Archive

The Writing Business


The Difference Between a Query Letter and a Book Proposal

Before you write to either a publisher or to an agent, it is important to know the difference between a query letter and a book proposal.

A query letter is a request for a publisher to read your proposal for a request for reading your fiction book and a book proposal is a proposal for a request for reading your nonfiction book. A query letter is usually written after a fiction book is written and a book proposal is often written before the book is written. Since you have written a book of fiction, if you are going the traditional publishing route, you will be writing a query letter.

Of course, you no longer have to go the traditional publishing route. Many people are self-publishing or going through small press publishers or even doing what is called hybrid publishing which is a cross between traditional publishing or self-publishing. This post, however, is about how to contact a publisher or agent.

What is the difference between a publisher, an editor, and an agent?

A publisher can refer to an organization or the individual in charge of an organization which releases books. However, an editor is an individual who works with authors directly. In cases where the publisher refers to an organization, it simply means the publishing company as a whole which employs many editors. Editors are the people who work to adapt your book to the publisher’s audiences.

A literary agent (also known as book agents or publishing agents) act as authors’ representatives for the sale and/or licensing of their books with large domestic publishers. As well as smaller domestic publishers. These individuals work to connect you with the publisher and then help negotiate the contract between you and the publisher.

To secure either the services of a publisher or an agent, you can’t just call them up and ask them if you if they will accept you and your book. You have to write a query and send it to them.

It used to be that in order to send a query letter, you had to mail it in and wait weeks for a reply. Now days, contacting literary agents and publishers are usually done via e-mail. You send the query letter and then they let you know whether they want you to submit your manuscript. They may also want to do it some other way. The best way to find out how they want you to submit your manuscript would be by reading their submission guidelines.

Look at a publisher or agent’s website before submitting a query letter or your manuscript.

Study the publisher or agent’s website and learn everything you can about what this person accepts and doesn’t accept. If this agent focuses on selling science fiction, don’t try to get this agent to represent you if you write historical romances. If a publisher doesn’t publish horror, don’t think that that publisher is going to change for you!

The better you’re known by the publisher or agent, the more likely they are to represent you. However, even if they do represent your genre, don’t think that harassing them is going to make them represent you. Calling them on the phone and asking to speak to someone in charge could be a nail in your authorship coffin.

So how do you meet a publisher or an agent? You might go to an event where publishers or agents are present and get to know them at a writer’s conference.

It is also possible that you could get to know them through someone you already know. If you know another author who has published through a specific publisher or has been represented by a specific agent, that person might just be the connection you need.

Whether you’re contacting a publisher or an agent, your query letter should be perfectly written, but that will be a message for another blog post.  First, before writing the query letter, you’ll need to work on dressing up your bio. That will be the topic of next week’s post.


Where to find a Good Editor

Some of us are lucky in that we know people who make good editors for your work. However, not everyone is that lucky, but there is a solution if you’re willing to look around for the right person for your editing job. Hundreds of websites exist where you can find literally thousands of editors. Some of the top sites include:

Upwork.com

Guru.com

freelancer.com

Choose a Freelancing Site to Post Your Job

Upwork is the biggest website in the world created specifically to connect freelance contractors with small businesses, entrepreneurs, authors and artists. registered with the site. Guru.com and Freelancer.com are both much smaller.

Now that you have figured out where you want to post your job, it’s time to post your job so that freelancers can apply to do the work for you.

You may not find an exact match for the type of work you’re looking to find, but you should do your best to make sure you pick the most relevant category so you can find the most experienced freelancers to help with your project.

Naming the Job Posting

When you name your job posting, make sure to be as specific as possible so that you can attract the right freelancers and automatically weed out contractors who are not a good fit for your project. Posting something generic like “Looking for an editor for my book” is a bad idea because you will end up getting tons of freelancers applying who may edit fiction when you have a non-fiction book, or vice versa.

Try to include as much detail as you can when selecting a name for your job. For instance, if you write historical fiction, you would want to be as specific as possible. If it were me, I would write something like: Looking for a freelancer who specializes in Early American Historical Fiction.

Writing the Job Description

Next, it’s time to write a job description to clearly explain what kind of work you need done and what kind of freelancer would be a good fit for your project.

Ask for information like the individuals experience and background as an editor, a list of titles that person has edited, preferably with links to Amazon or another retailer so you can review his or her work. Be sure to ask for a list of references. Also ask for a description of the kind of editing where this person feels that he or she would most excel.

