Here are the questions and answers our Authors most frequently ask us. Of course, if your questions aren’t answered here, we are happy to answer them. Simply contact us or schedule a consultation.
- General Questions
- Book ROI Questions
- Book Publishing Questions
- Book Marketing Questions
- Miscellaneous Questions
A. That’s precisely why you should talk to us—we’ll help you to make sure your idea is good enough for a book. Our process does not work unless you actually have a book’s worth of ideas in your head to start. We don’t add any content to your book; we only get your book out of your head and onto the page. So the very first step in our process—before we start—is ensuring that you do, in fact, have a book in you. Not everyone has a book in them, and we’re happy to tell you that. We only want to work with people who have a good book idea that will be interesting to readers and bring the author a clear ROI. We’ve found the reality is that most professionals actually have more than one book in them. Someone who has spent a lot of time gaining deep expertise in a field typically has a lot of knowledge that would be more interesting to people than they realize. For the majority of our Authors, the question is not whether they have a book in them, it’s how many, and which one should they publish first.
A. We’ve found this to be true with many professionals; they have multiple books in them and aren’t sure how to divide them or where to start. Our process is designed to help you figure out which book you should do first, and why. We begin by helping you to understand exactly why you’re writing a book, what results you want, which of your ideas will make the best book for you, and how to make it happen.
A. No. You should call us, because this is exactly what we do—help you figure out if you have a book in you and what the topic should be—and we do that before you decide to work with us (and pay us). Our Book Developers have usually spent decades in publishing and are experts at helping you understand not only what your best book is, but how it can help you. Most Authors believe the most valuable part of our process is what we call “positioning.” When we position your book, we help you to figure out what your book is about by running you through three questions:
- What result must this book create in order to be a success for you?
- What audience do you need to reach in order to get that result?
- What do you have to say that’s interesting and valuable to that audience?
The whole process is explained here.
A. Yes, you’re the sole author of your book, and yes, it will be in your voice. You are the only one contributing the ideas, the knowledge, and the content to the book. We add no content, so it would be inappropriate for us to take any authorial credit. Your idea is what matters, not the Scribe who copies it down. Furthermore, the writing itself is exclusively in your voice. That is part of what makes our process so different from ghostwriting. We are essentially a conduit you can use to collect your ideas into a book by properly structuring, organizing, and recording them. They remain 100% yours.
A. Simply put, hiring a ghostwriter means that your book will not really be your ideas in your words. With the Scribe process, your book is entirely your ideas and your words.
Ghostwriters start with your book concept and a few of your ideas, then create a book with them using their own words, tone, and voice. The output just won’t sound like it came from you.
In essence, a ghostwriter writes a book, and you pay them so that you can put your name on it. It’s not really your book. With Scribe, your book is authored solely by you. The ideas and words and content are entirely yours, and are in your voice. We put nothing in your book that did not come out of your mouth. We like to say that we help you translate your ideas into a proper, professional book, but all meaningful parts of authorship are yours, making you the sole author.
The two other differences are these:
- Ghostwriters give you a manuscript, and they do nothing else. We do it all—including full publishing and distribution.
- A good ghostwriter is much more expensive than our process (usually about $100k). We’re more affordable because we don’t add content, we simply translate your ideas into your book. If you don’t know what you’re talking about, then you need to hire a ghostwriter. That way the ghostwriter can do the research and write a book that makes sense, and you get to have your name on it. The coolest part of the Scribe process is that you end up working with some of the very best editing and ghostwriting talent in the world—you just do it through our systematic and defined process. Ghostwriters love working with us (and our authors), because with us, they are able to avoid most of the problems that freelancers have: finding good clients, negotiating terms of the deal, collecting payment, limiting the scope of the work, etc. Our systematic process is actually better for authors and for freelancers, because it creates a clear set of expectations and deliverables, a defined workflow, and ensures there is a trusted third party—Scribe—to monitor everything and ensure that it works. Our roster of freelancers includes Pulitzer Prize winners, Emmy Award winners, bestselling authors, bestselling ghostwriters, and all kinds of extremely talented people.
We create a three-way relationship where everyone wins: you publish a great book, the freelancer gets paid well for work they enjoy, and we make a profit by coordinating the whole exchange. We wrote a much longer piece on the differences between ghostwriting and the Scribe process. You can it read here.
A. To answer the implicit question that always lurks behind this: no, we do not just take anyone with money. We typically reject about 20% of applicants who want to work with us. There are two criteria we use to decide which authors we’ll work with:
- Whether the author knows the subject matter of their book deeply enough.
Our process works very well, but only if the author actually knows what they’re talking about. We don’t add content. For our process to work, everything must come from the author’s mind or from their research, so they must know what they’re talking about. We’re not ghostwriters. We can’t make things up for you.
- Whether there is a clear ROI for the author.
This means there needs to be a reason this Author wants to write a book, and/or a path to a return on their investment. We don’t want to work with people who are, for example, mortgaging their house to afford this because they think it’s their shot to sell a million books and become famous. Also, we don’t want to work with people who are interested in pure vanity projects and have no clear audience. That’s why the first step in our process is a qualification process. If the result you’re hoping for is unrealistic or impossible, we don’t want to work with you, because there’s no way for us to win. Even if we do a great job and we nail the book, you might still be upset because you didn’t reach a goal that was impossible to begin with.
A. Yes, definitely. Here is a partial list of the types of people who are not a good fit for our process:
People Who Don’t Know Their Topic: If you can’t teach the subject matter for your book to someone else without doing more research, we can’t work with you.
People Who Want to Type Everything Themselves: Part of the value of our process is that we save you time, and we want to work with people who are so curious about life, they couldn’t fathom wasting hours behind a keyboard.
People Who Don’t Know Why They Want to Write A Book: If you have no idea at all why you want to write a book, what it will say, or what goals you’ll achieve by publishing it, then we are not a fit. Our process requires an investment—of both your money and your effort—so you should have an idea of why you are doing it.
A. We spend a lot of time building an understanding of both you as a person and your topic, and then we match you with someone in our freelance team whom we think is a good fit. So, no, we do not let authors choose their own Developer or Editor. In the past we’ve found that letting people pick editors leads to a lot of problems. The reality is most people don’t actually know how to evaluate and judge freelance writing talent very well. But people don’t have to, either. That’s our job, and you can trust our process.
We thoroughly vet and test all our freelancers. It’s easier to get into Harvard (7% acceptance rate) than it is to work with us as a freelancer (3% acceptance rate). Not only that, but our Book Developers and Editors have spent at least a decade in writing and publishing, and many of them are highly decorated—Pulitzer Prize winners, Emmy nominees and winners, and National Magazine Award winners. We spend a lot of time picking the right person, and every author is paired with people we believe are excellent fits.
Our Authors are never stuck with an Editor or Developer. If after working with them, they feel uncomfortable or unwilling to move forward with the project, we’re happy to find a replacement option they’re comfortable with, to ensure each of them publishes the best possible book.
A. If you work at our speed, we are comfortable promising a completely finished and published book within 6 to 7 months (sometimes a little shorter).
A. Yes and no. Many Authors come to us having written quite a bit of material. Regardless of what they have written, we always start at the beginning of our process and work through the positioning, structuring, and outlining stages. After the outline is done, we can assess whether any of your existing writing fits into the book outline. If it does, great. We will happily slide it in.
Why do we do it this way? We’ve found that starting fresh enables the author to prioritize exactly what they want from their book, what audience they need to connect with, and what they have to relevantly offer that audience (this is positioning). Often when this becomes clear, it turns out that what they’ve written is not directly on point for the end result they want, and we don’t want pre-existing material to bias decisions or lead them astray.
A. It’s fairly common for authors to be a little unhappy with their first draft, because it is common in all writing, regardless of whether an author uses Scribe or not. More than 90% of our Authors are happy with their first round of revisions. But what if—after all the edits and changes—you don’t like your book? Since we don’t create or provide the content (which comes from you), we can’t 100% guarantee your happiness. But, we will do everything we can on our end to ensure that you get the book you want. If that means assigning multiple editors to work on it, we’ll do it. If it means multiple editing passes, then we’ll do that. Our goal is to get the best book possible out of you. Anything reasonable we can do to achieve that, we will do.
A. Your book cover and manuscript interior layout will be designed by one of the best designers in the world. This is not hyperbole. Our book cover and layout designers have designed for Ariana Huffington, Daymond John, and Chelsea Handler, and their portfolios include numerous New York Times bestsellers. You are getting the very best in design, because having a great book cover is a key to establishing your book as credible and professional.
Before we start the design process, we’ll have a long conversation with you to understand your vision for the cover (if you have any). We organize this information into a design brief your designer uses to create a series of initial cover designs, which you will review and give feedback on. Just like all parts of our process, you will have full, 100% approval of your cover.
A. Book length is entirely dependent on the specific Author and the topic of their book. We don’t adhere to a fixed length, but generally find that most authors end up around 150 pages. We’ve researched this extensively and found that for non-fiction books this is the optimal length—both for Authors and their readers. It is not an intimidating length, so readers are more likely to buy and actually read the book, and it’s about the right length for most Authors. The book is substantive, but not repetitive or padded. We believe that books should only be as long as they have to be in order to make their point.
A. That depends on how you intend to make your money back. The best way to make money on a book is to look at it as an investment that leads to other profitable opportunities.
For example, if you’re a consultant or a coach and a client is worth $50,000 to you, then one client actually doubles your investment in your book.
If you own a business and you sell a product that’s $100, then you need to sell at least 250 products from your book to make your money back. If your book is used to promote your business, then it is likely that the full cost of its production is tax deductible, which substantially lowers the full investment cost.
The one thing we do not recommend doing is calculating how many books you must sell to make your money back. This is because book sales is a poor measure for ROI. Professionals see books as general marketing tools, not profit centers. Only novelists and fiction writers need to focus primarily on book sales, because that’s the only way they make money. We’ve written an entire guide to how to monetize a book, and we recommend you read the whole article.
Our most successful authors have made 5 to 100 times their investment back with very few books sold. For example, Melissa Gonzalez used her book to generate millions of dollars of business, yet sold less than 1000 copies of her book. You can read about other ways authors have monetized their books on our Author Success Stories page.
A. There are many ways to monetize a book. You can use a book to raise your visibility, develop your authority, generate leads for your business, bring you clients, get speaking gigs, sell products, launch businesses, and achieve many other objectives. A book is the best multi-purpose marketing tool there is. We’ve written a guide on how to make money with a book, and we recommend you read it, as well as our Author Success Stories. They might help you see how you can use a book to boost your business.
A. You can view a list of books we’ve proudly published to date here, and most of them have been very successful.
Some results from our Authors: multiple bestsellers, countless media coverage, dozens of high-dollar consulting deals, New York Times profiles, celebrity endorsements…the list goes on and on. Read about all the ways our authors have succeeded here.
A. In normal situations, the publisher of your book is Lioncrest Publishing. This is a wholly owned subsidiary of Scribe, which has published multiple #1 New York Times best sellers from prominent authors (including James Altucher, Tucker Max, and Kamal Ravikant). That being said, you don’t have to use Lioncrest Publishing as your publisher. Because of the way our structure works, we can essentially create a new publishing company for you with any name you like. It’s completely up to you who the named publisher of the book is.
A. Sort of, but not really. At least not in the sense that you’re probably thinking of it. This is a long explanation because the book business is so weird. When people ask, “Is this self-published?” what they tend to mean is, “Is this an unprofessional, amateurish book that you did without any help?” To that, the answer is obviously no. You’re hiring us for that exact reason—to ensure that your book is as professional as any on the market.
We are one of many routes to writing a professionally published book. Furthermore, your book is published by an established publishing company, Lioncrest Publishing. So the answer is, “No, it’s not self-published.”
Sometimes the implied question is a little different. It used to be, before self-publishing, that there was only traditional publishing and what were called “vanity presses.” It used to be that having a “traditionally published” book—which meant a New York publisher gave you an advance—was a signal that you were a serious and credible Author, and that being published in any other way (by a vanity press) was a signal that you weren’t. This is just no longer the case. Most books these days are published outside of the traditional publishing system. Vanity presses have for the most part disappeared, and they have been replaced with a number of what are called “hybrid publishing companies” of varying levels of quality.
A. Big difference. “Traditional publishing” refers to the New York publishing houses that operate with a royalty based book model. If they decide to sign you to a book contract (which is very rare), they pay you an advance and own all the rights and royalties to your book. They do the work of publishing and distributing your book, but that’s it. They do little to market your book, and they provide no support while you write it.
They used to be highly prestigious, but now they mainly make money off the platforms that other people have built by monetizing their audience. Scribe is an entirely different approach to books—almost the complete opposite. We operate using a services model. You pay us for our services, and you own all the rights and royalties from your book. Furthermore, we do everything a traditional publisher does, and a whole lot more. We not only help you write your book, we invented an entirely new process to turn your ideas into a book through conversational interviewing. We help you market your book, and we can even provide full platform support if necessary.
We’ve written a long piece here about how to decide whether or not to use a traditional publisher. It boils down to the fact that there are only a limited spectrum of people for whom traditional publishing still makes sense, and for everyone else, they should use some form of professional self-publishing (like us).
A. Yes and no. This is a complicated question, because—again—the publishing business is so weird. Yes, we can make your book available for order and sale in bookstores. All our books are put into the Ingram database, and can be ordered in every bookstore in the country. No, we do not automatically put your book in bookstores. This is because bookstores carry very few books, and reserve their limited space for established authors or books from publishers who are paying for shelf space. But—for certain authors, we can get your book placed in bookstores, but that is a much longer and more difficult process. We don’t advertise this ability widely, because quite frankly, most authors can’t get it, and we don’t want people to create their book with us for this reason.
