A Step-By-Step Guide for Choosing Your Assisted Self-Publisher

If you’re thinking about writing a book for your business or personal brand, you’ve probably got questions about publishing. Maybe you’ve read my articles on publishing for physicians or choosing the right publishing path for you, and you’ve learned that you’ve got more options than you thought for getting your book into the world. 

Traditional publishers still hold industry prestige. But authors can get higher royalties, faster timelines, and more creative control with hybrid and assisted self-publishers. You’ll own your intellectual property after publishing, which is not true with traditional publishers. Plus, you won’t need to go through a publishing agent (or fork over royalty percentages to them). For many business authors, the choice is a no-brainer. 

Whether you want to publish a book to gain more speaking engagements, consulting gigs, industry recognition, or a book funnel, hybrid and assisted self-publishing is an excellent choice. But (and you’ve probably guessed this) not all assisted self-publishers are built alike. And there’s a process I like to follow to help my clients evaluate whether a publisher is a good fit for them. 

Before we start looking at assisted self-publishers and hybrid publishers, it’s worth understanding what the distinctions are between the two of them. I’ll make a blog post going into more detail soon, but there are two major differences you should know about:

  • Hybrid publishers pay royalties. When you work with an assisted self-publisher, you’ll typically get up to 100% of net sales
  • Hybrid publishers tend to be more selective about the works they publish because your book also represents their brand as a collaborator. Assisted self-publishers tend to view the author as a client rather than a collaborator. 

With either route, the author is paying to have their book professionally edited, designed, and distributed. But the quality of these elements depends on the publisher you choose. So let’s dig into this step-by-step guide for choosing an assisted self-publisher. 

How to Choose Your Assisted Self-Publisher in 2023

Here’s what to do to find the right publishing firm for you:

1. Find Firms & Make a Short List of Best Fit

The best way to find a publisher is through a referral from someone who’s worked with them before. Have any of your friends or colleagues published their own books? They’d be the first people I’d ask. If you’re already working with a ghostwriter or book coach, they’ll probably have recommendations for you. Feel free to reach out to me directly if you want my recommendations for publishing firms. 

But you might not know someone who’s published, and you might not feel ready to talk to a ghostwriter or book coach either. If I was just starting out looking for a firm I’d probably start out with a Google Search. I skip past the ads at the top; I like publishers who are invested in their own written content enough to rank organically with Google. Then check out their websites and notice the clients they work with. 

If you’re like the authors I write for, you have pretty specific business goals for your book, and these should align with the publishers you search for. For example, many hybrid and assisted self-publishers work specifically with business owners. Some are even more specific than that, and they may work exclusively with coaches, consultants, lawyers, etc. 

Check out testimonials from firms to see how their past client experiences have been. But remember that businesses choose the testimonials on their website; you might want to contact a previous client or two to get the real scoop on their experiences. 

There are a few red flags that can tell you a publisher isn’t a good fit based on their website and previous projects. Ella Ritchie, founder of Stellar Communications in Houston, says,

“Beware book covers that look cheap and retail synopses that are incomplete. Your best bet is a corporate website that is up-to-date, showcases impressive work, shares information generously, and shows positive engagement with its audience.”

Check out a few websites, and make a note of ones that show professional projects with authors similar to you. Then use these evaluation questions to narrow down your list.

2. Evaluate Publishing Firms Using These Criteria from Scott MacMillan

Scott MacMillan runs Grammar Factory Publishing, a premier assisted self-publishing firm for business owners and entrepreneurs. Scott generously offered his insight on red flags in publishers, and how to know if a publisher is a good fit. 

Here are Scott’s words on evaluating a publishing partner:

  1. Are they experienced (or better, specialized) in publishing the type of book you’re writing at the level of quality you’re expecting? 

Many assisted self-publishers publish books for any author willing to pay, whether that’s fiction, poetry, a children’s books, a memoir or a nonfiction business book. Look for a publisher who has success working with other authors in your genre and has published titles that meet your expectation of the quality you want to see in your published book. 

For example, if you’re writing a kids book, look for a publisher specializing in kids books. By contrast, if you’re writing a nonfiction book that supports your business, look for a publisher that focuses exclusively on that type of book.

  1. Are they up front about what they’re great at and can refer you to others who excel in other areas? 

Don’t expect a publisher to excel at everything from ghostwriting or coaching through to editing and publishing through to marketing and publicity and beyond. Seek out a publisher who is excellent at the core activities of publishing (editing, design, production and distribution) and who has solid contacts they can introduce you to in adjacent areas where you may need further support. 

Bonus points if they are able to coordinate productively and collaboratively with those providers too. That’s an excellent way to get best-in-class support throughout the entire author journey. 

  1. Does their delivery model (deliverables, time to market, rights lock-up) suit your goals? 

Two big advantages of assisted self-publishing are: 

1) the ability to get to market quickly, and 

2) owning all rights to your book from the start. 

Make sure the self-publishing you’re considering has a systematic approach to completing your book and getting it to market in the timeframe you expect (4-6 months is generally reasonable) and confirm that you’ll own all copyright to and revenue from your book from the outset. 

Your publisher should be able to show you, with reasonable precision, how your publishing project and the associated deliverables will unfold. They should also be able to communicate where things may stretch or shorten a bit depending on certain variables like revisions, additional rounds of editing and the like.  

Using these questions to narrow down your list will help you choose a publisher who is genuinely a good fit for your project. From there, you might want to reach out to the firms on your list to book a consultation or get a list of their packages and rates. I’d recommend talking to someone before you sign any contracts though. Let’s go over questions to ask your assisted self-publisher before you agree to work together. 

3. Questions to Ask an Assisted Self-Publishing Firm

When you hop on a call with a hybrid or assisted self-publisher, you’ll want to get answers to these specific questions:

1. What services are included in your publishing package? Can I get a custom package? 

2. What’s the range of publishing costs I can expect from your firm? Are there any hidden costs I should be aware of?

3. How are royalties structured, and what percentage of royalties will I receive from book sales?

4. What is the distribution strategy for my book, and which retailers and platforms will it be available on?

5. Do you offer marketing and promotional services to help increase the visibility of my book?

6. What is the timeline I might expect for where I am in my project?

7. How do you handle editing and proofreading, and will my manuscript receive professional editing services?

8. Can you provide references or testimonials from authors who have published with your firm?

9. How do you handle book distribution, returns, and inventory management?

10. Do you offer any additional services, such as audiobook production or foreign translation rights?

11. What is the process for obtaining copies of my book, and at what cost?

12. How do you handle copyright and ISBN registration for my book?

13. What is the contract duration, and are there any termination clauses or penalties if I decide to end the agreement early?

These questions will help you evaluate the services and terms offered by an assisted self-publisher. If you have a manuscript already, the publisher may ask to look at it to put together a custom proposal of you. Let’s talk about how to evaluate a publishing package. 

4. Evaluating a Publishing Package & Contract

Publishing packages vary widely by terms of service, customization, and cost. Here’s how to evaluate your package to make sure it meets your needs:

Service Components

Look over the services included. You may want manuscript editing, but you’ll definitely want interior formatting, cover design, ISBN registration, and online distribution to Amazon and others. 

Royalty & Payout Structure

What percentage of net sales will you receive? If you’re using an assisted self-publisher, you’ll likely get all net sales. 

Marketing & Promotion

Many firms can include marketing in the publishing package. I’d urge you to use their marketing service or hire an outside firm to get professional book promoting support. Don’t spend thousands on publishing a book that no ne buys or reads!


Most firms use IngramSparks distribution network, but be aware that most hybrid and assisted self-publishers won’t put your book in bookstores. You’ll likely need to go to local bookstores and pitch your book to get them to carry it. 

Rights & Intellectual Property Ownership 

Make sure you’re keeping control of your intellectual property. Are there any exclusivity clauses that limit your options or force you to return to this publisher for work? This is a red flag, since first-refusal rights are not common outside of traditional publishing. 

Author Copies

Can you purchase copies of your book at a lesser cost than consumer copies? Some publishers require authors to purchase a certain amount of books to ensure that copies are sold. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but you should have a marketing plan to move those copies out of your garage.

Additional Services

Other services you might ask about include audiobook production, language translation, e-book distribution, and more. 

Author Payment Terms 

Of course, you should be clear on the full amount you can expect to pay for publishing. Typical assisted self publishing rates are between $10,000-40,000. These are usually spread out via payment plan that is based on project milestones. 

Picking the Perfect Publisher: Here’s How

A great publisher can be the difference between a beautiful, professional book and an amateurish project that you’re embarrassed to show your friends, let alone your business connections. 

Take your time when picking a publisher, and don’t fall for high-pressure marketing tactics. Check out a firm’s portfolio to get a feel for their quality of work, and seriously consider whether you enjoy working with the people involved. A book is a big project, and you want to partner with a firm you trust and admire. 

With the right publishing choice, you can ensure that your book reaches its intended audience, elevates your brand, and leaves a lasting impact. And if you want to skip steps 1 & 2, don’t hesitate to reach out to me for assisted self-publishing firm recommendations. No matter where you are in your nonfiction book journey, I’m happy to help. 

Starting Your Memoir? Steal My Killer Outline Template

Nine out of ten people want to write a book, but few of them will ever do it. A memoir leaves your legacy on the world and helps you share stories with impact. But there’s a lot of work between first putting pen to paper and picking up your published memoir off the shelf. Most people’s stories never see the light of day. 

This isn’t meant to discourage you, just to say that books are hard to write (and even harder to write well). Memoirs are some of my favorite books to read, and some of my favorite client projects. I love the intimacy of a memoir; both between the author and the reader, and between the client and the ghostwriter. 

Clients often come to me curious about how I’d strategize a memoir for their business. How can such a personal project be both a means of self-expression and a valuable investment? I want to pull back the curtain to show you how I help my clients build a memoir that’s not just a storytelling project, but a means to give away value for readers. 

If you’re just starting a memoir project, or you’re bogged down in the midst of one, you might be looking for some structure. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the writing process, no matter what stage you’re in. If you want to jump right to my killer memoir outline template, here it is

And if you want a little more information about how I start memoir projects with clients, read on to get my step-by-step process for a great biography.  

Step 1: Goals

Before you start writing, I want you to take a step back to think about the bigger goals for your memoir. It’s easy to get started in one direction, and look back to realize the pieces you’ve written aren’t aligned with your goals, or they don’t relate to the themes you want to emphasize. 

