LifeLines is all about “helping you share your story,” whether you are a business trying to attract customers, a ministry trying to encourage donations, or an interesting person who wants to write her memoirs. Most of the queries I get from potential clients are related to the process involved in writing/editing/publishing books, since that is still the most widely understood method of sharing a story.
Since I get some of the same questions over and over, I thought I’d start a series highlighting them and then providing the answers. Let’s start with—
“Can you help me get my book published?”
The short answer is Yes, but I’ll give the long answer here, since it’s more helpful. Often the people who ask this question are sending me a manuscript, or at least a sample chapter, and they are asking me to review it and give my opinion. I’m usually willing to do this—although the time when someone sent me a 526-page PDF, I did not promise to read the whole thing!
My answer to the question varies a little bit, depending on what the manuscript is actually about, and how well it’s written, and how sincere the person is about wanting help (as opposed to just affirmation). But below is the general answer that pretty much applies to everyone:
Know your goal
The world of book publishing has changed a lot, and would-be authors have a lot more options available now than we used to. Social media, e-publishing, and print-on-demand all offer opportunities that were not available a decade ago. Ask yourself what your goal is, and your answer will help determine the route(s) you take with your story.
The prestige of traditional publishing
For example, is your goal to have your book accepted by a mainstream, “traditional” publisher? The benefits of that approach include (1) prestige, and (2) marketing muscle. In other words, if a traditional publisher picks up your book, they typically invest time and money into making sure it sells. (They may also require you to do some of the work, but they’ll have resources—like staff and networks—that can give you some leverage.) The disadvantages of using a traditional publisher are (1) you won’t make a lot of money, and (2) the copyright will belong to them, not you.
The freedom of blogging
On the other hand, if your goal is simply to share your story with the world, you can do that without a traditional publisher. You might, for example, want to start with a blog, which is a way to share your story without incurring any printing costs. Blogging works better for some types of books than others, but you might post a chapter or a short story or a lesson once a day or once a week. There are strategies you can learn to help your blog go viral, and you can gain input on your book while it’s being written! At some point, you could compile all your posts into a book and self-publish it or pitch it to traditional publishers.
The satisfaction of self-publishing
Most of the clients I’ve served are not interested in becoming rich and famous through their writing; they simply want to preserve their stories in book form, mainly for their families, so I help them self-publish. They send me their manuscript as a text file or Word doc, and they hire me to do the work of editor, fact-checker, and/or book designer. Once the final document earns their approval, I prepare the files for uploading to an online printing service like Lulu.com, which is the final step in turning their manuscript into hardcover or paperback books. Because Lulu.com is a print-on-demand printer, the client can print 1 or 12 or 75 copies at a time. And they can order more copies whenever they want, either through me or directly from Lulu.
How LifeLines can help
No matter which option you choose for sharing your story, LifeLines can help. Almost all manuscripts need at least a basic level of proofreading, and most would benefit from some editing. Whether you want to be published or self-published, a professionally edited manuscript will make your story more readable (and more marketable). You can view my “Manuscript services” page for information on different editing packages I offer.
If you are confident in your writing skills, and don’t need my editing services, LifeLines can still help with book design and layout. (The cost for that is listed as the “Beautiful Book” package on the “Need Writing Help?” page.) Some people want to handle design and layout themselves, and sites like Lulu.com offer plenty of help for first-time self-publishers. Others decide they’d rather not hassle with layout and PDFs and high-resolution images and Lulu accounts, so they hire me to take care of it.
If you want to be published by a traditional publisher, I can help you with query letters and proposals and that kind of thing, but I can’t guarantee you will in fact be published. If you want to explore the world of self-publishing, I can set you up on Lulu.com, help you format your story for different e-reading devices, and help you get the word out, using Facebook, Twitter, blogging, and LinkedIn.
After you’ve read all this and given it some thought, let me know if LifeLines can help you share your story!
Tune in next week as we explore the age-old question, “Self-publishing or traditional publishing—do I have to choose?”
Other posts in this series:
- “Self-publishing or traditional publishing—do I have to choose?“
- “Eek! Why does it cost so much?“
- “Editing? Ghostwriting? What’s the difference?“