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Out of the Office

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I will be out of the office from June 5, 2015 through June 16, 2015. Any quote requests received during that time will be answered by June 18, 2015.

Do You Need a Ghostwriter—or Just a Ghost “Helper”?

It’s not always easy to realize your vision of an investing, insurance, personal finance or business book. You may have an awesome idea but no desire to sit down and write it. You may not have time to devote to the volume’s creation, or you may simply want to leverage the knowledge and experience of a particular ghostwriter.

But not everyone needs or wants a full-on ghostwriter. Sometimes, you just need a little help with what you’re in the process of creating. Maybe you need some guidance for getting started or ideas when outlining. You may want a resource to help flesh your thoughts out or an editor to tweak and reorganize the draft you wrote. You can outsource for assistance with all of these tasks, but there are a things you should know before you do.

1. You need to have a firm understanding of what you want. You can hire a ghostwriter with editorial experience to edit your manuscript without making any of the changes they are suggesting, or you can hire them to actually make the changes—which will save you a lot of time. But you have to tell the ghostwriter whether you want them to do that.

Speaking of editing—if you aren’t sure what an editor actually does, you may not be happy with what you get from the one you hire. Keep in mind that editing is the process of clarifying structure, tone, voice and pace of a book while also forcing the author to dig deeper into the content (or plot) when appropriate. Proofreading is going after grammatical, spelling and punctuation errors. These are different tasks requiring different skill sets. This means that after you incorporate the edits, you’ll still need a final set of eyes to catch any new or old errors.

You should also decide whether you want a specialist to assist you or a generalist. It’s often extremely valuable to hire a financial writer to edit or ghostwrite your book on investing, retirement, etc., because they can add insight that a generalist may not be able to. They also know how to communicate these complex topics to readers and understand how to edit your content without changing the meaning or making it noncompliant.

2. You should get ready for honesty. If you hire a ghostwriter or editor to help you with your book as you’re writing it, you’d best grow a thick skin or don a suit of armor because you’re going to get criticism. The thing is, if your ghostwriter or editor isn’t willing to be honest about what you’re not doing right, then the person isn’t worth paying. That doesn’t mean they have to be a jerk when delivering the news, but let’s face it—the book is your pet project and any criticism is going to sting.

3. You’ll still need to set time aside to work. Unless you hire an editor to actually fix your manuscript, this individual is just going to point out what must be done—and that means you’re going to have a lot of work to do when the edits come back. If your editor also works as a ghostwriter, he or she can rewrite, rearrange and add content as they see fit but if you aren’t hiring them specifically to do that, they’re just going to respond with prompts for you to take care of those things. They may rearrange and tweak some passages, but the bulk of the fixing is going to be your responsibility. It’s going to be a huge waste of your money and time if you write the book, pay the editor and then neglect to make the changes and simply shelve the project.

There has never been a better time to get an information product on the market—and it’s never been easier to tap into broad sales channels. I believe it’s absolutely vital to take advantage of this publishing revolution, but you need to build a strong support team in order for your product to rise above the crowd.

Do you need editing, outlining, formatting or other assistance with your book project? Send me an email to see how I can help!

Five Considerations When Repurposing Blog Posts into a Book

There are some entrepreneurs who’ve had blogs for long enough to create a great deal of content—enough to fill a book. If you’re one of them, then instead of writing an entirely new book to sell on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes and other online retailers, why not take those blog posts and compile them into an e-book and print volume?

It’s not hard to convert your posts into a book, but if you want to create something that has value to readers, you need to take a few preliminary steps before rushing to market.

  1. Create a story. You may be tempted to compile the blog posts in date order and then upload your book for sale, but you may be better off rethinking that. Browsing through a book isn’t like browsing through a blog. You can’t just click a tag for the relevant posts you want to read. Instead, you go page by page or chapter by chapter, and if the content inside isn’t arranged right, that’s going to be a frustrating experience which will cost you readers on future volumes while garnering lots of bad reviews. Instead, think of your book as a story and reorder the blog posts so they deliver the right tale.
  2. Add forewords and updates. Not every blog post is evergreen, but even content that isn’t completely timely could have a place in your book. Instead of just slapping it in, write a foreword or update for those posts that are dancing on the fence of relevance. That way, you can fill your readers in on changes and add value to your volume. Remember too that you might want to consider updating the language in all your posts to make it more book-appropriate. Overly casual blog posts don’t generally convert well without some language tweaks.
  3. Rethink your table of contents. It’s possible that allowing your table of contents to be dictated by your blog post titles is a good idea—but it also may not be. Remember that the table of contents is included in the book’s preview and it can be a selling point that makes people click to buy—or click to get away. Think about making a table of contents that’s appealing to potential buyers.
  4. Edit the content. No one wants to read a book with bad grammar, typos, poor sentence structure, repetition or too many adjectives. The mistakes you may get away with on a blog, you won’t get away with in a book. Having your book professionally edited and proofread is an important way to provide value to your readers and to show them respect. It gives them a better product and increases the trust they have in your future volumes.
  5. Get it formatted. People who read books—whether paper or electronic—expect a certain type of formatting. Publishing is changing, and readers are accommodating that change, but that doesn’t mean you can slap some blog posts together and call it a book. There are formatting standards that readers have come to expect. When you buck that trend, not only will readers have a harder time investing themselves in your book but they also might question its accuracy due to its unprofessional look. It’s like having your surgeon walk into the operating room in shorts and a T-shirt. Sure, he still knows his stuff…but you trust him quite a bit less simply because he doesn’t look like he’s taking it seriously.

