Find answers to my most commonly asked questions
What’s a master wordsmith? And what makes you one?
In the olden days of true craftspeople, a person would spend years mastering their craft, working their way up from apprentice to journeyman to master. Master craftsmen and artisans were renowned for their immense experience, hard-won wisdom, and most importantly the high quality of their work. A master would rather lose a hand than produce shoddy craftsmanship. Certain high-level metalworkers were called master blacksmiths, silversmiths, or goldsmiths; as I work with the written word, have spent years mastering it, and share the ironclad dedication to quality that the old masters lived by, I am the master wordsmith.
For more about me and how I work, please visit the About page.
Have you written any books yourself?
I have! My first book, Buy Once, Cry Once: How Shortcuts Cost You In The Long Run, was published in August 2017, and I’m currently at work on my second. I’ve also contributed forewords or chapters to a number of other books. To see those, check out My Books.
I’m a coach / fitness trainer / accountant / architect / therapist / something else that doesn’t involve writing. Can you help me with a book?
Sure thing! Just because your business or calling doesn’t involve a lot of writing doesn’t mean that you can’t—or shouldn’t—write a book.
It may mean that you’ll need some specific guidance in writing it (book coaching), someone to help you revise and polish the draft after you’ve written it (editing) or someone to take the burden of writing off your back by doing it for you (ghostwriting). And I can provide any or all of those. What’s really important, though, is that you have something uniquely yours to say about what you do that can help, heal, ease, inspire, excite, guide, solve problems for, or provide advice to your audience. If you’ve got that, the rest is just logistics and time.
What kinds of books have you worked on? How successful were they?
I’ve worked on books on a variety of topics, from internet marketing and personal development to life insurance to the right way to adopt a dog. The majority of the ones I’ve helped with have helped their authors grow businesses, attract new clients, and build authority that has lasted for years so far. One even became a Wall Street Journal bestseller.
Feel free to check out some of them on the Portfolio page.
Do you write anywhere else? Have you done any guest posts or interviews?
Why is the quality of my book so important? What about the marketing? Isn’t it better to write something decent enough and then market it really hard?
In a word, no. Podcaster and author Srinivas Rao has a quote about this topic that sums it up way better than I could: “You can’t hide shitty art behind great marketing.” If you half-ass a book and then market it to a huge audience, all you’re doing is telling a lot of people that you couldn’t be bothered to write a book that actually gives them real value—and thus that you don’t really care about them, only their buying power. How many of those people do you think will bother to buy from you, hire you, ask you to speak at their event, or recommend your business to their friends after that? (Hint: not many.)
Yes, marketing is hugely important, both for your book and your business. By all means have a solid book marketing plan and a system that helps the book market your business. But if you don’t have a quality book first, all the marketing in the world will be a waste of your money and time.
Why should I work with you? How are you different from Book in a Box, Self-Publishing School, Authority Self-Publishing, or any other book creation program or guru?
Great question! I’m different from each of those and most others like them for a bunch of different reasons, but in general it comes down to three factors:
- Complete customization. Many other programs only offer either a one-size-fits-all program or a do-it-our-way-or-else system to get a book written. Very few people or programs offer both the structure to support many different clients and the flexibility to treat each one as an individual whose specific needs matter.
- Personal attention and guidance. Many other programs are either largely DIY by the author or largely hands-off for the author. Again, I provide a third option, where you as the author can be as involved as you want to be—and no matter what level that is, you’ll always receive personal guidance and communication from me.
- Dedication to quality. Finally, most other programs care mainly about just getting the book done as fast as possible and then marketing the hell out of it to achieve a flashy but largely meaningless accolade. I believe that method does way more harm than good. I prefer to focus on making sure the book itself is of good quality first, and then using that quality to position you, the author, as an authority worthy of real accolades (not to mention excellent business growth).
You can absolutely work with any of those other programs, and you’ll almost certainly pay them less than you’d pay me, but you’ll also miss at least one of these three things with them. Your call.
You talk about partnership and working together quite a bit. What does it mean to be partners in book creation? Why does that matter?