Here’s how it works: Scribe owns Lioncrest Publishing, which has a full distribution deal with Simon & Schuster. That means that we can, in theory, get any book into any bookstore through Simon & Schuster’s distribution team. But—there’s always a catch—bookstores have to first want to carry a book before we can use this distribution deal with Simon & Schuster. You generally need to sell at least 25,000 copies before bookstores become interested in carrying your book. That’s the bad news. The good news is that being in bookstores doesn’t really matter anymore. A book sitting on a shelf doesn’t sell in most cases. In terms of buyer-behavior, most people who shop at Barnes & Noble also shop on Amazon, so if they don’t see a book at Barnes & Noble they’ll just find it on Amazon. In other words, lack of bookstore distribution in and of itself doesn’t necessarily lose you very many sales. The reality is, for almost all authors, being in a bookstore is purely about ego, and not about actual ROI. We don’t deny that going into a bookstore and seeing your book on the shelf is nice, but it does almost nothing in terms of sales or awareness.
A. Yes, of course. In fact, you can buy copies at the print cost. CreateSpace not only prints books for approximately $3 a copy when they’re ordered through Amazon, but they’ll sell the author these books at the same cost. At any time after the book is published, you can order copies in any quantities you’d like at this discounted price, direct from the printer (we don’t make money on copies). They usually take about 10 days to print and fulfill. [Note: When books are ordered through Amazon, they cover the shipping cost. However, if you’re ordering your own books, you’re responsible for shipping.]
If you are looking for a larger quantity of books (usually 1,000 or more), we set you up with a commercial offset printer in Minnesota to handle this request. They can provide better prices at large quantities. They usually take about a month to print and fulfill. If you want to do hardcover books, then we will handle the set-up with a commercial offset printer, and you will pay their price, which varies widely depending on the amount you order. We take no markup.
A. Two things come with the standard Scribe package:
Amazon Promotion: The first thing we do is our Amazon Bestseller Program. We promote your book to email lists and groups that are interested in your topic, and pair that with both a free and a 99-cent promotion.
Case Study/Profile: We also do a case study and sometimes even a media feature profile of our Authors 3 to 6 months after their book is launched. We cannot promise mainstream media placement, but at the very minimum we do a story (a case study) that is published outside of our site.
A. A lot of authors want more marketing. We don’t offer any other services as a company. That said, if you need more marketing help, we can refer you to people who specialize in whatever specific type of marketing you need, and in many cases we can coordinate your relationship with them. We have great relationships in all areas of marketing, and can make the appropriate introductions.
A. Yes, in fact that is part of the included marketing campaign, in our Amazon Bestseller Program. We promote your book to email lists and groups that are interested in your book topic, and pair that with both a free and a 99-cent promotion.
A. You own 100% of the royalties for your book. Although Scribe doesn’t take any share of the book’s profits, there are some costs that don’t go directly in your pocket—namely, Amazon’s fees and printing costs.
For eBooks, Amazon takes 30% of your royalties and you take the other 70%. So, if you price the book at $9.99, you’ll end up pocketing $6.99 per copy that’s sold. KDP (Amazon’s Kindle publishing arm) pays out royalties for each month 60 days after the last day of the month. If you sell 1,000 eBooks at $9.99 in May, you’ll receive a $6,990 check from Amazon on July 31st.
For paperbacks, Amazon takes 40% of royalties, the printer gets approximately $3 to print the book, and the rest is yours. So, if you price the book at $19.99, Amazon takes $7.99, the printer takes $3, and you’re left with the remaining $9. CreateSpace (Amazon’s print-on-demand publishing arm) pays out royalties for each month 30 days after the last day of the month. If you sell 1,000 paperback books at $19.99 in May, you’ll receive a $9,000 check on June 30th. Hardcover books work differently because of how the printing and shipping work, and that can vary depending on the author. If you do hardcover, we’ll explain it all before you make any decisions.
A. No, it actually does the opposite. The best strategy to get a great book—both for you and for us—is to use a service-based model. If we are paid a flat fee, and you retain ownership of all rights and all royalties, our goal will be to create a book that serves your goals—getting speaking gigs or finding clients or creating influence.
A. No, not right now.
A. No, we do non-fiction only, for now. We are trying to develop a fiction service, but we can’t promise it will come to fruition.
A. Yes! Check out The Scribe Method: The New Way to Quickly and Easily Write Your Book.