Welcome to BrightFlame Books

 

If you are a ‘professional expert’ – a consultant, adviser, coach, accountant, lawyer, medical practitioner or in any other field where your income relies on your ability to sell your knowledge, your experience or your advice – then you need to establish your authority by writing a book.

The problem is, traditional publishers aren’t in business to help you grow yours, so it’s hard to get published, and just because you’re great at what you do doesn’t mean you can write about it.

At BrightFlame Books, we created a process to get what you know out of your head, into print, and into the hands of your ideal prospects and clients, even if you’re not a writer.


Meet Our Authors


Here are some of the experts we’ve helped to get their message out into the world and into the hands of potential clients and collaborators


Here is a selection of books we've helped to write or publish

BrightFlame Books was officially born on 1st December 2015, but our writers, editors and designers have been working in the background with clients for years. Here are a few of the books we've helped bring into the world


How Does It All Work?

 

Our approach to authority book publishing is underpinned by three key principles:

  • 1. Accountability partners/coaches will not get a professional past writer’s block
  • 2. Experts do best when they focus on their ‘superpower’—their expertise—and outsource writing to people whose superpower is writing
  • 3. Just because Amazon makes it possible for anyone to publish a book doesn’t mean that they should.

We developed a method for helping our clients to publish their books that embodies these three principles. We don't call it ghostwriting; we call it "collaborative writing".

 

QUESTIONS?

What if I don't have enough to say?

Many of our experts are worried that they won't have enough to say to fill a whole book. It's one of the risks of being an 'expert' in your field: when you're dealing with problems and situations on a daily basis, what you know seems commonplace and obvious. It's easy to forget that what is commonplace and obvious to you is usually new to your clients; that's why they need you.

Our writers are adept at getting this 'unconscious expertise' out of your head and onto paper. The real question is not whether you know enough, but rather where to start and what to leave for a future book!

What if I can't write?

Many professionals put off writing a book because they fear that their writing ability is not good enough. Sometimes, it brings back bitter memories of school essays coming back covered in red ink, and other times it's just that they haven't had to write a long piece of work for so long that they worry they'll have forgotten how to.

The key is to remember that what's important is your level of knowledge, experience and expertise. If you look at the description of our process above, you'll quickly appreciate that it is designed so that you don't have to be a writer; you just need to know your 'stuff' and be good at what you're good at, and let our writers focus on what they are good at: writing.

Is it still my book if I don't write it?

Many experts are worried that getting help to write their book is, in some way, 'cheating'. Allow me to let you in on one of the 'dirty little secrets' of the publishing world. The books you buy from a bookstore frequently bear little or no resemblance to the manuscript the author submitted to the publisher. When a book goes through a publishing house, it is subjected to numerous rounds of editing and review. This is not just a matter of correcting spelling and punctuation. Editors will deconstruct the whole book and make sweeping changes to the flow, structure and language of the book in order to make it more readable and understandable.

In the non-fiction world especially, many new authors are actually quite bad writers, but they have great ideas. They rely on their publisher to make those ideas into a book, and that is exactly what we are doing.

We don't consider what we do ghostwriting. In the ghostwriting process, you hire a professional writer who takes the basic idea and framework for your book and puts their own words around them. In effect, you're buying the right to put your name on their book.

With our collaborative writing process, the ideas, the words and the tone of the book are yours. Everything in the book comes from the interviews that our writers carry out. It is your content; we just make it more 'book-y'.

Could I get a traditional publisher to publish my book?

This is a question with two real intents.

First, experts (especially if they have been pitching publishing houses without success) want to know if they should just hang on and wait for a traditional publisher to call and snap up their book, rather than publishing with us.

Second, they want to know whether, if they do go ahead with us, they will be missing out in some way when a major publisher realizes they should have taken the book when it was pitched to them.

Let me start with the first question. Many people assume that if a publisher turns down a book it's because it wasn't a good book. Sometimes that is true, but more often it's just that the publisher doesn't see the book as commercially viable. Publishers are not in business to help you grow your business. It can happen, but from their point of view that's a 'side effect'. That means that their first assessment of a book is whether the author has a following.

Wannabe authors are often caught off guard when a publisher asks them how they intend to promote their own book. "Isn't that what you do?" they'll ask. And the answer is, "yes but not really." Unless a book is showing signs of becoming a bestseller in its own right, the publisher is unlikely to put much money and effort into promotion. That is 90% down to the author. That means that many good—no great—books never see the light of day because the writer is waiting for a major publishing house to take them on.

In that context, working with BrightFlame Books can be a great precursor to getting a contract with a traditional publisher. They want to know that a book will sell, so turning round and saying, "my independently published book sold X copies in the first four months" is a great way to establish a track record and convince them to take a chance.

