Writing a Book? Avoid these 9 Common Mistakes

Writing a book and having a career as an author can be exciting, but being a successful author can be life-changing. You’ll find countless pieces of advice out there about the things you should DO to make it as an author, though not so much about the things you should NOT DO. Today, we’re changing things up a bit, revealing to you the things you should stop doing if you are writing a book and want your upcoming piece to be the next big thing.

Here at Book Launchers, we’ve helped tons of authors to write a compelling book, edit their non-fiction book, publish and promote it successfully. We’ve seen a lot of things, including the things that many authors do that just don’t work. In this post, we’ll share with you a simple “not-to-do” list to ensure that your non-fiction journey ends up in a big win.

Here are nine common mistakes you should avoid when writing a non-fiction book:

1 – Letting Ego Get In The Way

Through the years, I’ve met a lot of incredible authors. One of the things I’ve noticed they have in common is fear – fear of failure, fear of success, imposter syndrome, and fear of judgment (think public speaking). The thing about fear is that if you let it be about you and your success, it’s going to be harder to make the right decisions, especially if they’re tough ones.

Chances are, at least at the onset, you’ll feel like this book should be all about you becoming a bestseller, making tons of money in the process. Don’t fall into this trap.

Stop making this book about you and start making it about your readers. Focus more on how your book can help them achieve a specific outcome in their lives. When you focus on providing value, you’ll be able to push ego aside just enough to get your book into the world and have an impact.

2- Trying to Sound Too Smart

Speaking of writing a book for your dear readers, make sure that your book is written solely for them – not for your colleagues, industry leaders, or anyone else you’d consciously, or unconsciously, like to impress. You’re not trying to impress your peers. This is not a paper you’re submitting to the highest-level journals in your industry.

You’re trying to influence your target audience to take action, move forward, and make lasting changes in their life or business.

What’s that mean? You don’t need to use big words to sound smart. Unless you’re a doctor writing for a doctor or an engineer writing for an engineer, you’ll do better if you keep your choice of words simple and easy to digest. If you feel like straight, simple writing makes you look less intelligent, let me ask you if anyone has ever said to you, “Man, you made that book really complex. You must be smart“? No, I bet not.

Knowing how to explain your concepts in ways that anyone can understand is a good sign that you know what you’re doing when it comes to your subject matter. You’re not trying to impress your professor; you’re trying to impact your reader and sell books. To see the readability of your piece, you can run it on a Flesch-Kincaid test. The sweet spot lies between grade six and grade eight. Anything higher is complex.

3 – Trying to Perfect Your First Draft

Let’s get this out of the way; every first draft is supposed to be bad, and that’s okay. You don’t have to spend countless hours editing and rereading what you’ve written in an attempt to try to make it sound perfect. At this point of the process, all you need to do is get your ideas out of your head and onto each page.

To avoid non-stop editing as you write your draft, you can set up a prompt when you have finished writing for the day. When you sit down to write tomorrow or even a week from now, you don’t have to reread what you wrote; you just write using those prompts.

4 – Asking Friends and Family About Their Opinion

The people close to us are likely our first go-to when getting feedback about our work. But, chances are, your friends and family members may not be your ideal readers who will spend money to pick up your book and take its advice. Stop asking your friends and family their opinion on your cover, your title, or anything else that’s vital to the success of your book, unless your friends or family are your ideal reader or they’re book publishing professionals.

There’s an art and a science to appealing to your audience. You’ll need to tap into your actual reader’s opinion or the advice of experts.

5 – Expecting Quick Wins

Nowadays, everyone is focused on getting quick results and instant gratification. But, when it comes to getting your writing out there, learning to play the long game can be more beneficial. Even if they don’t bring instant results, taking the proper steps can set you up for long-term success. By playing the long game, you’ll find that “slowly but surely” really works, making the journey more successful and rewarding.

Just because you have the money to buy quick wins doesn’t mean you should. Remember, Amazon is an algorithm machine looking for consistent conversions, not quick wins, so you don’t want to play a game to get an Amazon bestseller.

6 – Setting Goals You Can’t Control

There are only so many things we can control when starting out on our publishing journey. Many authors fail to realize that there’s a big difference between realistic goals and unrealistic ones in terms of effort and outcome.

Stop setting goals you can’t control. Instead, shift your focus to the things you can. For example, you can’t control being an instant bestseller, but you can control how many places you pitch yourself for podcasts or speaking. You can control how many people you ask for reviews, and you absolutely can control how many blog posts and live videos you publish to help get the word out.

Make sure to get clear on the things you can control so you can set them up as realistic and attainable goals. That way, you can watch the outcomes pile up, leading all to the way to end result you want.

7 – Waiting For The “Right Time” To Write and Publish

If you’re waiting for the “perfect time” to write and publish your book, you may be waiting forever. You don’t have to keep putting off your book because you feel it isn’t the “right time.” If you’ve learned anything from 2020 and 2021’s volatility, it’s that there are very few certainties out there.

Rarely have I ever met an author that says, “Man, I wished I hadn’t written that book.” What I often do hear is something along the lines of, “I need my book done in three months for this big opportunity.” Books take longer to write, publish, launch than you think, especially if you want them to be exceptional. Start writing your book today before it becomes too urgent. I’ve met too many people who’d put off their projects because they never felt ready, and that’s a shame because their book could have been helping people.

8 – Not Realizing The Value Your Book Could Have

Number eight leads me to a great tip from my YouTube friends at Mindful Eats, who said, “Authors should realize there are people out there who desperately need your book.” This tip complements tip number seven. I’m sure you can think of plenty of reasons to start writing your piece today. Sometimes all you need to do is to look back and get toned on why you’d like to write your book in the first place. Yes, it will take a lot of work, but it’s always going to be worth it. Get to work and get it done!

9 – Worrying Too Much And Failing To Enjoy The Process

This tip comes from Caleb over at BookLaunchers.TV, also known as CTOrtega. “Authors should stop worrying ten steps ahead, enjoy step by step of the process. Fall in love with the process more than the desire for results.” I love this piece of advice. Here’s the truth, you don’t need to know every step of the journey before you start writing a book. What you do need to know is who you’ll be writing for and what your goals are. Setting definite and clear goals provides you with a general path to follow.

Thinking about how you’ll get an ISBN or what an aggregator does really doesn’t matter if you haven’t even started writing a single word. Write your book now and then figure it all out.

Final Words

Anyone can be a writer. Each person has their own stories to tell or wisdom to share with the world. The only significant difference between you and a successful writer is that they’ve actually started writing. No one’s really stopping you from making an impact with your book other than you.

how to write a non-fiction book 7 stepsStill wondering what to do? Well, we have a lot more wonderful things in store for you. If you haven’t already, start writing your #noboringbooks process with our 7-step guide to getting your ideas from your head and onto the pages.

Here at Book Launchers, we help authors every step of the self-publishing journey, from concept to copies in readers’ hands. Schedule a call today and let’s talk about getting your book out there.

You also need to know when to stop editing your book. This video will help with that:

How to Write a Book That Sells

Wondering how to write a book that sells and that you’ll be proud of for years and years? The first step is not sitting down to write!

The biggest mistake most would-be authors make is that they get hit by inspiration one day and they just sit down and start writing.

That inspiration can quickly be replaced by giant doubt.

You’ll start and stop writing your book following cycle of doubt and inspiration.

10 years later you’ll still be wondering how to write a book!

How to write a book – step one:

Get clear on your goal.

And, if you’re thinking ‘I want to write a bestseller’ watch this video so you know what you have to do:



Maybe your goal is to sell 100,000 books. Or, possibly it’s that you want to get on a major stage in front of thousands of people.

Those are all goals that are possible, but very lofty.

I’m not cautioning you against those goals because they are reaching high.

My concern is that when you set a goal like that you, the author, become the focal point instead of the reader.

When you set your first goal to focus your book project around, the best thing to do is set a goal for your reader.

Writing a bestseller puts your ego in charge.

When you focus on these kinds of goals and put your ego in charge, the author becomes the product, not the book. And you set yourself up to face a lot of the monsters you have in the closet.

When your book is the product and you focus intensely on a specific goal and a specific reader, you can focus on serving that audience.

You’ll share the most revealing examples and secrets that must be shared for them to get results. You will write a book that needs to be written – not the one that you think makes you look good.

Before you write your book, decide what is the impact you want your book to have on your reader.

What do you want them to know, do, be, have after they’ve read your book?

Step Two – Get Clear on Your Audience

Who is your reader? Not demographically but emotionally. Demographics have value.

When you consider how to write a book for impact, emotions are more important. You need to meet your reader where they are at right now.

Who are you helping and what are you helping them with?

My first book, “More Than Cashflow,” was focused on a new real estate investor who was getting all excited about buying a bunch of properties, and I wanted them to make smart decisions. Mainly to help them make money and minimize the problems.

Erika Cisneros book, Honest Immigration, isn’t for anyone looking to immigrate to the US.

