How Much Does It Cost To Hire A Ghostwriter?

How much does it cost to hire a ghostwriter?Have you been wondering just how much does it cost to hire a ghostwriter?

Well, you aren’t alone. This is a very popular question. Shopping for a writer is a bit like walking into a gallery with the hope of acquiring a special piece of art. As you peruse the beautiful paintings on the walls, you might just wonder about their cost. After all, the price tags can vary widely. It can be intimidating to ask the artist, because the price could be well outside your budget.

When you buy a car or a house, don’t you have a rough idea of the expense involved? Probably! However, how can you know the cost to hire a ghostwriter?

Allow me to address the question directly: I charge one dollar per word to ghostwrite.

I’ve noticed that some ghostwriters don’t like to broach this subject on their websites. Maybe they’re worried you’ll just click away when you discover the price. For me, I figure why bury my pricing in some dusty corner of my website? There really is no need to dance around the subject.

As you’ll discover, writers have different fees and some charge in different ways. For instance, some writers may charge by the hour or the page. Most charge by the word. While manuscripts vary in length, a short memoir or novella will be 25,000 words and a full-length book will be 50,000 – 75,000 words. Some clients prefer to publish mini-eBooks, which can be 5,000 – 10,000 words in length. These can be a good option to get one’s feet wet and learn the art of marketing books on Amazon.

Occasionally I’ll run into a client who actually needs a cross between an editor and a ghost, because he has already written most of the book and the first draft is in decent shape. If that’s the case with you, I’d charge much less.

Inside Secret: How to reduce the cost of a ghostwriter

There are a few factors that might help reduce a ghostwriter’s cost. Firstly, I’m always impressed when a prospective client has taken the time to really research me and find out the steps he should take to work with a ghostwriter. I know this is a client who understands me and how I work, which is a great place to start the relationship.

Here are some key ways you may persuade me to reduce the amount I charge:

Pitch me an inspiring book

Idea for a bookWhile some ghostwriters will write about any subject matter, I’m rather picky. I prefer to write about uplifting subjects that help people in some way. Of course, the book doesn’t need to be happy-go-lucky throughout, but if you’re looking to get back at an ex or wish to delve into the horrors of your abusive past, I’m not the writer for you.

I’ve written a couple dozen books over the last two decades. Here are a few examples of projects I’ve completed from different genres:

  • The story of a man who immigrated to the United States with only a few dollars in his pocket and became a multi-millionaire
  • A nonfiction book about a how to run a specialized niche market business
  • The fictional story of a deadly family feud that spans generations and worlds, highlighting the importance of family loyalty and the overcoming of seemingly impossible obstacles
  • The heroic journey of a man who escaped communist Hungary on foot to become an affluent businessman in Canada

There are times when someone approaches me with a story that truly appeals to me. I find that I can’t stop thinking about the project. I really want to help the author, even though he can’t pay my full price. In those cases, when he shares his budget, I’ll do my best to at least guide him in the right direction.

If you’re on a tight budget and need help, let me know what you can afford. I can almost always make suggestions to help reduce your cost. Or I might be able to set you up with a student writer and supervise her work. When I do that, I can charge less.

Be flexible with your deadline

Normally, I need eight months to a year (or more) to complete a book project. If you need a fast turnaround time, I will need to increase my price. However, if you are flexible on deadlines, I can sometimes give you a price break, as I can take on other projects.

I routinely try to come in ahead of my deadlines, but it’s nice to have some leeway if it’s needed. Flexibility is worth its weight in gold.

In addition, there are times when my clients need to take a few months off, too. I always juggle projects to accommodate authors.

Reduce your word count

Since a ghostwriter usually charges on a per word basis, you can reduce the cost to hire a ghostwriter by lowering your proposed word count. As I mentioned earlier in this article, the average length of a book is 50,000 – 75,000 words (or 200 – 300 pages), but some stories can be told in 25,000 words (or 100 pages). This is an acceptable length for a memoir. So, if a shorter book is more realistic for you, know that I can make it any length, within reason. Just be aware that we might not be able to include all the incidents that occurred.

Quality is always better than quantity in writing.

Show you communicate well

cost to hire a ghostwriter, communicate wellAs a ghostwriter, I will require that my authors be available to review pages I send or answer questions that come up as I write. You will need to put in a two to three hours a week on your project with me.

I seek out clients who communicate well and respect my time. From experience, I know that working with these clients will be easier because they will respond to my queries and be a true partner on the project. Of course, I will always do the heavy lifting for any book project I take on, but the client’s contributions are vital to the success of the project.

On the flip side, if a client needs me to send five emails before answering a question or doesn’t make a scheduled appointment, it takes me longer to complete a project.

I will sometimes give discounts (or add words for free) to a client who communicates well and respects my time.

