A ghostwriter is paid to write books that are credited to other people. Some ghosts will write articles, reports, blogs, and so on. I specialize in ghostwriting business books. Most business books range from “how” to “what” to “what might be”.
Author-clients may refer to me as a communications consultant. Ghostwriters play a number of roles in the collaborative process. We help in generating and shaping ideas, offer support, or act as devil’s advocate.
Will I make money from book sales?
Let’s deal with this question of realistic expectations first. Could your nonfiction book be a best-seller? Yes, it could be. But that’s not the point. Being on the best-seller list is not an expectation of the people I write for. For most people, the value is increased awareness, competitive advantage, and professional stature. A book opens doors to new opportunities. And it is new opportunities where your book can pay for itself— many times over.
What should I look for in a ghostwriter?
Of course, you’ll need a person who can write. Make sure to look for someone who understands what you want, asks incisive questions, and listens to the answers. Ghostwriters must have the emotional maturity to put aside their own perspectives when necessary. They must write from your vantage point and with your readership in mind.
Many ghostwriters’ work comes to them by referral. Most will have an agreement not to disclose that they had written or participated in a book. This makes showing samples difficult. However, the ghostwriter should be able to show you a variety of writing styles, and it is this flexibility of style that will give you an idea of ability. Is the writing clear? Is it to the point? Does it inform? Does it draw you in? Is it consistent in tone? Does it keep your attention?
How does ghostwriting work?
It can be as simple as you talk while the ghostwriter records your words and shapes them into an integrated narrative.
You may already have made a start on writing and find yourself stuck, or you simply don’t have the time to continue. Your book is likely to emerge from a combination of discussions and existing documents.
Because a ghostwriter writes for someone else, the relationship between author and ghostwriter is of tremendous importance. Some clients want face to face meetings. Telephone and email work well for others. My preference is to connect over video Skype. It’s efficient and reduces or eliminates travel expenses. Whichever you choose, know that writing a book can be a significant investment of your time and money.
Make sure the relationship works. Are you, the author, and your ghostwriter on the same page? Initially, I like to set up a video Skype call with a prospective author to discuss the purpose of the book or article, its readership, and get some idea of what the book will contain.
Should I contact several ghostwriters before making a decision?
Yes. Take your time. You will have a relationship with the person you choose for some months to come. When interviewing, allocate enough time to spend at least half an hour on the phone or by video with someone you are seriously considering. Your ghostwriter must be a good verbal communicator. A significant part of the job of the ghostwriter is to interview you, and ask you questions that will stimulate your thinking and help you explain what you want to say.
A poorly-written book with your name on it can do more damage than having no book at all. Don’t cut corners when attempting to find a ghostwriter. Visit ghostwriter websites. Is the writing on the sites appealing? Are there grammatical or typographical errors? Are the ghostwriters knowable? Get a feeling for who they are.
Don’t simply send a list of requirements and expect an estimate. Yes, this means more work on your part, but it will pay off. If price is the only determining factor, then you run the risk of a poor outcome. Choosing to work together is a personal decision.
You will probably be meeting with your ghostwriter on a regular basis by phone, video, or in person. Most professionals are busy people, particularly those who head organizations. Nevertheless, realistic expectations of time and cost are important. If your book project is to be a success, give it the time it deserves. Working with your ghostwriter should significantly shorten your time investment, but you will need to stay engaged in the project.
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 were to 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.
What if you are 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. While planning your book several months in advance is not always possible, if you can, it will give you the opportunity to work with an in-demand ghostwriter.
What sort of books do you write?
I specialize in a rather loose category called business books. I have written for clients in business consulting, management, psychology, organizational development, education, political science, and non-profit organizations.
Do you ghostwrite shorter works?
Yes. I sometimes write shorter books of 100 pages or so, but most business books I write are between 200 and 250 pages (45,000-60,000 words).
Do you ghostwrite fiction?
No. I do not offer this service and I cannot refer you at this time.
How long will it take?
Six to nine months is a reasonable allocation of time to go from blank sheet of paper to finished manuscript. Writing your book takes time and effort. How long it will take depends upon conceptual complexity, participant availability (that’s you), and how much conceptual structuring and research we may need to do together.
You should expect a turnaround time of at least five months for anything approaching book length even if you’re clear about what you want to say. Each project is different and timing depends upon the entry point. You may already have done significant work or you may be at the conceptual stage.
A solid outline of your entire book will get you to your destination faster. A rough guide to allocating time is 40 percent creating the outline, 20 percent writing the first draft, and 40 percent rewriting.
If writing a book is new to you, it’s likely you’ve only encountered finished works, so you may not be aware of the revising process. Beautiful things often start out ugly. In other words, no first draft you can be proud of is publishable.
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.
Please contact me and let’s talk about your project.