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Book Elves to Host RISE Week Austin 2013 Session May 15th

Book Elves has joined forces with R.I.S.E. Global to host a free workshop on May 15th. Book Elves Boot Camp’s May workshop is being featured as a R.I.S.E. Week Austin 2013 session.

Thomas Umstattd, Jr. of Author Media will present 7 Secrets of Amazing Author Websites.

Most author websites get very little attention and generate only a handful of book sales. In this class you will learn to avoid the common author website mistakes. You will also learn the secrets that will make your site great and your book sell.

Thomas Umstattd, Jr. built his first website at the age of 13 and taught his first web design class at only 16 years old. He has been helping authors and small businesses use the web ever since. Thomas currently serves as the CEO of Castle Media Group LLC, a company that builds websites for world changers.


7 Secrets of Amazing Author Websites

Wednesday, May 15, 2013
10:00 – 11:30 AM
Posh Co-Working
3207 N. Lamar Blvd., Suite 202
Austin, Texas 78705


Book Elves Boot Camp is a monthly lunch and learn workshop series for speakers, writers and those who want to be writers. Each month features a different topic presented by an industry expert. Lunch is normally included, but no lunch will be provided for the May R.I.S.E. Session.


Your Baby is Ugly!

Books Are Like Babies: They’re Ugly When They’re Born, but That Doesn’t Mean You Should Throw Them Away

As an editor, most of the authors who contact me realize their book needs work. Some of them underestimate how much, but they at least recognize that there’s editing to be done, or else they wouldn’t have called.

When a publisher calls me, it’s a different story. With publishers (by which I mean, in this context, people who help authors self-publish their books), the conversation often starts something like this: “This author brought me this book, and he thinks it just needs a proofread, but it’s really bad. And if I can tell it’s bad, and I’m not an editor …” and things go downhill from there.

Usually the publisher sends it to me, and I send back an editing sample and a bid. They pass that on to the author, who immediately balks because I’ve just levied upon him the greatest insult of all time: to suggest that his child is not perfect. Never mind that Stephen King, and J.K. Rowling, and every other author you’ve heard of have all been heavily edited before their books get to you. Surely your book doesn’t need that much work.

Here’s the thing.  Like babies, most books are ugly when they’re first born. They’ve been smooshed through a narrow canal called the author’s brain, which has screwed up most of their identifying features. Some parts are fatter than they should be. Other parts are skinnier. Others just plain look weird. And people will say that to everyone but you.

That’s a shame, because like parents, most authors are completely blind to how ugly their baby actually is. They’ve just gone through a physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting experience. A massive rush of hormones has just been released and is coursing through their veins. They’re in love with what they’ve created and they always will be. And all of those things have clouded their judgment.

There’s really nothing wrong with that. In fact, you could call it an evolutionary advantage: if you throw back your book the first time someone tells you it’s ugly, your future as an author is pretty grim. That’s just natural selection. So if you really want to make it as an author, you need to realize that it’s nothing personal; everyone’s book is ugly when it’s first born, but if you give it enough love and feed it right, the features will smooth out and it’ll grow into a beautiful specimen some time down the road.

That’s why you should trust your editor. Your editor is an expert in raising books. He’ll tell you which parts to hold to your skin, how to feed it and when, and he’ll help guide you through the process. And if you follow directions, it’ll end up being a whole lot easier—and you’ll have a whole lot more success—than if you try to do it all yourself.

Just try not to be offended by what he tells you. And remember that every time you see another author’s newborn book, it’s ugly, too.


David Kassin Fried is an award-winning ghost writer and book editor. He blogs at dkfwriting.wordpress.com, and his writing-related musings can be followed on twitter @dkfwriting.

Behind the Scenes of a Ghost-Writing Project: An Interview with Karl Burkett

How many times have you said, “I just wish I could talk to someone who has already done this to see what their experience was?” Regardless of what “this” is, getting the first-hand insight of someone who has been there and done that can be a powerful decision-making tool. Your book project is no exception. One of the first decisions you will make is whether to use a ghost writer or write the book yourself. If you opt for tapping the skills of a ghost writer, where do you find one – the right one?

Local author Karl Burkett is currently working with a ghost writer to write his first novel. He turned to Book Elves (an Austin-based self-publishing company) to guide him through this process.

I recently interviewed Karl about his experience with Book Elves and owner Trish Lee.


RW:     First tell me a little about yourself.

