How To Get Your Book in Local Bookstores

The Art of Spies, a fascinating thriller, was a collaboration between Robert E. O’Connell III and Mark Graham Communications.

A question we frequently hear is, “How do I get my book into bookstores?” 

Seeing their book on a bookstore shelf is the dream of most authors – and authors of ghostwritten books are no exception. (Rest assured, if Mark Graham Communications ghostwrites your book, you are the author – because it’s your story and your book.) 

So how do you get your book on those shelves? If the book is traditionally published (using an agent and a publishing house), bookstores will stock it via distributors. Any copies that don’t sell are returned to the distributor. The disadvantage (for authors) is that distributors take a large cut of the sale price. If you’re traditionally published, you’ll receive an advance for your book, which helps offset this cut. Because there is no advance involved in self-publishing, the distributor model doesn’t work for many self-published authors.

So what’s a self-published author to do?

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Get It Written Before the Memories Are Lost

An award winning biography ghostwritten with Paul Wayne by Mark Graham Communications

This award winning memoir was a collaboration between Paul Wayne and Mark Graham Communications

In February on the blog, we introduced you to a Mark Graham Communications (MGC) client and ghostwriter who worked together to unravel a mystery in the client’s past. Today, I’d like to share another story about this same client and writer.

An important aspect of most memoirs is photographed. When telling your life story, you want to include a visual representation of cherished moments from the past. As with most MGC clients, this is true for the nonagenarian who is working with our ghostwriter to tell her family’s history. The client’s adult children are also collaborating on the project.

Not long ago, we met on Zoom – myself, the ghostwriter, the client, and her children – to go over family photographs, deciding which ones to include in the client’s forthcoming book.

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Physical Books are Eternal

Wired Differently is a collaboration between Todd Saylor and Mark Graham Communications.

There’s no doubt that e-books have changed the publishing landscape. No longer limited to carrying around physical books, today’s readers can reach for their reading device – tablet, phone, Kindle, Nook, or otherwise – upon which hundreds of books can be stored, then opened and read with a few finger swipes.

For many people, the advent of the e-book has changed their reading habits. The accessibility and portability of e-books (not to mention audiobooks) has transformed some previous non-readers into readers, while also increasing the number of books already-avid readers consume each year. Factor in the pandemic, which has restricted browsing in physical bookstores and libraries, and it seems unlikely that anyone would ever again choose to read a physical book.

And yet, print book sales continue to hold steady – and even, according to some reports, increase. Publisher’s Weekly reported a 7.9% increase, year over year, in print book sales for the same weeks in October 2020 vs. October 2019. The largest increase was in the adult nonfiction category.[i]

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Research: What Does It Entail?

This eye-opening memoir from a Vietnam POW was written by Robert Wideman, Cara Lopez Lee and Mark Graham Communications

Recently, a Mark Graham Communications (MGC) ghostwriter faced a conundrum. The project was a family history/memoir, with the primary subject a woman in her nineties. Her family wanted to capture the woman’s stories and produce the book as a keepsake. Over the years, the woman had written personal essays and recorded numerous family stories, which provided a perfect starting point for the book. Using these materials and input from family members and the woman herself, the ghostwriter developed a robust historical memoir.

The problem? As is common with personal history, some vital details had been lost – and the woman was unsure about the specifics. One example involved a teaching job offer she’d received. The woman believed this had happened in 1948 or 1949. However, among the woman’s papers was her offer letter from the school district, dated 1951. Ensuring the correct sequence of events was vital to other aspects of the story. When asked about this, the nonagenarian couldn’t recall the exact timeline.

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What Does “Genre” Really Mean?

image of the Aftershock book cover

This motivational self-help book was a collaboration with Kelli Poles and Mark Graham Communications

The term “genre” is nearly as old as literature itself. And, of course, books are not the only form of communication to use the term. Music, movies, TV shows, podcasts, and just about every other means of creative expression also fall into genres. But for the purpose of this discussion, let’s focus on genre in books.

But what is genre? Simply stated, genre identifies a book as a certain type. We all know (and perhaps are!) readers who are attracted to particular types of books. It’s not unusual to hear someone say, “I love mysteries,” or “As a reader, I gravitate toward nonfiction,” or “I’m addicted to fantasy!” All of these booklovers are talking about their favorite genre.

Books within a specific genre share these traits:

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The Difference Between Any Ghostwriter and the RIGHT Ghostwriter

Inspired by real life events, this fascinating story is a collaboration between Gretchen Wiegand, Anna McDermott and Mark Graham Communications.

Go online and Google “ghostwriter,” and you’ll find no shortage of hits. And it’s no wonder. Self-publishing has made it easier than ever to get a book out in the world. However, while many of us have a story to tell or an area of expertise to share, not everyone has the time or skills to write a full-length book. The ghostwriting industry has evolved to address this need.

So you’ve decided that collaborating with a ghostwriter could be the next move for you – and you’ve begun exploring options. But how do you go about finding the right ghostwriter for your project?

