Scribe Author FAQ
Here are the questions and answers our Scribe 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 Scribe Questions
- Guided Author ($12k) Questions
- Scribe Professional ($36k) Questions
- General Book Questions
- Book ROI Questions
- Book Publishing Questions
- Book Marketing Questions
We help people write, publish and market their books. We were founded in 2014 by a 4x New York Times Bestselling author, and have worked on over 1000+ books, including some major bestselling books in that time (which you can see here).
We can also publish your finished manuscript.
The main difference is how much time it takes you, and who actually writes out the content of the book.
In the $12k option (which we call Guided Author), you’ll use our full process, but you will do the writing and typing yourself (with our guidance and support the entire way, described here). This option begins with a two day workshop, and then usually requires you to spend about an hour of writing a day for 6+ months.
In the $36k option (which we call Scribe Professional), all you have to do is get on the phone, and talk about what you already know. We handle all the typing and writing for you, but the words and ideas and voice are still entirely yours. This option only requires about 1.5 hours on the phone per week.
There are two main questions to ask yourself:
- Do you like sitting down and writing? Do you like typing, and having your hands on the keyboard?
- Do you have enough time to write this yourself?
Generally speaking, assume that Guided Author ($12k) requires an hour a day for a year (yes, you can do it faster), and that Scribe Professional ($36k) requires 1.5 hours a week for 7 months.
If the answer to both questions is yes—you like writing and you have time—then Guided Author is probably the right option.
If the answer to both questions is no—you don’t like writing and you don’t have time—then Scribe Professional is probably the right option.
The difficulty comes if the answer to #1 is yes (you do like writing) but the answer to #2 is no (you don’t have time). Then you’ll have to decide what gives: do you make time for writing, or do you value your time too much, and have us do the typing for you.
That option is not right for most authors. It’s intended for those authors who require the very best Scribe possible, they need the Scribe to come to them, and they want a fully custom program that includes all marketing and promotion.
Almost all authors are better off with Guided Author ($12k) or Scribe Professional ($36k).
No, we cannot just work with anyone. We typically reject about 20-30% of authors who want to work with us. There are two criteria we use to decide which authors we’ll work with:
- Does the author know the subject matter of their book deeply enough to write a book about it? Our process works very well, but only if the author actually knows what they’re talking about.
- Does the author have a clear and understanding of how books work, and reasonable expectations for ROI? This means there needs to be a purpose behind writing the book.
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 can’t 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.
Yes, definitely. Here is a partial list of the types of people who are not a good fit for our process:
- Fiction writers. Our process only works for non-fiction.
- If you don’t know your topic well. If you want a book on sales, for example, but don’t know anything about sales, then we can’t help you. You’ll need to find a ghostwriter.
- If you aren’t sure how a book can help you.
- 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.
You get everything you need to confidently write, publish and market your book. Literally everything. The entire program is described in detail here.
The workshop is lead by 4x New York Times bestselling author (and co-founder of Scribe), Tucker Max. He’s there in person for both days, and does most of the hands on teaching himself.
We highly recommend it, yes. The two days authors spend in the office with us are pivotal, and will get you a level of clarity and momentum that cannot be duplicated any other way.
You will leave after two days with all of this done:
- Book Positioning
- Writing Plan
- Editing Plan
- Chapter deadlines
- Editing deadlines
- Fears brought up and addressed
That being said—in rare cases—we have allowed some authors who have issues traveling to video conference into the workshop. If you are in a similar time zone to Austin (Central Standard Time), then you can ask if this is possible
After the workshop, there are two primary avenues of support:
- Guided Author Facebook Group: We have a very active Facebook group with all the former Guided Author participants, plus the entire senior editorial team from Scribe. Questions are answered usually within an hour or so, and there is a lot of encouragement and support.
- Weekly Group Coaching Calls: These occur every Tuesday night at 9pm Eastern Time. The Scribe Senior Editorial team is on the calls to help with any questions any authors have about anything. For most authors, these calls act as accountability and commiseration calls. Basically, authors use them as places to see their friends and make sure they are on track.
