How It Works
How The Book In A Box Process Works: Quick Overview
This section is a quick explanation of our process. It is six steps and the video explains them all.
Below, we go into more detail about each step and what it entails.
Our Publishers discuss your book idea, goals and audience to help you decide whether a book is right for you, and exactly what your book should be about.
Over the course of four in-depth conversations, our Book Developers turn all of your ideas into a tight, professional outline that lays the foundation for your book.
Our Editors use the outline as a guide to deeply interview you, and get all of the knowledge and wisdom out of your head and onto a recording.
The Editor uses transcripts of your interviews to translate your spoken words into a written manuscript made of your words and your voice.
05 Publishing & Distribution
Our Publishing Team will design a professional cover, interior, and take care of all the publishing details that make a professional book.
Our marketing campaign ensures your book is seen by thousands of people the week it launches, with the goal of hitting #1 in its category on Amazon.
How The Book In A Box Process Works: The Deep Details
Now, for those of you who always want as much information as possible, these are the gritty details.
STAGE 1 & 2:
Book Development (Positioning & Outlining)
The book development phase is where the ideas in your head take the shape of a book. Although the purpose of this phase is to create an outline for your book, the first step is to forget any preconceived notion you have about what a book outline is.
Our outlines are carefully designed to give you and the Editor the content and structure needed for you to be successful in the interview phase. Think of the outline as the blueprint for your book.
Who will I be working with?
Our Book Developers are the most talented people on our whole team. They have an almost magical ability to get to the root of an idea, quickly understand your area of expertise, and then organize your thoughts in a way that communicates your message effectively.
Their backgrounds range from ex-Executive Editors of major publishing houses, to high-ranking political speechwriters, to Editors-in-Chief of national magazines.
These skills may seem unrelated, but the core is the same: our Book Developers understand how to drill down into ideas and present them effectively. All of our Book Developers have spent decades in some aspect of the publishing industry, and all are exceptional at story, narrative, and structure.
How does Book Development work?
The book development process consists of four calls, spread out over a three week period:
Call #1 (The Positioning Call) is 90 minutes and starts with a focus on your goals. By working backwards from what you want to accomplish and who you want to reach, you and your Book Developer will create a clear summary of what your book should accomplish for the reader.
Sample questions to expect:
- Why are you writing this book?
- Who is the audience you need to reach to accomplish your goals?
- What does that audience care about?
Call #2 and 3 (The Outline Calls) are 90 minutes and focus on fleshing out your ideas. Breaking apart the summary of the book, you’ll create a table of contents, as well as outlining the specific points, stories and examples you’ll use within each chapter to share your wisdom with the reader.
Sample questions to expect:
- What does your audience need to understand?
- Are there steps to get them there? Is there a logical argument?
- What stories and examples do you have to support your points?
Call #4 (The Approval Call) is 30-60 minutes and is done once your Book Developer has finished creating the outline. You’ll talk through the ideas, make sure everything is 100% in line with what you want out of the book, and sign off on the locked outline.
Note: It’s crucial to the process that we take the necessary time to ensure the outline is accurate before moving to the next phase. We don’t want to start construction with an inaccurate blueprint. We are happy to extend this phase as necessary to make sure this happens, so don’t be afraid to speak up if things don’t feel quite right.
What should I expect at the end of the phase?
The outline is a very specific tool designed to clarify your book idea and enable your editor to lead the interviews in a way that reflect the structure of your book.
The outline is not intended to explain every point in the book; rather, it’s intended to be a roadmap that will trigger nitty-gritty details, explanation, stories, etc. in the precise sequence in which you want to say them.
If you’re interested in seeing what a finished outline looks like, visit here.
After you’ve locked in your outline, the next step is the interview calls.
The purpose of this phase is to explain all the ideas in your book to the Editor, giving them all the information that they need to go from your conversations, to a finished draft of your manuscript.
Who will I be working with?
Like our Book Developers, we hire our Editors based on their abilities and not their specific backgrounds. They range from Emmy winning writers, to bestselling authors to high level journalists to Fulbright scholars and Pulitzer Prize winning writers.
More importantly, they all have two traits in common: they’re great interviewers and they’re great writers.
How do you choose my editor?