That brings us neatly to the second question, which really boils down to "if my book is a runaway success, will BrightFlame Books stop me from taking it to a major publisher?". The answer is, categorically, "no." Your book is your book. If you turn round to us a year down the line and say that Prentice Hall or Wiley or whoever has asked to publish your book, we will drink a toast together, celebrate your success and I'll ask you for a testimonial about how you couldn't have done it without us :)

Ultimately, it comes down to this: traditional publishers are 'manufacturers'. You bring them raw material (a manuscript) and they turn it into a product (the book). But that book is their product—not yours—and they own all the rights to it. Brightflame Books is a service provider: we are providing you with all the services you need to turn your ideas into a book and get them into the world. You pay us for those services, but the output (your book) is yours. You own the rights to do with them as you please.

The services we provide include everything that a traditional publisher would do, but also a lot more. We support you in turning the ideas in your head into a fully-fledged book: that's what we created the 'collaborative writing' model for. We do a lot of promotion and marketing of your book. And we can advise you on how to use your book as a marketing tool for your business--something that traditional publishers can't and don't do.

How do you choose whether to publish a book?

It's tempting for potential clients to assume that we are only in this for the money and that we'll work with anyone as long as they have a pulse and a bank balance. You'll be pleased to know that's not true.

There are four key criteria that we apply in deciding whether to work with an expert.

First, remember that it's not just your name on the book. Our name goes on there too. So we want to be comfortable with the subject matter of your book. There are topics that we just won't go near, and causes and points of view that we don't want to be seen to espouse.

Second, we know what kinds of clients enjoy working with us and what kinds of clients we enjoy working with. Those lessons have often been learned the hard way. One of the advantages of having multiple editors and writers is that we can match clients to team members who they will be suited to, but by the same token there are people who don't take well to the creative process we use, and we do our best to help them find alternative ways to get their ideas 'out there'.

Third, we need to see that there is a potential return on your investment for you. That's very different from a traditional publisher, who will be looking at the deal in terms of the return they will get. We are also not a vanity publisher trying to make money by getting you to fill your garage with boxes of books. The first step of our process is a frank discussion about your goals, and how you are going to use your book to build your business and your brand. That way, publishing with us becomes an investment not a cost. It's a win-win.

Fourth, you need to know your subject. If you don't, then we have nothing to work with. We are not going to make stuff up and we are not going to 'do your homework' for you: we are here to turn your message into a book: your ideas, your thoughts, your philosophy, your experiences, your reflections.

Is this self-publishing in disguise?
No.

Oh wait, you want more?

OK. Well, for a start, if someone looks up your book online, who will they see as the publisher? They'll see 'Published by BrightFlame Books', an established independent publishing house. So no, it's not 'self-published'.

But let's look at what 'self-publishing' really means, and you'll see that the difference is even clearer.

First, will your book look like something you could have done yourself in a word processing package, or will it look like something a top publishing house would have produced? Well, if you're a capable graphic designer and an experienced book formatter then I guess the answer is the latter, but otherwise there are going to be clear differences between the book we produce, which you'll be proud to put into the hands of potential clients, and the amateurish efforts that have been filling online bookstores lately. We put a lot of careful thought and work into how your book looks and feels, based on our experience of what will sell and--more importantly--what will get a reader to pay attention and act.

Second, will you end up with a garage full of unsold books? Again, the answer is no. The minimum order you can place is one book. Or you could choose never to place an order and just let people buy the book themselves (we don't recommend it, but you could!). The key point is this: you only have to buy the books you need to achieve your business objectives, and even those you'll buy at a substantial discount from 'retail'.

Third, however, many people ask this because they feel that unless a book says it has been published by a traditional publisher, then it must be 'inferior' in some way. Look at earlier answers and you'll see that having a great book in you doesn't mean you'll get a publishing contract. That's actually the key reason we set up BrightFlame Books: so that experts who wouldn't have had access to mainstream publishing would have a viable, professional way to get their message out into the world.

The world of publishing has changed. Just as newspapers and broadcasters no longer control the news, publishing houses no longer control the book industry. More books are now published by 'alternative' channels than via traditional publishers, and the trend will continue. The key is to work with a company that will help you produce something that looks professional and will enhance your brand rather than damage it. We hope you'll choose us.

Will my book be available in bookstores?

The best answer to this is, "it's complicated".

First, for the launch of the book our focus is on distribution via Amazon. The reason for this is simple: the best way to be become an Amazon bestselling author is to force everyone to buy your book through Amazon. 99% of our authors are happy leaving it there, because they know that their book is a marketing tool, and they know they'll make their money that way, not from retail sales.

That said, it feels great when you imagine being able to say to someone, "Go into Barnes & Noble (or Chapters, or Waterstones, or whatever your national bookstore chain is) and you can order my book."

That's where things get complicated.

If an author wants us to, we'll make their book available to retailers through Ingram—the world's largest distributor of books to the book trade. That means that someone could go to barnesandnoble.com, say, and order your book. Technically, your book is available through Barnes & Noble.

Getting a bookstore to hold physical stock of your book, however, is a different matter. The biggest problem is that most retailers insist on being able to return unsold copies of your book, and that's a risk most authors don't want to take.

The good news is, though, that getting a book into the bookstores is often more about the author's vanity than anything else. Amazon sells more books than any other company, so not having your book on a shelf in a store in Poughkeepsie isn't going to lose you too many sales.

What about royalties?

Admit it. You have a dream of opening the post one day, finding a six-figure cheque from your publisher, and heading out to pick what colour Aston Martin you're going to drive. Or a yacht. Or a ski lodge. Or whatever 'floats your boat'.

Hold off from ordering the catalogues just for now. The first thing is, if you are going to work with us please be clear on one thing: you will make your money based on what you do with your book, not how many people buy it. If you run a consulting firm and you send a book to a potential client and they end up hiring you for a $100,000 contract, that's much better than hitting the road for six months to do book signings in a hundred one-horse towns and selling a few hundred copies.

That said, people will buy your book, so what happens to the money?

It's yours. We'll set up your own accounts for selling your Kindle and paperback editions, and the royalties will get paid directly to you.

How those royalties are calculated is convoluted, but in a nutshell, it's like this.

Kindle royalties

For Kindle, Amazon takes the amount the buyer paid and deducts a small amount for managing the process. How much depends on the size of your book, but it's usually fairly insignificant unless you have a very graphic-rich book. For sales in Europe, they also deduct sales tax from the price (prices in North America are stated net at the time of writing). Out of what's left, they then deduct 30% and you get the other 70%.

For example, let's say your book sold for $7.99, and that Amazon deducted 50c for delivery. Of the $7.49 left over, you'll get $5.24.

Print royalties

For print books things get muddier. First, the printer (Createspace, which is Amazon's printing company, or Ingram) will charge for printing the book. For a paperback book around 100-150 pages, that will be around $3-5. Next. the seller takes a percentage of the retail price as a wholesale discount. For sales through Amazon that's 40%; other channels have different rates.

So, let's say your book sold for $20: Amazon takes $8; the printer takes, say, $4; and you keep the remaining $8. Hardback books have higher costs (and more options), but the principle is the same: retail price minus wholesale discount minus printing.

In terms of buying copies of the book for yourself, things are simpler. You'll be able to order copies from the printer at cost. So you're typically paying $3-5 (US) for the book. You then pay for shipping. It typically takes up to 10 days to print the books (the size of the order dictates how long it takes), and then a few more days for delivery (depending on the shipping rate you choose).

If you want to order larger quantities, then we typically set things up with a printing company for you, primarily so that you can get faster service and lower costs. We'll take a small margin on the order for setting things up with them, but it will still be cheaper and/or faster than working with Createspace or Ingram.

Both companies have a delay in paying the royalties, so typically you'll receive your payment at the end of the calendar month following the month of sale. So if you sell 100 copies in February of your $20 book, you'd receive $800 in royalties at the end of March.

I have already written my draft manuscript, can you help?

Every so often we are approached by experts who have already written a draft manuscript and want help getting it published.

We are happy to consider these projects on their individual merits, but please be aware that unless you're an experienced writer it may be faster and cheaper to let us help you write the book from scratch, and it may ultimately produce a better book.

MeetThe Team


Rob Cuesta

CEO and Founder

Rob Cuesta, MBA, BSc, DipM, ACIM is our CEO and principal strategist. He has been helping clients create books as part of their personal brand building since 2011. He is the author of six bestselling books on the topic of marketing and business development for coaches, consultants and professional advisers.

After leaving Deloitte Consulting, he set up his own coaching and consulting practice in 2003 and the list of companies he has worked with includes Microsoft, PwC, State Street Bank, HSBC, Glaxo and other organisations of every size – from household brands to solopreneurs.

Rob provides strategic direction, working with you directly on the creation of your launch campaign and lead generation.



What does it all cost?

We have a number of service packages available, designed to achieve different objectives. Ultimately it comes down to whether you are aiming primarily to use your book for lead generation, to establish yourself as a leader in your industry, or for the 'wow' factor in your marketing. That will determine the size and format of your book, and therefore the investment involved.

The best way to proceed is to contact us by clicking the form below and arrange a short discussion with our CEO, Rob Cuesta. We'll look at where your business is and what your goals are for writing a book and how best to use it