How to Enter (and Win!) Book Awards

Fallen Medicine is a nurse’s dark journey through PTSD, drug abuse and sexual addiction written by D.F. Thompson with Mark Graham Communications.

The holiday season may be fast approaching, but if you’re an author—or if you’re considering becoming one by having a book ghostwritten—this is also the time of year to start thinking about book awards. This is because many book awards are open only to books published during a calendar year, and entries are often accepted only through the first few months of the subsequent year.

If you published a book this year (and if you didn’t, you can bookmark this blog post for next year!), here are a few things to consider as you think about entering your book in award contests:

  • Understand that not all book awards are created equal. While you’ll find numerous book award contests online, some awards carry more clout than others. Many readers are familiar with prestigious awards such as the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. Obviously, these awards are wonderful to win, but they aren’t accessible to every author (for example, some awards do not accept self-published books), and competition is stiff. Most authors have a better chance with regional awards (in Colorado, a well-known one is the Colorado Book Award); awards specific to their genre (such as the Edgar Awards for mystery); and/or awards geared to their publishing type (for example, the IPPY Awards for excellence in independent publishing).
  • Vet the award and its sponsors. Most award websites explain how they receive their funding, how long the organization has been running the contest, what benefits the organization provides to winners, and who the judges will be. It won’t do you much good to win an award that no one has heard of and that is, in essence, a money-making scam for its organizers. Look for reputable, established contests. If a contest is new, find out as much as you can about its operations before you enter.
  • Read the guidelines. Then read them again. Read guidelines carefully once—then read them again a few more times. Make sure you understand what’s required. Ensure your book is eligible for the award, that you enter it in the appropriate category, and that you follow all submission guidelines exactly as stated.
  • Check costs. Most contests have an entry fee. Many also require hard copies of your book. Before entering any contest, consider if winning is worth the entry costs. You might want to create an “awards budget,” to help you determine where best to spend your money.
  • Enter a professional book. Only enter a book that has been professionally written, edited, and produced. If you need help getting your book into a polished state, please contact Mark Graham Communications—we can help!
  • When you win, expect to do most of your own promotion. Winning an award will not automatically launch your book into the spotlight. While the contest organizers will do some promotion, it’s up to you, the author, to do the heavy lifting. Some organizations will set up readings at a local bookstore for finalists. When such opportunities arise, make time to attend. If you’re a finalist, go to the awards ceremony and take pictures (make sure you’re in some of them) to be used on your website and/or social media. Once winners have been announced, virtually all contest websites list those winners (and often the finalists). Some organizations also send out press releases to local and/or national media. Many contests provide stickers or seals that you can place on your book’s cover, which draws attention to it on a bookstore shelf. As a winner, make sure to update your website and other online information to mention the award.

What if you’re dreaming of winning a book award, but you can’t quite finish that book? If you’d like to explore the possibility of working with a professional ghostwriter or editor, please get in touch. We’d love to talk!

Meet a Ghostwriter: Screenwriting Edition

The Interview is a harrowing novel that takes readers on a wild ride throughout the upper echelon of corporate America, the darkest jungles of Southeast Asia, and the seediest side of Bangkok.

Back in January, we introduced readers to a Mark Graham Communications ghostwriter. This month, let’s meet another of our ghostwriters and hear about one of his specialties: screenplays.

What genres do you ghostwrite? What do you find appealing about those genres? My projects include business advice, self-help, memoirs, genre action novels, and screenplays. I’ve worked with clients who have successful backgrounds and a wealth of experiences. I enjoy learning from them and seeing how they’ve triumphed over adversity and life’s challenges. The variety of assignments and the opportunity to meet interesting people appeals to me, as does the ability to work from home on a flexible schedule.

How did your first ghostwritten screenplay come about? Mark Graham Communications approached me about writing a screenplay based on a story submitted by one of their clients. The reason they asked me was because of my background writing fantasy and horror. The story was about a cursed passenger ship and featured a battle between lumberjacks and zombies.

