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Writing and Publishing

Tips for Ghostwriting Books

ghostwriting

I’ve ghostwritten a couple of books and enjoyed doing so. The payment is almost always a fixed rate, paid in installments. The first payment is required to start the work, and the final payment is due when the writer submits the finished product to the author. (The person who hires you is the author—you are the writer).

The number of installments for ghostwriting books is up to you and the author. Two, three, or four are common, but my last book was in ten installments (per the author’s suggestion). Also, try to frontload the installments so that you receive more money in the beginning. That way if things don’t work out, the author changes their mind, or they stop paying, then you have received most of your compensation.

Don’t write on spec or have it contingent on them getting a book deal. Also, avoid a 100 percent revenue share based on books sold. Though you could negotiate a base fee plus a revenue share unless the author has a large platform and can sell books, assume there will never be any significant revenue for them to share with you. So make your base fee large enough to make the project worthwhile.

Two related items: When it comes to ghostwriting books, always have a contract that states your fee, the installment amounts and dates, and details of what is and isn’t included. A basic “work-for-hire” agreement should work. (Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice.)

The other item is to be aware that you are selling your words and cannot claim them as your own or reuse them for another purpose. (Though a nice author may share the byline with you or acknowledge you were the writer.)

I hope this helps, and I wish you the best.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

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Writing and Publishing

Third-Person Omniscient Point of View

Third-person omniscient is out of favor. Do you wonder why?

While we could attribute it to a trend, the best explanation I have is that we’re so conditioned to watching TV and movies, which limit us to the camera’s vantage (third-person limited, if you will), that as readers we expect books to do the same thing.

When I began writing back in the dark ages, I preferred the omniscient voice because third-person limited seemed, well, too limiting. Third-person omniscient was also easier to write because it didn’t restrict me to one point-of-view per scene.

However, those days are gone, and few books published today use omniscient point-of-view. I once heard a podcast recording with Jerry Jenkins, and he said third-person omniscient was “archaic.” That convinced me.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

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Writing and Publishing

Citing Sources for Quotes in Books

Sources for Quotes

Each chapter in my friend’s book starts with a quotation. Most of the quotes came from internet sites. She wonders if she needs to include a page citing sources where she obtained each quote. Here’s what I said to her.

For Traditionally Published Books

For traditionally published books, your publisher will have its own requirements for you to follow. And each publisher likely has a different approach. In addition, they also have a legal team that will help keep you and them out of legal trouble.

In general, they will want you to attribute your source. I’ve even heard of one publisher who insisted on a signed release for each quotation. This is burdensome and a good reason to not use quotations.

For Indie Published Books

If you are indie-publishing your book, my opinion (not legal advice) is to cite all your sources. In my books, I try to avoid using any quotes, in any way, from any source. That’s the surest way to avoid getting sued for plagiarism.

However, in your case, this gets messy because the website where you found the quote may have copied it from someone else—that is, they stole it from the original author. Then you perpetuate their plagiarism—and their crime.

Final Thoughts about Citing Sources

If you can remove the quote and put the concept in your own words, that might be your best approach.

I am not a lawyer, so this is not legal advice about citing sources. It’s just my opinion. For a great resource on this subject—as well as other important legal considerations for writers—check out Helen Sedwick’s excellent book Self-Publisher’s Legal Handbook.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

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Writing and Publishing

Tips for Periodical Submission Success

Periodical Submission Success

To submit content to print publications, the first thing is to familiarize yourself with the target publication. Look at the type of content they print, how long each item runs, the style they use, and their tone. To make your periodical submission a success, your goal is to match those characteristics as closely as you can.

Periodical Submission Guidelines

Publications that accept unsolicited submissions will have their submission guidelines posted on their website. Read those and follow their expectations precisely.

If they don’t have their submission guidelines posted, it’s likely they don’t accept unsolicited submissions. Though you could email (or even call) them to find out, you’re more likely to irritate them. Never email them with a submission question until you’ve thoroughly scoured their website looking for an answer.

Before You Submit Your Article

If they accept submissions, then before you submit your content, proofread it carefully, and have someone with writing experience review it too.

Then send your periodical submission without further delay in the manner they specify.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

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Writing and Publishing

Writing a Book Versus Blogging

Book Versus Blogging

If you want to write a book and blog, what should you do? It’s a book versus blogging debate. Too many writers starting out try to do both and end up doing neither one well. Or they try to write a book before they’re ready.

Then they end up with something not suitable for publication, waste a lot of time, and cause much frustration. That’s assuming they finish the book, but more likely is that they’ll give up before they finish—because they’re not yet ready to write a book.

Unless you’ve done a lot of writing—say about one million words and invested about 10,000 hours honing your skill—I recommend you start with blogging or writing short articles, essays, or flash fiction.

Blogging and short pieces offer several advantages:

  • Blog posts are short and easy to write.
  • Blogging is a great way to hone our writing skills and find our voice.
  • Feedback is quick.
  • Errors are easy to fix.
  • Bloggers develop a habit of writing regularly, even when they don’t feel like it.
  • Blogging according to a schedule—which is what all bloggers should do—helps prepare us to meet deadlines.
  • Blogging prepares us to write longer pieces, up to the length of a book.

There are many other benefits associated with blogging, but these are some of the key ones, which is why I recommend that you start with blogging or writing other short pieces. Save the book for later.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.