Journal or voice-record a response to each of these questions to gain that 30,000-foot perspective of your book goals:

  1. How do you want your book to serve readers? What overarching messages do you want them to come away with? 
  1. What are three results that you want to get out of this memoir project? Do you want to connect with people who can learn from your work? Get hired to speak about your expertise? 
  1. What’s one moment that will happen because of your book that will be a reason you’d break out the champagne? Is it booking that TEDtalk you’ve wanted? Giving your loved ones a hard-back legacy of your life?

Get clear on what outcomes you want from your book, so you can know who you want to speak to within the pages. Now let’s talk about your audience. 

Step 2: Audience

Your book isn’t for everyone. The best authors have a specific person in mind that they’re writing for. Narrow down your ideal reader so that your book speaks to them, and them alone. 

For many memoir authors, their ideal reader is a previous version of themselves. If you’re an experienced physician writing a memoir of your work in medicine, your ideal reader might be someone in medical school or residency. If you’re a woman who hiked the Pacific Crest Trail to find herself and recover from divorce, you might write to yourself when you were in a dysfunctional marriage. 

Let’s get clear on your primary audience for your memoir, then we can zero in on a more detailed avatar reader:

  1. Who is your primary audience? For example, medical students, women in their 20s, nurses working in the ICU, etc. 
  1. Give a more detailed explanation of your avatar reader. Are they wealthy or dirt-poor? Motivated or apathetic? 
  1. Let’s think harder about the pain your reader is in. Are they worried about the future? Do they feel conflicted about choices they’ve made? We don’t define their pain to exploit it, but to be sure we’re addressing it and relating to them. 
  1. What transformation do you want your reader to feel after reading your memoir? Many writers want readers to feel inspired, but I urge you to dig deeper than that. What specific action do you want them to take? What mindset shifts do you want them to experience because of your memoir?

Step 3: Big Ideas

Now let’s put all these elements together to create a Big Idea concept for your book. This is a one-sentence or short paragraph summary that you might want to have on hand. You’ll put together your ideal reader, your big goals, and the transformation you’re creating. 

Here’s a few examples of what I mean:

“My memoir inspires medical students to keep at it by teaching them that a career in medicine is whatever they want it to be.”

“This book shares my personal experiences as a nurse in the COVID-ICU to show other nurses that they’re not alone in their trauma, and to give them a community of other RNs to connect with.”

“This memoir highlights my experiences in the military and how I applied those lessons to my business. I want other veterans to know that they can transition out of the military with valuable civilan skills.” 

Once you’ve got a “Big Idea” sentence, now let’s switch that to your reader’s perspective. How would your readers describe your book to their friend? What’s the transformation they experienced because of your memoir? Here are a few examples using the Big Ideas above:

“I just read this memoir by a retired physician that made me feel a lot better about where I am in medical school. He showed me that I don’t have to go straight into a specialty or work for a major medical center to have an impactful medical career.”

“Being a nurse during the COVID pandemic was so traumatic, and my hospital never really addressed the things we saw in the ICU. This memoir was like reading my own experiences. The author reminded me that I can heal the trauma I went through, and that there’s a community of nurses I can turn to for support.” 

“If you’re a transitioning veteran, you should read this memoir. I was so intimidated by the idea of being a civilian again, but this author showed me how he adjusted and used the skills he learned from service to be successful in “normal” life.”

Now that you’ve got some perspective on how you want your book to affect the reader, you can get into the actual content of your memoir. 

Step 4: Chapter Brainstorming

Once you’ve got those Big Ideas on paper, you’ll have more direction for the stories and lessons you want to include. Memoirs (good ones that is) don’t need to include every interesting thing that’s ever happened to you. Memoirs, just like fiction, rely on theme to create focus. So let’s narrow in on the themes that are meaningful to both you and your reader. 

Jot down 10 important moments along your journey that contribute to the Big Idea of your story:











Write 10 moments that your ideal reader is experiencing. For example, waiting on a decision for residency, or the first day of residency.











Now let’s look at both lists and see where they overlap. You and your reader’s story will have some themes in common. Is it a loss of control while waiting on a decision for residency? Is it feeling like an imposter? Write down 5 common themes between your story and your reader’s experiences. 






Now you may want to go back to your list and add more stories that lean into the themes you’ve found. You may also need to go back and prune stories that aren’t contributing to theme. In the worksheet, I’ve got an ideas parking lot that helps me compile these ideas; we’re not throwing them away, just setting them aside for a later book. 

Step 5: Outlining & Storytelling

From the stories and themes you’ve chosen, we can now start to put together a loose outline of your chapters. There are a million different ways to structure your book, whether you want to tell stories in chronological order, use flash-backs, etc. But there’s one thing I want you to have in each chapter; a key takeaway sentence at the end. These help you round out your stories, and give your reader a moment to feel the lesson of each story you share. 

If you’re ready to dive into each chapter now, go to my outline worksheet to get started defining each section of your book. 

Memoir-Building: Key Takeaways

It might feel counterintuitive to think about your reader first, because this is your story after all. But I ask every client to consider their audience before thinking about the stories you want to share. Memoir can be a navel-gazing genre, and keeping your reader in mind will help you avoid writing a book that no one wants to read. 
I hope my killer outline sheet helps you get started on your memoir, and when you come up on roadblocks in the writing process, I’d love to help you problem-solve. Shoot me an email at marie@mariehasty.com to get personalized book advice and writing feedback.

Physician-Authors: Here’s Your Ultimate Guide to Publishing 

So you think you want to publish a book, huh? If you’re just starting down the path of being an author, you’ve probably got a ton of questions about writing, publishing, and book marketing. The publishing industry may seem baffling and mysterious if you’ve never been a part of it before. And for new authors, the barriers to publishing can make you wonder if writing a book is even a worthwhile project (hint: it is!). 

There are some big benefits to publishing a book, from building a legacy and sharing your story to marketing your brand as an industry leader. And even if you just want to write a book for yourself, you’ll learn a lot through the writing process. But it may not be clear what route you should take to achieve your unique book goals. So I put together this ultimate guide to publishing for physician-authors.

Hiya, I’m Marie! 

I’m a ghostwriter for clinician entrepreneurs and physician leaders. I help clients put together memoirs, medical education books, and branding books. And I love to see how this one big project can impact lives and businesses. 

My clients come to me with a range of goals, like. . .

🗣 Reaching their ideal consulting clients 

🩺 Generating more referrals for their clinic

✨ Telling their unique stories to help others

🎙 Getting noticed with a big idea in their industry

📣 Creating a jumping-off point for speaking engagements

📚 Building book funnels that bring people to their business

🤝 Creating relationships with big names and decision-makers

💉 Offering patients a tangible, personalized medical resource 

A professional nonfiction book can help you achieve a range of career goals. No matter your industry, a book is an impressive project to have under your belt. If you’re a physician thinking about writing a nonfiction book, whether it’s a memoir, medical book, business book, or something else entirely – here’s your guide on choosing a publishing path. 

The Publishing Models, Explained

If you’ve seen my quick-and-dirty publishing path guide, read on for a more in-depth view of what each publishing option is. Or skip to the end of this section for a handy-dandy chart. 

Traditional Publishing

If you work with a traditional publisher, they invest 100% of the expense of editing, designing, producing, and distributing your manuscript. Traditional publishers work on an advanced-based model (except when they don’t which I’ll talk about in a second). That means that you’ll submit a book proposal, and if you decide to work together, you’ll get a payout of your projected book sales. Big 5 publishing houses are:

  • HarperCollins, 
  • Simon & Schuster,
  • Penguin Random House,
  • Macmillan
  • Hachette

These are some of the largest and oldest firms in the world. But there are traditional publishers who aren’t members of the Big 5. These smaller houses may contract with larger firms to get a book produced. Some smaller traditional publishers include:

  • Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Wiley
  • Scholastic
  • Tyndale

There’s another option that falls under traditional publishing: small presses. Authors under small presses typically don’t get advances, and they’re friendly to more creative concepts. Popular small press publishers include:

  • Two Dollar Radio
  • Coffee House Press
  • The Feminist Press
  • Graywolf Press
  • Bellevue Literary Press

 Traditional publishing is a well-established process that’s produced beautiful books for decades. But the downside for authors is that it can take years to have your book published with a traditional house. And because they’re investing in your manuscript, your publishing house controls the content of your book. They can even control your next book. More on this later. 

Aside from these drawbacks, traditional publishing is an excellent option for writers who have a following or are writing books that are marketable to the general population. The greatest benefits of working with a traditional publisher are:

  1. Professional editorial and production support
  2. The prestige of a firm investing in your manuscript
  3. Widespread distribution (some smaller traditional firms don’t offer this)

In the last several years, the options for authors have expanded well past traditional houses. Today, self-publishing & DIY authors make up a majority of new books. Let’s talk about hybrid and assisted self-publishing.

Hybrid & Assisted Self-Publishing

While traditional publishing houses invest in 100% of the cost of your book, hybrid houses go in on these costs alongside authors. You’ll pay part of the cost of the publisher editing, producing, and distributing your work. You’ll also get a larger percentage of royalties on the back end. Hybrid publishers include: 

  • Morgan James
  • Amplify Publishing
  • Ingenium Books
  • Page Two Publishing
  • Warren Publishing

Assisted self-publishing is much the same, in that authors pay to have their books produced. Under this model, the author pays 100% of the costs to get their manuscript to print. Authors get complete control over their projects, along with support from industry experts. Assisted self-publishers include: 

  • The Grammar Factory
  • Girl Friday Productions
  • The Cadence Group
  • Friesen Press
  • Dudley Court Press

With both of these options, you’ll get professional guidance on your manuscript. The downside is that you’ll be paying for that guidance – hybrid publishers’ fees per manuscript start around $6,000. Another thing to be aware of is that your book likely won’t be distributed to major bookstores unless you pay extra for it, or you go out and pitch to those stores yourself. 

Hybrid and assisted publishing create opportunities for authors who don’t have the following that a traditional house requires. Some of these firms offer marketing support, but it’ll also be up to you to market your book so it actually gets bought after publishing. Now let’s talk about the third and most independent option: self-publishing. 

Self-Publishing & DIY Publishing

Complete self-publishing is when an author does (or outsources) all of the publishing steps themselves. Editing, layout, cover design, ISBNs, printing, and distributing, are all up to the author. If you choose to self-publish, you’ll probably go through a retailer like:

  • Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing)
  • Nook Press
  • Apple Books
  • Kobo

The greatest benefit of self-publishing is that it’s cheapest for authors who don’t have enough following for a traditional firm. Print-On-Demand services cost next to nothing, and you can avoid printing altogether by going straight to ebook. 

The downside of this method is that you can end up with a poorly edited, unprofessional product. If you’re working with freelancers to produce your book, you might not be happy with the results they produce. You’ll need to do all your marketing yourself, and most individual self-published books don’t sell many copies. 