Consider the following:

  • Does the ghostwriter have a proven track record? Do they have links to previous projects? If there are Amazon links to the ghostwriter’s previous collaborations, you can often read a few pages by clicking “Look Inside.” Evaluating previous projects should give you a sense of the ghostwriter’s capabilities.
  • Do all of the ghostwriter’s previous projects look and sound somewhat the same? If so, the ghostwriter may have a bias toward writing in their own voice, rather than understanding and writing in their clients’ voices. Remember, this is your book. Your voice should come through, loud and clear. Skilled ghostwriters are adept at nailing a client’s voice and using it consistently.

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Writing a Self-Help Book the Right Way

image of The Race for Good Credit book cover

The Race for Good Credit was written by Trent L. Pettus and Mark Graham Communications.

Yes, Self-Help books can help. They can change someone’s life, someone’s view of the world, or the way they present themselves to the world.  If you know something that can make a difference, writing a Self-Help book is a fantastic way to share it.  Here are a few thoughts as you get started.

  • Know your idea. What is the message you are delivering?  Can you break out your ideas into chapter headings?  This may sound simplistic, but you need to have a roadmap if you intend to write a book that’s somewhere between 100-200 pages.  On the flip side, don’t get so caught up in the details that you forget to put pen to paper and start writing.
  • Knowing your subject inside and out is important, but it is equally as important to have stories that illustrate your message. Fun stories, serious stories, unusual stories. The importance of the story is so your reader will have something that clearly illustrates your point, and then has that moment where she or he says, “Oh, I see how that works.”

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Ghostwriting and the Book Marketing Process

Fallen Medicine: A Nurse's Dark Journey Through Ptsd, Drug Abuse and Sexual Addiction

This fascinating story of a nurse suffering from PTSD was a collaboration between D. F. Thompson and Mark Graham Communications.

Let’s say you’ve enlisted the help of a special ghostwriter to assist in creating the book of your dreams.  The process does not end with a completed manuscript. In fact, it doesn’t end once you’ve had your book designed, printed, and upload as an ebook.

Now it’s time to get to work and thoroughly market what you’ve created.  Books don’t sell on their own.  They have to be effectively marketed.  So let’s talk about some key points.

  • Know your audience. Yes, of course you’ve thought of this while you were writing. Now you have to tailor your marketing to that audience. Old or young, male or female, educated or not.
  • Build a brand for your book and yourself as the author. This is very important and not as easy as you might think. Do your research in this area and then be certain your brand is one you are excited about and can readily support.

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The Seeds of Great Ghostwriting

No Return Ticket – this memoir was a collaboration between Andi Crockford and Mark Graham Communications

If you are someone searching for a special ghostwriter for your book project – be it a novel, memoir, biography, self-help book, or business book – you need to know the right questions to ask. Just as importantly, expect your ghostwriter to ask the right questions in return. These questions represent the seeds of great ghostwriting.

When you’re asking about someone’s credentials, you most assuredly want a ghostwriter who has written and published his or her own books and someone who has received a certain about of critical acclaim.  Why?  Because this speaks to the writer’s skills in creating a great story, delivering a strong message, and effectively hooking your audience.

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For the Love of Ghostwriting

This fantasy novel was a collaboration between Billy Wright and Mark Graham Communications.

Ghostwriting is not just a craft; it is an art.
First, you have to be a talented writer.
Second, you have to be a sensational communicator.
Third, you have to be a good businessperson.

Here’s the first thing to love.  If you are a talented writer, you want to write. Ghostwriting can offer this.  No, you’re not writing your own material, per se, but you are engaging in the art and craft of doing what you love. You’re becoming better at what you love because you’re practicing. All writing is practicing.  Every sentence is practicing for the next sentence, making you a better writer.

No, you may not be writing your own thing, but, if you’re working on a novel, you are being challenged to create a storyline, develop characters, and world build. If you’re writing a memoir or biography, you’re jumping into another person’s world and bringing their many stories into a cohesive, readable journey. If you’re writing a business book or self-help book, you’re exploring terrain your own writing very likely will never take you. Very rewarding.

Is ghostwriting tough? It most certainly is.

You’re bringing something to life that is the product of another person’s brainchild. You have to understand that product, access their process, travel a road of their making, all the while enhancing the product, maximizing the process, and paving the road. You may be a novelist writing a business book. Yes, a challenge, but one a talented writer relishes.  You may be screenwriter penning a memoir. Yes, a completely different genre, but one a talented writer can adapt to and thrive in.

When you are bringing to life a client’s idea, the challenge is on you to create a strong and fruitful relationship with that client so you effectively reflect that idea.  Ghostwriting is a partnership, so it’s not for everyone. You have to thrive in that partnership, and very often you have to take the lead in that partnership. You either love that part of the job or you may not want to go there.

It’s not all about you. 

What does that mean?  It means the challenge for the client is to find the right ghostwriter. Someone who sees ghostwriting as a profession.  Someone who likes the idea of doing something they enjoy, something they do well, and, along the way, get paid for it. Sounds romantic. It’s not. It’s work. If you don’t like to work, you won’t love ghostwriting.