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Your Intro To Hiring An Editor w/ Carolyn Roark

Do you need to hire an editor for your book? (short answer = YES) When should you hire an editor? What kind of editor(s) should you hire? How much will it cost?

These are just some of the questions Carolyn Roark, developmental editor, ghostwriter, and book coach, answers in this episode. If you’ve got questions about hiring a book editor, this is where to start finding the answers.

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EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Josh Steimle: Welcome to the Published Author podcast where we help entrepreneurs learn how to write a book and leverage it to grow their business and make an impact. I'm your host, Josh Steimle.

Today, my guest is Carolyn Roark. Carolyn is a developmental editor, ghostwriter, and book coach. Her clients have included venture capitalists, restaurant tours, and cancer survivors. She's working with one of my clients right now, which is how we met.

Carolyn, welcome to the show!

Carolyn Roark: Thank you for having me.

Josh Steimle: Well, I'm excited to talk to you because you know, book writing, and in a way that even a lot of publishers and other professionals in the industry don't necessarily know book writing. But before we dive into that, tell us a little bit more about your background and where you came from, and how you got involved in books and book writing.

Carolyn Roark: What's a woman like you doing in a place like this? Right?

Josh Steimle: Yeah, exactly. In this slimy, dirty industry.

Carolyn Roark: I came to the publishing industry out of the academic world. Basically, I started my first career as a university professor and basically ended up crawling out a window of the ivory tower in the middle of the night and running away and never coming back.

I think I did what most writers do when they're trying to figure out how to forge a career for themselves, which is thrown themselves at absolutely every kind of writing that they could find to figure out how on earth am I going to, you know, keep a roof over my head and feed my puppy. With this.

And after a few months of haunting a lot of the same freelance sites that a lot of other writers start at, I began to sort of dial in the kind of writing that made me happy, versus the kind of writing that bored me to tears, the kind of editing that I enjoyed versus the kind of editing that just crushed my soul, and eventually settled on working specifically on books and helping people write books.

Books have always been very close friends, to me, if I'm honest. Most days, I'd much rather hang out with one of my books than I would most people. So, it was a natural thing to enjoy helping people figure out how to communicate with their readers in the best, most compelling way possible to try and get that message across.

Josh Steimle: Now you have some book writing experience in your past as well. Right? I mean, other than just ghostwriting. But you're also a published author. Tell us a bit about that.

Carolyn Roark: Well, most of my publications are from that former life from being an academic, and I also edited an academic journal. It was an interesting transition, because academic-speak, doesn't work very well in the rest of the world. And so, the most interesting part of making that transition from that kind of writing, which is, you know, very granular, very intense focus with a very specific kind of vocabulary, most of it designed to show that you know, how to use that vocabulary than for any practical purpose, to figure out how to talk to a mass audience.

So, I suppose if you go out there, and you look, you can still find some of my writing on things like Texas Historical pageants. But if I'm honest, I think a lot of the things that I'm doing right now are a lot more fun.

Josh Steimle: And what are some of the projects that you're working on right now?

Carolyn Roark: Oh, gosh. One of my primary rules in life is, don't be bored. So, I always try to take on things that will interest me will excite me that I think will make the world a better place. So, I have one project that I'm working on, that has to do with updating a handbook for healthcare, a specific industry within healthcare.

So, if any of you are going to end up in the hospital, sometime in the next few years, this is absolutely the kind of book that you want your providers to have read. I have a delightful project I'm working on in the cannabis industry, believe it or not.

The, as you may know, cannabis has just been legalized in Canada. And there are a lot of people who are interested in figuring out how it might be something that they could learn to enjoy the same way they enjoy something like wine, you know, and instead of feeling, you know, as though at middle age, suddenly you've returned to your misspent Junior High days hiding out in somebody's basement right. So that Project is a lot of fun.

I have a fellow that I'm working with who helps scientists and entrepreneurs in the medical science space, learn how to talk to investors and other stakeholders so that they can build companies around these medical discoveries that they're making. And, and lead those companies and support those companies in a way that they can be successful in interacting with people who are not medical bench researchers. So, a little bit of everything.

Josh Steimle: Got it. Now talk to us about what a developmental editor is. This is one of the many hats that you wear. People know what a ghostwriter is, that's somebody who helps you write a book, they know what a book coach is, that's somebody who helps you through the whole book process. Developmental editing, a lot of people might say, wait, I thought I just got an editor. What's a developmental editor?

