a 25-word description of your target market: age, gender, income.

Get in front of every online (and otherwise) audience you know.

Pick a launch date and build a Web site.

Get at least one good review. Use it everywhere.

Have faith and go for it with every ounce of your being.

Why to Consider Writing an eBook

e-BookYou are an expert at something. You have a passion for something. Why not share all you know with your audience and create an item to sell online?

Having an eBook helps you brand yourself and is the first step that can often lead to a printable, “real” book and more business opportunities such as speaking engagements and consulting.

Your eBook makes you a credible expert in the eyes of your viewers. You may have been passing out tips and strategies for years in your blog posts or in handouts and newsletters that can be turned into an eBook that you can sell.

Your eBook is a low cost item that can lead to other packages and services of higher value. You can even give away your eBook to build your subscription numbers and opt-in lists or use it as a bonus for a larger purchase of another kind.

By promoting your eBook, you will be perceived as the “go to” person in your niche. You may even find the process is so easy that you begin work on a tele-seminar or webnar with the information you have collected for your eBook. These are also income opportunities as you can record these events and create CD’s or DVD’s.

Remember that your eBook is often a teaser for a larger product or service. Keep the eBook simple and helpful but not everything you know. Let the eBook lend itself to the reader wanting to hire you as a consultant or buy another book or product of some kind.

Be sure and have your website on the bottom of each page in case your eBook is passed around. At the end of the book, have a call to action that prompts another purchase or visit to your website. Offer a bonus, a free gift or a discount for something else you offer.

Often you can take your blog posts and repurpose them into an eBook. If your eBook is short for example under 20 pages, you may want to offer it for free. Over 20 pages and you can charge a fee. Be careful not to put too many topics into one eBook as you may be able to break them into multiple eBooks.

Transition gracefully from one section to another in your book. At the end of a section, you may want to let the reader know what is next or what they will learn in the next chapter.

eBooks are beneficial if they solve a common problem that your audience often experiences. You may also be offering hot tips to accelerate their business. Decide on your angle, and then create a title that captures attention and states clearly how the reader will benefit from reading it. Be specific to the niche you wish to reach. Narrow your focus and target audience by including that niche name in the title or subtitle. To sell well, do not try to appeal to everyone.

For example, if I wanted to help entrepreneurial stay-at-home moms make money, I might title my eBook, Tips for Entrepreneurial Stay-at-Home Moms to Make Money while your Baby Naps: What You Can Do in One Power Hour to Earn Income. This identifies my audience clearly.

Consider whether your eBook builds the brand you are trying to establish. Include information about yourself and your specialty to clearly define your zone of expertise for future reference and to lead into other projects you have completed or will have available in the future.

Create bullet points that a prospective reader will glean from the purchase of your eBook, and use those bullet points in your marketing strategy.

Lastly, tell your story in the book. Why did you write it? Was it the book you wish you had had when you were going through a particular time in your life? Let the reader relate to you with a bit of your story so they feel connected to you as they read along. Let your passion flow into the work and enjoy the process of creation. You may find yourself writing more and more using your eBook as a stepping stone to more books.

Continue to Write and Forgive Yourself Along the Way

Eat, Pray, LoveI really enjoyed Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Eat, Pray Love. I have not had the opportunity to read her latest book Committed yet, but I wanted to share an excerpt from her tips on writing at http://www.elizabethgilbert.com/writing.htm.

I particularly liked this paragraph:

“As for discipline – it’s important, but sort of over-rated. The more important virtue for a writer, I believe, is self-forgiveness. Because your writing will always disappoint you. Your laziness will always disappoint you. You will make vows: “I’m going to write for an hour every day,” and then you won’t do it. You will think: “I suck, I’m such a failure. I’m washed-up.” Continuing to write after that heartache of disappointment doesn’t take only discipline, but also self-forgiveness (which comes from a place of kind and encouraging and motherly love). The other thing to realize is that all writers think they suck. When I was writing “Eat, Pray, Love”, I had just as a strong a mantra of THIS SUCKS ringing through my head as anyone does when they write anything. But I had a clarion moment of truth during the process of that book. One day, when I was agonizing over how utterly bad my writing felt, I realized: ‘That’s actually not my problem.’ The point I realized was this – I never promised the universe that I would write brilliantly; I only promised the universe that I would write. So I put my head down and sweated through it, as per my vows.”

My first book and subsequent stab at eBooks were not very good. But I finished them and put them out in the world at least for a short while. Only with feedback could I learn and improve. Now I have more experience and confidence in my writing and am proud of my latest two books. I am writing more books that will be published in 2011. The flood gates are now open but it took the first book to allow the opportunity for me to move into the love of writing and expressing myself in that way.