If you want more info about the pros and cons of each method, check out this chart by the publishing expert Jane Friedman

The publishing industry is more accessible (and more confusing) than ever before. But how can you know which option is best for you and your goals? Here’s a step-by-step guide for choosing the right option for you. 

How to Choose a Publisher Based on Your Goals

Now that you know the pros and cons of each option, let’s break down the process of choosing the best one for your project. Answer these questions to get closer to your answer. 

1. Where Do You Want Your Book to Take You?

Think 2 years in the future. You’ve published your book, and now you’re celebrating the rewards. Get clear on the moments you’d break out the champagne for. Are you wanting to. . .

  • Book out your schedule and waiting list with referral patients?
  • Speak at a TEDx event or other prestigious engagement? 
  • Sign that high-ticket client you’ve been eyeing for years?

Whatever your goals are, it’s also worth thinking about the timeline for when you want to achieve them. With a traditional firm, you won’t be publishing our manuscript for a year and a half to two years after signing a contract. With a hybrid or assisted self-publisher, that timeline gets condensed to a few months. And in self-publishing, the timeline is up to you. 

While traditional publishing can get your book into bookstore shelves, some clients’ goals don’t necessitate that widespread distribution. For example, if you want to write a book to sign on consulting clients, you might work with a small press or print-on-demand. You can send copies of your book to a limited audience without the long timeline and investment of thousands of copies. 

Traditional publishing has a certain prestige that many authors want. But I don’t advise pursuing it unless you have a good chance of signing a contract, especially if you have business goals tied to your book. Let’s talk about author platforms and your book’s marketability. 

2. Do You Have An Author Platform?

To be marketable to a traditional publishing house, you’ll need to have an established following of readers who would be excited to buy from you. If you don’t have a following established, you’ll be limited to considering hybrid, assisted self-publishing, and self-publishing. Additionally, if a publisher doesn’t like your book concept, you’ll be rejected whether you have a following or not (unless you’re Stephen King). 

If you’re like most first-time authors, the answer to this question is ‘no’. Most established authors have built their following by publishing over and over (think: James Patterson, Colleen Hoover, etc.). But an author platform can take many shapes, such as:

  • Readers from your past books
  • Subscribers to your newsletter
  • Followers on social media
  • Audiences at previous speaking engagements
  • People who follow you because of past awards
  • Followers you’ve gained through business success or thought leadership

Some authors who do have a platform still elect to publish through hybrid or independent publishing houses, because they’ll maintain more creative control and receive a higher percentage of their royalties. Additionally, traditional publishers own the content of your book, and may require you to commit to another book as well. 

Whether your answer to this question is ‘yes’ or ‘no’, let’s talk about creative control in your book. 

3. How Much Creative Control do You Want?

Do you want the final say in the content, design, and title of your book? Some authors do, and some want to leave these decisions to the professionals. Traditional publishing houses control these aspects of your book, and you might not like the decisions they make. 

On the other hand, self-publishing gives you complete control; you’ll be making every decision yourself. Hybrid and assisted publishing is a middle-ground, you and your team will make creative choices together, but the core content of your book won’t change. 

This last question is a determining factor for most authors who aren’t candidates for traditional publishing: money. 

4. What’s Your Budget?

If you’re investing in a book for your established business, you might be able to afford to spend $10k to publish. My clients are willing to invest in professional help because they’ll make money on the back end through speaking, consulting, and referrals. But not everyone has the cash to spend on a professional publisher, and not everyone will make money from their book. 

If you’ve got the cash to invest in hybrid or assisted self-publishing, great! You’ll get a professional book you can be proud of for decades to come. But if not, that doesn’t have to stop you from publishing. Print-On-Demand and ebook publishing are great avenues for getting your book out there without shelling out thousands.

Now that you’ve gone through these questions, I’ve got some helpful tips and strategies for having the best experience, no matter what publishing route you choose.

Practical Tips for Each Publishing Path

Let’s get clear on how to go about pursuing each option, and what to look out for along the way to getting your book to print. 

Traditional Publishing Steps

If you’re wanting to publish a nonfiction book traditionally, you’ll need to:

  1. Find and contract with a literary agent. Most agents only get paid when they sell your work, averaging 15% of your advances and royalties.
  1. Draft a compelling book proposal. This is a brief summary and your first few chapters, usually about 50 pages long. 
  1. Send in your proposal, and get rejected a few times (or a lot of times). Rejection is normal in the traditional publishing world. Don’t let a few rejection letters get you down. 
  1. Get a contracted offer and review it carefully. Your agent should advise you on this. Watch out for your royalty rates, which will likely be between 5-15%. Non-Compete clauses might limit you from working with other publishers. Make sure you understand their share of the marketing. In addition, your contract may contain first-refusal rights, which says that you’ll need to offer your next book to this same publisher.
  1. Make contract revisions, sign, and (maybe) collect your first advance. This depends on your firm, but some pay a percentage when you sign, another percentage when you deliver your manuscript, and another when it’s completed. 
  1. Write the damn thing. Depending on the firm, your publisher might want to view drafts of your work as you go. There are several rounds of editing once you finish a manuscript; developmental editing, copyediting, line editing, and proofreading. 

Traditionally publishing is a lengthy process that typically takes a year or more. But all that time and work yields and beautiful, professional book that you’ll be proud of for the rest of your life. 

Now let’s talk about a much faster option: self-publishing. 

Self-Publishing Steps

If DIY is more your style, self-publishing is the route for you. Let’s talk about how to do it: 

  1. Write and polish your manuscript. Before getting published, your manuscript should be well-edited, proofread, and professionally formatted. Quality matters.
  1. Create a cover. A captivating cover can make a huge difference in attracting readers. Invest in a professional cover design that fits your book’s genre and theme.
  1. Buy an ISBN and copyright. International Standard Book Numbers are unique identifiers that are essential for book distribution. You should also register your copyright to protect your intellectual property. 
  1. Choose a self-publishing platform. Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, IngramSpark, and Smashwords are the most widely-used platforms. 
  1. Format your manuscript for e-book and print. Each platform will have different requirements for formatting and layout. 
  1. Publish your ebook/Print-On-Demand book. Remember to plug in a relevant description that includes keywords your readers are searching for.  

Self-publishing can help you get your ideas to print faster than any other option. But just because it’s in print doesn’t mean people will flock to your book. If you’re self-publishing, you’ll need to do all the book marketing yourself. Check out my clinician’s guide to book marketing to learn about this essential part of the publishing process. 

Now that we know the steps to traditional and self-publishing, let’s talk about the process for working with hybrid and assisted self-publishing firms. 

Hybrid and Assisted Self-Publishing Steps

To work with a hybrid or assisted self-publisher, you’ll need to: 

  1. Write your manuscript. Some hybrid publishers offer book coaching and ghostwriting along with publishing. You can also reach out to me for help with your manuscript. 
  1. Research and speak to a few different publishing houses to find the right fit. Many houses specialize in certain manuscripts, or they don’t accept others. Check out the past books they’ve published, do you like their work? Do your timelines match up?
  1. Submit your manuscript. Every publisher has different submission guidelines. Your publisher will likely have in-house editors to look over your manuscript, but this will come at a fee. 
  1. Choose a publishing package. Your publisher might have a selection of packages to choose from, or they’ll develop a bespoke package for your project. Read your contract carefully, some publishers require authors to purchase a certain number of books so that the publisher can make back their investment, whether you sell any books or not. 
  1. Collaborate on editing, cover design, and layout. Your team will guide you through this process to arrive at a product you’re proud to put your name on. 
  1. Distribution and Publication. Your firm will buy an ISBN and copyright for you. Depending on the package you chose, they’ll distribute your book for physical and online distribution. They should also plug in metadata and descriptions of your work so that readers can find you. 
  1. Marketing. Some firms offer a marketing package alongside your book deal, and this is an essential element on any book launch. If your publisher does not offer marketing, you’ll want to have a strategy in place for getting it to readers. 

Now you have steps to getting your book into reader’s hands, no matter what publishing route you choose. 

Traditional publishing offers a sense of recognition and wide distribution, though you might have to give up some creative freedom. On the flip side, self-publishing lets you stay in control, but it means handling all aspects of book creation and marketing. Hybrid and assisted self-publishing options strike a balance by giving you professional help while still keeping your say in the process.

To make the right call, consider what matters most to you. Do you want the prestige of traditional publishing or the creative power of self-publishing? Think about how involved you want to be in every step, from cover design to getting the word out. Your choice should be based on your goals and what resonates with your unique story as a physician-author. 

The world of publishing is evolving, and I love that we have a chance to heart from more authors than ever. If you’ve got questions about how to become a physician author, whether you’re in the writing process or just starting out, feel free to reach out to me or book a call on my homepage.

Should I Use AI to Write My Memoir? + 5 Essential Prompts for First-Time Authors

2023 will likely go down in history as the year of ChatGPT. The news of innovation using AI and large language models has been inescapable this year, and it’s got a lot of people wondering if their jobs will be handed off to a friendly chatbot. If AI can churn out images, social media posts, and blogs, why should humans be involved at all? And if you’ve been thinking about writing a book, you might be wondering if ChaGPT is the ticket to a faster manuscript. 

I’m a ghostwriter for physician leaders and clinician entrepreneurs, and I use ChatGPT nearly every day. I’m using it right now to write this blog. But I’m probably not using it the way you’re picturing. And when it comes to the capabilities of AI writing, most people overestimate the reality. 

I get asked all the time by worried friends and family: “is AI going to replace you?”

No, but it’s already changed the way I work. I believe it’ll change the way we all work, barring legislation that caps its use. And this change sounds scary, but human creativity and empathy is still essential. ChatGPT cannot replicate my ideas, or yours. But if you’re interested in playing around with it, you might find it helps you write your manuscript. 

ChatGPT helps me write faster, better blog content. But it’s not a done-for-you writer. And especially when it comes to creative storytelling, current AI systems fall short. Getting a better understanding of how these systems work will help you know their blind spots. And if you’re up for experimenting with AI, I’ve got some fun tips for getting started.

First, let’s talk about the goals of these systems, and where their limitations come from. 

Understanding AI-Powered Writing Tools

ChatGPT is a Large Language Model. It takes a prompt, scrapes the internet for related text, and puts together a response based on what it predicts you’re looking for. This can save you time that you might otherwise be spending scrolling through Google search pages or tweaking search terms. 

On the other hand, AI may shield users from information that it believes they don’t need. If you use it in research, it shortens the pipeline to information, but you’re passing off critical thinking and research to a machine. You’re getting a small piece of a larger picture, and that can lead to information gaps. 

