Hello again! Welcome to this episode of the Advanced Freelancing Podcast. Today I’m deviating a little bit from my “traditional” podcast episodes to discuss some information about my book! If you haven’t heard, my first book published with Entrepreneur Press officially came out on July 16th, 2019.
I want to share some “behind the scenes” info with you!
I want to tell you why I chose to write this book. I also want to share why I think writing this book will not only benefit my coaching and consulting business, but also my freelance writing business as well.
“I believe that everybody has at least one book inside of them.” -Laura Briggs
Now, there are a lot of reasons why we put off writing these said books. But I want to encourage you, especially if you think that writing a book would be great for your personal development or your business!
Writing a book for freelance writers is kind of a no brainer. It was an excellent vehicle for me to be able to show off my writing abilities. It doesn’t matter if you choose to self publish or publish through a company. Being able to produce an actual book shows people that you have the stamina it takes to outline, create, edit, and publish a book. This is a great thing for your credibility as a freelance writer.
For me as a freelance writer, having a book about freelance writing will directly help my freelance business. When I’m pitching to a client, there is a certain amount of credibility and validity from having a book published. I have wanted to write a book for a long time.
A little back story…
Originally when I was toying with the idea of writing a book I had the idea of starting with fiction first. So I went to a writing conference. I had kind of a bad experience with a fiction agent. One of the most important things I learned at the conference was that I would feel much more confident if I went the route of non-fiction first.
Fiction books sell on the basis of completed projects. So for new writers, this means you have to have a manuscript that has already gone through at least one round of general editing done before you can even pitch it to an agent or decide to self publish.
Non- fiction books sell on spec. This means they sell on proposal. My proposal was about 55 pages and I made sure to get it right! Your proposal is essentially your pitch to agents and publishers about what it is you think you want to do.
Non- fiction books have their own unique set of challenges. Not only do they sell on proposal, but they also sell on platform. This means that in order for a publisher to pick up your traditional non fiction book for regular publishing you have to be able to show that you already have an established audience who are ready and willing to buy that book. This can be done in many different ways with social media and mailing lists.
However, the reality is that not a lot of people have developed that kind of audience especially when they are writing their first book. It’s the number one thing we heard from publishers when I was submitting my book was that I didn’t have a big enough platform. This is why when you see books they are typically from someone who is some kind of advanced executive. It’s people that have a massive following.
About my book…
I spent about 4 months creating my proposal! I knew I wanted to write about freelancing. Funnily enough, the book we sold is NOT the book we pitched. So I am self publishing the book that we originally pitched. I didn’t really need the full 4 months for the proposal, but I was questioning a lot of things. I was slower because this was a foriegn concept to me.
I finished my proposal in January 2018. So now it was time for me to shift focus to evaluating agents. There are a lot of places to find potential literary agents. Different ways to find an agent include:
● Attend a conference and pitch it live. You want to make sure you only pitch to agents who take the type of book you are creating. Example- an agent who only takes children’s books certainly would not be a fit for someone pitching a nonfiction book. I personally was looking for a versatile agent who sold not only business books, but had a crossover into other genres.
● Using a paid tool. I found 33 potential agents by using a paid tool called Publisher’s Marketplace. I paid $25 a month and you can see different deals and books that agent has represented.
● Writers Market. This is a huge volume that has everything from magazines that you can pitch to writing competitions. Every year they do a volume of agents and break it down by what that agent accepts as far as types of work. You want to double check what you find here with Publisher’s Marketplace.
So now once that you have your list of agents…
You start to submit to agents. You start to have conversations with agents about your book. Once you find an agent you like, you will sign an agreement with that agent to start shopping your book to publishers. Agents take a standard 15% cut of what you do. Sometimes the contract would be for that one project. There are also instances where the contract will be for a specific amount of time in which that agent would be entitled to 15% of whatever you sell during that time period. SO MAKE SURE YOU ALWAYS READ YOUR CONTRACTS VERY CAREFULLY WITH BOTH AN AGENT AND A PUBLISHER! GET AN ATTORNEY FOR THIS!
It can be a long process to publish a book traditionally. A traditional timeline for publishing a book is about 2 years. That’s from the time the idea is accepted to the time there is a physical book in hand. Self publishing is a lot quicker. It can even be as quick as a few months for self publishing.
I knew I was getting an offer in the summer of 2018. Which was quick because I only signed with an agent in May. We pitched to a lot of big publishers. We got a lot of feedback that my platform was too small.
Publishers tend to sometimes be behind the trends. So if you are pitching something that is cutting edge, you need to know this can sometimes be a hard sell depending on who you are pitching to. I want to note that for me and this book I was pitching, I don’t think the publishing houses knew the power of and how many freelancers there are. Not just in the US but also around the world.
We got an offer and it was time to get to work…
We finally got a response from a publishing house that was interested in my book. But then we got a response from Entrepreneur. They said that they were not interested in taking on the project of the bigger book at that point in time, but had an opening to refresh an old book about an introduction to freelance writing. A book about freelancing writing today, I believe, should include lots of information about landing work online, especially since I’ve never met one of my clients in person.
After many conversations with several people, I decided that this was a good opportunity for me. Even though my business is shifting to help more intermediate/advanced freelancers, being able to offer something at the introductory level was a great opportunity.
My contract was signed in mid August and my first draft was due on December 1st. So I had to write roughly 65,000 words in a very quick amount of time in the publishing world. I knew I could do it. So I stuck with the schedule and met the deadline. It went through one round of edits that I had to complete around Christmas time.
Then the first two weeks of January I had to complete copy edits. These were things like punctuation, grammar, etc. There were more than 5000 changes that I had to manually accept and edit or decline and explain why I declined.
I really loved with Entrepreneur Press because even though they had certain styles and things they wanted me to cover, they were really leaning on my expertise. It was the perfect blend of structure and creativity for me.
The book went into production very quickly after a few more edits. It was on pre-sale from March to when it went live on July 16th! So the process of writing a book is amazing! I had really psyched myself out thinking it was going to be really difficult. There are a few things that made it a great process including:
● A great agent who was advocating for me.
● I worked with a great publishing house that was very easy to work with.
● There were very clear expectations about the marketing that was going to be done.
Remember when I said the book being sold isn’t the book I proposed?
The original outline that I proposed to the publisher changed dramatically as I was writing this book. I wrote it chapter by chapter, but as I was writing there were things I thought needed to be changed. So I had the idea of 12 chapters at roughly 5,000 words each. So I used a spreadsheet to track my words, places that need more work, and chapters that I felt were done.
I wrote a lot of this book on planes because my husband was traveling all over the country for job interviews. I wrote in coffee shops and libraries. This really motivated me and helped me stay focused and on track.
Here is my final piece of advice to you for this episode. If you are thinking about writing a book, even if you hear this and think traditional publishing isn’t for me, that’s okay. I still encourage you to set a deadline, keep it, and write your book. Why? Because this is a good process that pushes you to the next level!
So you may be wondering why I wrote this particular book? Well, when I first started out as a freelancer, this is the book that I wish I had! When I started in 2012, most sources out there was so outdated! So the framework for this book is online freelance writing! I focused on this because it’s my area of expertise. I wrote about what I knew about! I wanted a newbie to be able to pick up this book and decide if freelance writing was right for them by looking a real day of my life as a freelance writer.
If you are interested in purchasing this book it’s available at all major retailers. It’s not overly “thick” book so it’s easy to flip through. I’d love to hear your questions and comments about my book. Please send those to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Related topics: freelance writing, traditional publishing, writing a book, finding a literary agent