Working Together

Another interview.  Unlike this interview about ghostwriting, we focused more on my background and past projects. Taken together the two hopefully answer questions you might have about working with a ghostwriter.

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As a ghostwriter I don’t have to worry about book printing costs or deciding whether a publishing contract or self-publishing makes better sense.  But since I worked in book manufacturing for almost twenty years – for R.R. Donnelley, biggest book printers in the world, and then for Von Hoffmann Graphics, which was bought by Vertis and later by R.R. Donnelley and proves it really is a small world – I do understand the book manufacturing process and the costs. 

If you’re considering self-publishing, you should too. 

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If you decide to self-publish - which also means self-print - you'll have to understand the basic components of a printed book. Even though I'm now a ghostwriter, I worked in book manufacturing for almost twenty years and still do productivity improvement consulting for larger book manufacturers. 

Here's all you need to know about how books are made.  We'll start with the basics:  Hardcover and softcover books.  (Don't worry, I won't go all Wikipedia on you.)

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For anyone considering self-publishing, a major consideration is the cost of printing.  To give you a sense of the process, check out the following text from an actual quote from a major book manufacturer.  (I did strip out identifying elements, but the basics remain intact.)  If nothing else you'll be surprised how inexpensive printing your own books can be... under the right circumstances.

 

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Questions about hiring a ghostwriter?  Here's the transcript of an interview I did for an Australian magazine that may provide some answers.

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Recommended

Here's the story behind Book Recommendations from... If this doesn't answer your questions feel free to write.

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Timothy Snyder is a professor of history at Yale and the author of Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin, a history of the political mass murder of 14 million people in eastern Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, and the Baltics. 

I can't say it's a light read, but if you appreciate rethinking and gaining a radically different understanding of significant historical events, Bloodlands is perfect.

Professor Snyder is also the author of, among other books, The Reconstruction of Nations and The Red Prince.

And I bet he teaches a mean history class.

Here's what he sent me:

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Mary Roach is the bestselling author of Stiff, Spook, Bonk, and the recently released Packing for Mars, which just hit #6 on the NY Times bestseller list. 

Reading Mary's books is like sleep learning - except in her case the process works. She's effortlessly funny and consistently engaging.  Ever wanted to know what happens to your body at 600 mph?  Or what happens to, um, human waste by-products in space?  Or how cadavers serve a key function in the space program?  (If you didn't - you will.) If you're packing for a 14-hour flight to Australia from the U.S., make sure Packing for Mars is in your carry-on.

 

Check out Mary's list of favorite books:

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Chris Palmer is the Distinguished Film Producer in Residence and founder and director of the Center for Environmental Filmmaking at American University and the author of Shooting In the Wild, a behind the scenes view of the moral and ethical dilemmas involved in making wildlife films.  Credentials aside, he's also won two Emmys and was nominated for an Oscar.  (In his case, those who teach also can.) 

Shooting in the Wild does include a touch of tell-all.  For example:  "When the king snake ignored the rattlesnake, the filmmaker tried again and again to engage them in combat, with no success. Finally, a crewmate came up with an idea: he put the rattlesnake into an empty mouse cage for a day so it smelled like a mouse. Problem solved - the king snake soon seized and ate the rattler."

But it's a lot more; the majority of the book focuses on achieving an honest, accurate documentary while entertaining and engaging an audience.  If you love nature films but have never considered how they are made - or the process behind creating what you see on film - you'll love his book.

Here's what Chris sent me:

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James Tabor is the author, most recently, of Blind Descent: The Quest to Discover the Deepest Place on Earth. His last book before that was Forever On The Mountain.  A former Contributing Editor to Outside magazine, he was also the host of the PBS series, "The Great Outdoors."  He has climbed in Alaska, dived around the world, and explored wild caves in the U.S. and Canada. He was the Executive Producer of the 2007 History Channel special Journey to the Center of the World. (By the way; Jim likes likes to hear from other authors, in particular younger writers, who might have questions about writing and publishing - so feel free to contact him.)

Exploring caves is like rock climbing, diving, and mountain climbing all rolled into one - in conditions of complete darkness, poisonous gasses and limited oxygen, and a wide variety of ways to get stuck.   Plus cavers often spend months underground; it's physically and psychologically harrowing.  Blind Descent is not just an outstanding introduction to the science and culture of caving wrapped up in an adventure tale - no wonder it was chosen as an Amazon Best of the Month and Jim chosen to be interviewed by Jon Stewart on The Daily Show.

Here's what Jim sent:

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Book Recommendations from Joe Lindsey

Joe Lindsey is a Contributing Writer to Bicycling and Mountain Bike magazines. He also writes regularly for Men's Journal, Outside, and 5280. While his primary work is in cycling journalism - including his popular blog Boulder Report - he writes regularly about health and fitness and environmental issues.


Here's what he sent me.  Since he's a better writer I'll let him speak for himself.


The only unifying factor to these choices is that they were all significant to me in some fashion or another - they opened up a new literary horizon, or informed my own modest work in some important way.  An incomplete list:

Non-Fiction

This is where my interests most lie, simply because I think real stories are more fascinating than made-up ones, and I'm a sucker for in-depth reporting and simple storytelling. These choices illustrate that.


The Worst Hard Time, by Timothy Egan.  Tells the story of the Dust Bowl from the perspective of those who stayed behind and lived through it. Amazing stories, plainly told, prove that non-fiction work and real lives can be just as compelling as fiction.

Shadow Divers, by Robert Kurson.  A non-fiction mystery about two wreck divers who discover a previously unknown sunken U-boat off the Jersey shore, and their quest to find out how it got there.

The Long Walk, by Slawomir Rawicz.  One of the most amazing tales I've ever read, about a Polish army officer who was part of the last horse cavalry charge in history, was taken prisoner by the Soviets and walked to freedom across the Himalayas and the Gobi desert.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, by Hunter Thompson.  I like HST's more sober non-fiction work better actually - he was a keen observer and reporter and I recommend the compilation The Great Shark Hunt for stories like "Strange Rumblings in Aztlan" and "The Temptations of Jean-Claude Killy," but Fear and Loathing, no matter how embellished the material may be, is too iconic to ignore.

Desert Solitaire, by Edward Abbey.  "The Monkey Wrench Gang" was, to me, mostly a fun read with some subversive ideas; the memoire "Solitaire" introduced me to the serious Abbey and his love of the American West, and helped shape mine.

Young Men and Fire, by Norman MacLean.  Although he's best known for "A River Runs Through It," I prefer this story of the Mann Gulch fire, which killed 13 USFS firefighters in 1949. It's a thoughtful, well-researched reconstruction of a tragedy that changed the way we think of wildfire and how - or whether - we fight it.

Cadillac Desert, by Marc Reisner.  One of the most important and lesser known works of modern environmentalism, despite numerous awards and a PBS series about it. Reisner takes the dry, technical subject of water rights in the American West and makes it gripping, almost whodunit material, from how Los Angeles stole most of its water supply from the Owens River Valley to why Glen Canyon Dam may one day collapse because of the very reservoir it was meant to create.

Travels with Charley, by John Steinbeck.  With famous authors, I have a habit of choosing lesser-known works as my favorite. Travels with Charley (Steinbeck sets out to see America with his beloved dog Charley) is a snapshot of an America that I sometimes think has passed into history, but still see reminders of everyday.

The Portable Jack London.  London gets unfairly pigeonholed as an author of children's adventure fiction, with White Fang and Call of the Wild. But he was also an accomplished journalist and storyteller, both fiction and non-fiction. This collection includes two of my favorite London short fiction stories, "All Gold Canyon," and "A Piece of Steak," (which is kind of a turn-of-the-century "The Wrestler"); and some selected nonfiction work that offers a much fuller understanding of his life and work.

Rough Ride, by Paul Kimmage.  The first English-language expose of doping in pro cycling. Paul was courageous to have written it and suffered a vicious ostracism from cycling for it, which was telling because he accused no one else of doping and just detailed his own slide into cheating. I think years later we learned why the sport reacted so violently; Rough Ride was like a failed intervention, and we've been struggling to face the truth ever since.

Fiction

Catch-22, by Joseph Heller.  One of the finest satires I've read - purely absurd and funny and touching all at once.

Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury.  Perhaps more relevant now than ever.

The Cave, by Jose Saramago.  I love Saramago's use of allegory and parable to explore human behavior, and this is my favorite example. If you can get over his peculiar habits of punctuation, like not offsetting dialogue in quotes, he's riveting.

Snowcrash, by Neal Stephenson.  This was his second or third novel, I believe, and introduced me to the cyberpunk genre. A great "beach" read that has more depth and complexity to it than appears on the surface. Fans of computers and cryptology will also enjoy Cryptonomicon.

 

As I said, not a complete list, but a good representation. -- Joe Lindsey

 

In The Works

Signed a contract to be the ghostwriter for a book on Social Entrepreneurship.  Client is a leader in the social entrepreneur movement, focused on helping people overcome poverty and social disadvantage through small business ownership.  In short, think assistance, guidance, and leadership instead of charity.  I'm excited to work on a project that uses business principles to create lasting social change.
 
Signed contract as ghostwriter on a book on private lending for real estate investments, including meeting compliance and regulatory requirements for pooled funds, fractional ownership, and passive investment.  Dry?  Nah - we'll make it fun.
 
Signed contract as ghostwriter on a book on legal (and practical) strategies for foreclosure defense, loan modification, and loss mitigation.  Client is a bankruptcy and debt relief litigator in Florida.
 
Signed contract as ghostwriter on a book on customer satisfaction measurement and implementation strategies for CEOs and managers of Fortune 1000 companies.  Theme is determining and measuring consumer and B2B intent, behavior, and subsequent actions to deliver quantitative satisfaction metrics and improvement strategies.
 
Signed contract as ghostwriter on a book on online marketing for a client whose company ranks in the top 1% in terms of online marketing revenue; book will focus on how companies (and individuals) can better leverage content strategies and partnerships to increase value-add income.
 
Signed a contract to ghostwrite a book on exercises and activities that can help people with a range of disabilities, disorders, injuries, and illnesses improve their prognoses and long-term conditions.  Client runs an Australian non-profit providing training, counseling, rehabilitation, and life skill services to people with disabilities.  Audience is physical therapists, healthcare professionals, and families.  While a complete change of pace for me, promises to be incredibly worthwhile and personally rewarding. 
 
Signed contract as ghostwriter  on a series of books on entrepreneurship for an Australian client.  Can't say more... extremely tight NDA... but I'm thrilled since it has the potential to be a multi-stage, multiple-media ghostwriting project.
 
Signed contract to ghostwrite a book on marketing for entrepreneurs and small businesses.  Client is based in Holland but publishes regularly in the U.S. as well as Europe and the Middle East.
 
Extended contract to ghostwrite small business resource guides for U.S.-based financial institution.  This next series focuses on financial statements, metrics, and performance, as well as forms of corporate ownership, tax planning...
 

Signed contract to ghostwrite a book on starting and building a law practice by leveraging technology and non-traditional marketing strategies.  Client is a courts-martial (yes, I used the "s" on purpose) defense lawyer who has defended cases across the U.S. as well as in Europe, the Middle East, and the Pacific.

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News

Congratulations to our client whose book we wrote together has hovered in the top 30 on Amazon for the past six weeks and hit the NY Times bestseller list (among a bunch of other lists) over the past month.  As always, it's fun to see our hard work - and the author's original vision for the book - pay off with both critical acclaim and outstanding sales. 

Looking forward to the next one ---

 

Cervelo Test Team rider Ted King is the leader in the clubhouse in terms of book recommendation page views.  He's also building a merchandising empire; check out Brandy and Patricia (two of my kids) with one of his "I am not Ted King" t-shirts.

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Tom Zirbel, a rider I met at the Tour of Shenandoah in 2006, lost his ride with Garmin-Slipstream after testing positive for DHEA.  Tom contends he did not knowingly take any banned substance, and if you know anything about quality control measures at the average supplement production facility, it's easy to believe him.  He's a nice guy - anyone nice to my kids is automatically considered a good guy - and I hope it all works out for him... but the way the system works it's unlikely.  Sadly, cycling doesn't presume innocence.
 
The Tour of Virginia hopes to start back up in 2010 after a several-year hiaitus caused by lack of funding.  If you're a deep-pocket organization with an interest in cycling check them out.  Quick disclosure:  We did web work for them a few years ago, as well as helping with print brochures and photography.  Another quick disclosure:  Their current website is not a product of our work.
 

Congratulations to Tom Zirbel, who just signed with pro cycling team Garmin-Slipstream.

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I'm in the early stages of research for a book I'm ghostwriting that will blend Brazilian jui jitsu principles and strategies with personal finance and investing.  Since I know nothing about jui jitsu I asked Beau for help. 

Very nice guy, but he's as tough as he looks.

I wrestled in high school with mixed results, so I have some sense of grappling, leverage, etc, but jui jitsu is in many ways a completely different world.  Beau not only has a knack for making the complicated simple... he's damn good.
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I was recently featured in a video discussion about how jewelry manufacturers, retailers, and the wedding industry can leverage social media marketing.  (Odd they chose me to participate since my face is made for radio...)

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Brandy, Patricia and I finished fourth in the relay category at this year's Luray Sprint Triathlon.

Luckily I have fit (and smart and sweet) daughters.

We finished behind the third place team by 5 minutes, so while that sucks we also don't need to torture ourselves with thoughts like "if only I'd pushed a little harder up that climb."  Wouldn't have mattered since we could never have made up that amount of gap.

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