What do you like about ghostwriting screenplays? What’s challenging about it? I appreciate that our clients want to present their story in cinematic format. It’s a different way to tell a story than a novel. The client and I have to think collaboratively about storytelling in visual terms. Screenwriting requires great care in handling character interactions and dialogue. And unlike a novel, a movie doesn’t allow much space for interior dialogue. The writer must always keep in mind that film is a visual format.

The challenge is presenting the story, the characters, and their motives in 110 to 113 pages. Character development is more nuanced, because the director will influence the presentation of the film. A novel is typically north of 300 pages, and in novels, worldbuilding is far more detailed on the page. In a movie, the camera can pan across a scene and the viewer will know what century they’re in, the environment, the setting, and so on. The screenwriter has to set the scene on the page, then let the other players—director, cast, set designers, costumers, and others—create the visual aspects that bring the world alive on screen.

What advice do you have for someone interested in having their screenplay ghostwritten? First, ask yourself, “Is it important to me to hold in my hands a book that has my name on the cover? Do I want that physical representation of my story that I can share with the world?” If so, a novel might be a better fit. But if you’re certain you want to share your story as a movie, begin with a good understanding of what you want included in the screenplay. Know that it won’t contain the level of detail found in a novel. Also, think about the marketing of your screenplay. Do you have connections in the production industry? Do you have a film agent? If not, do you know people who might introduce you to potential agents?

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing? Reading, because not only do I learn new things, it also keeps me sharp as a writer. I like spending time outdoors and away from the internet and social media. I also have a dog and three cats who wrangle me from my office.

Finally, how is that first screenwriting client doing now? Once the screenplay was completed, the client provided it to contacts in the movie industry and is leveraging his celebrity status to have it reviewed by industry insiders. He’s not currently represented by a film agent, and the project is not yet optioned—but we’re hopeful!

A Question of Faith: The Christian Book Market

No Return Ticket follows a woman’s two-year journey around the world learning to live, love and let go.

If you identify as Christian, you’re likely well aware that “Christian” means different things to different people. Broadly speaking, Christianity asks its followers to abide by the Gospel and teachings of Jesus. But Christianity is a tree with many branches, including numerous denominations, traditions, and ideological variations.

Like Christianity itself, the Christian book market is vast and varied. From the types of books (devotionals, Biblical analyses, and Christian-themed fiction, just to name a few) to where to promote and sell books intended for a Christian audience, this “niche” market can feel overwhelmingly difficult to navigate.

If you’re considering writing a Christian-themed book, here are a few pointers to keep in mind:

  • Consider your content. Christians readers are generally more tolerant of a limited amount (and degree) of violence than they are of swearing or sex. This is particularly relevant if you’re writing Christian fiction. Make sure your characters “walk the walk” and “talk the talk.”
  • For nonfiction, make “story” a part of your book. Whether devotional, reflection, how-to, or any other nonfiction genre, readers will be more engaged if your personal story is integral to the content. This is not a means of “tooting your own horn,” but rather a way to demonstrate Christ’s influence and inspiration in your life.
  • Seek endorsements. An endorsement from a Christian personality goes a long way. As you write the book, think about influencers you might have connections with (well-known pastors, Christian media personalities, and so on) who could be willing to endorse the book.
  • Become comfortable with promotion. As a Christian, you might find it awkward to self-promote. Christians are taught that it’s about Jesus, not about them—therefore, self-promotion feels strange to many first-time Christian authors. However, putting yourself out there is vital if you want to reach an audience. It helps to think of your book as a way to talk about Jesus and bring deeper meaning to your readers’ lives.
  • Understand the market. Since roughly 65% of Americans identify as Christian, it stands to reason that Christians make up the majority market share of book buyers in the U.S. However, most traditionally published Christian books are aimed at evangelical Christians. This is because evangelicals control the largest Christian retail bookstores in the U.S. In order to get your book in these bookstores, you will likely need to seek a traditional Christian publisher, rather than self-publish.
  • Find other outlets. If you want to self-publish your faith-based book, there are other avenues for finding an audience. E-books are simpler to promote than physical books, because online retailers make it easy for self-published authors to keyword their books appropriately and target their intended audience. As for physical books, your church’s bookstore, local independent booksellers that have a “Religion and Spirituality” section, your local library, and religious conferences and events are all good outlets to try.