Every book is unique and requires the right Editor. Our selection process looks are three variables:
- Are they interested / experienced in the topic of your book?
- Do they write in a similar tone or voice as your book should convey?
- Are you going to get along and like each other?
Our Managing Editor decides, based on input from your Publisher and Book Developer, which editor is the perfect fit for your project.
How does interviewing work?
These interview calls are exactly what they sound like: Your Editor will get on the phone with you for 90-120 minutes and interview you over a section of your outline.
They’ll ask you the questions necessary to have you explain each of the ideas in the book (following the outline structure) and ask followup questions when necessary to get enough information out of you.
Usually this is completed over the course of about 4 interviews (each covering approximately a quarter of the outline). However, for books dense with information or stories, there can often be as many as 12 interviews.
There is one thing to note about these calls:
Coming off of a set of dynamic calls with your Book Developer, the interviews with your Editor can feel somewhat flat.
It isn’t that Editors don’t care about the topic. Your Editor simply isn’t going to engage in so much exploratory conversation as your Book Developer. It's not their job.
Their job is to get you to talk. Authors are often surprised at how much their interview calls feel like a one-way conversation (especially after their book development calls).
That means it's working.
How do I prepare for my interview calls?
Preparing for these calls is easy. Print out your finished book outline, and in advance of each call, read through it and be familiar with the sections you’re going to cover.
Some authors find it helpful to scribble notes on the outline if they think of additional things they want to cover. Remember, the outline is there to guide what you say as you talk out your book, so treat it as a tool to help you.
What should I do when it’s time for my call?
Although these calls aren’t quite as mentally challenging as the book development calls, they’re just as important. These conversations are quite literally the raw material of your book, so treat it as such.
Like the interview calls, we recommend that authors go to a secluded room in their home or office, stay away from distractions like email (or other people) and focus completely on the conversation at hand.
One thing to keep in mind when on the call is that, although it’s important that you cover all the ideas, your answers don’t need to be flowing or eloquent or perfect.
Your Editor is going to rewrite everything, so don’t worry about speaking as if your exact words will end up on the page. The best material comes when authors speak conversationally, simply being themselves.
Once your interviews with your Editor are finished, she/he will get to work on turning those conversations into a first draft or your book. This is exciting, but there isn’t much for you to do until the first draft is complete.
There are a few questions that authors often have:
"Can I see the chapters one at a time, as they’re finished?"
No. Because of the nature of our process, we don’t finish chapters one at a time.
Editors write the first draft in multiple passes, needing to finish working through a first pass before finding the pieces of information or ideas to implement in the second pass, and so in.
In other words, a halfway finished manuscript isn’t 50% of the content at 100% quality, it’s 100% of the content at 50% of the quality.
For this reason, we need to give Editors the full 8 weeks to fully translate your ideas into a workable manuscript that reads in your voice before we move on to the revisions phase.
"What should my expectations of the first draft be?"
Getting your first draft can elicit a lot of different emotions; sort of like Christmas. It’s exciting, and a little nerve-wracking: What’s in the package? Did you get that Star Wars LEGO set you really wanted? Or some crappy clothes?
Here’s where the metaphor breaks down: you can't turn that fluorescent sweater Aunt Betsy knitted for you into something cool that you love--but you CAN do that with a first draft.
The most important thing to keep in mind is the first draft is the beginning, not the end.
In fact, no matter what you feel about it--love or hate--it will be changed and improved.
If you love it, great! We'll still do final edits and polish it to a shine.
If you hate it, that's OK too. In fact, it’s not uncommon that, upon seeing a first draft, authors don't like it.
This can be for many reasons: the tone can come across badly, there might be a little too much name dropping, an incorrect explanation can taint the whole thing. There are many ways that a rough draft can be off and can leave a very sour emotional response.
Disliking your first draft is fine. What you want to avoid is freaking out because of that. Even if the manuscript is not where it needs to be, the rough draft can be fixed. And we will MAKE SURE it gets fixed.
In every single case we've ever been involved in where the author was unhappy, we were able to not only get it fixed, but ensure that they eventually loved the book.
Once you’ve received the first draft of your manuscript, it’s time for us to work together to take it to the next level.
How do revisions work?