Her book is for those folks who are in the US and want to stay and are eligible to receive a humanitarian visa due to mistreatment.

That’s a very specific audience.

Same with Alec Hanson’s book Bypassed.

It’s for mortgage professionals who are getting left behind by a digital customer. It’s not for every mortgage professional, it’s for the ones who have been in the industry for a while and haven’t updated their website or social media since they began.

Or, they aren’t tech-savvy and haven’t worried about what Google is saying about them when someone searches.

When brainstorming how to write a book, you must get clear on who you’re helping and how you’re going to help them.

If you’re writing a memoir, you still need to do this, and a writing coach will help with all of this.

Also, when you know who they follow, what they books they already are reading, what problems they want to solve, and even where they’re hiding out already, you have clarity of audience.

Step Three-Position Yourself to Be Unique

We have so many cool examples of how to do this, but I’ll use Amani Roberts because we also did an author spotlight video with him, which you can watch here (on his virtual book launch party).

He has the Amani Experience Podcast.

He talks to creatives who’ve left the corporate world to pursue their creativity.

As part of his company, the Amani Media Experience, he leads team building events for corporate organizations, teaching people how to be a DJ.

He’s bridging that gap between creative and corporate and drawing lessons from it.

In analyzing his content and his message with my team, they came up with the idea to write a book about a night as a DJ and the corporate lessons you learn from that night.

With that, his book, “DJ’s Mean Business: One Night Behind the Turntables Can Spin Your Company’s Success” was born.

Another example is from Scott Bradley, author of Screaming for Pleasure.

He has a podcast and goes to a lot of horror events. He’s a guy who knows everything there is to know about horror movies and books.

How do you define him? My team calls him the horror historian.

What makes you unique? Use that in your book positioning.

Step Four – Craft a Compelling HookScott Bradley

When you write a book, you need a hook that’s only about the reader. It also has to sell the book.

“My book is about marketing strategy” is not a hook.

Using Scott Bradley, who we touched on above, with his great podcast called Hellbent on Horror and his love for all things horror, how do you create a reader-driven hook?

In explorations with our writing coach, he said “horror makes me happy and healthy“.

And it turns out, that’s true. There’s research that backs that up.

Horror allows you to explore and feel emotions that you don’t normally feel. “Screaming For Pleasure, How Horror Makes You Happy And Healthy” was born.

Step Five – Plan Your Content!

Create a table of contents or an outline, making notes of the key points and stories you want to cover.

Judge each of them with the filter of does this support the hook?

If that story, section, or example supports the hook, great. If it doesn’t, save it for a future book.

Yes, it’s true! Once you figure out how to write a book, you won’t want to stop with just one.

Write a bookAnd based on this, you create a plan to start writing.

If you struggle with any of the above, it might be time to bring in a writing coach to help you write a book. For many authors, a writing coach is a secret weapon to writing a great book that sells.

How does a writing coach (or a book coach) help you write a book?

What is a writing coach, also called a book coach, and how does this person help you?

The role varies a little bit client by client because everybody has different needs, but at Book Launchers a writing coach always:

  • Offers emotional support through the book writing journey,
  • Provides a writing plan and accountability to that plan, and
  • Guides the author to write in a more engaging, interesting and (hopefully) concise way to connect to their ideal reader.

Generally speaking, if you haven’t already established the foundation for your book (audience, hook, and outline) that will be the first part of the work you do with a book coach.

Specifically, here’s what we expect of writing coaches (so, it’s a good place for you to start if you’re thinking of hiring a writing coach or book coach to create your book).

In addition to working on the above five items, a great book coach will help you write a book by:

Creating a writing plan:

Will you write a chapter a week?

That’s harder than it sounds for some people.

My recommended approach to our clients is to set a standing appointment each week with the writing coach.

And during that call, commit to what you’ll write in the upcoming week.

And use that call as one part accountability and one part review of what you’ve written.

Setting up a Chapter Template:

Writing a chapter can be a bit foreign, and while every chapter doesn’t need to be the same length, a book works best when there is some consistent structure for each chapter.

The writing coach will work closely with the author on chapter one so they can clearly see how to structure the chapter.

Bonus points for having a writing coach that will make sure you start every chapter in a way that engages your reader.

Writing Guidance:

Not all writing coaches will rewrite, but our authors are not professional writers so we’ve found it’s better for our coaches to provide examples.

Typically writing coaches and editors say things like ‘expand on this’ or ‘add some emotion’ but to a novice writer that can feel daunting and unclear.

So, occasionally our writing coaches will rewrite some sections so our clients can see what that means.