AI-generated content can look impressive to readers because it usually reads okay. ChatGPT can take any prompt, string together a few paragraphs, and get a passing answer. But giving it standard prompts will get you repetitive, verbose responses. For example, I’ve noticed it tends to use emotional words in a meaningless way: it overuses words like “embrace”, “powerful”, and “maximize”.  

Additionally, it openly plagiarizes content that already exists on the internet. The answer it gives you is an amalgamation of what’s already out there. AI text generators will pull other content word-for-word and pass it off as its own. It plagiarizes other people’s hard work, and if you publish that plagiarized work, you’ll look like an asshole.

On the other hand, it will also make up ideas and information from scratch in a phenomenon called AI hallucination. AI hallucinations are when a chatbot is asked to provide an answer that it doesn’t have or can’t find. Instead of telling you it doesn’t have the answer, it will make something up. It will spread misinformation if it believes that’s what you want. 

In other words, these are the major limitations of AI writing tools at this moment:

  • ChatGPT and other language generators read your prompt, look around in their databases, and build a response based on what they think you want, not what you actually need. 
  • Large language models can answer complex questions, and give answers that seem satisfying on the surface, but are verbose and meaningless.
  • AI directly pulls content from sources and plagiarizes others’ work as its own.
  • When it doesn’t have an answer to your question, ChatGPT will generate fake information in the form of AI Hallucinations. 

All this information sounds pretty damming for AI text generators. But these limitations show you why ChatGPT isn’t an all-in-one content machine. It can’t strategize content, use emotional techniques, or fill in for a creative writer. But there are specific, actionable ways you can use AI to be a better writer and get to a complete draft faster. 

Using AI Text Generators in Your Writing: 5 Helpful Prompts

AI has real limitations as a content-generating machine. That’s probably why most of the companies that fired their in-house writers in February 2023 have now brought them back. I use it daily for specific tasks, like:

📝 Outlining a blog piece or sales page

🧐 Finding scholarly sources (from before October 2021)

📆 Blocking out my calendar and prioritizing my tasks

🗣 Analyzing text for voicing and tone

💡 Generating ideas for how to explain a topic

. . .and so much more! Once you play around with AI systems, you’ll develop an instinct for the tasks they can help with. And unlike Google, the more detailed and specific your prompts are, the better it will tailor your results. 

If you’re interested in playing around in the AI sandbox, I’ve got some tips to help you get started.

Five chatGPT Prompts for Memoir Writers:

  1. Have it write out a sample story to loosen up your narrative flow 

“Write five paragraphs telling this story from my childhood: I was five years old living in Alabama when my Mom told me I was going to live with my Aunt.” Give specific details and see how it chooses to create a narrative. 

  1. Use it as a paraphrasing tool

I’m having trouble simplifying this concept: I want to explain how my leadership skills come from my experience as a critical-care medicine doctor, and the ways that acting under extreme pressure make me a better decision-maker” Give it feedback until you’re happy with the result. 

  1. Have it generate journal prompts for you around a specific event

“I’m wanting to write about my first year in medical school. I felt out of my depth during this time, and I really wondered if I’d made the right choice for a career. Generate five journal prompts to help me write about this time and the experiences I had”

  1. Generating outlines to get the bigger picture of your memoir

“Give me an outline of my memoir by chapter. I’m going to talk about my experiences as a kid growing up in Alaska, then moving to Iowa for undergrad, and then to Florida for medical school. I want to focus on stories that show my experiences for rising medical students and how my coaching can help them excel in school and life.”  

  1. Do comparison research to find similar authors and books in your industry

“I’m a pain management specialist wanting to write a book about opioid-sparing methods for managing chronic pain. Can you give me a list of five books similar to mine written in the last five years?

Try one or more of these prompts to get a jump-start on your comparison research, outline, story flow, and more. Don’t be afraid to offer guidance on the results you get. I’m often telling ChatGPT to be more concise, shift its focus, or give me more options. Once you develop the instinct for AI prompts, the time between you and the answer you want will get shorter. 

If you’re going to be using AI Large Language Models to workshop and develop your memoir, there are a few things you should keep in mind. Let’s talk about how to CYA when using ChatGPT. 

Cover Your Ass: How to Use ChatGPT Ethically

Overreliance on AI writing tools can make your writing look sloppy and amateurish. Here’s how to make sure you’re using these tools ethically: 

💬 Run a plagiarism checker on any content ChatGPT helps you with. 

✍🏻 Thoroughly review and edit any content AI writes. 

🔬 Fact-check any claims it offers, and do your own research on deeper topics. 

🤖 Use AI generators as a tool in your process, not a replacement for a writer.

An additional warning: whatever you input into ChatGPT goes into its database and is accessible to other users. I don’t recommend putting drafts of your memoir into ChatGPT for this reason. You’ll risk your work being unknowingly plagiarized by others before it’s even published.  

With all these warnings and caveats, you’re probably wondering. . .

Should I Use ChatGPT To Write My Memoir?

If you love writing, absolutely! ChatGPT has helped me outline, flesh out ideas, research, and get to a first draft faster. I love it as a tool to loosen up my creative flow and get the juices flowing. And if I’m noodling around with an idea, I love experimenting with prompts to see what it shoots out at me. Adding AI to your toolbelt can help you skip the painful “I don’t know what to write” part of the creative process. 

On the other hand, ChatGPT isn’t a substitute for a writer. Sure, you can give it a prompt and have it write your manuscript, but the writing it gives you will be boring, verbose, and meaningless. Its predictive nature means that it’s trying to give you the answer it thinks you want, not a good or correct answer. It lacks originality because it literally cannot produce an original thought (like a writer can). 

If you’re writing your own memoir, I’d encourage you to play around with ChatGPT and the prompts above. You might find that it becomes a helpful tool in your writer’s toolbox. And if you learn anything interesting, or you’re looking for more of a human touch in your writing, reach out to me.

The Psychedelic Copywriter’s Guide: 5 Marketing Trends to Know in the 2023

In 2013 nearly every medical provider considered psychedelics to be objectively harmful. Yet in 2023, ketamine is used across the nation, MDMA is close to FDA approval, and psilocybin isn’t far behind. The shifting landscape of psychedelic medicine is growing faster than any other medical industry – and this is only the beginning. 

Fresh business opportunities are arising every day in this expanding industry. Psychedelics startups collectively raised over $236 million between 2021 and 2022 alone. Today, there are over 50 public companies in the psychedelic space, and most of these substances aren’t even legal yet. Will your psychedelic medicine company be the next unicorn? Not without great marketing. 

In a shifting ethical and regulatory landscape, precise words have power. Psychedelic copy can elevate your mission – or erode your brand. I think I know which one you want. 

I’m an ICU nurse-turned-copywriter, and I’ve written extensively in the psychedelic medicine space. Last year, I helped Psychedelic Support grow their web traffic by more than 400%. I’ve also consulted with several other psychedelic startups on building audiences. These days, I’m helping leaders in cutting-edge medicine write books that build million-dollar businesses. Read on to get the inside scoop on the latest trends in psychedelic copywriting and marketing. 

Since it’s top-of-mind for most marketers these days, let’s first break down the use of AI in psychedelic marketing. 

1. The Temptations – And Downfalls – of Using AI in Psychedelic Copywriting

AI and psychedelics have both surged in applications since 2020, and many startups are combining them to develop new strategies of pharmaceutical development. But don’t make the mistake of believing you can ChatGPT your psychedelic copywriting. 

I get asked all the time by concerned friends and family: “Is AI going to take your job away?”

And if I was a sh*tty writer, then yeah, probably. But just because AI can write copy doesn’t mean it can write copy that converts a stranger into a client. And it’s even further away from being able to strategize a marketing campaign for your psychedelic startup. 

Now don’t get me wrong, I use AI every day as a writing and research tool. I love how it speeds up the writing process for me. But if you’re inexperienced and DIYing your marketing words with ChatGPT, you can run into some serious problems. 

First, the writing AI gives you is going to be boring. This is fixable, and you can play around with your prompts to get a more dynamic tone. But even then, it tends to blow past the mark into obscene over-enthusiasm. Humans are very sensitive to tone, in writing and speaking, that’s a hard thing to teach robots. 

You should be especially wary if you’re using ChatGPT as a research tool in psychedelic medicine. For data purposes, ChatGPT is stuck in October 2021. It won’t be able to tell you about this essential roundup from 2022, or the latest trials on MDMA for PTSD. If you rely on AI as your only research tool, you’re going to lose the last two years of development in this quickly-evolving niche.

Last, these predictive language models don’t have a sense of ethics. They can make claims that are unbased, they can give advice that isn’t warranted, and they don’t have emotional sensitivity. If you do choose to use AI in your psychedelic copy, don’t copy and paste. Use it for ideas and to generate writing flow, but don’t let it make you lazy. 

Speaking of ethics, let’s talk about the broader conversation around ethics and non-legal substances. 

2. The Ethics of Promoting Non-Legal Substances

While ketamine has gained standing as a method of healing treatment-resistant mental health disorders, other psychedelics remain federally illegal. The ethics of marketing non-legal substances is still mushy – not because the law is right, but because breaking it creates risks for some people more than others. 

Additionally, psychedelics still pose safety risks, from microdose to hero dose. We have yet to set standards for dosage, care plans, or ongoing support beyond sessions. There’s more research to be done, and people can be taken advantage of while under their influence. The psychedelic retreat industry is unregulated, and many people seeking enlightenment have been harmed while vulnerable. 

It’s a privileged position to be able to use these substances within a clinical or research setting – single IV doses of ketamine start around $1200. Getting into research trials can be a complicated process, and the placebo group may be left frustrated. Abuse and dependency are still possible. 

As public perception shifts, we also have to acknowledge the groups that have been systematically abused because of the war on drugs. Indigenous peoples, whose wisdom and work have been appropriated and stolen. Read about how psilocybin and ayahuasca were taken from indigenous groups. We can’t continue to steal teachings from people we neglect to include. More on this later. 

As psychedelic copywriters, we have to balance advocacy with responsibility. We can’t encourage folks to partake in substances that are unregulated, unapproved, and still being researched. We have to be stewards of safety. We also have to acknowledge the roots of these substances, and the people they come from. 
Psychedelic copywriters have to hold themselves to strict ethical standards. For more information about medical writing ethics, check out the American Medical Writer’s Association Guide

The good news is that as research evolves, policy is changing. So let’s talk about how to stay nimble amidst regulatory changes in psychedelic medicine copywriting.