Are you ready to spread the Word? If there’s a faith-based book you’re yearning to write, but the writing, editing, and/or marketing seem intimidating, please get in touch. We’d love to discuss your project and help you launch your title into the extensive, exciting world of Christian books!

How Can I Help? The Self-Help Book

The College of the Future lays out a bold plan to help America’s private, non-profit colleges innovate and flourish within a challenging environment.

Who needs help? Perhaps the better question—especially these days—is, who doesn’t?

The self-help industry, always a robust category of publishing, has enjoyed exponential growth. According to a March 2021 Library Journal article, “…U.S. sales of self-help books grew annually by 11 percent from 2013 to 2019, reaching 18.6 million volumes. Meanwhile, the number of self-help titles in existence nearly tripled during that period, from 30,897 to 85,253.” While data for the “pandemic years” is forthcoming, it’s not a stretch to believe that since 2020, the self-help industry has grown even more.

If you’re considering writing (or having ghostwritten) a self-help book, these statistics are both fantastic and inspiring. But how do you crack into that market?

Below are a few pointers:

  • Know—and be passionate about—your subject. What are you not just good at, but great at? What do you know inside out? What challenges have you personally faced and overcome, and how did you do that? Selecting a subject that has significant meaning for you and that you know a great deal about will go a long way toward writing a book that has meaning for readers, too.
  • Have a story. It’s important to be an expert, but when it comes to self-help, it’s also vital to personalize your expertise. Whether it’s health/fitness, parenting, relationships, or anything else, readers want to know that you’ve personally faced the challenges they’re facing, and that you’ve discovered and implemented successful solutions. Weaving your personal story into your self-help book engages readers and demonstrates empathy for the audience.
  • Provide actionable steps. Self-help readers want to know not only how you did it, but how they can do it, too. Breaking down the material into actionable steps, including bullet lists and/or step-by-step exercises, helps the audience follow in your footsteps to achieve their own success as they work to master the material.
  • Be humble. While you want to be seen as an expert, it’s off-putting if your tone implies that you have all the answers. Each of us is an individual, and no one can completely walk in another’s shoes. Your readers’ paths will not be identical to yours; it’s important to recognize and respect the differences between yourself and others. Your job is to provide insight, inspiration, and education, while remembering that your reader is the student, and you are the teacher.
  • Market your book strategically. Online search engines continue to become more and more sophisticated. This is good news for self-help authors, because by using strategic SEO (search engine optimization), you can make it effortless for readers to find your book when they’re searching for answers to specific questions.

It might sound like a lot to take on, but at Mark Graham Communications, we’re here to
help (pun intended). Our team of ghostwriters, editors, book designers, and book marketers can help get your message to the right audience, at the right time—quickly putting you on the path to becoming a successful self-help author.

Interested? Please get in touch. We’d love to discuss your idea and help you get started
with your self-help book!

Niche Books Sell! (What’s Yours?)

“The queen of beach reads” (New York Magazine) delivers an immensely satisfying page-turner in this tale about a summer of scandal at a storied Nantucket hotel.

Pop Quiz, Part 1: What’s the current #3 top seller in “Literature & Fiction” on Amazon?

If you read fiction, you might be able to guess that it’s by Elin Hilderbrand, and it’s her latest release, The Hotel Nantucket. It was published about two weeks ago and already has 4,100 ratings, averaging 4.5 out of 5 stars. Hilderbrand, the author of close to twenty novels, is one of the top-selling authors of our time. Her first novel was published in 2000. Most of her novels are romance and are set on Nantucket Island, where she lives. The New York Post once called her “the queen regent of the easy-breezy summer read.”

Pop Quiz, Part 2: What’s the current #3 top seller in “Children’s Ancient Civilization Fiction”?

Not sure? It’s a book titled Addison Cooke and the Treasure of the Incas, by Jonathan W. Stokes. It was published in October 2016—almost six years ago. As of this writing, it has 639 ratings, with a 4.7-star average score. It’s the first in a series, and the second and third titles in the series hold the #75 and #70 slots, respectively, in the same category.

I bring this up to illustrate a point: Now on his seventh book (three in the Addison Cooke series and four others), Mr. Stokes is creating a market niche for himself.

There was no Amazon data in 2000, but I’d guess that Ms. Hilderbrand began the same way. She wrote a romance novel set on Nantucket—and then another and another and another. Over time, she created a market niche that readers now associate with her name. That led to her becoming not only a bestseller in her market niche, but an overall bestseller.

None of this is to suggest that if you’re considering writing a book or having one ghostwritten, you should “write to the marketplace.” Quite the contrary: Your book will be more authentic, engrossing, and informative if you write about what truly inspires you and what you passionately want to share with readers.

That being said, there’s power in the market niche. By becoming a top seller in a niche category, you can bring attention to your books. As a niche bestseller, you demonstrate that you have expertise in a particular subject. Readers interested in that subject will look for further books by you, because you’ve established yourself as an influencer in your niche.

This works for nonfiction, too. For example, a nonfiction title by a debut author about starting and growing a home-based business is unlikely to launch to the top of the list in the “Entrepreneurship” category. However, if it’s well written, instructive, and skillfully promoted, the same title could much more easily become a bestseller in the “Home-Based Business Sales & Selling” category.

Does the idea intrigue you? Do you have a niche idea that you want to share with the world? If so, and if you’d like assistance writing your book, please contact us. We’d love to discuss your project and help you launch your niche book into the marketplace!

Switcheroo! (Or, Can an Author Switch Genres?)

The novel Back in the Real World, is a collaboration between Ed Turner, Cara Lopez Lee and Mark Graham Communications.

Congratulations! You’ve written and published a book. You’re talking up the book with everyone you know, checking your sales figures, and working hard to promote your work and reach new readers.

All of that is great – and you might, as we discussed last month, be considering a sequel or even a series. But what if, instead, you’re thinking of writing something completely different?

You wouldn’t be alone. Do the names Stephen King, Margaret Atwood, Philip Roth, or Neil Gaiman ring a bell? All of these celebrated authors have written successful books in multiple genres. Other authors, prominent in one genre, have published in another genre under a pseudonym. For example, J.K. Rowling pens crime fiction under the name Robert Galbraith, and Anne Rice was also romance author A.N. Roquelaure.

So how do you do it? How do you switch from one genre to another – especially if you’re an author who wants to work with a ghostwriter?

There are several possible scenarios in which a ghostwriter can help you switch genres:

  • You wrote and published one or more previous books, but now you want to create a story in a genre in which you’re not as comfortable. Perhaps you’ve taken a stab at something new – you’re an educator who has written textbooks, for example, but you have a historical novel up your sleeve – and you’ve found that this new genre doesn’t come as easily as your previous writing did. A ghostwriter can help you get your ideas onto the page and create a strong, compelling narrative.
  • A ghostwriter assisted with your previous book(s), but you’re ready for a different type of story. In this case, either the same or a different ghostwriter might be appropriate. For example, if you’ve written true crime with the help of a ghostwriter but now want to write fantasy, a ghostwriter who has experience with fantasy is likely the best fit for you. That might be the ghostwriter you’ve already worked with, or it might be someone else. In either case, we can help. The writing team at Mark Graham Communications has a wide range of experience. We specialize in matching you with a writer who fits your project and working style.
  • You have two different projects in mind. Perhaps you haven’t written that first book yet, either with a ghostwriter or on your own. But you know you’re interested in working with a ghostwriter to tell stories in multiple, distinct genres. In this case, we can help you figure out where to start, which book to write first, and how to capitalize on your first book when you publish your second.

Speaking of that – once your second book hits the shelves, how do you promote it? Can your follow-up book ride the coattails of your debut, even if it’s in a different genre? This is a question without a single answer. If you’ve built a reputation in one area, readers might expect the same from you this time around. But with proper positioning and marketing, your previous fans are likely to come on board. For example, if you wrote a business book and you switch to memoir, you can market the “personal” aspects of how you built your business success – and thus draw your business book readers to your memoir.

We won’t mince words: switching genres isn’t easy. But as with any writing project, if it’s your passion and you’re willing to make the commitment, it can be done. And it absolutely can be successful.

If you need help, please get in touch. We’d love to talk with you about it!

What Does It Take to Write a Series?

Earthly Worlds, an exciting fantasy book, is a collaboration between Billy Wright and Mark Graham Communications.

Last month, we talked about worldbuilding and how a ghostwriter can assist with this process. Now, let’s take it one step further: what if your world is so vast, it doesn’t fit within the confines of a single book?

This isn’t unusual. Particularly in the fantasy genre, writing a sequel or going on to create a series is common. All we have to do is look at an epic series like Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter to know that readers tend to get immersed in such worlds. After reading one novel set in a fantasy world, readers want more.

For the would-be author with BIG ideas like this (but not necessarily the time and/or skillset to bring them to life), a ghostwriter can be instrumental to the process. Using a ghostwriter, authors can take their story from dreams and notes to full-fledged books – one right after another.

To learn more about creating a ghostwritten fantasy series, we turned to Mark Graham Communications’ client Billy Wright. His first fantasy adventure novel, Earthly Worlds, written in collaboration with a Mark Graham Communications ghostwriter, was published in 2020. Last year, Billy followed up with Dark Vengeance.

Mark Graham Communications: Please tell us about your books.

Billy Wright: The concept for Earthly Worlds is derived from some very realistic dreams I’ve had. It’s a fantasy adventure story filled with light and dark magical worlds and creatures. These magical aspects are intermingled with the “earthly worlds” of a young Arizona family, Stewart and Liz Riley and their kids. The story twists and turns, going up and down and around, ensuring readers see and feel every moment.

MGC: What inspired you to write Earthly Worlds?

BW: My inspiration is my love of a good adventure story, mixed with my dreams. I’ve always devoured fantasy adventure stories, and when the idea for one of my own came to me via my dreams, it gripped me and wouldn’t let go. Add in the encouragement of my family, and I decided to go for it. I started making notes and journal entries about my dreams and thoughts, and over time, the concept for Earthly Worlds emerged.

MGC: What made you decide to seek the assistance of a professional ghostwriter?

BW: Although the dreams, ideas, and thoughts that encompass my story are very real to me, I knew that bringing them to life in a proper format required the help of experts in this field. Having the assistance of a ghostwriter gave the project focus and ensured its professional style, full story arc, and presentation.

MGC: Did you always know your story would be told via a series?

BW: Writing a sequel to Earthly Worlds was an obvious choice. From the start, I knew the story was too big for one book – and it continues to grow. Creating a sequel was the only possible way to continue telling the story.

MGC: What are the advantages to having a series available to readers?

BW: To me, having an Earthly Worlds series is the only way to bring readers on a journey of this magnitude. The series will eventually be put in screenplay form, which I believe will bring an already extremely visual story to life in theatres and homes.

MGC: Will you work with a Mark Graham Communications ghostwriter for the screenplay and additional books in the series?

BW: I already am, for the third book in the series. The teamwork that’s gone into this project is like the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” In much the same way, it takes a great team to bring a project like Earthly Worlds to life. I’m grateful to the Mark Graham Communications team that I have on board for this project.

Is a world coming to you in your dreams? Do you need help bringing that world to life on the page? If so, please contact us – we’re here to help!

A Story to Tell: The Ghostwritten Novel

Last month on the blog, we talked about worldbuilding – the process of creating an entirely different world from our own, populating it with characters and a compelling storyline – and how a ghostwriter can assist with this process. 

Learn how ghostwriters from Mark Graham Communications can help you tell your story.

What if you have a story to tell, but it’s not “otherworldly”? What if you want to write a contemporary novel – or one that’s historical, western, thriller, or mystery? Can a ghostwriter help you develop such a novel?

The simple answer is yes. The not-so-simple answer dives deeper into how the ghostwritten novel process works. 

It all begins with what the prospective client brings to the table. Typically, a client comes to Mark Graham Communications (MGC) with an idea or a personal story they think would make a great novel. Sometimes, the client has a partially finished manuscript that needs the help of an expert writer to bring it to completion. We evaluate the materials and match the project with a ghostwriter who has the skillset that best aligns with the needs of the particular project.