One thing we really encourage our writing coaches to do is help make your book interesting by including things like interesting chapter starts:

Most authors start off strong but then veer off.

You also might find that you’re one of those people who thinks of a bunch of details that are far more important than they really are.

(Yes, I’m looking at you Memoir author – more for you in a moment).

Or maybe you’re someone who delivers just the facts, but the emotional engagement is lacking.

A great writing coach is watching for this and is going to hit pause and dig into it a little.

Specifically to help you uncover stories that can bring the reader’s engagement back to a high level.

Emotional Support:

A book is a big project and it can be lonely.

A writing coach will provide some emotional support as you ride the inevitable wave of ‘my book sucks’ to ‘my book is amazing and will sell millions of copies’.

They also will keep you on your hook!

Because so many non-fiction authors lose track of the hook and start writing an entirely different book halfway through!


Being a great writing coach means asking personal questions to get to the heart of what makes someone awesome.

You have to uncover why they believe what they believe.

Then you need to be able to provide the emotional support required while also pushing them to get it done.

A good writing coach can just push you to get the words on the page.

But if you want to know the real secret of how to write a book that hooks your reader and sells well, it’s this:

You have to have a bad first draft before you have a polished diamond of a book.

So your first goal is to progress over perfection.

Whew, I bet you had no idea how much work a writing coach does to make your book great.

Did you notice what a writing coach does not do, though?

A writing coach does not edit your book, and while they may write out some example sections for you so you understand how to craft certain things in your book, they are not writing your book either.

Your coach is there to make sure your first draft is the best possible first draft.

And the value in that is enormous. BUT …

What if you don’t like to write?

Or, what if you’re not a good writer?

Or, you just can’t find the time?

How to Write a Book without Writing:

There are a lot of good reasons to write your book yourself.

Writing your book ensures that it’s your voice coming through the pages.

Readers (future potential clients and business partners) get to know you, trust you, and want to work with you when it’s your voice.

And it helps you solidify your concepts, collect important business stories, and improve how you explain what you do.

This is all useful in business. It also makes you a more interesting guest for media, podcasts and conferences.

However, you don’t have to write your book to become a published author.

You can dictate your book and then work closely with editors to refine the work.

Or you can hire someone to write your book for you (a ghostwriter).

How to Dictate Your Book:

Once you have an outline of what will be in your book, it should be fairly easy for you to then record yourself talking about each chapter.

Imagine you’re explaining each section to your friend or a client.

Record your voice using Voice Note, Garage Band on your Mac or anything that gets you an MP3.

You can then send those files to a low cost but high quality transcription service like Rev.com or Temi.com.

Once transcribed, read through it, fill in some gaps, and then hire a content editor.

A great content editor will ensure that the material is coherent, complete, and communicates your message in an engaging manner. You’ll spend more on editing this way, but you could save a lot of time and pain if you’re really not into writing.

The cost of transcription will vary depending on the minutes of content created. Editing costs depend on how much work is required to refine the material. But, this is an option many time-crunched authors are turning to.

It’s often easier to talk for 30 minutes than it is to write for the same time.

Hire a Ghostwriter

Alternatively, you may wish to hire a ghostwriter to do all the heavy lifting for you.

A great ghostwriter will write your book for you.

To do that, they will conduct research, interview experts, and spend a lot of time interviewing you. If you want to learn about hiring ghostwriters, this is an epic guide.

This costs money!

A good ghostwriter is expensive (typically more than $15,000 for a standard-sized non-fiction book).

You’re not likely to hire a high quality one on Fiverr. You’ll need to get referrals and check references to make sure you’ve got one you’ll be happy with.

And, for many non-fiction authors, it’s a great option to get a book done.

Writing your book will cost you time and money no matter how you choose to approach it.

Writing it yourself will cost a lot more time and much less money. Hiring someone to help you will cost a lot more money and still take some time.

Now that you know how to write a book, it’s your choice.

If you’re investing time and money in writing a book, make it something you’re proud of.

Know your strengths and your weaknesses.

Make sure you have the right support to keep you moving forward. Most people need accountability and guidance. Many people start a book and never finish.

It can be a long journey if you do it alone.

finding great ghostwriters

Hire a Great Ghostwriter – An Epic Guide

You don’t think Sarah Palin, Beyonce, Pamela Anderson, Lance Armstrong, and Nicole Richie actually wrote their books? As one celeb said, “I don’t do my own typing.” Many of today’s bestselling books are the result of an author hiring a great ghostwriter. If you’re ready to hire a great ghostwriter – the following guide is exactly what you need.