Another great quote that sums up this issue better than I could have is by Irish editor Peter Fallon: “I see the relationship between author and editor…not as a duel but a duet.” A four-hand piano piece, a two-person improv skit, and a basic business transaction would be pretty worthless if only one of their participants showed up, right? And while a duel would be similarly wasted with only one participant, a duet also means that we’re working together, not against each other.
If we work together, we will create a beautiful and powerful and high-value product that by definition requires both of us to be produced. You are an expert in your topic—a master coach or speaker or business owner or entrepreneur. I am an expert in the medium of writing—a master wordsmith. Without you, I can only work for myself. Without me, you can’t produce work at the highest level of quality you want. Without each other, we’re each only playing half the piece. But together, we can produce something better than either of us could make alone.
What about writing a bestseller? I’ve heard the way to build your authority is to be a bestselling author, but you haven’t mentioned that once.
I haven’t mentioned it because we don’t use that word much around here. Being a bestseller is the largely meaningless accolade I mentioned above.
– The New York Times and Wall Street Journal lists are great goals to aim for, but trying to reach them often means spending six figures just on your marketing even if you already have an immense following—for no guarantee of success.
– Amazon’s bestseller system is so easy to hack that it’s basically a participation ribbon these days—yes, it can get your book a lot of free or cheap publicity, which isn’t a bad thing, but the actual title of “Amazon bestseller” means next to nothing.
– Most importantly, bestseller status is something most of the slick, salesy book marketing gurus say is way more important than a book’s quality will ever be, and around these parts of the interwebs, them’s fightin’ words. The B-word is worse than the F-word on this site.
If you want to write a high-quality book and then use Amazon hacks or a big book marketing company to help market it to some kind of bestseller status, that’s fine. But a book doesn’t need to be a bestseller to help grow your business or build your authority, and if your main/only goal in writing a book is to become a bestselling author, we will not work well together.
Will I only need one of those services, or can they stack/bundle?
There is some potential for overlap. It’s fairly common for book coaching or ghostwriting clients, for instance, to also want editing for the same book. (It’s a before/after thing.) But other than that, the services tend to stand alone.
How do your services work? What’s the difference between editing, book coaching and ghostwriting?
I go into a lot more detail on the Services page, but the Cliff Notes version is that book coaching helps you write the book, editing improves the book after you’ve written it, and ghostwriting writes the book for you.
What about book design/narration/book marketing? Do you also provide those services?
I don’t personally, but I know many people who do and I’ll be happy to connect you with them. Check out my Resources page to find a few of them.
What about other writing or editing services? Can you write my blog posts or edit my website copy?
I can, but books are my main focus. More likely I know someone who specializes in blog or article work and would fit your needs better. Don’t worry, I’ll connect you.
Do you work on fiction books?
No, but again, I know many people who do. If you need a book coach or editor for fiction, I’ll do my best to connect you with someone who does that. Drop me a line on my Contact page and I’ll hook you up.
Will you publish my book/write my book proposal/introduce me to agents/connect me with a publishing company?
You talk a lot about books for businesses. Do you also work on memoirs or other types of books?
Absolutely! If you have a memoir or other non-fiction book you’d like help with, I’d be happy to talk with you about it. Book a call with me here.
If I hire you as a ghostwriter, will I have to put your name on my book?
It’s a standard practice for ghostwriters and co-authors to be named on the covers of books they do the majority of the writing for, and it’s my preference to follow that practice. But it’s not a deal-breaker if you only want your name on the book. We can discuss it on your free 30-minute call.
Do I have to sign a contract to work with you?
Yes—two, in fact. One is a Master Client Services Agreement, which governs our working relationship for a year, and the other is a Statement of Work, which defines the specific project we’ll work on. If we finish that project and start another, you’ll sign a new Statement of Work. These contracts are in place to protect both of us, and to put everything about our work together in writing for easy reference.
How long does it take to create or edit a book with you?
It varies from project to project. Most book coaching projects take between 3 and 6 months. Editing tends to run 2-4 months. Ghostwriting can be anywhere from 4 to 12 months. Schedules tend to run on the longer side so that we can incorporate flexibility from week to week and month to month as needed, and projects can also be extended if necessary. That being said, we absolutely respect deadlines here, and if you need a project finished by a certain date, we can make that happen. Please see the Services page for more info.
