book editing

The Unexpected Problem with Book Editors – Getting Editing Right

If you’re wondering if your chapter sucks, it probably does. That’s ok. Keep writing. The first goal is to just get it down on paper and then you bring in book editors to help.

We like to tell our clients the first order of business is creating a bad first draft. Once you’ve got a bad first draft, there’s something to work with to make it good, and then great. That’s where the most important members of your team come into the picture:

The book editors!

But, here’s where way too many well intentioned authors go so wrong!

Don’t Waste Your Money on the Wrong Book Editor

Too many authors send me their edited manuscripts telling me they are ready to publish … and they have hired professional editors, but the book still is not good. What’s gone wrong?

First, let me be clear … 100% of authors need editors. Professional writers need an editor. There is no level of experienced writer that just no longer needs an editor.

You CANNOT edit your work. Your brain plays tricks on you and you will only see how something is supposed to be written not how it’s written. Also, stuff that makes sense to you quite likely doesn’t make sense to other people.

While some experienced writers can skip a developmental edit, those situations are rare. Most non-fiction books will be improved from a two or three-star book to a four-star book with a good developmental or content edit. Then the copy edit takes it from four stars to five stars.

Even when you understand this and you realize that you have to hire professionals for this not just your aunt who edited your papers for university, you might still go wrong when you hire editors and here are the four most common places I see it go all wrong for well intentioned authors.

3 Ways Authors Mess Up When Hiring a Book Editor

1. You hire an editor, but your book needs someone who will help you develop the idea further.

Editors are not the same as writing coaches. In fact, editors often are more analytical than a writing coach. The best line or copy editors are detail oriented and process driven. A good writing coach is going to be driven to influence and communicate in a way that is engaging. They are typically creatives.

Your book might need someone who is more creative first … someone to develop the concept further and make sure you’ve made something that is compelling and interesting above all else. Editing improves the writing but it’s not usually going to develop the core message and idea enough to make the book really great. Even content editing,  which does focus on the structure and content of the book, is sometimes premature if the book doesn’t have a well enough developed hook. Don’t know what makes a great hook? Watch this video:

If you’re not really sure where your book is at ask a few colleagues or friends to read your book (commonly called beta readers) and ask them to answer a few questions like:

> what do you think this book is about?
> what’s the main benefit you get from this book?
> what would you change?

If your beta readers are coming back with positive and consistent answers to the above then you’re probably ready for editing.

2. You hired an editor but weren’t clear on what you expected the result of the edits to be.

I hired an editor but she didn’t make my book better she just made it grammatically correct.” More than one client has brought me their manuscript with this complaint.

If you hire a copy editor – you’re going to get a copy edit.

 

Some great copy editors will flag areas of your book that need improvement, but their job is to follow a list of rules and make sure your book follows those rules.

If you want an editor that is going to make your book better, you may need a story expert (See point 1 …). Or you need to hire a developmental editor and make it clear that you’re looking for someone to dig in and help you figure out how to make this book better. Spell out what that looks like – do you want them to actually write out how to make a paragraph read better or just, flag it with questions for you to do the work? The more you can lay out the expectations of your editor in advance the more you set yourself up for success.

3. You hired an editor without checking their experience.

Someone may have a great eye for mistakes, but that is not the same as being an experienced and professional editor. Your Uncle may be handy around the house, but it’s not the same as hiring a licensed carpenter or electrician.

If an editor hasn’t edited a bunch of other books in my genre (non-fiction, ideally business books or memoirs) and doesn’t edit for a living, I move on and unless you’re on a tight budget, you probably should too.

Editors are the most expensive part of your book publishing process (unless you’re working with ghostwriter … then the writer should be the highest paid person on your team). Make sure your investment is going to making your book better. And, often this means you need different people to do different roles. It also means you need to hire true professionals.

At Book Launchers we have a story expert or writing coach help with the concept before a different person does the content edit, then a different person does two rounds of copy editing before another person does a proofread. My margin on our book projects would be much higher without involving all these experts, but then the books we produce wouldn’t be half as good. Every professional is worth it but make sure you’re getting the right people at the right time in your book publishing journey.

 

You also might like this video:

 

All About the Copyright Page for Self-Publishing Authors

When you write a book, there’s some really exciting material you must include in your book. That is the material on the copyright page of your book.

Before we dive into this important page in your book, here’s the very important disclaimer:

This is not legal advice. This is just one author sharing some info for another author.

First, you might be wondering what is copyright and do you need to file for copyright protection first. Your work is under copyright protection from virtually the moment it is created. From the moment you put your words to word processor. On paper, painted, filmed, or fixed in any other type of physical format. Automatic copyright is applied. So if protection is automatic, then why would you want to file and pay money for an official copyright certificate?

That’s all covered in this video, so you can check that out if you need that information first:

Why the Copyright Page is Important

The copyright page is of critical importance to librarians, publishers, bulk book buyers, bibliographers, and even writers who want to quote your book in their book. Open up any book you have on your shelf, and you’ll see the page I’m talking about it. A  typical copyright page includes:

  • And it has the copyright notice,
  • Edition information,
  • Publication information,
  • Printing history,
  • Cataloging data,
  • Legal notices,
  • ISBN or other identification numbers.

Some books also contain some credits for design, editing or illustration.

What Information Has to Be on the Copyright Page

The single most important element on the copyright page is the copyright! It’s the C symbol or the word copyright. Then, it has the year of the first publication and who owns that copyright.

The owner could be you, your company, or if you’re going the traditional publishing route, it will be the publishing company you’ve signed your rights over to. If you’re still trying to decide if you’re going to self-publish or traditionally publish, I highly recommend checking out this video.

You also probably should put a reservation of rights on the page where you outline what people can and can’t do with the material in the book.

For example:

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying recording or otherwise without the prior written permission of the publisher.

You may also include the publisher’s contact information. Larger publishers will probably include their full contact details. As an indie publisher, you may want to include an email, or a website. This is really useful, if someone wants to purchase multiple books or ask you for permission to use more than just a quote from your book.

But of course, you can always put that material at the end of the book too. You might put any trademark notices, so if you’ve trademarked your book title, publishing company imprint, something else you may want to put a notice on that page. If you’re pursuing the Library of Congress listing, then you’re going to want that cataloging in publication data. See this video on getting your book into libraries. a

Should You Credit Others on Your Copyright Page?

Some authors use the copyright page to credit book cover designers, editors, or illustrators but this is not necessary. Personally, I use the acknowledgment pages for that. This is only one page in your book so put in the elements that are the most important to you as it pertains to the publishing of your book.

Want more on this subject? Some resources I used when fact checking include:

Shout out to a few resources that help me double check what I was telling you. This book, David Wogahn Register Your Book and a blog post from the Book Designer that actually gives you copyright page examples.

Still Looking for a Book Deal with a Traditional Publisher? That’s so 2012 …

While you waste two years pursuing a book deal with a traditional publisher your competition has already published their book and begun to profit. Traditional book deals aren’t dead … there are some sensible reasons to pursue a traditional book deal, but self-publishing is quite possibly the best solution for you.

Even if I was offered a traditional book deal right now, I wouldn’t take it. Here’s why:

Reason One for Not Taking a Traditional Book Deal: Money

I make way more money self-publishing. To self-publish my first book, I invested a total of $12,800 when you include hiring a PR company. That’s with me doing all the legwork to research the steps, hire everyone, set up accounts, upload all my files, and project managing the entire process. It was a giant pain, and it took more than a few hundred hours to do. Forget about just the writing. I also made some huge mistakes, including one that cost me bookstore distribution in the province of Alberta, you can see a video about that one right here, and another error that cost me $1,200 in returned book charges. You can see about that mistake here.

It was worth it, but if a company like Book Launchers had been around in 2013, I would’ve happily paid them that money and more to do it all for me.

There are plenty of reasons besides money to write a book. I covered that right here:


But, there is a lot of money to be made in book sales and beyond if you do it right.  In the last four years, I’ve made more than $63,000 from the sale of More Than Cashflow, and that’s just from Amazon and bookstores. I’ve also made thousands of dollars selling books at the back of the room where I’ve spoken or had a booth.

Because I owned my book, I was also able to use it as currency. I traded copies of my book for more than $30,000 worth of magazine advertising space.

If I had landed a traditional book deal, I would’ve made less than $10,000 from the same quantity of book sales. I also couldn’t have easily used my books as currency to trade for advertising because I would’ve had to pay retail price to the publisher to buy copies of my book to do the deal. It cost me $4 and something to buy each book from the print-on-demand publisher. It would’ve cost me closer to $15 to buy it from the publisher. What I could do with the content for creating courses, talks, and other off-shoots would have been subject to the publisher’s approval as well.

Reason Two for Not Taking a Traditional Book Deal: Creative Freedom

Now, some of these financial benefits of publishing a book would’ve come about with a traditional publisher, but not all of them. With a traditional publishing deal, I would’ve had to compromise on the subject matter of the book. It would have made the book much less impactful. The traditional publishers I spoke with actually rejected my book idea, saying there was already too many generic real estate investing books on the market. The idea the publisher gave me to write about was kinda lame (real estate investing for couples). I’m glad I didn’t get a deal to write that book. I knew my market.

That’s part of the reason my book became an Amazon Overall #1 Bestseller and stayed into the Top 100 for 45 days. It was unique, but the publisher didn’t know my market as I did and wanted me to go into a boring niche. I’m so glad I didn’t get that book deal.

Reason One for Not Taking a Traditional Book Deal: Rights and Control

I’ve watched a lot of my friends get book deals and ultimately be very unhappy about it. It usually comes down to the rights and control. Most traditional publishing deals require you sign over the audiobook rights, but often the publisher may not create one for you. You don’t have the rights to produce one for yourself. So you’re stuck. But, it’s more than that.

Who owns the content in your book? Not you when you take a traditional publishing deal. One friend of mine even had their book republished, word for word, under another person’s name. The intro and title changed, but it’s 95% his book, now being sold under someone else’s name. The publisher can do that because they own the content. Another friend bought his book rights back from the publisher because he was tired of them limiting what he could do with the brand.  Jim Kukral of the Sell More Books Show was recently pleading with his listeners to buy his last 70 copies of his book to free him from his oppressors, his publisher. Traditional publishing is a broken model, and it doesn’t offer the advantages people think it does.

Maybe a book deal with a traditional publisher is right for you

Maybe traditional publishing is right for you, but quite likely, it’s not. Fewer traditional deals are done now. The deals all take a long time. You usually need to find an agent. That takes time. Then, you write a book proposal and sit gets shopped around. That takes time. Then, if anybody bites, there are contract negotiations. If you start now, two years from now, you might have your book out.

With self-publishing, you could have a book out in the next six to 12 months. A lot could happen in that year … and in the meantime, while your book isn’t out, you’re almost guaranteed to be leaving money on the table. Other people with books are landing the paid speaking gigs, the consulting clients, or selling more products.

But there are reasons to pursue a book deal.

The significant benefit of pursuing a traditional publishing deal is ease of distribution. If you traditionally publish your book, it’s more likely to be carried in bookstores. You’re also more likely to be eligible for the huge best-seller list like New York Times and Wall Street Journal, and the traditional publisher does take a risk on your book, footing the bill for the team that will take your book from concept to print.

But, don’t expect that they are going to do much to sell your book!

You, the author, are still 99% responsible for marketing. Let me repeat that part because it’s so important. Even with a traditional publishing deal, the author is responsible for marketing the book. In other words, you do all the sales work and you write the book, and they take 85% of the revenue. Sound fair?

Finally, and this is another really important thing to know. The only person who REALLY cares if you got a book deal is you. Readers don’t care. If the book is done professionally and gives them massive value, they are happy.

Some authors are happy with their book deals.  It can be a great solution for the right people. Just don’t go into it thinking this big company takes care of everything but the writing. That just isn’t true.