3. Staying Nimble Amidst Regulatory Changes

Earlier this year I spoke with a startup leader who was in crisis. Their service model depended on remote sublingual ketamine prescriptions, which would soon be illegal. During the pandemic, the FDA relaxed the Ryan-Haight Act, which meant that patients wouldn’t have to physically see a provider to get prescriptions for controlled substances. But in May, the law went back into effect. 

They’ve since pivoted their model, but this is a great example of the ways that shifting regulatory changes pose challenges in the psychedelic industry. Regulators and policymakers are navigating uncharted territory to strike a balance between safety, accessibility, and innovation. Founders – and copywriters – have to stay updated on these changes.

As psychedelic copywriters, this may mean going back to update content that no longer reflects policy. Editing claims or offers on sales pages, and updating subscribers of policy changes on your email list. Reacting to these changes swiftly is essential, whether you’re planning to launch a startup or building a sales funnel. 

Overall policy changes are moving in favor of psychedelics. But there are still myths and misconceptions out there about empathogens and entheogens. It’s our job to distinguish truth from fact to keep consumers informed. 

4. Stigmas & Misconceptions Abound

Dating back to the 50’s, psychedelic substances have been plagued by a campaign to criminalize and stigmatize the people who use them. And it’s great to see that turn around in the last decade, as media and public perceptions have changed. One survey found that nearly half of Americans support legalizing some substances for therapeutic purposes. 

But there is nuance to this shift, and as psychedelic copywriters, we have a duty to communicate the benefits and drawbacks of these substances honestly. These are some of the myths I see still present in the industry in 2023: 

  1. Psychedelics are not addictive. True, most are not chemically addictive, but this is a misleading conclusion. Psychological abuse and dependency are possible with any substance. Psychedelic substances have exciting therapeutic potential, but it would be naive to think that they can’t be abused. 
  1. Psychedelics are a “magic pill” that eliminates the need for therapy. In research, psychedelics have been most effective when paired with evidence-based therapies. It’s unlikely that we’ll see them promoted as stand-alone treatments anytime soon. 
  1. Psychedelic experiences are unpredictable and uncontrollable. Not always. Set and setting protocols can help mitigate the risk for “bad trips”, but these are being researched for safety and efficacy. People who embark on a psychedelic journey need support systems in place in case of
  1. Psychedelics are dangerous for people with a history of specific mental health issues. They can be in an uncontrolled setting. But increasing research is showing that these substances benefit people with treatment-resistant mental health conditions. 

Psychedelic copywriters play an important role in educating consumers on the nuances of psychedelic research. And we also have to acknowledge the roots of conflict and appropriation that some of these substances came from. 

5. Respect for Indigenous Populations and Substance Appropriation

Indigenous populations have a rich history of using psychedelic substances in their sacred ceremonies and healing rituals for centuries. The commodification and appropriation of these substances in the Western context have raised concerns about cultural misrepresentation, exploitation, and disrespect.

Psychedelic medicine copywriters have to approach our work with sensitivity and respect for these groups. We’ve benefitted from their cultural heritage, yet many are still marginalized by the psychedelic medicine industry. Recognizing the historical significance of these plants and their profound role in indigenous communities is essential to avoid perpetuating stereotypes and inaccuracies in marketing materials.

Psychedelic medicine copywriters should avoid appropriating indigenous symbolism, language, or practices in their marketing content. Instead, startups should collaborate with indigenous communities and involve them in discussions about the responsible and ethical use of traditional plant medicines. Amplifying the voices of indigenous leaders, organizations, and practitioners in the psychedelic field can help raise awareness about the importance of cultural preservation and respect. 

Additionally, we have to emphasize preserving biodiversity and protecting the environments where these plants grow. For example, telling people how and where to harvest DMT from endangered Amazonian frogs is an ethical problem for so many reasons. Your marketing words have the power to shape decisions that can hurt native people and biodiversity. Don’t take this lightly.  
Okay, I’ll step off my soapbox now.

Challenges in Psychedelic Copywriting

Psychedelic medicine is one of the most exciting, quickly-evolving medical industries today. These fascinating substances could have a much larger place in mental health treatment in the coming years. And as a psychedelic copywriter or founder, you have an integral role in bringing these substances to the public.  

In the years ahead, the psychedelic marketing landscape will continue to evolve, presenting new opportunities and challenges. As passionate and responsible copywriters, we have a duty to stay informed, adaptable, and empathetic. 

If you’re curious to learn more about marketing ethics, check out my blog about the four things that surprised me about the ethics of medical marketing.

Book Funnels: What They Are, and How to Use Them to Build Your Brand

Never heard of a book funnel? No worries, most people haven’t. A “Funnel” is a marketing term that describes the customer journey; from not knowing who you are to signing on to your $10k coaching program. A book funnel is when an author uses their book strategically to grow their business. And they’re remarkably effective when done correctly. 

But don’t take my word for it, some of your favorite nonfiction health authors are using book funnels right now to grow their businesses:

  • Dr. David Perlmutter is a neurologist and author of several books. He’s used getting published to establish his authority in neurology and gut health. His books lead readers to his online courses and supplements. 
  • Dr. Mark Hyman is a functional medicine expert, and his books (“Food: What the Heck Should I Eat?” and “The Blood Sugar Solution”) have been instrumental in building his brand. His book funnels attract readers to his coaching programs and health products.
  • Dr. Atul Gawande is a renowned surgeon and author. His books have sparked important discussions on healthcare and patient care. His book funnels connect him with healthcare professionals and organizations for speaking engagements and consultations. 
  • Dr. Deepak Chopra is a pioneer in mind-body medicine. He’s authored numerous books on holistic health and well-being, and his books drive readers to his wellness programs and workshops. 

Once you know about book funnels, you’ll probably start seeing them everywhere. Some of the biggest names in every industry have used a book to get themselves there. And notice how varied the end results are for each person on this list. Whether you want to elevate your consulting, speaking, coaching, or patient-facing business, a book can give you a big leg-up. 

But without a book funnel in place, those readers will move along. They might remember your book, but they won’t take any action from it. They’ll likely remember your name in an “oh yeah, I think I read their book” way, but not in the “oh yeah, I love their work!” kind of way. A book funnel helps you capture people while they’re interested in your work, so they can stay engaged with you.

Understanding what book funnels are, and how one can work for you, will help you attract more readers and buyers. As a concierge ghostwriter for clinicians, I help my clients build book funnels that convert strangers into patients, community members, and more. So first off, let’s get clear on how book funnels work. 
Psst. . . still not sure what I mean by “funnels”? Here’s a breakdown of marketing funnels for clinicians

How Book Funnels Work

Book funnels use books as their lead-generation magnet. This means that the people that read an author’s books are at the top of their funnel, and we use their book to reach more people. Building people’s awareness with a book helps them attach authority to your name early on; after all, not everyone can put “published author” behind their names. 

The next step in a book funnel is a low-risk offer, like signing up for a free guide, or joining a mailing list or community. You should mention this offer throughout the book and include it in your Call to Action at the end. The point of this offer is to pull them into a stream of contact, so they can learn more about your ongoing work. 

This consideration phase is when your readers are learning more about what it’s like to work with you. Because of your book, they already know your philosophies and your story. They’re interested in what you do, because otherwise they wouldn’t have read a whole book about it. Now you just have to show them that there’s more value they can get from you. 

Once they join your next offer, you’ve narrowed your pool down to your most interested people. If you’ve got them on your email list, you’ll keep them interested with insightful stories and engaging ideas. If they downloaded your free guide, you’ll over-deliver on value to show them that you’re worth even more of their time. This is the conversion phase, when people decide to work with you. 

After they choose to work with you on a more intimate level, they really know you. Once you’ve proven to someone that you’re trustworthy, they’re loyal to you. They’ll keep coming back to see you as a patient, they’ll refer you to their friends, they’ll buy your higher-ticket offers. 

Book funnels can be expensive to set up because professional books aren’t cheap. But they’ve got big benefits if you’re willing to invest some time and energy. Let’s quickly talk about the benefits of book funnels compared to other marketing strategies

  • Target a Specific Audience: books allow you to engage with readers who are genuinely interested in your expertise, ensuring your message resonates with the right audience. 
  • Building Thought Leadership: a book positions you as a leading authority in your specialty, empowering you to influence the conversation in your industry. 
  • Cultivate Connections: reading your book is a more high-contact engagement method than following you on social media. A book can help you nurture relationships with potential clients, patients, or collaborators, and create more potential for long-term partnerships. 
  • Build Authority for High-Ticket Offers: if you’re a consultant or speaker, how can you prove to people that you know what you’re talking about? A book is a physical manifestation of your expertise that shows the depth of your knowledge and authority. 

Book funnels are powerful tools for business owners that want to bring their career to the next level. Now that you know the basic building blocks and benefits of a book funnel, let’s get more specific on how you can build a book funnel system to bring in readers to each of your offers. 

How to Build Your Book Funnel Piece-By-Piece

To get started on building your book funnel, you’ll first need to think about your goals and who you need to reach with your book. So let’s talk about identifying your audience. 

Identifying Target Audiences Based On Your Goals

“Where do you want to be in five years?” is what I ask nearly every client on our discovery calls. And depending on their answer, we’ll choose a target audience to write their book towards. Check out these examples of clinician goals and their audience:

  • If you want more patients via referral, you’ll want to target other physicians who also see your subset of patients. For example, if you’re a TMS therapy provider, you might want to write a book targeting psychiatrists who often see patients with treatment-resistant depression. 
  • If you want to take on more professional speaking engagements, your book should have a thought-leadership element that speaks to industry peers and leaders. For example, if you’re a pain-management specialist, your book might talk about the trends you’ve noticed in the last decade of the opioid empidemic. 
  • If you’re looking for more consulting contracts, your book should speak to the leaders in your industry who run large corporations. For example, if you’re a nurse staffing expert developing a new formula for informatics, your book should speak to nurse managers and c-suite executives who need your insights. 

Once you understand who your book funnel should target, now you can start thinking about where they are and how you can speak to them with your book. But once they’ve read the book, how can you make sure they don’t leak out of your funnel? Let’s talk about examples of targeted book funnels. 

Examples of Targeted Book Funnels

I build book funnels to target the specific audiences my clients speak to. The key to a good funnel is to build it out with offers for people at every stage of the getting-to-know-you process. Very few people want to go from reading your book to enrolling in your $20k coaching program. But if you come in with more in-between offers, you can still sell that program while making more income from smallers sells. 

