I spent most of my work hours today editing a book for a business expert in their chosen field, and I thought I would take a few minutes to express some concerns as well as offering some solutions for those of you who wish to position yourselves as experts in a professional way by publishing a book.
There's a current trend for business owners to record audio of the content of the book that they wish to publish. I've seen this done in a sort of interview style, where one person asks a question as a topic and the business owner/expert answers the question in multiple points, which are then converted into sections of the book chapter on that topic. I've also seen this done individually, where there are no questions, just obvious main and sub-topics that they will speak about and have transcribed. Generally speaking, ten chapters with sub-topics is sufficient for this style of book and will be plenty to assure your customers and clients that you know what you're doing in your field, especially if you combine it with providing value and interesting information about the field. One of the most memorable books I worked on that was done this way is about cleaning party tent tops efficiently and without damaging them. Who knew this was even a thing? I didn't until this book!
While this is fantastic for saving time and can work extremely well, there's a lot of room for error when you're dealing with a transcriptionist who may or may not be from the US or an English-speaking country (which happens; we do live in a global marketplace) followed by an editor who has to go back over the audio to make sure everything was understood and typed correctly. Some words are confusing even for US natives; we have the "its" versus "it's" dilemma, "there," "they're," and, "their," and many other words that fall into this category of confusion (unless, of course, you're an editor *wink*).
Next, we have the issue that the spoken word - unless absolutely punctuated correctly, and even then it's iffy - doesn't always make sense when it's put into writing. Run-on sentences, sentence fragments, sentences that essentially wind up being backwards, sentences that are way too complicated and end up not making sense, sentences interrupted halfway through by a tangent or side-note, and the speaker's personal speaking habits all play a role in the quality of the transcribed manuscript.
Then there's my job.
And I end up having to clean up the messes of everyone before me who worked on the book. Okay... that sounds a little worse than it's meant to, but it's true. It's much easier and more efficient (not to mention faster) for me - one person - to tackle the entire editing and publishing process the right way the first time than to have to go back and fix mistakes I wouldn't have made to begin with.
Sometimes this can be extremely frustrating and consume about twice as much editing time as it normally would. Just between you & me, from start to finish for any given full-length book (between 200-300 pages on average in 6 x 9 size), my job (editing, print formatting, TOC, book cover design, blurb, eBook formatting, conversion, and testing, consulting along the way, and uploading the final documents to CreateSpace and KDP as well as entering metadata) on a single book - read: ONE book - can take anywhere between 60-120 hours on average, depending on the word count (which means that I make $17.50-$10 an hour for editing based on almost 16 years of experience. Fast food workers in my state get $15/hour. Sad! I think I need to raise my rates again...). If there's a lot of rewording, developmental editing, and rewriting involved to make sure the book's presentation is professional - like with a book that's been transcribed - then it takes even longer.
And here's the thing: most people don't realize how much work goes into a high-quality book. There's a misconception about authors out there. This misconception is:
"Authors just slap out a few thousand words and their book is perfect. They were inspired, so it's good the first time around."
Most authors who have made anything of themselves in the literary world will tell you that the first draft is just the beginning. It then moves into several rounds of revision (my current sci-fi novel - out soon - went through eight of those), self-editing, then off to beta readers. After that, it goes through another round or three of revisions (sometimes much more, depending on the author), more self-editing, and then it finally sees the desk of their editor.
And that's just getting the manuscript ready language-wise. It doesn't include the book cover design, the print formatting, the eBook formatting, the testing, or anything else. Wow!
Time for some bluntness again....
Just because you know your business and are an expert in your given field doesn't make you an author, or a writer for that matter. As a matter of fact, you may be exceptional even as a speaker but stink at writing. It's not everyone's bag! But that doesn't mean the quality of your book has to suffer.
Remember that your credibility as an expert can easily be diminished by poor editing, bad grammar, and run-on sentences. Not to mention poor formatting, a ton of blank pages in your eBook, poor image quality within your print book.... If your customers, clients, or leads can't read your book and understand the information (which, in my experience with business owners, is usually excellent), what's the point in publishing it except to have another product to sell?
Would you be satisfied with a billboard that has obvious errors on it? Or signage on your office building with mistakes?
(Frankly, I would be mortified!)
My reputation is worth the extra hours I spend on some books. Is yours worth the cost of an editor & self-publishing expert? It doesn't have to be me or No Bull... I would definitely recommend hiring an editor at the very least, though.
With that... I plan to update the pages of this website with some new videos soon, so stay tuned! Much more is in the works =). Happy weekend!