If that was why you were pursuing the book deal, check out what we do at Book Launchers. We do EVERYTHING a publisher would do AND we help you market your book to achieve your goal. The best part is that you keep all the rights and royalties.

To learn more, let’s chat.

Copyright Protection for Books

Good news, author. Your work is under copyright protection from virtually the moment it is created. From the moment you put your words to word processor automatic copyright is applied.

So if protection is automatic, then why would you want to file and pay money for an official copyright certificate?

Here are three reasons why you might want to file a copyright certificate in the US:

Number one, filing is required for a copyright infringement case.

If registration occurs within five years of publication, it’s considered a prima facie. In less legal terms, it means that it’s accepted as true unless concretely proven otherwise.

Also, there are 20 countries in the world that require you to file copyright because they don’t recognize automatic copyrights. Which means, in those countries, someone could republish your work and you have no defense in their courts unless you file for copyrights.

Number two, if you want your book considered for inclusion in the library of Congress, part of the process for submission is to file official copyrights.

I covered that topic in this right here:

Number three, you may just wish to have the facts of your copyright on the public record and have a certificate of registration.

It makes the whole thing very official. If you file for copyright, timeline and ownership become very clear.

Registration is voluntary but could be useful. It’s totally up to you. Your work is protected by copyright but your ideas are not.

In the Unites States, the United States copyright office accepts registrations.

Copyright for Canadian Authors:

For Canadian authors, basically it’s the same for you. It’s totally voluntary and only really necessary in an infringement case. If you want to file, it’s through the Canadian Intellectual Property Office for a fee.

You may also like to read ‘Should you use a pen name when you write a book?‘.

How to Price a Non-Fiction Book for Sale on Amazon

Figuring out how to price a non-fiction book for sale is tricky business. You want a price point that is high enough that a reader knows the book is valuable, and that it opens you up to cross promotional opportunities. And, you want to be competitive so you don’t scare away your prospective readers.

As we discussed in why you shouldn’t price your book too cheap, the advice really varies on the subject.

To me, book pricing is one part art and one part science.

To figure out how to price a non-fiction book, first you want to know:

  • What is the ultimate goal of your book?
  • What are the distribution channels?
  • What formats are you printing in?
  • How many pages is your book?
  • And, what is the value you are offering to the reader?

By the way, Amazon’s really what you need to pay attention to as a self-published author. That’s where more than 80% of your book sales are going to come from, even if you have book store distribution. So really, you’re figuring out what’s going to make you stand out and keep that Amazon monster fat and happy.

But how do you figure it all out? Well, let’s take a look:

And, of course if this seems like a giant pain in the butt and you wish someone else would do it all for you, your Book Launchers membership includes pricing research and a price range recommendation. That’s just part of our service to help you write, publish and promote your book. We also do extensive category selection and keyword research.

 

How to Create an Audiobook for Audible, iTunes, and Overdrive

If you’re a nonfiction author, or you’re going to be, I highly recommend you put audiobook on your list of things to do, especially once your book is written. And I’m not just saying this because I listen to more non-fiction books than I read. I’m saying this because I’m not alone.

Books aren’t going away. Print books aren’t dying either.

The book market is shifting though.

How people consume books is changing. The biggest change is that we’re listening to books more than ever.

3 reasons why it’s time to create an audiobook for your non-fiction book:

  1. E-book and print book sales are stable or declining, but audiobook sales are growing.

    Nearly half of frequent audiobook listeners are under 35. But, audiobooks aren’t just for the young reader. Podcast listeners love audiobooks too. If you are a podcaster, it’s quite likely you have a built in market for your audiobook in your listener base. (And, here’s an article on turning your podcast into a book!)

  2. Credibility and trust.

    For most of our clients at Book Launchers, the goal of writing a book is grow your business and build your name as an expert. If that’s you, here’s a few cool thoughts for you.

    First, there are far fewer audiobooks on the market than there are print books and e-books. That makes it easier to stand out.

