Think of life as a round circle, like a pizza pie. One slice of the pie is your area of core competence, perhaps even genius. It’s what you do so well. Next to that slice is another slice of equal size, what you know you don’t know. For example, I know I cannot add, subtract or cook anything edible.
Then there’s the rest of the pie, the three-quarters of things in life that we don’t even know we don’t know anything about. In that mysterious realm, for most people, lie the secrets to successful book writing, publishing and marketing.
That is where far too many prospective authors fall victim to those birds of prey poised to swoop down from the sky (or perhaps more accurately, the Internet cloud) and take advantage of them, like the sharp-beaked scavengers they truly are.
These inexperienced, “virginal” would-be authors often have a wonderful story to tell—be it a memoir, a business book, a medical, spiritual or other kind of inspirational tome. They most likely will need help from a ghostwriter or editor, a publisher, and a publicist. Not knowing where to turn, not having anyone with similar experience to ask, they search the internet, only to find a plethora of slick advantage taking scamsters and scoundrels.
For anywhere for around $30,000 to $50,000—in some cases much more—these individuals or companies promise the world. Only a tiny portion of their hefty fee go to the actual ghostwriter or editor who does the main work. This means that the writers or editors in their “stables” are essentially desperate people who are obliged to accept substandard fees. As a result they often produce sub-standard work, either because of their mediocre skills or because of the volume of work they have to take on to make an actual living.
At no time do these companies tell their new clients the truth about what it takes, in today’s highly competitive climate especially, to garner meaningful attention for any book, whether traditionally published or self-published. This is a new day, you guys, and social media sells books. Proactive outreach to traditional and social media outlets and book reviewers by hiring a publicist on your own expense will be necessary, along with social and digital media.
If all you want is a simple family history to pass down to your kids and kids’ kids with lots of photos, that’s fine. But if you want a really well-written book that can gain a wide readership, be it non-fiction or fiction, here’s my advice: “Wake up and smell the mendacity,” as Big Daddy says in Tennessee William’s novel and play and motion picture, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. In another analogy, don’t just hitchhike with drivers you don’t know and risk being taken for a dangerous dead-end ride. There are better options. I am saddened when I hear stories of how people were taken in by unscrupulous firms. Since they never get what they paid for, they wind up believing that all ghostwriters, entrepreneurial publishers and book publicists are untrustworthy and just out to take advantage of them.
I have ghostwritten 45 books so far. I’ve gotten them published and promoted in the best possible ways. My authors are happy campers, as they would tell you. I am not for everyone, but at least I am honest, and my clients get exactly what they pay for, and more.
When you catch a glimpse of “What you don’t even know that you don’t know,” call me. Knowledge is power.