Great Books Only Exist Because of the Author and Many Times That Author Hired a Ghostwriter to Get it Done

Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People was written with Ken Shelton. Richard Branson in Losing My Virginity acknowledges Edward Whitley. Howard Schultz’s Onward was penned by Joanne Gordon. Many of the top-selling CEO and celebrity books are penned by someone else, but the book could not exist without the author. The ghostwriter provides the words, and sometimes some supplemental research, but not the expertise, not the story, nor the advice in the pages.

That’s all you, the author. If you hate writing, don’t have the time to do it, or you just know you aren’t the best person for the job, a talented ghostwriter could be the right solution for you.

A ghostwriter is someone who can write your book, in your words. Good ghostwriters work hard to capture your voice to create a first draft.

So, what exactly does a great ghostwriter do?

First, the ghostwriter needs to flush out the concept for the book. Which means, identifying the ideal reader, and the hook of the book. Working with the author, the ghostwriter will create the outline for the book.

Second, the ghostwriter has to get the content from the author. Usually, this involves interviewing the author extensively to capture their voice and expertise. The ghostwriter also will research the subject matter to supplement the content as needed.

At some point early on the writer will send a sample over to the author to check the tone of the writing. Then, they will put their head down and their hands to the keyboard and complete the first draft.

Finally, the writer then will take feedback on the full first draft from the author and rework the manuscript.

Once it’s a solid draft, it’s off the editors, and over to you, to review and revise.

If that sounds like exactly what you need help with, your next question probably is where can I find a ghostwriter to hire?

Ghostwriters are everywhere. Here are three ideas for where to find a great ghostwriter:

Number one, you can ask your friends who have written a book.

Some may disclose they worked with one; others may say something like, “Oh, I have a friend who worked with one.”

Number two, check out writing groups on LinkedIn and Facebook.

Many of the groups are closed groups, but if you write the admin and let them know what you’re looking for, they just might put up a post on your behalf. When I was hiring a ghostwriter for Book Launchers, I received about 20 highly-qualified applicants from a writers group one of the people on my team is a part of. It was a fantastic source.

Number three, Google business ghostwriters.

I connected with a few ghostwriting service companies when I was trying to find a very specific, skilled ghostwriter for one of our clients. The ghostwriting service companies can be great if you want to have one source for a bunch of potential writers.

Four, post a job where you might hire other freelancers, like Guru.com, Upwork.com, Reedsy.com or Scriptd.

Posting a job to hire a great ghostwriter could result in an overwhelming number of responses though. So, the next question you might ask is: How do you know when you’ve found a good ghostwriter?

We’ll cover that in a second but first, let’s explore what it can cost to hire a ghostwriter.

cost of hiring a great ghostwriterWhen Book Launchers first started, we only helped you write your book with writing coaches. We didn’t have ghostwriters on our team. Then one of our clients said, “I don’t want to be the one to put the words to my expertise.” I tried to argue the benefits of writing his book, but he insisted,  “It’s not a good use of my time. Find me a writer.”

My first call was to a ghostwriter I knew would be perfect for him. She’s written at least one Wall Street Journal bestseller. My client loved her, but her price tag of $50,000 to $60,000 was a bit of a budget killer. So I brought in another writer who was a well-respected sports biography ghostwriter. He couldn’t disclose a lot of his clients as many people don’t want you to know that they didn’t write their book. I expected him to be cheaper than the other one, not realizing that his books were actually top sellers – he just couldn’t disclose that he’d written them. He came in at $1 per finished word.

Most business books are somewhere around 50,000 to 75,000 words, so you can see how $1 a finished word could add up.

So, I expanded my search and I started interviewing all kinds of people who had ghostwriting experience. Most of the other quotes came in between $25,000 and $35,000 for a book. The cheapest ghostwriter I found, and they were a service, not a single writer, starting at $18,000.

When you understand that it will take most ghostwriters up to six months to write your book, the prices make sense. Great ghostwriters dedicate a lot of their life and time to this project.

If you come to a ghostwriter with all of that and ideas for the stories and the content you will put in the book – you’re going to save money because the writer can focus on writing the material. But, most authors aren’t that organized and need help doing that.

It’s not just a matter of putting words to the paper; it’s a matter of making sure they would be words that you, the real author of the book, would use.

Now, you can hire much cheaper writers. And the writing might even be half decent. We’ve hired great writers who could write really good books, but it only took two projects before we realized they only had one writing voice!