     

    audiobook listener

    The costs are higher to produce than the other kinds of books in some cases, even if you do it yourself, and that definitely reduces the size of the market. And it’s also a bit of a pain to produce. But if you’re the voice narrator, the benefit will be that your listener will build a level of trust with you directly.  That bond is so much stronger than if they just read your words. There’s something powerful about your voice being in someone’s head.

    Also, the fact that you have an audiobook makes you seem even more credible because few books have that audio component. When someone checks out your book on Amazon and sees multiple formats, it makes you look like the ‘real deal’. This is really important if you’re a consultant, a sales person, you’re selling workshops, you’re speaking, you’re doing media, and so much more.

  3. It’s easier to stand out on Audible.

I couldn’t get actual up-to-date numbers on the size of the Audible library in comparison to the Amazon library, but in 2013, the Audible library only had one hundred thousand titles, and Amazon had millions.

Even though both catalogues have grown dramatically since 2013, you’re still standing out in a sea of probably no more than 20% of the size of the current Amazon library. That’s a much easier job for a nonfiction book. Don’t believe me? Go to audible.com and do a search in your niche. Instead of finding hundreds or thousands of books that you’d be competing with, you’ll probably find a few dozen.

So, how do you create a fantastic audiobook worthy of five stars on audible and other platforms?

Here are six tips for creating a fantastic audiobook version of your book:

Number one, set up your own studio, or arrange a studio rental.

You can’t just get a mic, open VoiceNote on your iPhone, and start recording. Second, you will be rated on performance, story, and the overall book. In other words, you don’t want your book to get panned in the reviews just because you tried to do your audiobook on the cheap, and didn’t get it edited, right?

If you’re going to use the equipment again, or you live in a remote place, setting up a home studio is easier than you think, and recommended. If you’re a podcaster or you’re gonna create online courses, it makes sense for you to do this so all your content creation is of a good standard.

You can often rent spaces for 60 to 100 dollars an hour, and most books can be recorded in less than three hours, unless you’re terrible. But that leads nicely into point number two.

Number two, practice.

I don’t just mean practice talking, I mean read your book out loud. A paid professional would read your book out loud two to three times before sitting down in a studio to record it. You’re not a professional, which means even though it’s your book, you probably need even more practice reading out loud in an engaging way.

Number three, get voice coaching.

While you’re reading, record 30 minutes of it, and send it to a voice coach. Google ‘voice coach’, and I’m sure you’ll find many. Ideally find one that specializes in audiobooks, or just hire Book Launchers and we have a multiple award-winning sound editor who will coach you. She’s taken home the Canadian equivalent of an Oscar twice for her sound work so, she’s pretty awesome. She also helped me with The New Brand You, if you want to hear what she did for my voice.

There are definitely things you’re doing that will detract from your performance, and Audible listeners rate your book based on performance so it needs to be decent.

The good news is when it comes to nonfiction, Audible listeners are a lot more forgiving. When it comes to fiction, they expect you to be a professional actor.

Number four, hire a professional sound editor.

Generally speaking, 10 hours of a book will take 30 hours to edit. This is audible’s guidelines and the suggestion of my audiobook editor. You can hire audiobook editors on Upwork.com, guru.com, and lots of different places. Generally, audiobooks will cost about 300 dollars per finished hour of product.

If you want to guesstimate how long your book will be, use this tool.

Number five, keep Audible’s rating system in mind when you’re making your audiobook.

I’ve already covered the audible ratings, but it’s important. Success is a balance between a good recording, strong pacing, and great editing, with good mastering. And if you don’t know what any of that means, that means you need help.

Number six, prepare for pick-ups.

What are these? They’re spots where it’s faster for an editor to replace your voice than it is to try to clean up the mess you made. The pick-ups are easy, but just know, you can’t take down that studio right away. You’re going to have to go back to the drawing board and re-record some sentences, even sometimes two or three words.

It might feel a little overwhelming, but you just might find it fun to create an audiobook. I know I loved it, and the really cool part is none of my other author friends have done it. It’s pretty cool to have done something most people haven’t done, and do it well. Plus, it’s the growing market for books and an excellent way to get in your readers’ heads!