Carolyn Roark: There are many kinds of editing. And it's vital as an author, that you should know the difference. Because if you need proofreading, and you hire a line editor, you're not going to be happy with what happens.

If you need a developmental editor, and you hire a copy editor, again, you're not going to get the experience that you need to get.

I like to say that, in some ways, being a developmental editor is comparable to being a book coach accepting that it's a much more hands on version of that relationship. Most of the book coaches I know, are not necessarily going to dig deep and walk with an author chapter by chapter line by line to help them figure out the best way to say what they want to say they sit across from you from coffee, once a week, and they say, so how's it going, and you say, Ah, I got writer's block, and then they give you some exercises. Or you say, well, I didn't get all the pages done that you committed to you to do. And they say all, you got to do better. And that's, that's fine. You know, that's all some people need. And that certainly is a part of what a developmental editor can do.

But a developmental editor helps you develop the book, pretty much from the point that you bring them on to work with you to the point that the manuscript is polished enough that you're ready to send it off to whatever the next phase may be. That can mean having them work with you to develop the table of contents and figuring out what the structure of the book is going to be. It can involve looking at lots of comps in the market with you so that you can see what other books are out there in your general subject area and how they work and how they present the material they present. And what you can learn from that and what it makes sense for you to do in light of what the rest of that genre or that topic area is looking at.

They work with your chapter by chapter, you produce the content, they work with you on the content. If you're struggling to express yourself, well, they help you how to figure out how to express yourself better. If you get lost in the weeds on a given topic, they help you find your way back out. If you're going a little too deep and sort of doing too much navel-gazing, they help you sort of pull your focus back to your reader. If you're not going deep enough, and the editor can see that your reader is going to be confused or ill-fed based on what you've given them.

They help you figure out how to give your audience more and how to hopefully if they're doing it, well, they're doing it in a way that helps you get inside that readers head and understand what the reader wants, what the reader needs, what the reader is going to respond to, and how the readers reading brain works. Because the parts of our brains that are activated when we're experiencing words on a page or on a screen is very different from the parts of our brains that are activated when we do things like talk together like this.

Josh Steimle: How does an author hire a developmental editor? How do they find the right developmental editor to work with?

Carolyn Roark: There are many places one can find a developmental editor. Yes, if you go to certain online platforms that provide the publishing industry, professionals, you know freelancers that is one place that you can look.

Another place that you can look is through your network. If you know somebody who has published a book or is working on a book, you can reach out to your network and say Do you know anybody sees what names come back? If you are working with a press either a traditional press or a hybrid press. A lot of times they will have a list of folks who provide that kind of service, and they can give you a list of names, you can always do a straight-up Google search.

If you're going to do a straight-up internet search for a developmental editor, I suggest that you add some additional search terms. For example, either the specific topic or niche that you're wanting to publish into, or the geographic area in which you live, something that will help you narrow the search down a little bit more. Because if you just put in the developmental editor, you never do know what's going to pop up. And then you're going to end up sifting through lots of results that may not do any good for you.

In terms of figuring out who is right for you, half of that equation is looking at what their areas of interest and expertise are, what kinds of books have they worked on? Are they in your topic area, or sort of adjacent to it? Or has have they in their body of work demonstrated an ability to adapt very quickly to new areas, that's part of it, you know, because if what you're doing is writing a thriller, you know, a novel, then you don't necessarily want to seek services from somebody who specializes in helping science professionals write medical texts on their on their subject area, the other half of it is absolutely a matter of personal and personality fit.

You're going to be working very closely with this person, probably for a number of months, you know, the kind of communication style that you prefer, you know, if you need a lot of cheerleading and hand-holding versus if you need a lot of straight talk and tough talk, and, and coaching, you know, you know, if you're comfortable with certain kinds of language, or the way you like to express yourself and the way you feel about other people expressing themselves to you. So, I would say, think of it as a little bit like dating at first. Ideally, you should at least have a coffee, several conversations, and some preliminary work together before you commit to a long-term relationship with them. And they should want to do the same with you.