The revisions phase is where good books become great. As somebody once said:
“There’s no good writing, just good rewriting.”
So how do we do revisions?
Our method for doing revisions acknowledges that everyone’s style is a little bit different. The process we use is simple:
- Each week, you are responsible for reading and making revision comments on one quarter of the manuscript
- At the end of the week, you have a scheduled call with your Editor to talk through your revisions and make sure they fully understand everything
- As you get started on the next week’s edits, your Editor incorporates your edits into the manuscript
This allows those authors who are best at expressing their changes in a written format to do that and keep the conversation short, while those who would rather talk things out can use their written comments as prompts to explain things fully.
In both cases, the Editor has the information they need to implement the changes.
What if I’m not happy?
We won’t allow it!
I’m kidding, but only partly.
Our philosophy at Book in a Box is that we’ll do whatever it takes to get you to a book you’re happy with, no matter what.
If you feel as though the manuscript is fundamentally flawed, or is not making progress, the first step is for us to discuss it. In many cases, it’s just a matter of diving in and focusing on what the specific problems are, and then expressing those to your editor to help them fix the issues becomes much easier.
In some extreme cases, we may need to bring in a new Editor to correct things, or even re-record some portion of the interviews. We’re willing to do whatever it takes, so it’s just a matter of figuring out the problem so we can address it.
However, these cases are rare, and in most cases an effective revisions process with your Editor will address all issues and get the manuscript to a place where you are extremely proud of what you’ve created.
Publishing & Distribution
While the Editor is working on the first draft, we will get started on what many authors consider the most fun part of the process: book cover design.
Our primary principle through the cover design process is that we should trust the professionals to do what they do best. Our Cover Designers are amazing (more on that below) and let them do their art, not get in their way.
That said, we do need to gather up the right feedback from you in order to help them do their job effectively, and we do that by setting up a cover design call between you and your Publisher to talk through things.
How does it work?
Our cover design process is focused on allowing our Cover Designers to thrive and unleash their creativity, within the confines of what you’re looking for.
What that means in practice is that your Publisher will get on the phone with you and talk through your cover ideas, other covers you like and dislike, color preferences, and a whole bunch of other questions that help point your designer in the right direction for the cover.
Once we’ve gathered up that information, the Designer gets to work. Within a couple weeks, we’ll send you 5 or more mockups of potential covers meant to appeal to the book’s ideal demographic while staying consistent with your aesthetic tastes.
We’ll talk through these covers on the phone, discuss our favorites and what changes still need to be made, and your Publisher gets back with the Designer to create the final product.
At the same time as you’re discussing your cover with your Publisher, they will also want to discuss something slightly less fun, but just as important: getting all the publishing and distribution details clear, like the author bio, book description, and blurbs.
How do we create my author bio?
Author bios are one of the many little details of the publishing process that make the difference between a professional book, and one that looks and feels amateur.
I’ll be the one writing your author bio. In order to do that, I need to know a lot more about you. There are two ways we can do that:
The easiest option is if you have some kind of professional bio already written. Publishers can work from that to craft it into something relevant for your book.
If you don’t have any kind of professional bio written, that's fine too. We’ll ask you a few questions to get the right information from you, and I’ll put together a draft based on that information.
In either case, the author bio will get done and to you for edits and approval.
How do we create the book description?
Book descriptions are the sales copy for your book, so they need someone with a knack for sales copy to write them effectively.
Your Editor will write the first draft of your book description as they are working on the book. Once they’ve created a draft, we’ll send that draft, along with your full book outline, over to one of our talented copywriters.
He or she will take the bare bones of the draft description and spruce it up into something attention grabbing and compelling.
How do I get blurbs for the book?
If you look at any of your favorite books, they’re likely to have a quote from someone well known on the book jacket, as well as the book’s Amazon page. These are called blurbs, and they’re basically short endorsements of your book from other people that readers respect.
Getting blurbs is simple, and just requires reaching out to the right influencers, at the right time, with the right ask. We have a very clear process that will walk you through how to most effectively get blurbs for your book.
We’ll discuss the process with you during this phase, and give you the tools to make sure you get the blurbs your book needs.
How should we price the book?