It gives me great pleasure to help new authors cross over into the publishing world and allow the possibilities to unfold after they have given birth to their book. So my advice is to write if it gives you pleasure and forgive yourself for your imperfections.

You will have more regrets in the end for not writing than for writing badly. Bad writing can be improved with editing or ghost writing, so let your ideas and creativity come out and get help if you need to polish your work. You do not have to be a natural writer to make an impact with your words. You just have to write and publish and let the world be the judge, make adjustments if needed and continue. Enjoy the journey.

Editing a Manuscript

Jan HaasOur new team member Jan Haas has provided this guest post.

Editing a manuscript doesn’t just mean checking for spelling and grammatical errors.  The editing process starts at the beginning, with a good outline.  Mapping out chapters and sections of your manuscript will go a long way in making sure your information is organized in a concise, easy to read format and that you have information relative to your topic.  Content editing will add structure and flow to your written piece, and will help you connect to the message you are working to convey to your reader.

Although I know people say never disrupt the flow of consciousness, I am an “edit-as-you-go type of person.  I will write an essay for my book, and rearrange sentences in the middle of the writing process.  I think this comes from writing poetry as a teenager. I was constantly re-arranging lines to make a poem flow, and it has carried over into other forms of written work.

Once I have a piece written, I will go back and read the essay out loud, listening for flow and checking for mistakes.  If the words sound choppy, or if the ideas don’t flow, I will edit on the spot.  For me, this is a natural process because I have been doing it for so long.

In my particular case, editing coincides with the writing process, but that isn’t true for everyone.  Some people write an entire manuscript without re-reading and editing along the way. I know that many people do not like the editing process, and they need someone to help them.

There is no real right or wrong way to edit a written piece.  But know that editing isn’t just about spelling and grammar.  It is about how a written piece conveys a feeling, and how the flow directs the reader to follow an intended path.

Starting with a map or outline of your manuscript is a big step in the editing process that many people overlook, yet it is a key step in making the content edit much easier.

Please connect with Jan on Facebook, Linked in, Twitter, or her personal blog.

Let Jan help you write or give life to your own story or your family history! Visit Spirited Roots for more information.

How to Choose a Book Shepherd/Mentor

Book MentorWe know that when you are creating and writing a book, you have a lot of choices on who to work with and how to bring your book to life. That’s why we want you to know our tips for deciding how to choose a book shepherd/mentor.

Here are five factors you should consider in choosing a book shepherd/mentor.

Personality. Personality plays a vital role in your selection. Why? Because you will likely be working with this person for an extended amount of time, perhaps six months to a year. You want someone who you blend with, like his or her style of guidance and leadership, and who works with you in the way that you need to move forward. One of my clients said that my belief in them was the one thing that pulled them through. Other’s just needed me to be there for them when they felt like walking away. Perhaps you need someone who can be tough on you. Whatever you need, just be sure you match that with the book shepherd you chose.

Timeline. Next, you need to consider what timeline you are working in. If you’d like to get the production of your book done in 6-9 months, or 9-12 months, or longer – can that person meet those timelines? How good are they at adhering to the timelines and schedules set forth? What will be the biggest challenges or obstacles that you’ll need to overcome in making those deadlines? You’ll also want to consider how flexible you are in the process. The more flexible, the easier the process will be.

Price. We’ve seen book shepherding all over the pricing spectrum. And it’s one of the most common questions we get asked – How much will it cost to finish my book? Remember in all services there are the Hyundai and the Mercedes Benz. Where are you in that spectrum? Do you want a less expensive service, yet might be willing to sacrifice a little on quality? Or do you want the best of the best?  (Note: A high price tag does not always guarantee great service/quality.)

Reliability. Sadly, I’m shocked by how many service providers don’t actually do what they say they are going to do. Having someone that is reliable and dependable will make the process easier, less stressful, and will help your book stay on schedule. The biggest complaints I have heard with other book shepherds is that they (1) don’t return emails and phone calls in a timely manner, (2), blow out all the scheduled dates for production, and (3), are overwhelmed and end up doing shoddy work. This is by far one of the most important parts of choosing the right person for you and your book.

Proven Experience. Sure your shepherd has finished a few books, but how happy or satisfied are their previous clients? Have you seen a finished copy of their work? Have you contacted the authors? Be sure you check references, read testimonials, and ask the question “Are you still happy with the work they provided?” The keyword here is “still?”  Sometimes we are happy with a service right after it is over, but later see the faults. Ask if the person would recommend them to a friend, and most importantly would they use them again.

Overall, you have many choices and decisions to make when finishing your book production. But by far, the most important choice is whom you choose to shepherd you through the process. You definitely have a choice in the matter, so do your homework and go with your gut!

Happy Book Production! By the way, what are your thoughts on book shepherds?