Josh Steimle: When somebody hires a developmental editor there, I mean, there are people who take six years to write their book. And there are other people who write a book in six months. And so there might be vastly different timeframes that you end up working with a developmental editor, depending on how long you take to write your book. Is that accurate? Or is it kind of like you're going to spend the same number of hours regardless.

Carolyn Roark: I would say that in terms of hours, generally, you can ballpark it. Like a developmental editor or any editor can look at your manuscript or your ideas where they stand and say to you, you're probably going to need at least 20 hours of work, you're probably going to need at least 120 hours of work.

Now, that said, yes, you're absolutely right. Some people get it done in six months. Some people take six years. And when you're surrounding yourself with a team to help you get a book out there, and the people I've seen have the most success are the people who bring a team around themselves to do it. You need to look at things like how quickly do I really need to get this thing out there in order for it to serve the needs that I need met with a book and what are my own tendencies going to do to serve that or to hinder that and then make sure that the people you're working with know how to amplify your strengths and how to mitigate or help minimize your limitations.

Otherwise, yes, you can end up with a manuscript that's been in a file on your computer or in a desk drawer for six years with no end in sight. And your editorial team doesn't want to see that any more than you do.

Josh Steimle: Right. So, if we can ballpark the hours roughly, that we might spend with a developmental editor, what about cost? What should somebody expect to pay? And again, I know there are developmental editors that charge different rates. But what's kind of the low end, what's the high end that somebody would reasonably expect to pay to hire a developmental editor over the lifespan of getting their book out there?

Carolyn Roark: Well, look, you can go to a website like Fiverr, and find somebody to do it for you for $500 or less. And you might get lucky, you might get somebody who's great, and who, for whatever reason, has decided that model works for them.

But most of the time, at least in my experience, and in terms of what I've heard from other folks, if you try going to one of the Freelancer websites, that's sort of that economy-priced webs, you know, kind of model, you're going to end up with somebody who is taking whatever gigs they can get, or who is just getting started and trying to build a name for themselves. So, what you are paying for you might save on the cost, but you're going to be paying for it in there and experience or whatever other issues are sort of keeping them at that lower-income level.

Josh Steimle: You got to ask why aren't they charging more? Why are they somewhere else where they can make more money on Fiverr or Upwork?

Carolyn Roark: Now, you know, I've also seen all the way on the other end of the spectrum, folks who have in their way sort of become, you know, celebrity editors. And I don't mean that by people who work with celebrities, although some of them do. But rather the ones who have been around the industry for a very long time, who are very well known in the industry and very well respected, and who probably have shepherded big books on to great success.

That, you know, those folks are going to be just like working with any kind of very top tier, household name coach, in any field that you probably, it would not surprise me to have somebody lay a price tag of 1520 grand on you to do a developmental edit on a book. In terms of what I've seen, either people working independently, as I do, or working with hybrid presses, traditional presses or even, you know, sort of indie publishing outfits, depending on how many hours that you're going to be working and the kinds of services that you're going to need them to perform. I think it's reasonable to spend somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000.

Josh Steimle: Okay, well, that's great. That gives us a range. And it gives us some different things to think about. And of course, different authors are in different places financially, and in terms of what they want. I have clients who say, I have no money, what should I do? And I say, well, yeah, Fiverr might be an option, because maybe 500 bucks towards an entry-level developmental editor are better than nothing, perhaps.

And then you have other clients who come in and say, I want a developmental editor who's worked on five New York Times bestsellers. And you say, well, okay, you're going to pay through the nose, just because they've done that it might not be any better than what you'd get for half the price. But if that's what you want, great, we can connect you with somebody who's done that.

Carolyn Roark: And if that's what you want, and that's what gives you the confidence to launch your book out there and get the book to do for you what you want it to do for you. And you have the money, more power to you.

Josh Steimle: Right! Yeah.

Carolyn Roark: Well, and for folks who, who really, honestly have no funds, and no way to get funds through things like pre-selling the book, then there are other options, taking certain kinds of writing classes where you can work on a specific manuscript, that can be a great place to start joining a writing group that is at least generally in the area where you want to publish, like, don't join a nonfiction writing group if you want to write a fiction book and vice versa. But you can find a local or an online writing group that works in your area and get peer-to-peer support and coaching and feedback. Take your money and use it to have somebody help you run a beta reader campaign and get your feet back that way.

