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.

Scribe Process Questions
When I work with Scribe, am I the author of the book?

Yes, you’re the sole author of your book. 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.

Is the book in my voice?

Yes, the book will be entirely your ideas, in your words and your voice.

We are 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.

That is part of what makes our process so different from ghostwriting. We’re not writing our version of your book. It’s our job to be a conduit to collect your ideas into a properly structured, organized book. The book is in your voice because we scribe it from your perspective, not ours.

What makes Scribe different from ghostwriting?

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:

  1. Ghostwriters give you a manuscript, and they do nothing else. We do it all—including full publishing and distribution.
  2. 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.

Do you work with anyone? How do you decide what authors you’ll work with?

No, we cannot just work with anyone. We typically reject about 20% of authors who want to work with us. There are two criteria we use to decide which authors we’ll work with:

  1. Does the author know 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 ideas and 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.
  2. Does the author have a clear and reasonable expectation for ROI? 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. 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.
Is there anyone who should not work with Scribe?

Yes, definitely. Here is a partial list of the types of people who are not a good fit for our process:

Someone who wants to write a novel. 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 why you want to write a book or how it 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.

How do you select my Scribe? Can I choose them?

No, we do not let authors choose their own Scribe. The reality is most people don’t actually know how to evaluate and judge Scribes well. In fact, that is why you are paying us—to do just 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 (<2% 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.

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 all read it, and the ones who are interested in working on your book then ask to be assigned. They all 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.

How long does the whole process take, start to finish?

If you work at our speed, we are comfortable promising a completely finished and published book within 7 months.

Can I use my own writing?

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.

What if I don’t like my book?

It’s fairly common for authors to be unsatisfied with their rough draft—all writers feel this way.

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.

More than 99% 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.

Who designs the book covers? Do I get to give feedback on that?

Your book cover and manuscript interior layout will be designed by world class designers. 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 works 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.

How long will my book be?

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.

I can't afford your services, but I still want to write a book. Is there any other way for us to work together?

Yes, there are two other ways to work with us.

We have the Scribe Guided Author program, which costs $1k a month for a year ($12k total) and is the exact same process, but you write the book yourself with our guidance. You can find more info here.

We also have a book that describes our entire process, check it out: The Scribe Method: The New Way to Quickly and Easily Write Your Book.

General Book Questions
What if I'm not sure I have enough to say for a book?

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.

What if I have more than one book in me?

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.

What if I'm not exactly sure what my book is about? Should I figure that out first before I call you?

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:

  1. What result do you want this book to create for you?
  2. What audience do you want to reach?
  3. What will the book say that’ll be interesting and valuable to that audience?

How we help you nail down your book idea is explained on the How It Works page, or in this post about picking the perfect book topic.

What if I’m afraid to write my book?

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 the experience of writing a book.

Book ROI Questions
How many books do I need to sell to make my money back?

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 $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.

How can I make money with my book?

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.

How do I use my book to raise my visibility and get media coverage?

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.

How do I use my book to increase my authority and credibility?

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.

How successful are the books you’ve done so far?

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.

Book Publishing Questions
Who is the publisher?

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.

Is Scribe self-publishing?

Yes…but probably not in the way you are thinking.

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. 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.”

That being said, Scribe is self-publishing in the best sense: you still 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.

This is explained in depth here.

What is the difference between traditional publishing and Scribe?

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).

Can you get my books into a bookstore?

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.

I have a traditional publishing deal. Can I use Scribe to write the manuscript only?

Yes. We have done this many times, including for Tiffany Haddish’s New York Times Bestseller, The Last Black Unicorn, and Joey Coleman’s Wall Street Journal Bestseller, Never Lose a Customer Again.

How much do you charge for copies? Will I be able to order personal copies at a discounted price?

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.

Book Marketing Questions
What marketing comes with the Scribe Professional package?

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.

How does the Amazon Bestseller Campaign work?

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.

Can you get me on a bestseller list? How does that work?

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 more in-depth article on the topic.

What other marketing can you do?

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.

Miscellaneous
How do royalties work?

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.

Why don't you take royalties? Doesn't that align our incentives?

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.

We wrote a longer explanation of this here.

Can you work in other languages?

No, not right now.

Do you do fiction?

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.

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