If you’ve got a blog with more than 50 blog posts, you may just have the foundation for a book. Before you get it ready to sell, make sure you give it that professional polish that your readers not only expect, but deserve.

I can help you transform a blog full of posts into a valuable, professional book that reaches an entirely new segment of readers. Send me an email to talk about your project!

The Process of Hiring and Working with a Financial Ghostwriter

Some of the questions I’m asked most frequently are about the process of working with a financial ghostwriter. There really isn’t a single “right” answer for these questions because the process between each client and ghostwriter can vary. Since that response isn’t exactly satisfying or helpful, I’ve put together a basic overview of some of the more general points of the process.

  • Find the ghostwriter: Personally, I would advise searching for the ghostwriter on LinkedIn or a search engine, using keywords that make sense for your industry. If you’re looking for a financial writer, you would use that term to search for the individual. You can also search by project—as in, financial blog writer, insurance content writer and so on. You may also want to reach out to your network and get recommendations.
  • Explore the writer’s site: Look for samples, rates, terms and conditions and try to get a sense of the person. Is this someone you think you would enjoy working with? Do their rates align with your budget? Does their writing style seem versatile enough to match the way you want to present yourself to readers? Ghostwriters have to be able to capture your personality and voice and find a way to deliver it to readers, so they must be able to write many different ways.
  • Make the initial contact: Your writer will either have a contact form, phone number or e-mail link through which you can reach out to them. Their response is a crucial factor in understanding what it’s like to work with them. For example, if a ghostwriter has no “out-of-office” auto response and takes several business days to get back to you, that may be indicative of how he or she will respond to your work requests. Of course these days, with vigilant but sometimes incorrect spam filters, oversights can occur.
  • Answer a few questions: When you have a very simple project, your ghostwriter might not have any questions about it and may be able to quote a rate immediately. But often, your ghostwriter will need to get a better sense of your expectations before quoting, so he or she may respond to your initial e-mail with questions in order to better qualify the job specs and create a more accurate quote.
  • Get the project-specific rate: Once your expectations are clarified, the ghostwriter should be able to respond with a quote. Generally, at this stage, I have a firm quote to give but in some situations, you may get a price range rather than a firm quote.
  • Look over the contract: Once a client acknowledges that a quoted rate is within their budget and that they wish to move forward, most ghostwriters will create a contract that spells out all the terms and conditions of the project, including your expectations. While a ghostwriter likely has a contract that protects his or her interests, it should not neglect your expectations, privacy and other requirements. It should also spell out items such as confidentiality and content ownership.
  • Start the project: After the contract is signed and the down payment (if required) is paid, the project should begin. Your contract should spell out a timeline for necessary steps, such as phone interviews, proprietary research and materials to be provided, and so on.

Remember, a ghostwriter is meant to be a partner in the projects you create together. He or she should bring her experience and expertise to guide the project, but you must bring your experience and expertise to the table as well. Ghostwriting is about creating a silent partnership of shared skills that increase your professional exposure and support your reputation.

If you need a financial or insurance ghostwriter for your book, blog or article project, I’d be happy to work with you. Contact me to get your project quote.

The Value of Article Marketing

The Internet gives your words—which reflect your brand, your commitment and your knowledge—an entirely new power that you need to wield wisely. As a greater percentage of your potential clients rely on the Internet for all forms of communication and become more savvy about advertising techniques, you must find alternative ways to reach them and build a mutually beneficial relationship through the computer monitor, tablet or laptop screen.

If you’ve already got a website filled with content and an often-updated blog, you might wonder why you would ever need more articles written—after all, your home base is all set and ready to read. But it’s not enough just to have a website with content; you’ve got to get the word out about your service and your site, and one of the best ways to do that is through article marketing.

What Is Article Marketing?

Article marketing is the process of writing articles that are relevant to your industry (and educational and entertaining for your readers) and putting them through different distribution channels. The articles then show off your approachability, knowledge and value throughout the marketplace in many of the different websites and magazines your potential clients read. This helps you reach clients you might not otherwise find and refers them back to your own website, bringing in new traffic and leads.

Where Can You Place Your Articles?

Articles intended for marketing can be used in many different places around the Web, including:

  • Facebook (as a note)
  • LinkedIn discussions
  • Industry-related blogs and websites
  • Article directories
  • Industry-related forums
  • Blogs and websites outside your industry but with readers who have an interest

But article marketing isn’t limited to the Internet. You can also put your content in trade magazines, local newspapers and other print publications.

Before Your Create Your Article

There are certain steps you should take before you create any articles for marketing. Here are some of the steps I like to take when writing them for my clients:

  1. Consider the problem and the solution: No matter what you write about, at the heart of your article should be a problem and a solution. This will give your article a natural call to action, allowing you to avoid coming across as forced or sale-sy.
  2. Keep the article relatable: If you are writing for an academic audience, write in the correct tone for that group by using a more formal voice and more complex language. When writing for regular readers, use a more conversational tone and consider how sophisticated they may be about the topic. When writing for parents, use analogies that they can relate to, etc.
  3. Create a road map: Every article you write should have well-defined starting and ending points, and everything in the middle should lead logically to that end.
  4. Get it proofread: It is almost impossible for anyone to catch all the errors in his or her own work. Hiring a proofreader will make sure that you leave no errors to help erode your reader’s trust in your professionalism.

I’m happy to work with you on developing an article marketing strategy, editing your articles before you send them through your chosen distribution channels, or creating ideas and writing articles for you. Contact me for details.

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