KB:     Well, I am originally from Lubbock and have lived in Austin since 1964. I am an Electrical Engineer and a Partner in Maldonado-Burkett Intelligent Transportation Systems, LLP. My wife Diane and I have three grown daughters and three grandchildren. I love sports, especially the Texas Longhorns and Westlake Chaparrals. I occasionally manage to get in a little golf or tennis, but my favorite way to spend my spare time is family vacations and doing anything with my grandkids.

RW:     Is this your first book?

KB:     My background is in technical writing for the engineering community. Until now, my “works” have consisted of primarily technical manuals & documents, magazine articles and reports. This is my first fiction effort.

RW:     Have you ever used a ghost writer before?

KB:     Not really. In the past, I relied heavily on technical writers to edit my material, so I suppose that would be classified more as a team effort. This is the first time I have used a ghost writer to actually write the book.

RW:     What made you decide to use a ghost writer for this book?

KB:     The advice of a trusted friend – and the fact that I realize that my writing style is technical. I really want this novel to be attractive to a broader audience.

RW:     Why did you choose Book Elves?

KB:     Again, the advice of a trusted friend, J. Foster. He spoke very highly of Trish and her approach to helping people like me enter the world of writing and publishing.

RW:     Describe the interview process you experienced with Trish prior to matching a writer to your book project. What was it like for you?

KB:     First, I met with Trish and J. to develop the concept and goals of the project. We discussed the plot, themes and characters at length. Trish recommended one of her writers that she felt would be good for this project and provided a writing sample. I liked what I saw, so we had an introductory phone call where we continued to discuss the concept, plot, characters and other details.

Trish and her team have made this a very enjoyable experience for me. They listen to my desires and incorporate them into the work. They have been very easy to work with and have led me through the process in a natural, easy and professional manner.

RW:     Describe the ongoing communication process with Trish and your ghost writer together as your book is being developed.

KB:     Trish and the others have led me through the development of the story line. They have let me know what is expected of me and have produced what I have expected from them.

We began by establishing a general story line. We developed the characters by filling out Trish’s character traits forms. We established the important themes of the book and worked together to establish the story line and timeline of the book. The ghost writer then began to write the chapters based on the developed story line.

RW:     What advice would you offer other authors considering using a ghost writer for their book?

KB:     Call Trish. She is easy to work with and the price is reasonable. Just do it. It is a very enjoyable process, especially for someone like me who is in a very different world everyday (engineering). It is a breath of fresh air to work with such creative people.

RW:     Any additional thoughts or comments on your experience with Book Elves that you would like to share with our readers?

KB:     Yes, a few things. Trish does a good job of keeping the project on schedule with regular meetings and milestones. If I were working alone, the schedule would easily slip. The clear and concise contract with Book Elves and the option to pay for services by milestones were extremely helpful in my decision to proceed with the project. The terms are simple and agreeable and allowed me to ease into the process without making the entire financial commitment all at once and before knowing exactly what I was getting into. This arrangement makes it much easier to choose Book Elves by allowing me to see the process and where the project is headed. I am continually comfortable with the end result.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Karl’s novel is about a Parisian woman who stumbles upon a plot to blow up the Statue of Liberty in New York. An ex-Navy SEAL assists her in uncovering age-old secret symbolism as they evade danger from terrorists and race against time to foil the plot. Along the way they discover love and faithfulness in unlikely places.

At the time this article is published, Karl is nearing the end of the editing stage and is looking forward to publishing his new book later this year. To receive notification of the release date, join the Book Elves mailing list.


Rachael Wilkins creates custom graphic and written content to meet the online and print marketing needs of micro-businesses and organizations. She is the owner of Freestyle Business Solutions.


New Self-Publishing Workshop Series Launching

Busy little elves are putting together a new workshop series designed to empower speakers, writers and those who want to be writers with knowledge, tools and resources to maximize their potential as authors.

Book Elves is thrilled to be launching Book Elves Boot Camp, a monthly lunch & learn workshop series to help writers and speakers learn more about writing, publishing and marketing their own books. Industry experts will share their insights on a wide range of topics from editing, layout and cover design to developing an author website, working with a book publicist, how to select a ghost writer and much more.

See workshop schedule.

If you are a writer, would-be writer, speaker, business owner, or perhaps are just interested in learning how to write a book or considering diving into the world of self-publishing, this workshop series is for you. Whether you are looking to learn how to start writing a book or have already written one, these self-publishing workshops have something for everyone.

Book Elves Boot Camp is held the third Wednesday of each month at Posh Coworking in Austin, located at 3207 N. Lamar Blvd., Suite 202 in Austin, from 11:30 AM-1:00 PM. Registration includes lunch. Seating is limited, so early registration is recommended.

Get workshop details and registration information here.

Stay up-to-date with new workshops and other Book Elves news by subscribing to our newsletter.


Tips for Working with a Ghost Writer

Once I stood up in front of a room of people said, “If anyone ever tells you that you should write a book, they’re probably lying. What you should do is pay me to write the book for you.” The line served its intended purpose—it got a laugh and let the audience know what I do for a living—but the sentiment notwithstanding, working with a ghost writer the wrong way can cause as much or more trouble than not hiring a writer at all.

With that in mind, here are a few tips for making sure that you get the desired return on the not-inconsiderable investment you’re making by hiring a ghost writer.

1. Pick the right one – There are hundreds of ghost writers out there, fitting every niche you could possibly imagine. They’ll vary on cost (from early career and inexpensive to high credential and super expensive), writing style, work method, personality, preferred genre, location and any number of other factors. Don’t feel like you need to get stuck with the first one you find. Establish your budget, interview people who fit that budget, read their samples and see if it’s a match. If it’s not, don’t be shy about letting them know. Most ghost writers—especially ones who are well established in their careers—have worked on projects that weren’t a good fit for them, or where the client started having reservations early on in the process, and they no doubt found that their experience, and their client’s experience, was not a good one. But if the shoe fits, everyone will be happy.

2. Get clear on expectations up front – Make sure everyone knows what the process is going to look like, how long the book will be, what it will look like and what the ghost writer does and doesn’t do. Personally, I like to manage the entire editorial process from writing all the way through to final proofreading. I subcontract out a copy-editor and several proofreaders, so that the client doesn’t have to worry about any of the content at all. But not all ghost writers do that. Some ghost writers hate interviewing their clients. So be sure you know what stage the content will be in once it gets to you and what the process will be to get it there.

3. Talk a lot A few weeks ago, 12-year-old Will Lucas pitched the 35th no-hitter in Little League World Series history. The following morning he appeared on The Dan Patrick Show and delivered one of the worst interviews of all time. Fortunately Dan Patrick is a pro and he made the best of the situation, but there’s no denying that the kid’s interview was every bit as terrible as his pitching was excellent; every answer he gave was just a couple of words long, and he made his interviewer do all of the work.

In short, the best interview is the one who knows how to talk. Every now and then I interview someone who apologizes for talking too much, and I tell them they’re crazy if they think that’s a bad thing. The one thing a writer needs more than anything else is content. Much like a documentarian’s job is to turn hundred hours of footage into two hours of riveting story, a writer is taking every bit of information he can find and culling it down into the most fascinating parts. So talk as much as you possibly can. Or, if you’re the type that’s writing it down and passing it onto your ghost writer to wade through, write everything that pops into your head, without censoring it. Your ghost writer needs as much information as possible in order to tell the story you want to tell, so give it to him.

4. Trust the process I was once hired by someone to develop some content for their website. I sent him a questionnaire, he filled it out, I took the info and developed the half-dozen or so pages there were to develop, and then sent it to him. And immediately he was terribly upset that I didn’t give him what he wanted and was afraid I was trying to take advantage of him. I calmly let him know that this was just a rough draft, this was part of the process, and I’d be happy to make whatever changes he felt were necessary. The funny thing? The changes he wanted were actually pretty standard—a few words here, a paragraph there—in the end, the rewrite was about as extensive as every other website I’ve worked on.

So, to be clear, it is completely expected (depending on your personality) that your ghost writer is going to come up with something that you’re not happy with for one reason or another—either it’s not in your voice, or some of the content is inaccurate, or it’s got different information than you want in there, or whatever. Don’t freak out. Just go through it, let your ghost writer know what needs to be changed and how, and your ghost writer will fix it.

Now that’s not to say that your ghost writer won’t argue over certain things that he feels strongly about, especially if it has to do with the content organization or the quality of the writing. Remember, your ghost writer is a pro at this—his job is to make you sound good, so in the instances when he does fight for something, listen real closely.

In the end, it takes two to tango. If you expect to send your ghost writer off and have everything be perfect, you’ll likely be disappointed, Like a marriage, it’s up to both of you to communicate expectations and make sure that it’s worth the effort you put in. Because nobody wants their ghost writing relationship to end in divorce.


David Kassin Fried is an award-winning ghost writer and book editor. He blogs at dkfwriting.wordpress.com, and his writing-related musings can be followed on twitter @dkfwriting.

Three Simple Steps to Start Writing Your Book

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. It’s a silly joke with a wallop of wisdom for writers, because this is exactly the mindset you’ll need when you begin to write your book. Getting started is indeed the hardest part, so plot your course first, and you’ll be both confident and motivated to begin.

Step One

Consider what type of writer you are. Do you like structure, or do your writing habits depend on your moods?

If you like structure: Begin with an outline that expands on the main topic. What is the logical sequence to take this idea from an introduction to the conclusion? Your outline will give you a simple method for tackling your project one small chunk at a time.

If you feel confined by structure: Following an outline is commonly recommended for book writing, but don’t let that hem you in. You can start writing your book from any chronological point. Wherever you choose to begin is fine. When you’re finished, hire someone to organize your content into a logical sequence.

Step Two

Schedule time to write. When are you most productive: morning, afternoon or evening? On your calendar, block in time to write, and stick to it. This is arguably one of the most important steps you can take to write – and finish – your book. Unless you plan to publish within two years, you do not have to write daily. Simply choose a schedule that works for you.

Step Three

Once you have written all you feel you can say about your subject, find an editor. This is crucial for having a well structured, error-free, organized final product. Editors spot wrong word choices, clarify concepts, fix sentence structure problems and ensure your point of view is consistent throughout. Editing is tedious, so keep in mind that turnaround time will vary depending on your editor and his or her current schedule. Plan your project time line accordingly.


Liked this article? Stay up to date with the latest in self-publishing, and get notified about future Book Elves blog posts by liking our Facebook page.

Monica Crowe writes blog posts, newsletters and sales messages for passion-driven entrepreneurs, so they can make the most of their business hours, while doing more of the work they love.

Five Things to Consider Before Writing a Book

If you’d like to write a book, but have a long list of questions and doubts, don’t worry. Absolutely anyone can write a book. All you need is clarity, an action plan and a willingness to implement. Use these five questions to get clear, develop your action plan and get started.

What is my purpose for writing a book? There aren’t any right or wrong reasons to write a book. The following are only a few common reasons you might write a book:

  • to create another income stream
  • position yourself as an expert in your field
  • extend your reach
  • grow a consulting business or speaking career
  • work for yourself
  • express yourself
  • market your business
  • get media attention
  • attract opportunities, etc.

Do I want to sell a million copies? If you’d like to make an income based on book sales alone, moving a high volume is necessary. To sell a million copies of your book, you must actively promote. Create a domain name and website for your book, where people can either directly purchase or access a purchasing portal. Start a blog, and regularly publish articles about your book topic. Doing so will bring qualified traffic to your website. Also, send press releases to media outlets for feature opportunities, and do regular book signings.

Do I want to promote my business? Having written and published a book lends instant expert status, and positions you as an industry leader. Here’s a quick action plan. Promote your book on your business website, and make it available on Amazon to bring in new leads. Blog on your website, and promote your book by doing guest blog posts and interviews on highly trafficked websites. Also, send out press releases, pitching your solutions and industry knowledge.

Do I have the time? Make room in your schedule, and devote yourself to write at optimal times, such as during your lunch break or when your kids are asleep. If you can’t spare time to write, or you run into a severe bout of writer’s block, you can hire a ghostwriter to pen the content and even arrange your thoughts into a logical format.

Do I have the money? You can self-publish on any budget, from the low end to high. If you have a small budget, you’ll find online publishing platforms to fit your needs. However, if you have more money to spend on your project, do so. Hiring professionals will ensure you have a quality finished product. To learn more about the costs of self-publishing, see the article, ………. (PLUG “Can I afford to write a book?” here, AND LINK TO IT.)


If you liked this article, and want to stay up to date with the latest in self-publishing, visit and “like” the Book Elves Facebook page.

Monica Crowe writes blog posts, newsletters and sales messages for passion-driven entrepreneurs, so they can make the most of their business hours, while doing more of the work they love.

I can’t afford to publish a book…

Book Elves on BlogTalkRadio!

Listen in to Trish Lee with Book Elves Publishing discussing how easy it is to publish your own book with Trish Aikman of BadAss Branding!

Listen to internet radio with BadAss Branding on Blog Talk Radio