Next comes the interview process. It’s important to sit down with the client for extensive discussions, either in person or via Zoom. The goal of the interviews is to generate enough information for the ghostwriter to craft the novel’s outline. Think of it like a tree that grows from a story seed. From the idea come characters, plot, and important events.

The recorded interviews are then transcribed. Using the transcriptions, the ghostwriter builds the book’s outline, then submits it to the client for further discussion and/or approval. At this point, the writing begins.

If you’re a reader (and we’d guess you are), you know that the best novels are character-based. Fully developed characters drive a compelling narrative. For a ghostwritten novel, characters are discussed during the interview process, then further developed once the writing begins, as the creativity of client and ghostwriter interact. The ghostwriter’s job is to look for characters’ inherent wants and needs, discovering conflicts that gel in dramatic ways with the plot. At each step of the process, the ghostwriter works with the client to ensure both characters and storyline are developing in a way that matches the client’s vision.

What if you have a great idea, but you’re not sure what type of novel you want to write? Again, if you’re a reader, you know there are thousands of books out there competing for readers’ attention. How do you ensure your novel will fit into the marketplace and find readers? 

Again, this is an area where our team offers tremendous value. The publishing world is a complex and ever-changing ecosystem. Aspects of the business that were true 10, 5, or even 2 years ago have already changed. Readers of different genres have different expectations. Keeping the reader in mind is important for any project, and it’s MGC’s job to guide clients through that process, ensuring the finished novel has a firm place in the book world and the client has solid ideas about promoting and marketing their novel. 

If this sounds like it takes a lot of time, that can be true – but what it truly takes is dedication, on the part of both the client and the ghostwriter. Ghostwriting is a recursive process. Generally, each chapter is submitted to the client, who offers changes and further ideas, until a first draft is complete. Then the ghostwriter goes through the entire manuscript, giving the writing polish, enhancing story threads, and looking for ways to give the novel extra zing. A second draft is submitted to the client for feedback. When the final manuscript is approved, it goes to copy edit, then production. 

Once the novel has a cover and professionally designed pages, it’s ready to launch into the world! Online publishing makes it easy for clients to publish their own books, both as e-books and print-on-demand physical books. For more information, click here. 

Are you ready? Do you want to see your vision become a novel with your name on the cover? If so, please contact us – we’re eager to help!

What is Worldbuilding? And Why is It Important in Ghostwritten Books?

This insightful book was written by Kristin E. Smith, M.A. and Mark Graham Communications.

At Mark Graham Communications, our clients tend to fall into two camps: the pragmatic and the dreamers. Our pragmatic clients have specific information (business-related, personal, and/or set within concrete space and time) that they want to share with readers. Their ghostwritten books are platforms for getting that information into the hands of a particular audience.

The dreamers are different. Often, they have a fantastic, entirely made-up narrative that they’re itching to tell. Many of them have created a fictional world inside their minds, a world they cannot stop thinking about. This world might include specific locales, characters, and events. Perhaps it somewhat resembles our actual world, or perhaps it’s completely dissimilar. Either way, the world “speaks” to a dreamer, whispering in the dreamer’s ears that its story must be told.

This process is called worldbuilding. The term has become widespread in recent years, but worldbuilding as a concept likely dates as far back as 1516, when Sir Thomas More penned Utopia. Generally considered the realm of fantasy and science fiction, worldbuilding now goes beyond books to media such as movies, video games, and roleplaying games. It’s not unusual for the author of a “worldbuilt” novel to aspire to expanding their world beyond a single book – into a series and/or other media.

When a client with an idea for a novel set in another realm comes to us, they often bring copious notes about their world. They have likely already done (or at least begun) the hard work of figuring out the world’s environment, culture, history, and laws. They may have characters in mind for the world, and/or a particular conflict within the world that they want to share with readers.

Why, then, wouldn’t such an author simply write their own novel? They’ve already done the work of creating the world. Why would they decide to work with a ghostwriter?