So, if you, if you just don't have access to a book coach or a developmental editor, then there are other options you would have. And I would tell anybody whose budget really is that tight and who just has absolutely no way to access funding at all. Whatever bit of money that you have, I would urge you to use it for two things. A proofreader, who's a professional proofreader who's never seen your book before, because there's nothing more soul-crushing than opening the brand-new book that you just got back from whatever put you know, the printer you ordered it from or whatever online service you've had it launched and opening it up and seeing immediately that misspelling that you missed.

So, one: a proofreader, a professional proofreader who has a cold eye, meaning they've never seen the manuscript before. And to a really good book cover. People, absolutely people probably including you, including me, including everybody who is with us, in this conversation, judges’ books by the cover. And if your content is fantastic, but your cover is crud, then it's going to hinder the book success.

Josh Steimle: Absolutely. So, speaking to working with a developmental editor, when is the right time to hire a developmental editor in the process?

Carolyn Roark: I would say as early as possible after you've committed to getting the book done. If you're still hemming and hawing and going, well, I'd really like to have a book. But I don't know that now's the time. Or, well, I know I should have a book. But I'm just not feeling it or I'm just, I just don't feel motivated, then a developmental editor is not going to be able to help you. A developmental editor works with content. And if you have no content, and are unable to produce content, for whatever reason, they're not going to be able to help you. And it's not going to end up being a fruitful relationship for either of you.

Now, you can bring in a developmental editor after you have a full draft of your manuscript. And there, the odds are good that they'll be able to help you make it better. If you feel like you know the material, and you know the message, but you don't know how to get it out of your brain and onto the page. Then getting either a book coach or a developmental editor to work with you, from the get-go can help you avoid a lot of wasted time and a lot of missteps and a lot of self-recrimination, and other things that keep authors from getting where they want to go.

Josh Steimle: Mhmm. Now wearing these different hats, ghostwriter, developmental editor book coach, what are some of the benefits that you've seen in the synergies you see between wearing all these hats? Because some people are only developmental editors, and some people are only ghostwriters. How does being a ghostwriter help you be a better developmental editor and vice versa?

Carolyn Roark: I think it's a matter of just knowing books in as many ways as you can and looking at books from as many angles as you can. In that sense, I suppose it's not unlike being a physician or a scientist who learns to study in two distinct but parallel fields.

The more I understand and help other people break down book structure and think about communicating very clearly with a reader for their content. The more that I do that, as an editor, the more it helps me, as a writer, put words together in a more successful and appealing way.

The more books I work on as a ghostwriter, the more I understand, and empathize with the challenges that writers encounter. And the more I'm able to help writers find their way through those challenges.

Josh Steimle: You mentioned other types of editors before. Can you walk through all the other editors somebody might need or want to hire in that book process and just briefly tell us what each of them does?

Carolyn Roark: Yes, absolutely. And if it's of use, I have a quiz on my website that can help an author decide or sort of self-assess what sort of editing they might need at this point in their process.

Josh Steimle: Great! Now would be a great time to drop that URL. What's that URL?

Carolyn Roark: You can find it on my website, which is www.writingtexan.com. And you'll find that self-assessment there. And it's, it's just a quick quiz that you can take online. And, and get a feel for where you might be now, a book coach or a developmental editor works with content from an early point, and helps you draft a successful manuscript, it helps you get sort of a full working model, up and running. At that point, once you have a manuscript that that is full, or in whole or very close to that, and that you feel good that all the necessary content is there.

But you think the style of the thing could be improved, that's when you go to a line editor or a copy editor. Some people distinguish between those two things. Some people look at them as kind of the same thing or as conjoined twins in terms of how they function. But a line editor or copy editor is going to go through the manuscript, come through it, look at the pros, the style, the syntax, the structure, and make sure that every sentence is clear and clean and communicating your message well, and when you're working with a liner copy editor, generally speaking, unless you tell them not to, they're going to make the fix for you, they will alter the sentence or the paragraph. And they may suggest moving like I think this paragraph really should be moved here. Or I think this content really needs to go in an earlier chapter, they might suggest that unless you tell them not to make those edits themselves, they likely will.

If you have some reason that you don't want them doing surgery on your prose, then tell them and they'll do something like Microsoft Word, their suggestions in a comment bubble.

 After that, that's when you go to a proofreader, a proofreader looks at a clean, solid, mature, well-developed draft, and looks for those small technical problems that seem to escape everybody, the misplaced comma, the missing word, the line that somehow got broken in a weird place, the misspellings, little things that just the more familiar you become with a manuscript as its author or it can happen, you know, when you're working with it as a coach or a developmental editor or you know, a project manager, you just get so familiar and so deep in the manuscript, you can't see those errors anymore.

So that's when you bring in your proofreader to look for those small nasty little toothy errors that are here, you know, hiding in the pros, and they pull them out of there with a set of tweezers. That way, when the book goes off to the press and comes back to you either in electronic or physical form, it is as clean of errors as it can be.

Josh Steimle: Perfect, thank you. So, what are some of the mistakes that you see authors make when working with a developmental editor? What are some of the common things that you would say don't do this, do this instead?

Carolyn Roark: Well, first, I'd say waving off your pitcher, you know, or your catcher rather, excuse me waving off your catcher. You know, if your editor gives you advice, and gives you really compelling reasons why a change might be necessary. It can be hard to let go of a piece of the manuscript that you really love, but they're making that suggestion to serve the manuscript for the manuscript to serve you.

So, I will say the first thing is if an editor gives you the advice to cut something, or make a significant change to something, before you dismiss it out of hand, sit with it for a while and think about it.

I can give an example I had a guy I worked with several years ago, who was he was talking about a personal struggle he had. But he also played semiprofessionally in a sport. And so, he had these long passages describing technical aspects of games he would play. And I urged him on more than one occasion to consider cutting a good bit of that out there. And he was insistent that other people who enjoyed the same sport he did, were going to be really fascinated by those blow-by-blow descriptions of the games. And sure enough, when the book came out, among the reviews, it was like, oh, well, you know, his personal story is so powerful, but those descriptions of those games are just deathly.

So, if an editor makes a suggestion like that, it's not to serve their own ego, it's because they really are thinking of your reader. That's one thing. I'd say another mistake that authors make is thinking that hiring a coach or an editor is somehow going to diminish the effort that they are going to have to put in.

And by that, I mean, it's like personal training, in that, you go in, and you work with a personal trainer, and the personal trainer puts the weights in your hands or puts you in the machine. And then you still must use your muscles to do those exercises. They're going to help you do them properly. They're going to help you do them in a way that you won't injure yourself, and so that you'll get the best results from having done so. But it's still not your muscles that are going to be sore the next morning, not theirs. And so, it's a mistake to assume that there will not be mental and emotional heavy lifting for you to do because you've hired somebody to work with you. It's going to be very much like literary personal training.

Josh Steimle: Yeah, you still must do the work you still have to do it yourself. I think some people, they say, well, then I'll just hire a ghostwriter. Even if you hire a ghostwriter, you still must do a bunch of work. It's not like they can just literally write the whole book for you, right?

Carolyn Roark: Absolutely, yes. And they're still going to have to extract the information from your head, you are still the expert. And you are still the person who understands better than anybody else, or who should, I should say, understand better than anybody else, what you want that book to accomplish for you in terms of your personal professional, or life goals.

And so, you shouldn't leave it to somebody else to decide that, yes, there's always going to be some effort to involve to, in which to involve yourself. But I would say if you just know yourself well enough to know that the actual writing and content creation is going to be the kind of heavy lifting that you will, will struggle with on your own, and that it's just not something you can see yourself doing. Then a ghostwriter is still a good idea.

Josh Steimle: So, when we're talking about our audience for this podcast, which is primarily entrepreneurs who want to write a book that they can leverage to grow their business, when you've worked with that type of client, what type of book or what format of the book tends to work the best or deliver the results that that type of entrepreneur is looking for?

Carolyn Roark: Short. I know that sounds glib. But generally speaking, I have found that what you might call an airplane read, you know, a very concise book is going to be the best bet for an entrepreneur who is hoping to use a book or something like a lead generator.

Now. If you are trying to create a whole paradigm shift in your industry, then obviously, you know, a book, the length of Who Moved My Cheese is it's going to be challenging to do that. And, and something more in the range of 50,000 words might be necessary if what you're doing is a manifesto or, you know, you're really trying to shift the whole paradigm of an industry, but by and large, your readers are just like you. They're busy. They have a lot going on in their lives, they have goals that they want to accomplish. They have families to feed, and professional dreams and ambitions.

And so, the things that they choose to spend their time on, will be the things that will give them the most value for the most concise investment of their time and attention. If you don't want to read a slow-moving 80,000-word, dry tome about a sales process, why would they? So, in terms of creating something that they can and will use, you want it to seem anything but daunting, you want it to seem like something that they can get a lot of value out of very quickly. And that that will not be a huge investment of time and energy that they're not sure that they have for anything.

Josh Steimle: Got it. Now a lot of entrepreneurs, business people like to think about writing a memoir. And what are some of the traps when it comes to writing a memoir?

Carolyn Roark: In terms of a first draft, I'm going to differentiate between being a writer and being an author. You can write anything you want to for yourself, and you should if you get value and benefit from it. But a shift happens when you go from wanting to write things down to wanting other people to read it.

And at that point, you must stop thinking of your story as being about you, even if it is your story. And you must start thinking about the story as something that's about the reader. How are they going to encounter it? What are they going to get from developing a relationship with it because in turn, in terms of the books, we read, the books we treasure, and remember the books we feel we have a relationship with? And if an author if a reader, excuse me gets to the end of your manuscript, and feels like they just spent five to 10 hours listening to you talk endlessly about yourself, then you haven't succeeded with them or for them.

A lot of hopeful authors come to me, and they say, I get this a lot, weekly, sometimes. Well, I've always dreamed of my life being a Lifetime movie. And so, they think the way to make that happen is to write a book about their life. And then they'll send the book off to one of the big five publishing companies. And that publishing company will go oh, you've been through so much, you're so strong and so amazing. And they'll publish it and then everybody will be fascinated by your life. And then the next thing you know, you'll be getting the call from Hollywood to make the Lifetime movie. And that really is not how it works.

And the truth is, the uncomfortable truth is that it doesn't matter what you've been through. Someone else has been through it and has told their story. And so, if you are going to share yours, you need to take the time to find some approach or some angle that makes it unique, and makes it new, and makes it worthwhile for the reader to pick it up and spend time with it.

Josh Steimle: So, it's interesting that you mentioned Lifetime movie because just yesterday I interviewed somebody whose life was made into a Lifetime movie. It was Chris Carlson. She's the widow of Richard Carlson, who wrote "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff. And she co-authored some books with him. And then she's written some books since. But something interesting that she said was that he wasn't successful as an author until his 10th book. His 10th book was the one that kind of really took off and started going and got him on Oprah and everything. And that wasn't "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff" that came later he wrote 30 books before he passed away at age 45.

But thinking about what you just said that it's not just about the story, I'm thinking, you know, Christine Carlson is not the first woman whose husband has died. She's not the first to a woman who had a husband who was an author who died. So those things don't make her unique. And that doesn't make her story unique. What really made her story unique was that her husband was the author of this bestselling book that sold 24 million copies or something. And he was on Oprah multiple times. And they were already celebrities, in a sense. And so, for a lifetime to come in and say, hey, we want to make a movie about your life and your story, losing your husband. It's not just about that story. It's based on the context of who she is, and that she's in the public eye.

People know who she is. And so, it seems like sometimes, though, we do have that tendency to think, well, I've been through hard stuff. And so why don't they want to make a movie about me? Yeah, you've been through the hard stuff. But what about all that other context of these people who have been through hard things? There are all sorts of other reasons why we gravitate towards those stories. And sometimes that's because we feel like we already know that person. And so, we want to watch the movie about their life. But if we're just anybody out anybody off the street, we'd say, well, why do I care about this person?

Carolyn Roark: There's truth to that. And, you know, a book is just like any other product in that we, as consumers, gravitate towards things that we feel have a certain credibility. We know that, based on the context, we know around them based on either the experience we or others we know have had with them, or with adjacent things, that we will have an experience that's worth the time and effort that we're giving it, books are exactly the same way, of course, you're going to want to run out and buy the memoir by your absolute favorite ever musician because you already are so invested in who they are and what they've brought to your life.

It's a harder sell, to write or to read a book, based on somebody who spent 20 years playing piano on Saturday nights at the local lounge, unless you know, a whole lot of people or some publishing outlets, some you know, reviewer that who's whose judgment you really trust says “This is amazing. I've never seen anything like that you got to get. So, it's just you know, it's important, I think, for every author, including memoir authors to understand that when you put your book out there, you're asking people to invest their time and energy in that book, and through that book in you. And it's important to give them good reasons to do that.

