I’ve been asked this question now and again: What Does it Really Take to Ghostwrite a Book? Many non-authors think it’s a process that should be completed fairly quickly. Such is not the case.
If you plan on hiring a ghostwriter to help you write your book, it’s important to understand just what it takes, and why we take the steps that we do.
Step 1: We Get to Know You
A good ghostwriter wants to know his or her author before deciding to take on the project. You should feel the same way. You need to match with her and she needs to match with you.
If you begin a journey with a writer without having felt “in sync” with them from jump, trouble could like ahead. You may have engaged with a writer who cares more about the money than she does the project. You don’t want this.
Make sure you take time to ask questions. Look for testimonials and ask for references, if necessary. Hiring a ghostwriter to write a book isn’t cheap, so you want to to make sure you choose someone that you’re comfortable with.
Step 2: We Don’t Work Alone
Ghostwriters that are seasoned have a team. My team consists of:
– a Proofreader (to check for spelling and grammatical errors)
– a Copy Editor (to check for formatting, style, and content accuracy)
– a Control Group (to gauge if the content is immediately engaging)
If you engage with a ghostwriter that tells you he is the writer and the proofreader, be cautious. No writer should be their own proofreader. As a writer, I miss things all the time in my copy. This is because it’s my copy, and I’m proofreading it faster than I wrote it.
Step 3: We Honor Your Time and Your Words
It takes time to write a book. I personally block out a 4-month or 6-month period to work with an author. This window of time is necessary if you want a product that is clean, crisp, and 99.8% error free.
You see, writing a book requires research, conversation, and time to write, rewrite, and write again. In between these elements, writers have families, pursue passions, and go on vacations. Some potential authors expect writers to burn the midnight oil and get their project done quickly. And while I have been known to do this, authors should understand that the very best books are born from patience and passion.
Having said this, I have completed many projects way ahead of schedule. But choosing a window of time that works for both the author and the writer allows for a margin of error. It also allows for that thing called life that can sometimes stop a project dead in its tracks: babies are born, new jobs begin, and family matters emerge. Any good writer needs to honor this.
Ghostwriters also work around your schedule to get interviews and have discussions regarding your project. If that means recording a 45-minute interview at 9 p.m. at night because you had a long day at work, then so be it. Whatever it takes to produce your product.
Step 4: We Talk to You. A Lot.
We interview you. We kind of have to, especially if you have no outline prepared or (partial) manuscript to offer.
If you’re writing a biography or memoir, these interviews are crucial. This is why the first conversations with a potential ghostwriter are important. You have to click with the person you’re going to spend the next 6 months talking to. You may be sharing some powerful, even emotional memories with your writer. Therefore, you want to make sure you’re comfortable with the person you could spend up to 8 hours on the phone with. (Not all at once. Oh my gosh, no. That would be exhausting!)
Step 5: We Don’t Take it Personally
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve written something, only to have the author say, “I don’t think this part works. I am so sorry. Please don’t be upset or take it personally.”
This is YOUR book. If something doesn’t resonate with you, tell your ghostwriter. That’s what they’re there for. You’re paying them to write something for YOU, not for them.
In the process I use, I don’t start writing the bulk of the book until the author is comfortable with my style. To gauge this, I write 1000 words first. (Typically a piece of the prologue or first chapter.) This first step allows us to determine how far I can go with creative license, how well I captured the essence and idea of the book, and if my style of writing meets your expectations.
If you don’t like it, tell me. If you love it, well, tell me that, too. 😉
Step 6: We Use Our Team
Again, I can’t do this alone. I am fortunate to have editors who really know what they’re doing and genuinely enjoy the process. They have caught mistakes that I didn’t see, even after I read what I wrote a million times. Every once in a while, something is missed.
Despite a thorough process, a missed apostrophe or a runaway word is brought to my attention. When this happens, I remind my authors that even the greatest of authors and editors make mistakes.
Nonetheless, the process of a ghostwriter is one that is all about YOU. His or her job is to take your vision and bring it to life. If you want a quote on your potential project, drop me an email. I’m happy to answer any questions you have.
Joleene Moody is a former television reporter and anchor turned freelance writer, blogger, and speaker, based in Central New York.
(No, not New York City. Not even close. 🙂 )
Learn more at www.joleenemoody.com