Why would someone hire a ghostwriter? For one thing, it might be the difference between an idea floating around an author’s head and an actual book being published.
Ghostwriters… those mysterious creatures who pen other peoples’ books for them, producing content in someone else’s voice. A ghostwriter won’t have his or her name on the book cover – that accolade belongs to the author – but these writers do get to talk to and work with a lot of interesting people. Perhaps you’ve considered hiring one yourself, or becoming one, or possibly you feel suspicious of the whole concept and wonder why an author wouldn’t just write his own book.
When I first started my ghostwriting and book coaching business, I wondered if anyone would be willing to have a professional write in his or her voice. It turns out many writers recognize the serious advantages to this particular way of creating a book.
As an aside, many of our most well-known and revered business books contain acknowledgements for ghostwriter assistance. Examples include Stephen Covey (The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People), Donald Trump (The Art of The Deal), and Richard Branson (Losing My Virginity).
Why would someone use a ghostwriter to write a book?
For a start, it saves authors time – time they can spend more productively on the business tasks only they can do. They don’t have to get up at 5 a.m. to crank out 1,000 words before breakfast every day, they can simply hand the heavy lifting to someone else. This means they can focus on preparing the marketing for their book launch and how they’ll build their expert reputation once it’s published.
In other words, hiring a ghostwriter might be the difference between an idea floating around an author’s head and an actual book being published.
In addition, for many business people, writing simply isn’t a core strength. I’m a big believer in outsourcing whatever you can. For instance, I’m terrible with numbers, so I’ve always had an accountant. She saves me hours of time and makes sure my figures add up correctly so I can sleep at night knowing they’re being taken care of. Conversely, writing articulate and persuasive content might not be an accountant’s strong suit, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have a great idea and the expertise to fill the pages of a powerful business book.
But, isn’t using a ghostwriter a bit like cheating?
As a ghostwriter, I can (and will) only write the author’s own thoughts, ideas, and opinions. I’ll also write them in the way he or she would most like them expressed. I make sure the author’s train of thought is expressed in the best possible way – adding my own creativity and writing skills into the mix – and I speak up when I see things going off track. But the book comes from the author, not from me.
In fact, the very process of working with a ghostwriter means my clients have to get crystal clear on their core message and why it matters. This is something I help them with as we plan the book.
How does using a ghostwriter work?
I can’t speak for all of ghostwriters, but this is my process.
- I sit down and work out the book’s strategy with my client: what the book’s big idea is, who it is for, how these two factors fit together, whether there’s a market for the book, and most importantly, how it is going to help their business.
- We work out an outline, using their content as a starting point.
- I interview them via Skype. In these interviews, I draw out the story from my client that’s bigger and better than the one they would have found on their own. Having a warm and trusting relationship is key for this, and it can be an enjoyable part of the process for the author.
- The calls are recorded and transcribed. These transcriptions, together with any written or audio material my client already has, form the the raw material for the book. The recordings and transcriptions also help me to capture the tone and language used, so I can write in their voice.
- I write each chapter, sending them for feedback as we go along.
- We both review, typically creating three drafts in total.
- The manuscript is proofread and handed to my client. If he/she wants, I help them publish and market it as well.
And that’s it, really. It seems pretty simple now, doesn’t it? Have you ever thought of working as a ghostwriter?
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