Finding the good guys in author services: Meet Open Door Publications

The best way to avoid publishing predators is to learn more about how legit author services providers operate. Here's a Q&A with one of them.

Writing about publishing predators here recently made me realize that I could do more to highlight the good guys in the indie author side of book publishing — the legit author services providers.

Yes, there are a lot of bad guys waiting to pounce. But there are also many legitimate professionals who do good work for a fair fee. Their mission is to earn a living while helping people like you bring your book to the people you wrote it for.

That’s why when a book marketing coaching client connected me with the woman who helped polish his book, I was more than open to a telephone conversation with her. That discussion led to this Q&A about her work as an author services provider and how she does it.

Introducing Karen Hodges Miller

author services providerKaren Hodges Miller is CEO at Open Door Publications, a company that specializes in helping authors navigate the world of publishing in today’s environment. The company assists both published and first-time authors with the wide variety of skills and tasks needed to successfully write, publish, and market a book.

She is also the author of eight fiction and nonfiction books and has written countless newspaper and magazine articles in her 30-plus-year career. Her most recent books about book marketing techniques are Authorpreneurship and How to Sell Your Book Today.

Karen is also creating an online course on how to self-publish a book.

Learn how one author services company does business

I talked to Karen about her company to help us better understand how businesses like hers operate. While Karen contracts with specialists for tasks like proofreading, she is very hands on with the company’s book projects.

Please tell me a little about your publishing business.

Open Door Publications assists writers in navigating the sometimes murky waters of self-publishing. We work on a custom basis, starting wherever the individual writer is, whether it is at the “I want to write a book and I’ve never written anything” stage to “I’ve published a book—now what do I do?”

In short, we offer book coaching, editing, proofreading, formatting, cover design, and marketing plan assistance.

Many authors struggle to finally finish their books. Why is that? What are common obstacles to completing a manuscript?

I think the biggest obstacle to publishing is fear: fear of failure or fear of success.

I’ve found that the author who becomes frozen and unable to “pull the trigger” and upload the book when everyone is telling them that it is good is worried about one of these two things.

The second biggest obstacle to finishing a book is time management.

[novashare_tweet tweet=”The biggest obstacle to publishing is fear: fear of failure or fear of success. ~ Karen Hodges Miller” hide_hashtags=”true”]

It takes time and creative energy to complete a book. Planning to write three hours a day every day when you already have a full-time job and a family is unrealistic – but I’ve heard many authors tell me this is their plan.

First, sit down and look at your schedule. When can you write? How long can you write productively at any given time? Look at your obligations, then add your writing time to your calendar and make it sacred. Only a true emergency should keep you from writing at that time.

You’ve developed a system that helps authors finally get their books done. Please tell us a little about it and why it works.

My system goes back to the five Ws of journalism: who, what, when, where, and why.

1: Who

First decide who is your target market.

Describe them in detail, including age range, gender, income, other activities and hobbies, and where you will find them on social media and in real life.

2: What

What do you want to write?

Whether fiction or nonfiction, write down your subject and your theme. Your subject is the topic of your book. Your theme is the final message you want your reader to take away when they are done reading.

Try to write your theme in one sentence. If it takes an entire paragraph to explain your theme, you need to go back and refine it.

Next, create a simple outline defining your chapters. Don’t spend too much time perfecting the outline. This is a simple guide that will help you throughout the writing process and make sure you have kept to the points you wanted to make, and have not forgotten anything.

This outline should be made for both fiction and nonfiction and can take any form from a traditional outline to 3×5 cards to a mind map.

author services 3

3: When

As I mentioned, if you have not scheduled time into your week to write, you’ll never get around to it.

Writing is hard work. Schedule realistic times when you are fresh enough to have creative energy.

If you have worked all day, made dinner for the family, helped with homework, and done three loads of wash, it is unlikely that you’ll be fresh enough at 11 p.m. to write. You may need to get up an hour early to write in the mornings.

4: Where

Where will you write? You need a quiet place where you can think to write. You also need a place where you can securely keep your notes, research, and any other documents.

If you must take out and put away all of your information before each writing session, it will be demotivating. Or, if you have your notes where anyone might move them, it will become a problem.

And finally, make sure you have a secure backup for your work!

5: Why

If you don’t know why you are writing a book, you’ll probably never finish. Write down your goals for your book. Place them into two categories:

  • What you want your book to do for others
  • What you want your book to do for yourself

[novashare_tweet tweet=”Writing is hard work. Schedule realistic times when you are fresh enough to have creative energy. ~ Karen Hodges Miller” hide_hashtags=”true”]

How do you decide who to work with? Is there a certain “something” you look for in authors?

I am looking for the “entrepreneurial author,” or as I like to say, someone who is an “authorpreneur.” This is a person who realizes that there is no “write it and they will come.”

First you must write the book, then tell your friends, family, and fans about it over and over and over again.

The second thing I look for is someone who knows how to tell a story.

As an editor, I can fix grammar, help with plot holes, and help with character development, but in the end, the author must know how to tell the story in an interesting way.

Authors have many author services companies to choose from when seeking help bringing their books to the world. What should they be looking for in a business like yours, especially considering the number of predators ready to take their money?

First, make sure that you can personally speak to a human, not just communicate by email.

Look carefully at the services offered. Do you need all of them or just some? Do they only sell packages or do they offer an “a la carte” menu? Are you required to purchase a large amount of books as part of your package?

And finally, do they promise to make you a bestselling author? No one can promise that!

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

The only way to become an author is to first become a writer. Writing is hard work and it takes practice. Try to write several times a week, if not every day.

The quickest way to fail is to fail to start!

What author services companies do you recommend? Please tell us in a comment!

Subscribe to the free Build Book Buzz newsletter and get the free special report, “Top 5 Free Book Promotion Resources,” immediately!

Similar Posts


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *