FAQ: Business book ghostwriting

GhostwriterA ghostwriter is paid to write material that is credited to other people. I specialize in ghostwriting business books.

Ghostwriters play a number of roles in the collaborative process. You should expect any professional ghostwriter to ask thoughtful questions, be a good listener, help generate and shape ideas, offer support, act as devil’s advocate and, as you would expect, write well.

Ghostwritef5What sort of topics do you write about?

Business books cover a wide range of topics. I write for clients in business consulting, leadership, management, education, political science, and personal and organizational development.

Ghostwritef9How does business book ghostwriting work?

It can be as simple as you talk while I record your words and then shape them into an integrated narrative. However, this stage comes after discussions about purpose, topic, structure, and style.

The relationship between author and ghostwriter is of tremendous importance. Success depends upon clear communication and a good fit between author and ghostwriter. And this is why it’s so important for you and I to meet. Your time is limited yet your book will require some face time. My preference is to connect over video Skype or Hangouts. This method is efficient, and reduces or eliminates travel expenses.

Business book ghostwriting isn’t a commodity. Simply sending a list of your requirements to a group of ghosts is unlikely to get you the results you want. Think of having a custom-made suit rather than a bargain-basement t-shirt.  A word of caution: A poorly-written book with your name on it can do more damage than no book at all. Quality matters.

Ghostwriter2
What about confidentiality?

Confidentiality is standard practice in my business. I don’t disclose a ghostwriting-author relationship or titles I’ve ghostwritten without expressed permission.  I do have permission to identify some books I’ve ghostwritten, but I’ll only do that privately. I can also supply references for serious inquirers.

Ghostwritef9How can I read something you’ve written?

I can’t list client work here because ghostwriting business books is a confidential profession. But you can read book reviews and my blog.

What reading my blog won’t tell you is about collaborative effort, idea generation, story telling, research, and structuring that goes into creating a long-form book.

Your style can be anything from formal to funny. Every book is different: every client is different.

Ghostwritef5Will I make money from book sales?

Could your nonfiction book be a bestseller? Yes, it could be. But that’s not usually the primary goal. For most businesspeople the value is increased brand awareness, competitive advantage, and professional stature. Your book is brand equity. A book opens doors to new opportunities. And new opportunities are where your book can pay for itself—many times over.

Ghostwritef6What should I look for in a business book ghost?

Flexibility is a ghostwriter’s virtue. Ghostwriters need enough emotional maturity to put aside their own perspectives when necessary and at other times challenge ideas. Your writer should work from your vantage point and with your readership in mind.

Finding the right match is worth your time and effort. But a good writer is not enough. You also need a good collaborator because a significant part of the job is to interview you, asking questions to stimulate your thinking and help you explain what you want to say.

Ghostwriter3What if you’re not available?

Ghostwriters can only take on so many projects at a time. Some of us will only work on one book at a time in order to do the job right. Depending on your need, I would be happy to refer a colleague, or suggest some things you can do now to prepare for a later scheduled start date.

Ghostwritef8What’s a good length for my business book?

Most of the books I write are between 125-200 pages, about 35,000-40,000 words. Business books over 60,000 words tend to be too much for a general business readership. But is your book for a general readership?

Consider who should read your book—and who shouldn’t. Thomas Piketty’s best seller, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, runs to 696 pages.  Ken Blanchard and  M.D. Johnson Spencer’s classic, The New One Minute Manager is only 112 pages. Each of these books is aimed at a very different readership.

If you have a lot of material, think about writing two or more books.

There is growing demand for short business books of about 10,000-20,000 words. These 40-80-page books don’t look anywhere near as impressive in print as a normal size business book. In fact there are good reasons not to print such a short book. But books of this size aren’t intended to be printed. Short business e-books are designed to be read on a portable devices. Your decision of book type will depend on your purpose and your readership.

What really matters is to be interesting, have something of value for your reader, communicate what you have to say, and stay on point without being overly repetitive. See: Why should readers read your business book?

Ghostwritef7Do you ghostwrite fiction?

I don’t, but I may be able to refer you to a colleague who does.

Ghostwritef6Can you coach me to write my own book?

Yes. I offer coaching sessions over Skype with follow-up by email.

Ghostwriter2How long will writing my business book take?

How long it will take depends upon what you want to say, your readership, complexity, length, and your availability. Writing your book takes time and effort. Allocate approximately eight months for a complete 40,000-word manuscript.

Each project is different and timing depends upon entry point. You may have done significant work or you may be at the concept-stage. A solid outline of your entire book will get you to your destination faster. And creating an outline is one of our first orders of business.

A writer’s joke goes like this: This piece of writing is long because I didn’t have time to write it shorter. Business books are getting shorter, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that they take less effort to write well. Any piece of writing can be improved with revision. Clarity matters.

GhostwriterGetting started

Please write a sentence or two about your prospective book in the contact form.

I realize you’re a busy professional and time is almost always in short supply. But questions do need to be discussed. You can expect to significantly shorten your time investment by working with me as your ghost.

Every project must have a beginning. And that beginning can be at a different point along a continuum. At one end, you may have vague ideas, rough notes, or an outline; at the other, a rough draft, or an almost completely revised work. However, all projects start with discussion and/or review of existing material, if any.

If you and I decide to work together—after an initial discussion—I would draft a letter of intent to spell out my understanding of what you want and suggest next steps in our project.

Please contact me  and let’s talk about your project.