Here’s the main thing you need to know: we will do whatever it takes to help you write a great book, and get it published.
Yes, editing is included. Once you finish the rough draft of your manuscript, then you hand it to us for a complete content edit. Your manuscript will be fully edited by a member of our Executive Editing team, someone who has at least 15 years experience in book editing.
As to how we edit, we tell our authors this:
“We will hurt your feelings before we let you publish a bad book.”
Our first goal in this edit is to ensure your book is not bad. If it is, we will tell you where it’s bad and how to fix it.
Once we know it’s not bad (and they are rarely bad), then the goal is to help you take it from good to great.
We will push you to write the best book possible, because our name is on the book as well as yours.
Yes, everything necessary to publish your book is included; interior layout, cover design, distribution, everything. In fact, the publishing process is the same as what we use for the Scribe Professional ($36k) authors.
Authors get to pay for the program over a year, but you can go as fast as you want. We’ve had authors turn in their manuscript two months after their workshop, and then have their book published and out only three months after that (for a 5 month start to finish time).
The only catch is that in order for us to fully publish your book, you must be paid in full.
Yes, you’re the sole author of your book, and it’s entirely in your voice. You are the only one contributing the ideas, the knowledge, and the content to the book, (and with the Guided Author Program, you actually write it out as well). All we do is help you with the parts of book writing that you aren’t an expert at; positioning, structuring, etc.
We’re able to do this because the book is literally created entirely from interviews with you—there is no other voice it could be but yours.
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 using their own words, tone, and voice. It won’t sound like it came from you, because it generally doesn’t. 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 head and 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 (good ones usually run about $100k).
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. Many of our Scribes are former ghostwriters, but they 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, etc.
This creates 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.
No, authors do not choose their own Scribe. That is why you are paying us—to do that.
To begin with, we thoroughly vet and test all our Scribes. It’s easier to get into Harvard (6% acceptance rate) than it is to work with us as a Scribe (<1% acceptance rate). Not only that, but our Scribes have spent at least a decade (usually longer) in writing and publishing, and many of them are highly decorated—Pulitzer Prize winners, Emmy nominees and winners, and National Magazine Award winners.
To assign Scribes, we have an internal “ask system” that we use to pair up the right Scribe and Author. Here’s how it works:
We get to know you, your book, and how you work. Then we create a “Project Scope” for your book, and let all 100+ Scribes see it. They will read it, and the ones who are interested in working on your book ask to be assigned.
They answer two questions: 1. Why are you excited to work on this book, and 2. What do you bring to the book that might help the author?
We review all the bids (books typically get between 5-10 bids), and then pick the one we think will be the best match—95% of the time, this process works great.
But yes, in rare cases, the Author and Scribe are not a fit. If after working together, they feel uncomfortable or unwilling to move forward with the project, we’re happy to find a replacement Scribe. Given that every book has multiple bids, this makes it simple to find good replacements.
If you work at our speed, we are comfortable promising a completely finished and published book within 7 months. But you can go slower, if you need to.
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, and structuring stages. After the structure is done, we can assess whether any of your existing writing fits into the book. If it does, great. We will happily slide it in.
We do it this way because we’ve found that starting fresh enables the author to prioritize exactly what they want to get from their book, what audience they need to reach, and what they have to 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.
It’s fairly common for authors to be unsatisfied with their rough draft—almost all authors feel this way about their book at some point in the process
That is why we have multiple rounds of revisions and corrections. You will never just “see” your book at some stage and be surprised by it. We have intentionally set up our process to include constant iterations and feedback and changes.
Virtually all of our Authors are happy with their book by the time it gets to final revisions.
But what if—after all the edits and changes—you still don’t like your book? This is possible. It’s impossible to 100% guarantee your happiness with your book, especially given that it is your ideas and your words and your voice.
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.
Your book cover and manuscript interior layout will be designed by world class designers, but you have full creative control.
Our Creative Director has done dozens of New York Times Best Sellers, as well as the other book cover designers we’ve worked with. Combined, they have worked on over 100 best sellers that have sold millions of copies. 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, you’ll have a long conversation with the Creative Director to understand your vision for the cover (if you have any). We organize this information into a design brief and use it 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.