What’s a project evaluation and how does it work?
The project or manuscript evaluation is the transition step between talking with me about a project and actually starting that project. In it, I will evaluate your book draft, outline, strategy, and/or plan in depth, and put together a comprehensive evaluation report of your project’s needs, including a proposed timeline and price quote. For book coaching, this evaluation includes a preliminary book creation strategy; for editing, it includes a sample edit of approx. 2,000 words; and for ghostwriting it includes a sample written chapter of approx. 2,000 words. This allows me to get a sense for what you’ll need from me, and you to get a sense for what working with me will be like, before any major commitments are made. Most evaluations take 1-2 weeks to complete.
A project evaluation costs between $1,000 and $3,000, depending on what kind of project it applies to. This is so I don’t have to work for free. But so you don’t pay me twice for the same work, the evaluation fee is then deducted from the full fee of any project we start within 30 days of the evaluation.
Why do I have to apply to get on a call with you?
How much does it cost to work with you?
The investment to work with me varies depending on a number of factors, including how long the book is (or will be), how much research, interviewing, or external content is involved, how quickly you want the book done, how much work the book needs according to my evaluation, and so on. But I am a high-end service provider that gives my clients immense value, and I don’t apologize for charging prices commensurate with that value.
Specifically, my editing packages start between $3,000-$5,000, my book coaching packages start at $2,000/month with a 3-month minimum, and my ghostwriting packages start at $15,000. And it’s not uncommon for those prices to be higher, especially for longer books or projects.
Alright, if working with you is an investment, what kind of ROI will I see?
I’ll be honest: unless you’ve got a huge email list or audience already, or you’re an in-demand speaker who can sell tons of books from the stage, you probably won’t see a lot of money in book sales. You’ll get some, sure, especially if you also invest in some kind of book marketing. But you probably won’t get enough to live on, or even to cover your investment in working with me. In fact, if your only goal in writing a book is to get rich from selling it, you will lose money on that proposition nine times out of eight.
But don’t panic. Books like the ones we’ll create aren’t supposed to make money from sales. In fact, you’ll probably make more by giving them away than by trying to sell them! Why? Because when you use a high-quality book to position yourself as a dynamic, reliable, expert authority in your field, the new clients, referrals, repeat business, speaking or consulting gigs, and raving fans that book will help draw to you will make you more money than just book sales could ever have gotten you. And it won’t just do that once. It will keep doing it for the rest of your career.
If you ask me, that’s an ROI well worth investing in.
Really? Isn’t that kind of steep? Are those prices flexible at all?
Yes, it is steep…if you’re looking for a quick, cheap, DIY book creation program that you can run through in 30 days to create a flash-in-the-pan Amazon hack that no one but you will remember this time next year. If you’re looking to build a high-quality asset that will turn your words into profit for years to come, it would be a steal at twice those prices.
Also, remember that everything you pay me is a tax-deductible business expense. If you were going to pay that money to the IRS anyway, wouldn’t you rather use it to create a business asset instead? I call sticking it to the tax man and building your business’s foundation at the same time a serious win-win.
That being said, sometimes there can be flexibility. If your draft only needs proofreading and light copy editing rather than heavy language and content work, for example, I probably won’t charge as much to do that because it won’t take me as long. Or if you already have all of your research material and recorded interviews ready before we start, I may cut you a break on a ghostwriting fee for saving me all of that work. Bundling book coaching and editing together also will save some money on both. But a full project usually incurs a full project investment.
Do you have a money-back guarantee?
No. In fact, all payments for my services are non-refundable. But what I do have is a total satisfaction guarantee: if you aren’t happy with our work, we aren’t done working yet. And if that means that a project needs to be extended, while I can’t do that for free, I will cut you a sizeable discount on the extension in the name of making things right.
Plus, as I mentioned above, you’ll be writing this off on your taxes no matter what. So it doesn’t actually cost a penny to work with me…but it may cost a fortune not to.