When you hire a ghostwriter you have to make sure they are writing in your voice. The issue is that it’s not your voice and that is so important. It’s not your book if it’s not your voice. And if someone writes in a different style than you would, then you have a mountain of work to do to redo it. Sure, you save money, but you add a whole lot of time, energy and effort to the entire project.

Bottom line: to get a skilled professional ghostwriter working on your book, you’re looking at a minimum of 25 cents per finished word. The average cost is going to be closer to 50 cents per word. The more experienced the writer and the more extensive the work you’re asking for them to do, the higher the price.

Now, how do you select a great ghostwriter?

With all of the other things figured out, including:

  • Your goals for the book,
  • What you need your writer to do,
  • Where you are going to find your ghostwriter,
  • Your desired (expected) timeline, and
  • How much you expect to pay,

now it’s time to uncover the secret to screening and choosing the best ghostwriter for your project.

This isn’t as easy as you might think because most people who hire ghostwriters don’t want you to know they didn’t write their book, so this presents a pretty big challenge.

How do you evaluate a ghostwriter’s work if they’re not allowed to tell you the books they’ve written?

hiring ghostwritersMany people think they just have to see what books someone has written and they will know if they are a good writer. Unfortunately, not only is that not as easy as you might think it is, the finished book is rarely anything like the first draft that the writer produces so it’s not a great evaluation of a writer.

The first challenge, however, is that most writers have signed some sort of non-disclosure and are unable to share what books they have actually worked on.

There’s a lot of ways to approach this when you often can’t find out the actual books a ghostwriter has written. Here’s how we hire at Book Launchers.

Number one, I put something in the job ad that acts as an initial screen.

For example, I ask a weird question, like their favorite fruit, or I request that they do not send a resume, but instead send a short writing sample. If they don’t follow that instruction, I immediately eliminate them. If they lack care and attention to detail when they should be showing their best self, it’s not a good sign for me.  It also screens people who take life too seriously.

Number two, I make sure that they’ve worked on similar projects.

Have they written several business books before? Not just articles, but full books. At Book Launchers we get a ton of applicants for our writing position from folks with deep non-fiction experience as journalists or bloggers but they have never written a book. I don’t want to be the training ground. Writing a full book is very different than writing articles.

I’m really looking for genre compatibility and experience writing full books. Bonus points if they have written multiple books for the same company or for the same author. That speaks to the fact that they produced work that warranted a continued relationship

Number three, send them a writing test.

This is the essential step to ensure that you are getting a writer that can capture your voice. There are a few ways to test out a writer. You can record yourself telling a story or teaching a key point. Don’t make it too long – this is a test, not a chapter. Get that transcribed using rev.com or temi.com and then send that to the prospective writer. Have them turn it into a short article so you can get a sense of how they will capture your voice into words. To make this is a good test have it be something that would potentially go in your book and give them the ideal audience you’d like it to appeal to.

Number four, If you liked what they wrote, set up a time to chat.

This is essentially a personality compatibility test. A great ghostwriter should come in curious about you and ready to ask questions. Plan to be the one to get the conversation rolling though. Things I like to ask of potential writers:

  • What do you love about writing non-fiction books? I’m looking for a writer that loves learning new things. Bonus points if they love to share that learning with others. There are people who LOVE writing non-fiction, telling fact-based stories, and really digging deep into areas they don’t know about. Those are the people I want to work with.
  • How do you approach a ghostwriting project? There isn’t a right answer but they need a process. If someone doesn’t have an approach at all, I will be concerned.
  • What’s your timeline and availability for a project? Some writers will take more than a year to write a book – so is that going to work for you.
  • Finally, how do you prefer to communicate with a client? Make sure this is how you want to communicate as well.

If everything looks good, you are almost ready to hire your ghostwriter, but I recommend checking a couple of references.

Ask their former client things like, “What was it like to work with them?” “What was challenging about working with the writer? “What did you have to do to help them with the project?” And then, even ask them, “What did you think the process was like?”

Now, before you hire them for the full project, you still may want to do a tester. Maybe you pay them to write an article for you. See if they can capture your voice before you hire them to write your full book. We have someone on our team to develop the book concept before we pair our client with a writer. Once their are paired with a writer we break the project up into three milestones. The first milestone is essentially a voice check and usually consists of the first two chapters of the book.


Final Tips for Hiring and Working with a Great Ghostwriter for Your Non-Fiction Book

hire a great ghostwriter for your nonfiction bookThere are so many ways ghostwriting can go wrong, but most of the problems that arise with ghostwriters are preventable with the above steps and a few other tips to help you get the most out of your writer.

1.     Be clear on your concept before you hire the writer. Some writers can help you flesh out the concept, but you can expect to pay a lot more for that work. Ultimately, it’s your job to create the concept and have a plan for how the book will flow. And then you need to help your writer capture your voice by providing materials you’ve written, talks you have given, or videos you’ve shot. The more they can get immersed in your voice, the easier it will be for them to write like as you would write.

2.     Plan to speak to them at least once a week for about 60-90 minutes. Any more and the writer won’t have time to digest it and put it into writing, but any less and it’s hard for the writer to stay connected to you and the project. Leaving your writer to work on your book for weeks and weeks at a time can create a disconnect.

3.     Review all the chapters carefully, but pay close attention to the first few chapters. Make sure your voice can be heard and that you are happy with the tone of the book. You don’t need to nitpick individual word choices, but you do need to make sure the book is following your plan and has your voice. If you see issues with the work early on, address it.

4.     The first draft is not going to be perfect – so give the writer room to breathe. Make sure the key elements of your stories, lessons, and ideas are being presented in your voice. Don’t worry about perfection. Remember, you’re getting a manuscript from the ghostwriter, not a book. The book is developed out of that through many iterations of editing. Some authors ride the writers so hard that the writer loses their ability to write because they struggle so hard to meet those expectations. There is a balance between giving the writer feedback and making sure the writer is motivated to keep going. Which leads me to the next point.

5.     Your writer is a human being. Being a professional writer doesn’t mean you suddenly aren’t afraid of being bad at what you do. Give them input and feedback to improve – don’t let things slide. At the same time, thank them, celebrate them, and be sure to tell them when they are writing something you think is great. It’s the human thing to do. And if you want the best work out of anyone, you should be celebrating the things they are doing right more than you’re pointing out all the things they need to improve.

One final note about working with a ghostwriter. You need to check your ego in favor of your book’s success.

We often have clients that demand a ‘technical writer’ or someone with ‘scientific or medical’ expertise. That is a fair expectation if your audience is limited to colleagues in your industry. But most of the time these authors want their book to be a bestseller and widely read. If you want your book to be widely read, you don’t want it full of fancy industry language.

A perfect example of the kind of writing you need can be found in Wired Magazine. They cover really technical subjects like biomechanics of athletes, electric car manufacturing, space travel, and more. And, they do it in a way that is interesting and easy to read. They speak to an intelligent reader, but not at a level that requires a PHD to understand.

Using big words unnecessarily is the quickest way to exclude the majority of readers. You need a writer that can take a complex concept and present it for a wider audience.

Good writing makes a reader turn the page, connect with the author, and rave about what they just learned. Remember that whether you’ve hired a writer or you’re writing your own book. It’s not about sounding smart, it’s about the connection with your reader.

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.


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4 Ways to Start a Chapter that Grab Your Reader’s Attention

How you start a chapter in your book is critical. It’s your opportunity to keep your reader, or lose them. If they are just browsing your book, it’s your chance to hook them in for the whole book.

One of our recent clients, to be unnamed, sent me the first draft of their book and 80 percent of the chapters started with the word I.

Chapter One. I experienced this.

Chapter Three. I was in a meeting.

Chapter Four. I saw the trend.

Do you see the trend?

Guess what? Your reader only cares about one person and it’s not you.

Of course, this book has your story in it and it has your perspective. But you can deliver it in a way that is fun and engaging to read and from the perspective of your reader. And, most importantly you want to start every single chapter off in a way that grabs your reader by their collar and compels them to read on!

Here are four ideas to start your chapter with words other than I and hook that reader, so they keep reading your book all the way through to the end.

Number one. Start in the middle of the action.

It was written on the wall of the bathroom. “Who in the school is fatter than Alex?

Looking around the room, I wondered if anybody else noticed that the speaker’s fly was undone.

She found it hard to breathe as she took a deep breath and started, “Mom, Dad …. I know this is not what you wanted for me.

Movies and TV throw you right into the middle of the action. They don’t start with a girl thinking about her date, they start in the middle of the date. There is tension, action, or drama in every opening scene that hooks you in and makes you need to know what comes next.

Number two. Start with an unusual point of view.

If you’re writing a book about fighting cancer, why not start from the perspective of the cancer cell and what it wants?

Maybe start from the perspective of the mutual fund company that decides to charge a front-end loaded fee and how they do it for their benefit to lock in the client and not help the client make a return? Can you tell I’m bitter?

Or, possibly you write from the perspective of a child explaining the adult concepts of divorce or financial freedom?

It’s a different point of view than what you or your reader might expect. It should make your reader curious.

Number three. Shock or surprise the reader with your idea.

93 percent of the people who do this one thing will make three times the money next year. And yet, you probably won’t do this one thing.

Stats are ok but if you’re opening up your chapter with a stat you better make it one that will make someone stop in their tracks. It’s better to present your idea and then support it with the surprising data you’ve uncovered.

Rather than statistics I like to find interesting facts you may not have thought about and give you the research to back it up later.

You should strive to be more like Bill Clinton in your business. No, I’m not talking about the scandal. I’m referring to the amount of emails he sent in his presidency.

Any guesses as to how many? He sent two emails in his presidency. Can you believe that?

But if you send less email you’ll get less email back.

Here’s another one.

The healthiest place on earth is an island in Japan. Okinawa has more than 450 people over 100 years old living there. They better have some good pension plans.

My favorite one is this:

Imagine if your wounds healed right before your eyes like they do for some superheroes. It’s not just in t.v and movies. There’s one animal with crazy fast healing powers. And it’s probably not one you’d ever guess. You want to keep reading that don’t you. And you’re wondering which one it is.

I challenge you to open up one or two chapters with something most people will not know. Surprise or shock them. Like the time I came home and my husband Dave had cleaned my bathroom. I was surprised.

Number four. Clearly tell them why this chapter’s important.

Hit them hard with this declaration or promise that this is the chapter that will make them rich. Happy. Faster. Fitter. Prettier. Smarter. More Popular, more loved, and more admired by their neighbors. Let them know that at the end of this chapter they will be better for it. And that should keep them reading or make them buy the book if they’re just browsing and that’s the paragraph they happen to glance at.

Change it up so each chapter has a different approach. Pay attention to what catches your attention in the books you read. How do you like chapters to start?

Which animal has super healing powers? It’s the. They have special bacteria that makes wounds heal right before their eyes. Surprising isn’t it?

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Fair Use of Copy right Information

Fair Use of Copyright Material – What Can You Use in Your Book?

If you’re writing a non-fiction book, you’re probably quoting other people’s work in your material. Or you’ve used other people’s work as a reference. In many cases, you’re probably interviewing people. Maybe on podcasts or over the phone to create content from that. So, what is considered fair use of copyrighted material, and what requires permission? And what is just outright not okay?

Criticism, New Reporting, Teaching, and Research

Fair use is covered under US copyright law. It says that brief excerpts of copyright material may, under certain circumstances, be quoted verbatim for purposes such as criticism, new reporting, teaching, and research. In those cases, you do not need to secure permission from the creator or copyright holder.

Fair use protects negative and positive comments and discussion. As an author, we will often refer to other books or works by others because something they wrote or created inspired us, and we want to refer to it or build upon it. That is fair use. But, keep in mind the word brief.

There’s no word limit. It comes down to the amount of material used must be reasonable given that purpose. In other words, it’s a judgment call.

US copyright law does not require attribution, but how would you feel if someone quoted your words or references your work, but didn’t give you credit? So give your fellow authors a shout out!

Fair Use of Copyright Material to Support Your Point

What about to support your point, which is how a lot of us authors will use copyrighted material? Fair use applies when copyrighted material is being used to illustrate, support, or prove an argument or point. But again, there are some limitations as to what this can cover.

You can’t use someone else’s work for decorative purposes. As it pertains to the body of your book work, you’ll need permission to use copyright material for anything but to support your argument, period. It can entertain while supporting your argument, but it’s not just to be for entertainment. It’s also subject to that reasonable amount of reproduction test.

What about charts and graphs?

One fun fact covered in the Fair Use Guide by the Author’s Alliance is about charts and graphs.

Charts, graphs, and tables may be protected by copyright, but the underlying facts are not copyrightable. My interpretation (I’m not a lawyer) is that you can’t copy someone else’s chart or graph and reprint it without permission. But, you can create your own with the facts given.

Creative choices in the way those facts are presented in a chart or graph might be original enough to warrant copyright protection of your own.

For more copyright protection for your book visit this article.

It’s important to note, copyright does not protect ideas, processes, facts, systems, principles, or discoveries. Copyright protects only the expression contained in work.

So I think the only question that remains here is what do you do if you want to use someone else’s work and it doesn’t fall under fair use? I think the answer is one of three choices:

  1. You can ask them for permission,
  2. Look for other works that can be used under certain licenses of use,
  3. Or find material that’s no longer covered by copyright or the copyright expired.

Or, something I often encourage Book Launchers clients to do is to just make up something awesome of your own. Why quote someone else’s research or brilliant ideas, when you can quote your work?

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