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.
Your publishing team, will be led by your Publishing Manager. They are your main point of contact and in charge of ensuring you get a great book.
Almost all of the writing will be done by your Scribe. They are a professional writer and editor that has spent at least a decade working in books.
You will conceptualize your book cover with the help of our Creative Director, who has done dozens of bestselling book covers. It will be designed by her or one of her team, and you will talk to our Art Director for feedback and revisions.
Your marketing efforts will be led by our co-founder, Zach Obront, and you will also work with with his team of marketers during the launch.
That’s precisely why you should talk to us before you start—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. 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, if that’s the case. 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 this to be the case with most authors—they 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.
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.
And note—we do this BEFORE you sign with us and get started. Before you commit to spending a dollar, we want to make sure we’re both a great fit for each other.
No. You should call us first, because this is exactly what we do—help you figure out if you have a book in you and what it would be about—and we can and should do that before you decide to work with us.
Our Author Consultants are experts at helping you understand not only what your best book is, but how it can help you. In the assessment call, we will help you figure out the positioning of your book, and we help you to figure out what your book is about by running you through three questions:
- What result do you want this book to create for you?
- What audience do you want to reach?
- What will the book say that’ll be interesting and valuable to that audience?
This is a super common question we get from authors, though it’s rarely phrased this directly. Author fear is expressed in so many different ways, but it almost always breaks down to “I’m afraid I’m going to look stupid.”
This is the biggest unspoken fear that I believe every author has is that they will embarrass themselves. Literally every author we’ve ever worked with—without exception—has had some version of this fear.
If you have this fear—or any other—you should tell us. We are experts at helping authors understand their fears and work through them. This piece explains part of what we do, but it is only a slice. We take the fears and emotions of our authors very, very seriously, as they are core to the experience of writing a book.
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, and not book sales.
For example, if you’re a consultant or a coach and a client is worth $50,000 to you, then one client more than ROIs your investment in your book.
If you own a business and you sell a product that’s $150, 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.
There are many ways to monetize a book. A book is also the best multi-purpose marketing tool there is. 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.
There are so many ways a book can help you raise your visibility and get media coverage. This piece covers it in general, and there are so many examples of our authors doing this. Bob Glazer used his book to get on Dr. Oz, two Harvard professors used their book to get media coverage around the world, and an entrepreneur used his book to generate millions in PR for free.
There are dozens of other examples here.
Books by their very nature enable authors to occupy a level of credibility far above where they started. This piece covers the effect in general, and we have literally hundreds of examples from our authors:
John Ruhlin used his book to establish his professional brand, become a sought after speaker, and double his firm revenue.
Deb Gabor used her book to build her own brand, and get work with Fortune 50 companies.
Cliff Lerner was a very successful entrepreneur who no one knew—until his book got him on the radar, and now he is on dozens of boards and is a high profile investor.
There are dozens of other examples here.
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 include: multiple New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Amazon best sellers, countless media pieces, hundreds of millions in 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.
In terms of direct ROI, our most successful authors have made anywhere from 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 1,000 copies of her book. You can read about other ways authors have monetized their books on our Author Success Stories page.
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 selling books 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.
Yes…but probably not in the way you are thinking.
Scribe is self-publishing in the best sense: you have full creative control of your book, you own all the rights for your book, and you get all the royalties. It is the business model of self-publishing, with the support of traditional publishing.
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. The books we have done and the authors we have worked with are of the highest caliber, so clearly self-publishing can be very professional. You’re hiring us for that exact reason—to ensure that your book is as professional as any on the market. Furthermore, your book is published by an established publishing company, Lioncrest Publishing. So the answer is, “No, it’s not self-published in that I got assistance from a professional publishing company.”
This is explained in depth here.
Big difference. The most important difference to you is that with us, you completely own your book. With traditional publishing, they own your book.
“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. Traditional publishing 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. 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).
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 in, and we don’t want people to work 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.
We don’t charge you anything for copies. You get to buy copies at the print cost. For print on demand paperback, CreateSpace not only prints books for approximately $4 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).