This is one of the most common concerns from authors, and unfortunately there isn’t a completely clear answer.
First, because every book is different, and readers react very differently to each of them. Second, because Amazon isn’t the most transparent company with their data, so there’s no way to measure this very precisely.
The pricing strategy that we choose will be based on your goals for the book. We will walk you through the three major price tiers that books fall into, and discuss the pros and cons each of these options to determine which makes the most sense for your book.
Note: This is a big decision, but it doesn’t need to be a permanent one. We are able to change the pricing at any point, so don’t feel that you are trapped into one set of prices once we’ve chosen it.
Once we get a finished manuscript with finished cover design, and all the publishing details sorted out, we’re ready to publish your book and put it out for sale (distribution).
How does it work?
From the time we have your finished manuscript to the time the book is released, it takes approximately three weeks to publish and distribute your book.
In that time, we do a final proofread of the book to confirm that there are no spelling or grammar mistakes and we format the interior layout of the paperback and ebook versions of the book, so that all the files are locked and ready to publish.
Lastly, we upload the book files to the printer and to Amazon, verify that everything is perfect and ready for print, and finally release the book for sale to the world.
Everything up to this point has been about creating an amazing book. The last phase is about getting that book into readers’ hands. We do include one major marketing push, and that is it.
How does the Book in a Box Bestseller Package work?
Book in a Box offers a very specific set of marketing services: we get initial reviews for your book, we get the book in readers’ hands, and we ensure that you rank highly in the Amazon search rankings and categories (including many authors earning bestseller status in their category).
How do we do that? It’s a five step process:
1) Reviews: When the book is published, before our launch efforts start, reviews are our main focus. We send a free copy of the book out to hundreds of readers who have reviewed similar books in the past, and ask them to leave a review. We also encourage you to go to your personal network to secure additional reviews. Our goal is to get up over 20 reviews before the promotion starts.
2) Free Promotion: Approximately two weeks after launch, when a solid base of reviews have come in, we run a two day free promotion. During these two days, we promote the book to hundreds of social media groups, social news sites, and email lists. Because of the beautiful design of the book, the reviews, the compelling description, and the free price point, it tends to be very easy to convert a lot of downloads. This gets the book in readers’ hands and gives us momentum going into the next phase.
3) $0.99 Promotion: From the free promotion, we immediately transition into a $0.99 promotion. While the free promotion will hurl you towards the top of the free download charts on Amazon, the $0.99 period puts you in the running to be on Amazon’s paid bestseller list. Between the momentum from the free promotion, the continued site visits from the links sent over the past two days, and a few very large email lists we have relationships that promote the book on this day, the book moves many copies and becomes an Amazon bestseller.
What else does Book in a Box do from a marketing perspective?
4) Consultation: At this point, we turn the price back to normal, and the rest of your life as an author begins. There are a number of things you can do at this point to promote the continued success of the book.
We set up a call with you to talk through these things, understand your goals, and give you a roadmap to how to make the most of your book in the coming months and years.
5) Featured Profile: Within 3-12 months after your book is released, a member of the Book in a Box team will sit down with you to talk through why you wrote the book, what the book has accomplished, and how it’s impacted people.
We’ll turn that conversation into a compelling profile of you and your book, and release and promote the article to your book’s target audience.
Where can I turn if I want more help with marketing?
Unfortunately, what book marketing means is a little different for each book, so there is no one-size-fits-all solution.
If you’re interested in diving deeper, the best first step is to let your Publisher know, and we can discuss your specific situation and what activities would be most effective to accomplish your goals.
Although this is technically the last phase of the process, the work for it can start a lot sooner, depending on your goals, so if you’d like to have this conversation, the earlier you can bring it up, the better.
Whether you’re looking for instructions on how to do certain marketing activities yourself, introductions to reputable companies providing marketing services, or just some advice on where to start, let me know and I’d be happy to have that discussion.
Now, You're An Author
That's the whole point of this process--to get your ideas out of your head and put them into a book, in your words and your voice.
And as long as you can get on the phone and talk, then we can make that happen.
Let's talk about your book
Not all authors are the right fit for our process.
If you think you'd like to work with us, fill out the form to the right or give us a ring. We'll get in touch and see whether we're a good fit to work together.