This is best illustrated with real examples, so let’s build some simple funnels based on different audience profiles:

Target Audience: Patients

Top of the Funnel: a medical book that offers step-by-step instructions for accomplishing a health goal

Call-to-Action: join a $20 remote bootcamp with scheduled recorded webinars and community support, this will get them on your email list for newsletters  

Next Offer: A $300 one-on-one call with you

Highest Offer: A subscription to your concierge medicine group, at $300 per month with a one-year commitment

Target Audience: Industry Leaders

Top of the Funnel: a speaker series you offer at a conference, which gives them a discount code so they can buy your book at reduced price

Next Step: They read your book, which focuses on thought leadership and builds your industry influence as a forward-thinking entrepreneur in your niche. 

Call-To-Action: At the end of the book, you point them toward a high-value information piece like a white paper or research report. In exchange for that, you’ll get their email address so you can keep sending them think pieces every week or two. 

Next Offer: Through your newsletter, leaders know you as a reputable innovator in your industry, and you offer them a slot in your high-value webinar for $300.

Highest Offer: you use your leverage as a published thought leader to gain more speaking engagements in front of those leaders.

Target Audience: Consulting Clients

Top of the Funnel: a results-oriented leadership book that includes case studies and success stories, and demonstrates the tangible impact of your insights and solutions

Next Step: you offer a discounted consulting package to readers of your book, which helps readers explore the value of your consulting services without taking a huge investment risk

Call-To-Action: After the discounted rate ends, you offer a scaled-up monthly service at your full rate. 

Highest Offer: You boost your retainer consulting rates to $50,000 per contract, and because your book is bringing in so many new leads, you create a waiting list of executive clients. 

What you might notice about all of these funnels is how much heavy lifting your book does for you as far as building your authority and amplifying your voice. A book is a massive benefit if you’re wanting to expand your reach and build on your professional reputation. 

These simplified book funnels give you an idea of what your funnel might look like. But there are infinite ways to set up and run a funnel, and most successful businesses have several of these systems running at once. So let’s get into real-world examples of successful book funnels by clinicians and what we can learn from them. 

Real-World Clinician Book Funnels

Check out these successful book funnels that have helped these clinicians grow their patients, their consulting or speaking business, and their brands. I’ve highlighted the touchstones that move people from one phase of the funnel to the next. 

Example 1: Dr. David Perlmutter

Dr. Perlmutter is a neurologist who has published 8 books, including ‘Drop Acid’, ‘Brain Wash’, ‘The Grain Brain Whole Life Plan’, and more. From his books and online blogs, readers are prompted to join his mailing list. Some of his books have specific free content available for readers, like access to Dr. Perlmutter’s TV specials or webinars. In addition, he has a free 30-day program that readers can access by handing over their email addresses. 

Once on his email list, readers get consistent messages on blog updates, supplement offers, and other promotions. One of Dr. Perlmutter’s highest-ticket offers from his books is a $8500 retreat for readers. Because of his books and articles, he’s grown a following that has helped him guest on programs like CNN, The Today Show, Oprah, and CBS This Morning. His speaking fees today range from $30,000-50,000. 

Example 2: Dr. Mark Hyman

Dr. Hyman is a functional medicine physician focused on gut health and integrative treatments for disease. has published several books, including this year’s ‘Young Forever’, his 2021 book ‘The Pegan Diet’, and 2019’s ‘Food’. His books lead readers to his email list, where they get updates on his favorite supplements, books, podcasts, and new research. Subscribers can also get weekly updates from him via text. 

Dr. Hyman’s paid subscriber program, Hyman+, includes access to his monthly AMAs, guest lectures, ad-free podcasts, and past docuseries. Through his private practice, The Ultrewellness Center, he’s trained functional medicine practitioners to coach and treat patients. Dr. Hyman’s impressive platform has gotten him appearances on CBS, Good Morning America, The View, CNN, and more. His live speaking fees range from $50,000 to $100,000.

Example 3: Dr. Daniel Amen

Dr. Amen is a psychiatrist and medical director of Amen clinics, with offices in California, Washington, Virginia, Georgia, and more. He’s published more than a dozen books, including ‘Change Your Brain, Every Day’ this year, ‘You, Happier’ in 2022, and ‘Your Brain is Always Listening’ in 2021. In addition, he has several free ebooks on his site. Readers can subscribe to his newsletter to learn more about his methods and research. 

In addition to patient resources, Dr. Amen has specific content for other providers who may want to refer patients to him. His professional newsletter, brochures, research overviews, and case studies build his trust and authority with peers. Patients and providers can sign up for a free call with one of Dr. Amen’s clinic experts to determine next steps. 

He’s been featured in the New York Times Magazine, Newsweek, and the Wall Street Journey, and contributes to Men’s Health Magazine. He’s also appeared on the Discovery Channel, Good Morning America, The Today Show, and more. Dr. Amen’s in-person speaking fees are between $50,000 and $100,000. 

These real-life examples show how physician-authors strategically designed their book funnels to educate, influence, and connect with diverse audiences. What I notice about the most successful physician authors is that they don’t just use one book to promote their brand. They build an audience with a combination of publishing books, consistent video content, weekly articles, and direct newsletters. A book is only a piece of the puzzle. 

Book Funnels 101: Key Takeaways

Book funnels have proven to be powerful tools for clinician entrepreneurs looking to make a significant impact in their industries. By understanding the stages of a book funnel – from awareness to loyalty – clinician entrepreneurs can strategically nurture their target audience, building trust and credibility along the way. Whether your goals are focused on patients, speaking gigs, or something else, a book might be the next step to get you there. 

If you’re thinking about building a book funnel, ask yourself this first:

  • What are my big-picture goals?
  • Who do I want to speak to?
  • Where does my audience hang out?
  • Why would someone work with me rather than a competitor?
  • How can I deliver value at each stage of my funnel?

Once you start thinking about book funnels, you’ll probably start seeing them everywhere. As a concierge ghostwriter, I’ve witnessed how book funnels transform branding books into influential assets that open doors to new opportunities. With a personalized approach, tailored to the goals and audience of each clinician entrepreneur, these book funnels empower professionals to make a lasting impact and achieve a higher level of recognition.

Ready to start building your book funnel – but you don’t want to write it yourself? Book a call with me to get clarity on your book goals and learn why my clients love working with me. 

How to Make Money With a Book: A Clinician’s Guide to Book Marketing

Picture this: for the last year, you’ve been pouring your heart and soul into a book about your experiences as a clinician and leader. You’ve invested in a great ghostwriter, you’ve tinkered over publishing decisions, and today, you get to see all that work come to fruition. 

“At long last, you can buy my book!” you post on Linkedin, and wait for the orders to roll in. 

Except. . . no one orders. Because aside from the ten people that liked your post, no one knows about your book except your friends and family. 

And now you’re wondering, how am I ever going to make back my publishing investment?

This is what happens if you don’t think about marketing your book until launch. 

First-time authors often have that “if you built it, they will come” mentality about their book. In reality, the average book sells less than 200 copies today, and that’s a generous estimate. 

What’s the point of pouring time and energy into a book that no one reads? Yet every year, hundreds of writers make this mistake. 

It’s a good thing this won’t happen to you because you’ve got this guide (and me in your corner). 

So let’s get into the basics of book marketing, then some helpful tips for getting your book into the right hands. 

1. Understand Your Target Audience

When you define the person you’re writing to, you become the go-to author for that kind of person. Identifying your ideal readers helps you to tailor your marketing to connect with the right people who will benefit from your expertise. That’s why I ask every client who their audience is on our very first call together. 

As a clinician, there are two broad types of audiences your book is targeting:

  1. Patients/Clients. These people need your expertise to make decisions for themselves.  You might be teaching them about your experiences with similar patients, the insights you’ve gained in your practice, and how they can make better health decisions. 
  1. Peers/Leaders. These people need your expertise to make decisions on behalf of a company or another person. Books targeting your peers may focus on your methodologies and how you’ve come to those conclusions. A Book targeting leaders in your industry might give evidence for industry changes. 

The audience you choose will depend on the goals you have for your book. You’ll probably want to do some industry research to understand how you can give value to your target audience. For many of my clients, they’ve been working in their industry for decades and they know the pain points they can solve. 

2. Know Where Your Audience is, And Talk to Them There (And There, And There)

If you’re like most of the authors I speak with, you already have an established following on one or more social media platforms. Maybe you also have an email newsletter list as well. Authors have a ton of options for growing their audience, but not all are equal. To market your book effectively, you’ll want to think about reaching your audience in terms of interlocking systems, not just siloed pockets of content. 

I like to organize our marketing efforts into: 

  1. Contact methods you own, and 
  2. Contact methods someone else owns

For example, you might post content on Instagram and gain followers, but you don’t own those followers. Instagram’s algorithm could change, and those people might not see you again. They’re likely not very loyal to you, and you don’t have much control over whether they see your work or not. 

On the other hand, an email list is a point of contact that you own and can control. You get to decide when and how you speak to your subscribers. And the folks on your email list are much more invested in what you do, and more likely to buy from you. 
To make this more clear, here’s a chart of these two kinds of contact methods:

Traffic Someone Else OwnsTraffic You Own
LinkedinOrganic Search (Google)
InstagramYour Email Newsletter/Substack
TiktokYour blog
ThreadsYour website
Someone else’s podcastYour podcast

If your planning to write a book, I would work on building up an audience in both of these categories. Use your traffic from social media to build up your traffic to a newsletter or website. It takes consistency on both platforms to see audience growth. 

Speaking of which, let’s talk more about consistency in your book marketing. 

3. Consistent Contact 

Consistency is essential to book marketing in two ways:

  1. A consistent and concise book pitch helps people remember what you focus on. I recommend writing out a book pitch so that you know exactly what to say when someone asks what your book is about; whether it’s your aunt at Thanksgiving or a talk show host on Good Morning America. 
  1. Being consistent on social media helps you show up where your audience is. By maintaining an active and consistent presence, you establish yourself as a reliable source of information, build trust, and reinforce your book’s message and value. And those algorithms love consistency, so you’ll gain new followers in the process. 

If you’re like many of my clients, you’ve gained a significant following on Linkedin. I recommend posting at least three times a week to build traction there. You can even use Linkedin as a testing ground for your book chapters, getting feedback from your audience as you go. You’ll also want to be active on other people’s posts there, so post helpful comments and interact with people in your industry.

If you’re looking to expand your email list, Linkedin is a great place to start. Linkedin newsletters are an easy way to build a list of subscribers without investing in a program like Constant Contact. You can even use them to host live events, which brings me to another near-essential book marketing tool. . . 

4. Speak Now

Hate public speaking? I’m going to urge you to expand your comfort zone here. Speaking engagements will help establish you as an authority in your field. They enhance credibility, position you as a trusted thought leader, and can expand your audience tenfold. Speaking gigs are often also networking opportunities where you can connect with other industry leaders. 

As you’re writing your book you can use it as a tool to pitch to podcast hosts, conference organizers, and speaking gigs. Just being in the writing process gives you added credibility, and you can plug your book naturally into your talk. 

When we start working together, I urge my clients to pitch at least two new speaking opportunities per month. If you’re ready to invest in a PR firm, they can help you get in the door. Even hosting your own live event through Linkedin can help you practice presenting, and help you reach your target audience. 

5. Paid Ads

If you’re already showing up consistently on socials, speaking at events, and using your website as a marketing tool, paid ads aren’t essential. But they can help you get your book into more hands, with a little investment and testing. You won’t need to think about paid ads until you’re closer to publishing, but they’re a good thing to keep in mind. 

One benefit of paid ads is the ability to precisely target your desired audience based on demographics, interests, and online behaviors. By defining your ideal reader profile, you can create tailored ad campaigns that specifically target those individuals, increasing the likelihood of capturing their attention and driving engagement. 

Paid ads provide the advantage of immediate visibility and exposure. Instead of relying solely on organic reach, paid advertising ensures that your book is seen by a broader audience in a shorter timeframe. This increased visibility can lead to higher book sales, increased brand recognition, and a broader readership.

While they’re often not cheap, paid ads allow for flexible budgeting and optimization. You have control over your ad spend and can adjust it based on your marketing goals and budget. Additionally, platforms often provide analytics and performance metrics, enabling you to track the effectiveness of your ads and make data-driven decisions to optimize your campaigns.

Prevent a Book Flop: Basic Pillars of Book Marketing

If you want to actually make money from your book, it’s worth thinking about book marketing earlier rather than later. A little planning can go a long way. To recap, here are the marketing steps you should take as you’re writing your book:

  1. Define your audience, and write to them specifically
  2. Speak to your audience on a platform you own, and one you don’t (for example, your substack and your linkedin account)
  3. Build a consistent plan for engagement (for example, post 3x/week on linkedin, with one full-length website blog per week)
  4. Consider building out a schedule of speaking engagements through podcasts, industry conferences, and speaking events
  5. Lastly, you may want to consider investing in paid ads once your book is ready for pre-order

Take it from a ghostwriter; don’t spend months or years on a book that no one ever reads.
If you’d like to learn more about marketing funnels for clinician entrepreneurs, you might want to check out my blog about it. 

How Should I Prepare to Work With a Ghostwriter?

Deciding to hand off the bulk of writing work to someone else feels like a weight off your shoulders. My clients get keep their cake and eat it too, saving time and energy on writing while publishing a book that solidifies their authority. But what goes into preparing for a ghostwritten book? How can you make sure your ghostwriter has all the information they need to hand over a solid draft? 

A potential client asked me this on a recent discovery call, and it’s worth a deep-dive. So let’s talk about how you can prepare to work with a ghostwriter. 

Preparing for Your Ghostwritten Book

If you know you want to publish a book, but you’re not sure about much else, here are some practical steps for preparing to work with a ghostwriter.  

1. Clarify Your Goals & Vision First

Knowing where you want to go with your book is the first step in getting there. Before collaborating with a ghostwriter, define your book’s goals and vision. Take a few moments to think about the answers to these questions:

  1. Where do you want to be in 3-5 years?
  2. Think about life after publishing your book; does it look different? In what specific ways? 
  3. What are the takeaways you want readers to have after reading your book? 
  4. Who are the specific people you want to talk to? What do they care about?

Sometimes my clients aren’t clear on what they want from their book, but they know a general direction they’d like to go. Common goals for publishing a business book or memoir include:

  • Booking more speaking engagements
  • Building a medical influencer brand
  • Reaching more coaching clients
  • Attracting more patient referrals
  • Working with larger corporate clients
  • Creating a tangible resource for patients and clients to refer to
  • Solidifying or establishing industry authority and name recognition

Publishing a book is a strong strategy for getting to these goals. Books aren’t cheap projects, so knowing your goals from the outset can help you make sure that a book is a good investment. But before we start writing, it’s a good idea to check out the leading books in your industry. . .

2. Run the Comps

Pay attention to books that have influenced your industry or field. These are the game-changers, the books that have sparked conversations and shaped the discourse. Explore their impact and consider the reasons behind their success. Is it their innovative ideas, compelling storytelling, or meticulous research that makes them valuable? 

By running comparison books and studying industry influences, you can learn what’s worked well and how you can contribute to the ongoing conversation. Understanding other books in your industry helps you position effectively within the existing landscape, offering fresh perspectives and contributing to the growth and development of your industry.

To start using comparison research, consider these questions:

  1. Which books do you idolize in your niche and why? 
  2. Which books have contributed to your practice in significant ways? 
  3. Which industry leaders do you admire and why?
  4. Note the writing style in industry books; what tones do you admire?

As an industry expert, you’re probably already aware of other books that have made an impact on your niche. Running comparison books and studying influential works can provide valuable insights for your own project. 

Now that you know what your goals and competitors are, let’s talk about solidifying your own book ideas for a strong outline. 

3. Bring Your Best Ideas 

For my clients, starting a book project can be overwhelming because of the sheer amount of ideas they want to cover. They’ve often been practicing in their industry or speciality for a decade or more, and they’ve got a ton of experiences worth sharing. If this sounds like you, you’ll want to take the time to compile all this information. 

Here are a few ideas for generating and organizing book content:

  • For course creators, go through your courses to find the key highlights you want to cover. What pieces of information do your students find the most helpful?
  • For medical infuencers, go through your social posts to learn which ones have the highest engagement; what do people want to learn more about?
  • For practicing clinicians, what are questions you get asked a lot? Where can you offer more deeper education through your book than you could in the clinical setting?
  • What industry topics do you have a unique vantage point on, and what lead you to that conclusion?

I’m not picky about how my clients organize their ideas. It’s my job to create an outline and flow for a book. Here are a few ways my clients have put together their key ideas:

  • Voice memos
  • Google docs 
  • Google sheets
  • Photo of a mindmap
  • Links to articles they’ve written
  • Links to Youtube videos

Once all your chapter topics are together, it’s my job to put together an outline and flow for your book. And once we have that together, we’re off to the races on chapter interviews. Which brings me to the final way I ask clients to prepare for a project. . .

4. Prepare for Interviews

Each of my interviews runs about two hours, and they’re very informal. These look like casual conversations between me and my client, where they show off all they know and I ask deep-dive questions. As your ghostwriter, the bulk of the work is on me to get the information I need. But you can prepare for chapter interviews by:

  • Reviewing case notes to freshen up your memory
  • Reading over old journal entries
  • Asking your friends or relatives about their perspective on an event we’re covering
  • Gathering research material you want to be sure is included

Coming to interviews prepared will help your ghostwriter put together the best draft possible, and makes less work for both of you during editing. 

Have you decided to work with a ghostwriter on your book project? For my clients, their time is valuable. They can’t afford to spend months laboring over drafts because they’ve got busy lives already. They want the benefits of a polished book without having to hone their writing skills. 

Does that sound like you?

If you’re thinking about putting a book together, you might want to check out The One Bookselling Myth You Should Know About (Before Writing Your Book)

The One Bookselling Myth You Should Know About (Before Writing Your Book)

If you’re like my clients, you haven’t spent much time in the publishing industry. Maybe a friend of yours has been published in the past, or your PR firm has recommended writing a book. But now that the idea is in your head, you’ve started dreaming about what it would be like to be an author. The book signings, the press tours, the advances, the royalties. . .

But for authors in 2023, the reality of getting published is much less glamorous. Now don’t get me wrong, there are still big benefits to being a published author. But there are a few misconceptions that new clients sometimes believe when they come to me for a book. And if you’re considering putting one together, whether you plan to use a ghostwriter or not, there’s one thing you should know before you get started:

Don’t Expect to Make a Fortune in Royalties

I don’t want to be a dream crusher here. I want my clients to go into these expensive projects with their eyes wide open. Don’t go through the hassle of publishing only to get blindsided by a lack of sales; some experts estimate that the average book sells less than 500 copies. In the first year, the average traditionally published book may sell 250-300 copies. And keep in mind that traditionally published authors take home only about 10% of those sales profits. 

For authors that go the hybrid and self-publishing route, the numbers aren’t any better. 

The average self-published author sells 250 copies and makes about $1,000 per year from their book. While royalty percentages are significantly higher for hybrid and self-publishers, their sales are typically much lower. If you go through a hybrid publisher, you’ll likely not make any money until you breach 5,000 copies

Psst. . . not sure what hybrid or independent publishers are? Check out my publishing guide

If you’ve got ambitions of hitting the New York Times Bestseller list, I’ve got even worse news for you. To get on the NYT list, you’ll need to sell between 3,000-5,000 copies in one week. There’s a certain alchemy that goes into selling that many books; a combination of marketing, visibility, timing, and competition. Don’t expect to hit that sweet spot on the first try: many great authors never get there. 

All this doom-and-gloom around book sales and bestsellers is probably making you wonder, how are authors even making any money these days? What happened to the blissful, contemplative life of the successful author? And is it still possible to actually make money from your book? 

Absolutely you can. My clients invest in getting published because it’s still one of the best business tools out there. When used as a marketing business card, a book is a major asset in your personal and business brand. But how can you make sure your book still makes you money (even if it doesn’t make the bestseller list)? Let’s talk about it. 

Going Beyond Royalties: 5 Practical Strategies to Ensure a Profitable Book

So we’ve busted the myth that book sales are a real source of income for authors. But that doesn’t mean that publishing a book isn’t a worthwhile investment. From our first call, I help my clients strategize creating a book that builds on their brand. And there are five things I recommend having in place before investing time and energy into a book. 

1. Know Your Audience (And Where They Hang Out)

If you’re talking to everyone, you’re talking to no one. And if your book isn’t talking to anyone specifically, you’re not selling it to anyone specifically. Having an audience to target doesn’t just make sense from a book-selling perspective; it’s also good practice as you’re writing your book as well. 

For example, if you’re a clinician who treats patients with TMS therapy, your book might be written for patients who are struggling with mental illnesses that TMS can help with. You might use case studies of people who are similar to your patients to show how this treatment can help them. And since you see patients like your readers every day, you’ll know what questions they’re likely to have. 

This leads me to another tool that authors need; a way to connect with their audience. It’s great to know who your audience is in theory, but having a real way to communicate with them is even better. And an audience platform helps you do that. 