The reasons are many and varied. Often, our worldbuilding clients – our “dreamers” – have thorough ideas about their world but do not have the time and/or skills to turn those ideas into a full-fledged novel. They may need guidance about creating compelling conflict and satisfying resolution. They might want assistance with developing characters who are (possibly) not human in form and yet are relatable to human readers, generating empathy and a desire to learn more about the world and its inhabitants.

A ghostwriter brings these skills to the table. Working closely with the author-client, the ghostwriter’s job is to take the client’s notes about their world, ideas for story and characters, and concepts for expanding the world beyond one book, and turn these into a viable, engaging first novel. The client – now an author with their name on the cover of their book – can build on the platform of the first completed book to work with the ghostwriter to add to the series, pitch their world to creators of other media, and expand the world as their audience grows.

Perhaps this sounds easy. We won’t mince words: it isn’t. Worldbuilding, working with a ghostwriter to create a first novel, then potentially a series, takes time and dedication. Finding an audience for the story, expanding the world, and adding to the series are no small tasks.

But the dreamers – those who hear that persistent whisper in their ears – are undaunted by the idea. They’re eager to share their world with an audience, grow their readership, and create excitement about the fantastical world that, thus far, has existed only inside their heads.

Are you a dreamer? Do you have a world you want to share? If so, please contact us. We’re excited to learn about your world – and we want to help you bring it to life!

Traditional Publishing? Self-Publishing? What’s the Difference?

If you’ve spent any time on Amazon in the past decade or so, you’ve likely noticed what seems like an explosion of new books. Daily, new titles pop up to entice readers of every genre and every interest. The number of book titles for sale online reaches well into the millions.

Dig a little deeper, and you’ll notice something else: while there are some very recognizable publisher names (HarperCollins, Penguin Random House), there are also thousands of publishers you’ve likely never heard of.

Some of these are small presses, which function the same as the “big” publishers, just on a smaller scale. But many more of these are company names established by self-published authors to publish their own, individual titles.

So what (or who) is a self-published author? In essence, a self-published author is anyone who produces and sells their book as a private entity, rather than through an established, traditional publishing company.

Years back, self-publishing had negative connotations. Called “vanity press” back then, self-publishing was seen as the realm of authors who were unable to secure a traditional publishing deal for their book. But that’s no longer the case. Many authors choose to self-publish, for reasons that include the following:

  • Autonomy. Self-published authors make every decision about their books, from cover design to how and where to promote the book.
  • Speed. The first step in getting a book traditionally published is usually to find an agent, which can take months or years. Once an agent is on board, the agent submits the book to publishers – again, a process that can go on for months. After a publisher makes an offer on the book and the author accepts it, traditional publishing generally takes at least a year (and often more) until the “pub date” (the date the book is released in the world). Self-published books, by contrast, can often be brought to market within months, because the author controls the entire process.
  • Ease of accessibility. With print-on-demand services, self-published authors do not need to have large quantities of their books pre-printed. Instead, when the book is ordered online, a copy can be immediately printed and shipped.
    The above likely begs the question: With all those advantages, why would anyone choose traditional publishing? Below are a few reasons:
  • Distribution. Traditional publishers have much more robust distribution systems than most self-published authors. Traditional publishers can get books distributed to bookstores, sometimes nationwide. For self-published authors, getting their books into bookstores often requires additional legwork. (For more information, see the blog post “How To Get Your Book in Local Bookstores.”)
  • Production. Traditional publishers pay for cover designers, copy editors, and other professionals who help bring the book to market. For self-published authors, these costs are paid for up front by the author.
  • Promotion. The publisher has marketing and publicity staff who assist the author with these tasks. Often, in-house marketing and publicity staff have contacts that lead to press coverage, events, and other promotional opportunities that might be more difficult for the self-published author to attain.

If you’re considering having a book ghostwritten, which is the right path? While there’s no single answer to that question, at Mark Graham Communications, we find most of our clients choose self-publishing. Often, this is because they want to control their own process and see the book they’ve dreamt about for so long become a reality as soon as possible.
Whichever path you choose, we’re here to help! If you’re interested in talking further about your book idea, please get in touch. We’re excited to work with you!