Include in your job description the type of experience level you require for the job. Tell them what kind of editing skills you are requiring. If you’ve utilized good beta readers before looking for your editor, you might just want to find someone who just proofreads. Make sure only to include skills here that are absolutely necessary for the job. The more exact the description of what type of editor you want, the easier you can eliminate those who would be inappropriate.

How to Pay Freelancers

You want to determine how you’ll pay your freelance editor. You’ll either hire them at an hourly rate or a fixed price per project. I recommend a fixed price for most projects so that you can estimate your exact costs ahead of time, rather than paying an hourly rate and not knowing how much it’s actually going to cost you until the work is done.

Invite the Best Editors to Your Job Posting

Once you’ve filled out all the information above and posted your job listing, you’ll be able to invite top freelance editors to edit your work. Go through and invite at least 5-10 top contractors who you think would be a good fit for your job. The best of the best usually never apply for jobs. They only consider work they have been invited to do. So, if you want to work with the best editors and freelancers, you need to invite them to work with you!

Review Job Proposals from Editors

Once you have posted your job and invited a few top freelancers, you should start seeing editors applying to work with you within 24 hours.

What to Consider when Reviewing Editor Applications

Job Success Rate

Work Experience

A Well-written Profile Essay

Their Work History

Send a Message Test

If everything checks out, send a message test. Send the editor a quick note.

Send an email to test if they respond quickly and to take the conversation to your email inbox where you can easily exchange phone numbers or Skype details and schedule a call.

Schedule a Phone Interview with the Editor

If the editor responds to and passes the Message Test, send an email to schedule a time to interview the editor over the phone.

During the Call

During the call, determine if you get along with this person. If they are argumentative, talk too much, don’t listen or are rude, you can immediately tell it’s not a good fit and move on.

Do they show up on time for the appointment?

Are they really interested in you and your book? If the editor doesn’t ask questions about you and your book, they probably aren’t interested enough in editing books to do great work.

Interview Questions

Tell me about your editing experience…

How long have you been working as an editor?

What do you love most about being an editor?

What kind of editing work are you most experienced with?

Do you mostly edit fiction or non-fiction?

What are the most common mistakes you see authors of books like mine making?

What does your typical editing process look like for a book like mine?

How quickly can you turn around my manuscript if it is 80,000 words in length?

How do you normally charge for work like this?

After you’ve asked all these questions and any other questions you’d like to ask, give them time to ask more questions about you and your work.

If you can tell right away it’s not going to be a good fit, feel free to let them know and move on to interviewing another editor so you can find a good fit.

I recommend interviewing at least 3-5 editors before trying to select the best one for you. This will ensure you get as much experience as possible and can see what options are out there. Hiring the first editor you talk to is usually a good recipe for spending too much and not getting the right editor for the job.

After you’ve conducted your interviews, it’s time for one last step: the sample edit.

Get a Sample Edit

After your interviews, you’ll want to ask each editor you’re still considering working with for a sample edit. A sample edit is a free edit for about 1,500 to 2,000 words of your book so that the editor can show you their skills and the kind of comments and suggestions you should expect if you hire them to edit your entire book.

If you’re a first-time author and have never hired an editor before, don’t hire an editor without first getting a sample edit. An editor can have a great resume and speak eloquently on the phone, but the real test of their skills is how they edit your book, and the sample edit is a quick, free way to find out.

Remember Self-Editing

Before you send your book to the editor, do at least one extra round of edits by yourself. The more you can hone your manuscript, fix typos and grammatical errors and improve your book, the more time your editor can spend on important edits and suggestions and the less it will cost you overall.

Hiring Your Editor

After the interviews and sample edits, it’s time to hire your editor. You will definitely want to create and have both parties sign a legal contract that clearly states the editing services being provided, the amount you will pay, how much time the editor has to perform the work, and other basic information.

Working with Your Editor

After your editor sends back the edited manuscript with tracked changes and comments, the first thing you’ll want to do is read through all the edits and comments and accept or reject any changes. After you read through the edits and make a few updates, schedule a call with the editor to discuss the book.

Proofreading

After you’ve gone through the editing process, hire another person as a proofreader or have your editor do that final proofreading.

Now your manuscript is ready to send out to agents or publishers or to format for self-publishing.

Get Your Copy of The Comprehensive Novel Editing Checklist

If you have a first draft that you would love to publish this year, be sure to pick up a copy of my novel editing checklist and if you haven’t already, sign up to make sure that you never miss a post of this editing series. 


newsstand

There are probably as many ways to promote indie books as there are indie authors. Here is what worked and didn’t work for me.

What Didn’t Work?

Many Different things I have done to promote my books didn’t work
I did a lot of things that many people suggested. First, I tried to give away my books on KDP select. It really didn’t work for me. The KDP count down was even more disappointing.

I had read that if I would just write my books and just keep putting out books I would gradually build up book sales. This didn’t work either. Instead of having one book that no one read, I had eleven.

I was also told to do book signings. They told me to do all that I could to promote those events. I did. Book signings at bookstores were totally unfruitful. I was told to get out on the radio and do podcasts. Isolated practice, those didn’t produce sales either.

I put one of my books out on click bank. That didn’t work either.

Advertising on Facebook or Twitter Ads doesn’t work either. Nor does adding my books to static online websites that take money for having my books on their sites. All that did was lighten my already near-empty pockets.

Book Promotion Tactics that Worked

Using memes on social media. Creating memes is fun. I am glad that Tierney James showed me this little trick for getting attention on Facebook and Twitter.

Write a Review Sunday (see next week’s post)

Social Media

My connections on twitter and LinkedIn seem far more fruitful than my connections on Facebook. My Facebook connections are more friends and family whereas LinkedIn and Twitter are more business associations.

On LinkedIn, I would say that my connections are relationships from the publishing arena whereas twitter are authors who help (and who I help back) with motivation and inspiration.

LinkedIn connected me with another author who I helped edit the first book in his series.

Press Releases to Local Markets

I write my own press releases for my local markets. I write them for where I live now, but I also write them for places where I used to live. I slant my press releases to the locals.
I learned to blitz my book launches with posters, press releases, radio talk shows, podcasts, in succession. Each one individually seemed to do little, but using several different approaches seemed to help get the word out better.

I recently started making a concerted effort to reach out to help other authors do their work. For instance, I recently completely edited another author’s book.

My Dream for the Future

Soon, I would like to include video training and do more podcasting with other writers. I would like to do more work for other authors as well. I have a lot of experience in editing and formatting books and I can see how I could develop a publishing business based on these specific talents. Plus, as I dig deeper into the marketing aspects of book publicity, I should be able to help authors in this capacity as well.

Finally, I would like to create a series of online courses that show wannabes how to become successful authors and entrepreneurs. The online courses would be from teaching how to structure a novel to hiring talented help where you need it to setting up an author business tools, to structuring your online platform, to planning out your day among other things.


For a long time, I have been thinking about starting my own publishing company. I have been thinking about it since I finished writing my first book and while I was in college. I want the business to be author-centric. In other words, I want it to be a company where authors are the owners rather than just a commodity of the publishing business.
Since 2010, I have been learning how to self-publish. I made a lot of mistakes, but I learned from them, and I know I can help others avoid many of the mistakes that I made.

Over a year ago, I started writing a business plan. I decided that it would be best if the business was a corporation and I decided that it would be best if this corporation was an S corporation.
I also thought of a name for the business I decided to call it Jerjoboch Publications.
Then I got stuck. I got stuck because I was too busy writing books to find enough time to learn what I needed to learn about building a business.
I also needed money. You can’t establish a corporation without spending some money. However, I didn’t have the money to invest, nor did I feel that I had enough followers or connections with fellow authors to make this dream come true.
Because I needed to know more about marketing, since the end of NaNoWriMo last November, I have been researching that subject.

I have learned that one of the first things that I need to know is who my customers are. My customers are self-published authors who want to take charge of their own books and earn accordingly.

 

Starting last month, I have been reaching out to fellow self-published authors whose goal is to be in control of their own publishing fate. I am looking for authors who would like to form a corporation where we can work together to build an online self-published author nurturing center, a self-publishing author publishing company, an author PR firm and an author promotions company. In other words a corporation dedicated to helping authors control their own destiny.

Write a Book and Ignite your Business_red

Do you have the dream of self-publishing a book, but you don’t know where to start or what to do next? Contact me at cygnetbrown@gmail.com and we’ll see what we can do to help you. You can also check out the book I wrote about the writing process directed toward business owners who are considering self-publishing as well. Check it out at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B076NWLTSP

%d bloggers like this: