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I'm working on a book about Enlightenment as cessation of Reification, and thinking of hiring a professional writer to help me put it down in good English. So far I have spoken with scribewriting.com, but I want to expand my search to include more options:

  1. Does anyone have a clue where I can find a professional writer for hire that would be interested in exploring some Buddhist ideas?
  2. How much should this cost? scribewriting.com folks charge $36k end-to-end, is this normal?
  3. What are the best ways to raise funds for a Buddhist project? Does anyone know a philanthropist that would consider sponsoring a Buddhist project like this?
  4. Would Kickstarter be a good way to market a Buddhist book (before it was finished), or should I go to a traditional Buddhist publisher like Snow Lion or Wisdom Publications?
  5. Anything else I need to know but forgot to ask?
  • I made this chat room in case someone wants to post questions or dialog, or to say "Me too!", that wouldn't fit the site's normal Q+A format. – ChrisW Jun 16 '18 at 15:08
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – ChrisW Jun 16 '18 at 15:09
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    I think this question is better suited on Writing.SE. – ruben2020 Jun 16 '18 at 16:08
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 If I launched a Kickstarter campaign, would any of you guys consider pre-ordering a book before it was written?

I will pre-order the book.

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I have written two books on Buddhism, as you already know. I will help you write your book for free. I self-published my books through FriesenPress who provided excellent editing services and cost about $2000 in Canadian dollars. You can use any of my ideas as long as you name the source. I can help you discuss Buddhist concepts in terms of modern philosophical and psychological analysis. I can also provide compassionate feedback based upon 50 years of meditation experience. I am a Buddhist monk and bound by the many vows I have taken.

  • Thank you Ronald, I will share my current plan with you over email. – Andrei Volkov Jun 21 '18 at 19:28
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The question that you forgot to ask is: ''what do I want to achieve and with whom?'' Do you write for yourself or for an audience? who do you want your audience to be? what do you want your audience to achieve? Do you want to publish a text and be done with it? Do you want to talk ''about Enlightenment'' to one person at a time and imagine a method to check that this person understands what you have to say ''about Enlightenment''? If so, do you want to do it by text or orally? if it is orally, is it a dialogue or a monologue or a monologue with Q&A to dispel any clouds in your audience? What method will make you know that the audience ''gets your points'' ? Does this method rely on your imagination [which makes your endeavor null and void, for anybody who do not care about your fantasizes]? Do you want to earn money ? How much do care about the creation of some people called ''intellectual rights'' and about the punishments they invented for their creation of ''the violation of intellectual rights''?

Some people love to claim and think that written languages are a way to communicate, and once they see that informal languages do not realize their fantasy of precision of terms, that those languages do not dispel the reality of miscommunication, they claim that their fantasy of clarity is not achieved, not because it is a fantasy, but only because it is ''due to'' a lack of realization of a new fantasy of theirs, fantasy they call ''definition'' of terms, so they invent formal languages which are even more remote from what they experience. For instance, some people, in what they call a ''debate'' using informal language, will claim that ''we must begin by defining our words'' and when they observe a lack of communication, they will claim it is due to a lack of proper definitions of the words. When the author is not identified, or is supposed to have been let's say a prophet, some people who ''debate'' over this corpus of texts love to dump citations of the texts which would be the realization fo their fantasy of ''proofs'' of whatever fantasy they hope their, let's say, adversary will adopt.

Some of those people even double down on their fantasizes in managing to fantasize that they are good people for witting books: the author fantasizes that ''the books are a way to help people, a way to communicate the truth and dispel lies, and that if people just read my book, they will think a bit more like me and therefore will be a bit more good people''.

Until the author gets in trouble due to the book, The author does not care what happens after the publication, about the audience understanding what the words in the book are imagined (by the author) to convey to the reader. The author does not track, months after months, each reader of the book in order to ask each reader what is retrieved from the book. THe author does not have a quality control of what the various readers retain from all of the author's work. Their love of written texts and their issue for low price fits well in their fantasy of educating the poor peasants who cannot have good life without reading those texts.

Once the author and other advocates of the authors think that this endeavor goes south, that some people misunderstand the book and cause ruckus, they will claim that those people did not get the ''meaning'' of the statements in the books. besides the existence of words of the texts, They invent the existence of ''meaning of the author'' and the existence of the ''interpretations of each reader''. When there is trouble due to a book, for some, like the rivals fo the author, the fault will lie in ''meaning of the author'', for others, like the proponents of the authors, in ''interpretations of a reader''. To be clear, most people will not bother with what you write, even among your audience, so you do not need to worry about this part of the publication.

  • thank you, and welcome to Buddhism Q&A. This is a very good observation. In fact, the book would be about Reification, which is same exact topic you're talking about. So, spot on (=exactly). – Andrei Volkov Jun 16 '18 at 11:33
  • Yes, welcome to the site. By the way, this seems to me to be more advice (i.e. "communication is difficult") than it is an answer to the question. The first paragraph is on-topic, but it consists of questions more than being an answer. This isn't a bad reply but (this being a question-and-answer site) it's normal to try to answer the question instead of saying "you're silly to ask this question" (see also Answers vs Advice). – ChrisW Jun 16 '18 at 15:25
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thinking of hiring a professional writer to help me put it down in good English

I don't want to invalidate the premise of your question, but your English is great already imho.

I don't know what your motive is, e.g.:

  • Spend less of your own time on the job
  • Get someone other than you to review what's written
  • Find a different writing style, or voice (e.g. IMO my own writing isn't very personable)
  • Help with marketing (before it's written and afterwards)

Does anyone have a clue where I can find a professional writer for hire that would be interested in exploring some Buddhist ideas?

I suppose a lot of people do. My brother's career has been editor and journalist; one of my nephews has at least a passing interest in Buddhism and (while an undergraduate) worked successfully as a contract author.

There's a semi-famous wildlife photographer, publishing coffee-table books. The publisher of his books of photos wanted to hire an author to write a one-page bit about animal species, one per page, to accompany each full-page photograph on the facing pages. They tried a professional writer: but they didn't know animals so their output wasn't interesting. They tried a professional zoologist: but they didn't know writing, or the public, so that wasn't interesting either. They hired my nephew, he researched each species and found something interesting to write about each one, and the result was accepted. He's about to graduate now, I don't know what if anything he'll do next.

I get the impression (from my brother) that there are a lot of freelance writers; that a career as a writer is often one short-term contract after another, rather than e.g. full-time permanent employment.

Part of my brother's job as a commissioning editor (of e.g. a newspaper, not of Buddhist books) is to know dozens of authors he can call on when he wants something written about whatever subject.

I gather too that journalists are often experienced at interviewing people and then writing about that, sometimes at great length: and that journalism is sometimes full-time employment and sometimes not, so "journalists" might have the kind of experience that scribewriting.com are employing in their "scribes".

Unrelatedly I know a novelist who runs a bookshop. She writes "young adult" (e.g. young teen) fantasy, if that's a style (a reading level) you'd find suitable. She's a daughter of a colleague of my dad's, lives in The Maritimes and so I guess might have spare time she'd swap for money.

Unrelatedly again I know another colleague of my dad's, one of whose sons is (or was) a lawyer in Boston, and who I think has (at least temporarily) quit his practice in order to help install a Tibetan Buddhist teacher (monk) nearby -- helping to establish a teaching centre or something, I don't know. Not that I have any claim on his time, but he's another example: able to write, presumably; already knows about and values Buddhism; and knows other people too, presumably (so he might say, "I wouldn't do it but I know someone who might be interested").

I was a "professional writer" too, for a while, but writing technical manuals for software products.

I guess any academic (professor or graduate student) might know of semi-professional writers too. I only don't know whether your project could interest them, and/or whether you're looking for anything specific in a writer or publisher beyond just "a professional".

In summary I bet there are a lot of people who know of some professional writers -- and I guess that that any of those (professional writers) are likely to know many more.

If you're looking for professional companies, like scribewriting.com with a process or end-to-end service, I don't know of any/others, but I'm not in that industry. There is a Writing.SE where questions about "publishing" are on-topic -- I guess that asking people to recommend specific publishers might be a "shopping question" and forbidden, but (apart from that) that might be a good place to ask questions about professional writing and publishing in general (perhaps not specific to Buddhism, although who knows perhaps someone knows something about that too).

How much should this cost? scribewriting.com folks charge $36k end-to-end, is this normal?

I've no idea.

I imagine the cost is subject to the "iron triangle" of any project:

  • Quality: cheaper to do a slap-dash job featuring bugs using less-competent and less-careful staff
  • Scope: the bigger the more expensive
  • Schedule: may be cheaper if it's slower, finding the right people, finding cost saving or less-expensive components, doing it in spare time

I don't know that (writing) industry at all. I looked at scribewriting.com --

  • Their process sounds plausible
  • It's a multi-person effort (Publisher, Outliner, Scribe, Marketing)
  • It might (or might not) be cheaper if you found one author (more a jack-of-all-trades)
  • I don't know what the component breakdown is for that (who gets how much, how much you could save by doing part of it yourself, how much is their corporate profit, whether they give good value for money)

One of the things I notice on their front page is,

We’ve created a process that turns your idea into a book, and only requires about 50 hours on the phone over 7 months.

That ("50 hours" of your time) seems to me very little time in which to write a book, i.e. it represents your offloading a lot of work (a lot of time) from you onto them.

That may be what you want (if you don't have much time to put into the project yourself).

But that might be a reason why the cost is what it is (i.e. substantial): less of your time implies more work for them, so more expensive than e.g. your writing it and someone else's editing and reviewing it.

That might also result in decreased quality? I wonder whether you find the Dalai Lama's books satisfactory, for example -- IMO they're an example of books co-written or ghost-written, perhaps they're a bit superficial.

Your putting only 50 hours into it might imply someone more like a ghostwriter than a co-author, though kudos to you if you're efficient enough to do it. The process is also reminiscent of dhamma talks (i.e. publishing what someone said on a subject).

I was thinking it might be a difficult topic for a random scribe: perhaps you want it to be technical, enlightening, and a good length (sufficient but not excessive). But maybe that responsibility would still be yours, not the scribe's -- 50 hours of (your) speech might be book length. But writing a book yourself takes months, doesn't it? For research and editing etc. If you let them do that then the "good English" might be there, but it might be missing something quality-wise or content-wise, I don't know.

What are the best ways to raise funds for this? Does anyone know a philanthropist that would consider sponsoring a project like this? If I launched a Kickstarter campaign, would any of you guys consider pre-ordering a book before it was written?

I don't know. No. Yes.

This is a polling question which this Q+A site doesn't support properly. I created a chat room for this question, in case people want to ask question, or post "Me too!" and so, rather than trying to write answers.

Anyone (a potential investor, potential co-author, potential reader) might want to know more about the book you're proposing -- perhaps an outline or table content, maybe the back cover too -- and I think they (e.g. agents and publishers) usually like to see a sample chapter as well (though maybe that's less applicable if you don't intend to write the book yourself).

I presume you have something in mind already. Anyway that's a different topic, a topic on which you're seeking suggestions here.

Anything else I need to know but forgot to ask?

Yes, ask if there's anything to know about Buddhist publishing, rather than writing and publishing in general.

  • Buddhist resources (e.g. writers)
  • Buddhist publishers (books, magazines, web sites, conferences)

In the past there have been some authors posting on this site (perhaps including Ronald still). Maybe one of them can offer any advice from their experience, and/or you might contact (perhaps you have already) any Buddhist authors or publishers (to ask for advice), via whatever contact details they may publish.

A chat site for Buddhists (e.g. perhaps the "water cooler" on sutta central) might be a place to ask this question too.

Sorry this is all just general advice, not something I'm an expert in.

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You could also think of:

Well, there are probably more options.

Good luck.

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As many have said lot will depends on your intentions.

Do you want to make money? Then you will have to some how control the ownership of the content. Meaning you are limited to paying for help.

Do you want to publish a paper back. Then you need publishers and distributes. You will have to either fund it or the publisher will have to be satisfied about your content that it will make money so they can invest and take the money later. You may have better luck approaching publishers who do buddhist publications. Since buddhism is not the biggest book market, most regular publishers/distributors may not be willing to or even equipped to bring your book to the audience it deserve.

If you don't need paperbak at least at first. Then you can consider things like publishing on kindle. Kindle allow you to publish your first edition. And then if you want readers will automatically get the new updated editions when you make changes. That way you can release a living book if you want, until you are satisfied with the final content.

I have read your content and your english is good. And more often than not it has been a pleasure to read your writing. So I would not mind paying for it. I would suggest you write it and then get it edited.

If you are hiring a writer I would strongly suggest finding a writer that has same level of understanding on buddhism as you are. Because in buddhism, a lot can be lost in translation. Words are just sign posts pointing to ideas on the readers mind. You need to safe guard against this.

If you are not planning to make profits you may have more options. Like getting a sangha/buddhist community to collaborate on the book. Sharing your own scripts with them first and then use the demand/feedback to publish a more refined version later.

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