If you are looking for a larger quantity of books (usually 1,000 or more), we set you up with a commercial offset printer to handle this request. They can provide better prices at large quantities. We take no markup.
There are three goals of the marketing that’s included in the Scribe Professional package.
First, we manage the logistics to run an Amazon Bestseller Campaign that focuses on maximizing early sales, reviews, and rankings, all to build the foundation of early credibility for your book’s long term success.
Second, we support you in promoting the book to your connections by creating social media graphics for the book, crafting a book announcement email, gifting free copies to your friends and family, and creating a strategy for you to get the support of influencers who you know.
Third, we help you lay out a long term marketing plan to keep the early momentum going, and ensure the book reaches your long term goals.
By the end of the first week of your book release, your book should have Amazon bestseller status, a burst of early sales, a baseline of reviews, awareness among your network, and you should have a plan for how to continue to leverage it going forward.
There is no marketing included with the Guided Author program, but we do two things:
- Marketing Plan: During your publishing process, the Head of Author Marketing will do a call with you and help you outline a precise plan you can execute for your book marketing.
- Video Course: Included in the program is a full video course that outlines exactly how to execute your marketing plan, complete with templates and step-by-step instructions.
We do offer other add-on marketing packages as well.
Let me be straightforward with you: getting on the Amazon Bestseller list isn’t that big a deal.
Amazon divides their list into hundreds of categories and uses a relatively short time window for rankings, so with the right strategy, hitting #1 in your category is very easy.
However, this extra form of credibility does help as you use your book to secure media, book speeches, and share your book with potential clients.
To that end, we ensure that the marketing we do aligns into an Amazon Bestseller Campaign.
We discount the ebook to $0.99 for the first week, and concentrate our marketing efforts—the email to your connections, the release of a podcast episode, the publication of an excerpt, an email blast to tens of thousands of people, and much more—into that week, to maximize the short term sales and overall ranking.
An important note: These activities aren’t aimed only at hitting Amazon bestseller status. They are the best decisions for the success of your book, and hitting Amazon bestseller is a byproduct.
We do NOT run any bestseller campaigns for major lists.
Getting on a media bestseller list (like the Wall Street Journal or New York Times) is a major endeavor, and from our experience, it usually doesn’t align with the real success of your book.
Each of these lists has their own rules (which we’ve outlined here), but the basic idea is the same: they measure total sales over the course of one week, and they have rules that people use to try to game them.
When authors try to hit the lists, they end up optimizing for these rules—racking up presales to distribute through indie bookstores, for example, or providing bonuses to their audience to bribe them into buying the book.
In our experience, rather than focusing attention on playing games to meet the criteria of a bestseller list, the best thing an author can do is focus on reaching people who genuinely want to read the book. This is a long term activity, and not something to try to squeeze into a one-week period.
For more information on how bestseller lists work and why to avoid them, you can read our article on the topic.
For authors who want to focus on making the most of their book to spread their message, raise their visibility, and attract clients, we offer the Scribe Book Launch Package.
We work with these authors to write articles based on their book’s content, design visual assets for their book, research and pitch hundreds of interested journalists, mail books out to relevant connections, submit the book to reviewers, run giveaways, and run an ad campaign.
This four month process typically results in dozens of pieces of media attention and published content, increased sales and reviews, and a deep familiarity and awareness of your book and your ideas within your target audience.
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%. For paperbacks, Amazon takes 40% of royalties, the printer gets approximately $3 to print the book, and the rest is yours. If you do hardcover, we’ll explain it all before you make any decisions.
No, it actually does the opposite.
When a traditional publisher takes royalties, their goals become focused completely on maximizing book sales, because that is their only source of revenue.
But that isn’t always what best serves the author. For many authors, the goals of spreading their message, giving away free books, getting speaking gigs, or finding clients are more important than the revenue from book sales. So focusing on book sales actually hurts the success of the book.
With this in mind, the best strategy to create a great book—both for you and for us—is to use a service-based model, where our goal is only to create the best possible book to accomplish your goals.
No, not right now.
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.