Friday, January 17, 2014
The Completed Manuscript as Jumping Off Point
A year has passed. It seems almost a miracle that before me sits a manuscript of 106,901 words. At the last meeting with my client, he approved the rewrite on the final chapter. The final revisions and few additions are nearly completed. I have fulfilled the promises made in the contract I drew up for him and received the final payment. The tome has taken its first few steps into the world as various readers now work their way through it.
As this point drew near, I experienced both a slight wave of panic and a surge of excitement at the thought of being done with the project. I have some of my own projects sitting on the back burner and am eager to dive in. However, there was the question of income. My agreement with my client entailed a payment roughly equal to my monthly take home pay at my old job in academic program management. How was I going to develop another income stream in such a short time.
Well, this whole process has been one of discovery and evolution. It has been one of honing my competencies in writing, organization and "customer service" and seeing new opportunities develop in response to those enhanced capacities. It has been one of building trust with my client through listening to his needs and delivering on every promise. And of course, those needs include a bound book, not a Word doc. of his story that will languish in a dark drawer.
That means your work as a writer for hire is not done.
For anyone assisting a client with writing a book, or completely ghostwriting it, the next process of publishing the book provides the writer the opportunity to offer further services to the client. Your client will most likely be clueless as to what to do with the manuscript, unless the book has been solely a personal exercise of getting his story down to leave to his family. Even if that is the case, he will probably need some assistance with finding a way to self publish the work.
If your client has a good story and you have written it well, he may well want to pursue an independent publisher, even one of the bigger, well established ones. That means navigating the process from crafting an effective query letter to researching agents to possibly creating a book proposal, as well as helping him through the eventual agreements with agent and publisher.
When I wrote up my contract for my client, I made sure to clarify exactly what my deliverable was: providing him with a manuscript professionally formatted for publication, one that would meet with his final approval within a certain deadline after final revisions and additions. I also added a clause that any additional work would be negotiated separately.
And that is exactly how it has panned out. During the last couple of months, while finishing the book, I began to research publication options for him. I talked to my good friends who have published books. I turned to various websites for information. Then, I created a couple of documents for him on what to expect next. The result has been a very appreciative client and an extension of my contract. Most importantly, this additional work will allow me to see the project through to the end and provide me with the experience of working with an agent and publisher.
And that is not all. Depending on the range of services you wish to provide, there may be other ancillary work you can do for your client such as helping him set up an author website and assisting him with the digitization of personal photographs, articles, presentations and documents. Each client will have different needs, but if you are responsive to those needs, you will find great opportunity to develop new, marketable skills that will also help with your own writing goals.
So, with a deep breath, here I go, diving into the publication process. It should be exhilarating.