Josh Steimle: Would it be too harsh to say that if you're an entrepreneur, and you're thinking about writing a book, that's a memoir, book, like a legacy book, a book about your life and your experience that nobody really cares what you have to say, unless you've made a ton of money?

Carolyn Roark: Haha, I don't know. Or maybe that you failed to make a ton of money in some spectacularly entertaining sort of way. Or that you, you know, you made yourself famous by, you know, doing something completely reprehensible or completely ridiculous along the way to doing it.

Josh Steimle: Right.

Carolyn Roark: I would say that, if you want to book as a legacy, there's no reason that you can't have it. It's just that you should choose a path towards creating it, that will reach the people you want to reach and will meet those goals.

So for example, if what you're saying is, well, I really want to write a book so that my children and grandchildren will have this memento of me, then there's a dozen companies that you can go to, I can think of three of them off the top of my head, where you can for a fairly modest fee, have a short book put together that they will print for you. And it's a very nice product that you can wrap up and you can put you know, on the table or under the tree at holiday time and get what you want. You don't have to go through all the blood, sweat and tears of trying to get a contract with Penguin, you know, to make that happen.

Now, if somewhere underneath the idea of having a legacy, what you really want is I want public accolades for the life that I've lived. Then you're going to have to think about a different strategy for how you can make that happen.

Josh Steimle: I think about people like Richard Branson, obviously successful entrepreneur, and he's got a bunch of books that are also successful. But his success as an entrepreneur came first, he's not a successful entrepreneur, because he wrote a great memoir, he has a memoir that was a best seller because he started 350 companies and made billions of dollars. And so, people cared what he had to say.

But if you go read a story, it's only interesting because it's Richard Branson, and because of what he's done. Otherwise, you'd say, I mean, it's still interesting, you'd still say, this is an interesting story, but nobody, they wouldn't be buying it in droves. Except that it's Richard Branson. And it seems like it is hard for some people to understand that. But I guess we've beat that horse dead well now. Now I can just send this episode, anybody who says I want to write a memoir, it's going to be great, I can send them this episode and say, hey, listen to our conversation, as Carolyn and I talk a little bit about that.

Carolyn Roark: And in the end, you know, what I tell people is if you want to write a memoir, you can. It's just a matter of having either having reasonable expectations for what you can hope, what you hope it can achieve. And finding the path that will sort of let that memoir as you want to write it, find its own level, if all you care about is that your kids and grandkids read it, then if you give it to them, they'll at least flip through it while they're sitting on the couch eating by.

But you know, if your goals are much bigger and much grander, and you and that's the thing that you really feel like you need to have as part of your life, well, then that's going to take some effort in some strategy and some growth on your part to make that happen. Most people don't just sort of, hey, you and I both know, entrepreneurs whoops, just sort of fell into something awesome. And by accident, develop this successful business, it does occasionally happen.

I've read some delightful memoirs by people that you would never have heard of before. But it just happened that they had a particular charm, or the stars were aligned. That's not how it happens for most of us. So, if that is you know, I would never personally discourage anybody.

I am not in the business of crushing dreams. I know editors and ghostwriters who are, it's not me. But I am in the business of trying to help people figure out what it is they really want. And what it is they really need to feel satisfied that they got the return on their investment, and then figure out what it is they need to do to get there. And that to me is the secret to success for any book, figure out what it is you really want or need from this book, and then figure out what you're going to have to do to get there.

Josh Steimle: Well, I think that's a great way to wrap things up. Carolyn, if people want to know more about you they want to connect with you. You already mentioned the URL writingtexan.com. Is there anywhere else that people can connect with you?

Carolyn Roark: I'm happy to connect with folks on LinkedIn. I am Carolyn Roark, who lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and is listed as a ghostwriter. So, you're more than welcome to connect with me on LinkedIn. I'm happy to do that. And those are really the two best ways to make connections with me.

Josh Steimle: Perfect. Thanks so much, Carolyn, for being with us here today on the show.

Carolyn Roark: I've enjoyed it enormously and I hope other people have gotten a little benefit from our time together.

Josh Steimle: Great. Thank you.

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