2. Build Your Author Platform

Books are great authority-building tools. But before people can believe in your authority, they’ll need to know you exist first. That’s the dual benefit of an author platform; you can reach your ideal audience, and learn what they need from you in return. And having a following gives you immediate access to folks that will want to buy your book. 

It doesn’t have to take years to build up a following, but it does take consistency. If you’re the TMS provider in our example, your audience could be the patients you see every day. If you’re a nutrition coach for women with PCOS, your following might be an email list of subscribers. There’s no one right way to build up a following. And in 2023, you’ve got more options than ever, like. . . 

  • Email newsletters/mailing lists
  • Instagram
  • Tiktok
  • Linkedin
  • Twitter
  • Facebook groups
  • Your website
  • Substack
  • Patreon
  • Youtube
  • Guest blogging
  • Speaking engagements

Having an author platform established before you write your book shows long-term dedication to their audience. Many hybrid publishers require some sort of author following, and big-house traditional publishers don’t take on authors without an established audience. 

Interacting with your readers through a platform gives you valuable information about how you can help them with a book. Plus, you can build an audience of people who can’t wait to read your words. But what if you’re looking at this list and thinking ‘I’m already so busy, how am I supposed to build up an author following?’

Lots of my clients come to me with busy work schedules that don’t allow for filming YouTube videos or writing Substack newsletters. But if you’ve got the cash, building an author platform can still be possible.  

3. Be Ready to Invest in Marketing Expertise

Having a marketing strategy in place before you start writing your book is the best way to have a successful launch. But marketing yourself can feel like a full-time job, and it’s a skill that many people struggle with. I ask many of my clients to partner with a professional team, whether that means a social media manager, a PR representative, or a marketing company.  

Working with a professional team doesn’t just help you boost book sales, it can help your book investment go further. Even the best-written book will be a flop if it’s not promoted well. And if you’re a first-time author, partnering with an experienced team is a no-brainer. Which brings me to the next tip to make sure your book succeeds. . . 

4. Invest in Publishing Professionals 

If you’re like most of my clients and you’re not going with a traditional publishing house, you might be bewildered by your options. And it can be tempting to go the least expensive route and DIY your book yourself. 

Publishing through Amazon’s Print-On-Demand service can help you get a published book in just weeks. But by going the cheapest route, the finished product you end up with might not be of the highest quality. And an unprofessional book can hurt your brand more than help. Once you’ve hit ‘publish’, those typos, grammatical errors and graphic design mistakes are impossible to take back. 

That’s why I recommend working with an established hybrid publishing house to ensure your book makes you look great. Getting professional publishing help still doesn’t have to break the bank; Morgan James Publishing, the pioneer hybrid publisher, charges about $6k per manuscript. Investing in an experienced publishing team ensures that the time and money you’ve spent on your book won’t go to waste. 

But even if you get a great publisher and publicist, you have an author platform, and you’ve defined your target audience, you still might not turn an ROI on your book. If you don’t have a big-picture strategy for capitalizing on this investment, you’ll lose the opportunities that a book brings. Let’s talk about what this means. 

5. Have a Big-Picture Strategy

“Where do you want to be in 3-5 years?” this is one of the first questions I ask clients on discovery calls. It’s okay if you don’t have a concrete answer, most people don’t. But knowing your goals can help you make sure that a book is the right investment for you. And having a trajectory in mind helps you angle your book in that direction. For example. . .

  • If you’d like to be booking more speaking engagements, your book might focus on thought leadership in your industry. You can speak about the experiences you’ve had as a clinician and how they inform your philosophies. 
  • If you’re wanting to be more involved in politics in the next phase of your career, you might focus on how your industry has been affected by policy changes. 
  • If you want to become a clinician leader in your specialty, you might educate patients on why you believe in your approach. You might use case studies and industry research to support your recommendations. 

Aside from having big-picture career goals for your book, creating a sales funnel around your book can help you take advantage of the publicity and branding work you’ve done. Books are great lead magnets for your email list or course offerings. If you’re the TMS clinician we mentioned earlier, your book can be a great way to attract patients to your clinic. 

Having a sales funnel in place helps readers act quickly once they know your name. If you’d like to learn more about sales funnels, you can check out my guide here

Book Sale Myths, Busted. 

The average book doesn’t make a ton of money for the average author. But publishing a book is still the best way to build industry authority, name recognition, and a lasting legacy. The key here is to go into your book journey with eyes wide open: even though you likely won’t make much money on book sales, creating an ROI from your book is still possible. 

When you partner with a professional ghostwriter, you give your book an edge over the competition. If you want to put your best book forward, while spending less time writing, a ghostwriter can help. 

If you’d like to learn more about working with me and leveraging a book for your brand, schedule a disco call with me. 

Key Elements of the Ghostwriting Role, and What to Look for When Hiring One

Good ghostwriters write your book for you, great ghostwriters write a book you never could have written on your own. If you want to elevate your stories without spending years honing your own writing craft, working with a ghostwriter (GW) may be right for you. I don’t just write my clients books for them, I enhance their stories and help them connect more deeply with readers. 

There are a ton of reasons to publish a book, whether you’re wanting enhanced branding or more authority. And a great ghostwriter can help you ensure that your book project gets you where you need to go. But what’s the difference between a good ghostwritten book and a great one? And how can you know whether you’ve found a great ghostwriter for your project? Let’s talk about how a great ghostwriter enhances your book, and what to look for when hiring one. 

Key Elements of the Ghostwriter’s Role

  1. Interviewer. Your ghostwriter should bring narrative expertise and writing skill to your book project. But perhaps even more important is how your GW gathers the information they need to write your book. Some GWs use questionnaires, but I’ve found that interviews help me harvest more narrative information that I use to flesh out our projects. 
  1. Tone Builder. Most of my clients aren’t writers. I don’t have pages of their writing to thumb through to gather their voicing. What I’m really doing in most cases is building my client’s voice as I write based on their phrasing in interviews and writing feedback. This helps me communicate with your audience in your authentic voice and tone. 
  1. Structuring. If you’re like most of my clients, you’re not clear on how your book should be structured for readers, and that’s okay. Great GWs have a keen eye for narrative flow, pacing, and creating captivating chapters that keep readers hooked from start to finish. By providing a well-crafted structure, I transform your raw material into a cohesive and engaging narrative.
  1. Collaborator. Ghostwriting is a collaborative process that requires open and honest communication. Your input and feedback are crucial to the success of the project, and I love getting feedback from clients. A skilled ghostwriter will actively seek your guidance, allowing you to shape the direction of the book and ensuring that your vision is realized.
  1. Confidant. As an NDA-protected GW, confidentiality is essential for many of my clients. Discretion is essential to the industry, and I treat every story with the utmost respect. Professional ghostwriters prioritize professionalism and ethical standards to ensure a trustworthy collaboration.
  1. Publishing Guide. Many great GWs go beyond the manuscript to offer continuing consulting for their author clients. If this is your first time being published, you’ve probably got a ton of questions about the process, and you might not be sure which publishing route to take. 

An excellent GW offers insight into structure, narrative flow, publishing, tone, and more. And working with one can help you ensure your book is high-quality and valuable for your readers. Plus, a great ghostwriter can save you a ton of time and effort on your manuscript. For example, I estimate most projects take around 4-6 months (compared to several years when clients write their own). 

How that you’re clear on the role and benefits of a great GW, how can you pick one that’s a good fit for you? What should you look for when you’re evaluating a GW you’ve never worked with before? Let’s talk about finding the right ghostwriter for you. 

Signs of a Good Match: Finding the Right Ghostwriter

Most GWs start their partnerships with a Discovery Call or Consult Call. These typically last about 30 minutes for me, and it’s a chance for me to get to know a client’s goals for their book. If you’re interested in hiring a GW, look out for these key traits during your first calls with them: 


The partnership between a GW and an author is often intimate and long-lasting. You don’t want to go through this process with someone who isn’t easy to get along and collaborate with. Notice how the vibes are on your first call or two; does it feel like you’re well-matched? If a client is serious about a project, I’m happy to get on more than one call to make sure we’re a good fit. 


When it comes to collaboration, it’s my job to give expert opinions on style, structure, and of course the writing process. And I love getting feedback from clients because often it makes my writing more precise and accurate. But what happens if our opinions differ? Ultimately, my belief is that it’s up to you to make the final call, because it’s your name on the thing. You may want to ask your GW how they’d describe their collaborative process. 

Communication and Organization

Great communication is essential to the ghostwriting process. It’s your ideas and stories that I’m writing about, so I need as much information as I can get to create a compelling book for your readers. A great GW will have a system for communication that maximizes your time, and doesn’t require a ton of extra back-and-forth. Ask about their systems on your discovery call to make sure they’re experienced and efficient. 

For example, once I have an outline settled with a client, I create a calendar for our meetings so that we’re each prepared coming into each interview. I also record every interview so that I can actively listen without taking notes, and I can reference back to our conversation when questions arise. Having a GW who is organized and communicates effectively helps you have a seamless book-building process. 

Experience and Expertise

If you’re writing for a specific field or niche, such as fellow clinicians or patients, you may want to hire a ghostwriter with a relevant background. For example, my nursing background makes it easier for me to communicate on behalf of my clinician clients, because I understand the industry pain points and medical terminology. 

If your book is covering a technical niche, it may be a good idea to seek out a ghostwriter who has already written in that specialty. Ask about what topics they’ve written about in the past, and whether they’d be comfortable covering your industry or specialty. Not every GW has a specialty, and that’s okay! Many writers learn about an industry as they go. 

Portfolio and Samples

Ghostwriters can be hard to vet because many work behind strict NDA’s. My own Non-Disclosure Agreement means that I can’t mention my client’s names or book titles, and I certainly can’t hand them off as sample pieces. But every GW should have sample pieces, whether they’re articles, essays, or other forms of writing. Request sample pieces on your discovery call to see examples of a GWs previous writing. 

Clear Agreements 

Professional GW rates start around $25k, and a written agreement or contract to outline your payment plan and project details is essential. Get clear on any contracts, payment timelines, or other processes you’ll need to adhere to during your call. 

For example, I require a first payment of four upon the beginning of every project, and this is when my clients and I sign the contract for work. Your GW should outline a clear plan for moving forward, which shows you that they’ve done this before. 

If your GW has these qualities, you’ll likely have a great experience with them at the helm of your book. 

Great Ghostwriting is Closer Than You Think. . .

If you’ve read this whole blog, thanks for doing your due diligence to learn about the key skills and qualities of a great GW. Now that you know what to look for, you’re ready to start talking to a GW about your project. If you want to schedule a discovery call with me, use this link to get started.