Three Categories of Writer

If you’re willing to pay the cost to hire a ghostwriter, it’s good to know that there are three main categories of writers:

  • Cheap writers
  • Mid-range professional writers
  • High-end celebrity writers

Cheap writers

the cost to hire a ghostwriter variesPrice range: $2,000 to $10,000

How to locate: Fiverr, Upwork, Guru or other freelance websites

Pros:

  • Easy to find
  • Many writers in this category
  • Very low cost

Cons:

  • You need to watch for plagiarism. It’s rampant in this category.
  • The writer will often have little to no prior experience. You’ll need to be patient.
  • Because of this writer’s lack of experience, she may miss deadlines or run into unexpected difficulties.
  • The writer will probably have a full-time job, which may cause delays.
  • Be prepared to rewrite her work.

Advice:

  • Ask for references and contact each one.
  • Get writing samples. Be sure to check each using plagiarism software.
  • Make sure they include outside editing in their fee.
  • Never pay the entire fee upfront; give an industry-standard deposit of 25% down.

Summary:

If you have a very small budget (and you can’t write your book on your own), a cheap writer really is your only option. Your biggest risk is that you’ll wind up with an unusable manuscript that will need to be rewritten. Also, you really need to watch for plagiarism with this class of writer.

Mid-range professional writers

Hire a Limo-class ghostwriter

Price range: $15,000 to $100,000

How to locate: Internet searches, blogs, and word-of-mouth

Pros:

  • You will get personalized attention from a professional writer.
  • The process will be an enjoyable experience.
  • Through the interview process, you’ll probably remember new details of past incidents and might put together some interesting pieces to your life puzzle.
  • Your ghostwriter will have years of writing experience, with at least a few books under her belt.
  • You will learn a lot about how to write along the way.

Cons:

  • The price tag is higher than a cheap writer.
  • Since there aren’t many ghostwriters in this category, it can be hard to get on her calendar. We book up fast.

Advice:

  • Review the ghostwriter’s website. Look for a testimonial page and a blog, as these will tell you a lot about the writer’s experience and viewpoint.
  • Compile a good list of questions before you interview her.
  • Make sure you sign a professional contract. Have it reviewed by your lawyer before signing it.
  • Plan to pay 25% – 40% when you begin the project.
  • Don’t restrict your search to local ghostwriters.

Summary:

This level of ghostwriter will make the project an enjoyable and educational experience for you. It’s a bit like hiring a limousine instead of calling an Uber. If you can afford a professional ghostwriter, you’ll wind up with a quality manuscript that you can either market and sell or pitch to an agent or publisher.

High-end celebrity writers

These ghostwriters are usually hired by actors, politicians, musicians and other famous personalities who will sell books just by virtue of their names. The writers for these celebrities are well-established ghostwriters and authors, who have a lot of experience in this area.

The price tag for a celebrity hiring a ghostwriter is six or seven figures.

Which category is right for you?

questions relating to ghostwritingMost people recognize that they would like a mid-ranged professional writer. And, honestly, the cost to hire a ghostwriter is actually reasonable when you consider that a lot of time, energy and hard work goes into writing a book. An excellent professional writer will often spend up to a year or two researching, writing, and editing a book for you.

As you can see, the cost to hire a ghostwriter fluctuates greatly from writer to writer.

Bottom line: you get what you pay for!

Tip: Give your ghostwriter a trial run

If you’re uncertain about the cost to hire a ghostwriter and are nervous about plunking down a large deposit, propose a trial run. Of course, you’ll need to pay for the service. If you don’t pay her, she will have to fit it in around her paid work and won’t be able to grant it the proper importance. Also, if you pay for the piece, you’ll own the rights to it and can use it anytime.

This trial run will allow you to find out how well the writer meets the agreed-upon deadline and you can really determine the quality of her work. At the end, you will have a good idea of what to expect if you hire her.

Now, some people get the “bright idea” that they can piece together a manuscript by asking many different ghostwriters to provide samples for free. This won’t work. Trust me, it will look more like a patchwork quilt than a book. This is not a good way to get around the cost to hire a ghostwriter.

When I do a trial phase, I allow my client to pick the word count, then I charge my standard dollar-per-word fee. If someone is writing his memoir, I select a story from his past to write. If I’m trying out for a nonfiction piece, I usually write an essay or a blog article. These few pages give the new client a good idea of what to expect from our budding relationship.

A Little Warning

Have you received a lowball offer to write your book?

While it might sound attractive, it rarely works out for you in the end. I have received calls from a number of prospective clients who made “excellent” deals hoping to save money, only to find they had to shell out a lot more cash to have everything re-written. It’s frustrating for the author, as well as for the ghostwriter who must now take over the project.

If you’re paying a fraction of the usual price, you often get a fraction of the quality.

Writing a book requires a certain advanced skill set, and the complexity involved with ghostwriting is even greater. A ghost needs to capture the style and voice of our authors, while meeting the goals of the client. That’s why the price tag should never be cheap.

If you have questions and need help,  don’t hesitate to contact me! Check out my testimonial page to see what my clients have to say about me and my work.

Additional articles you might find helpful:

What You Need In a Ghostwriting Contract?

Write Your Family History in 2020

Four Different Ghostwriting Methods

How to Conquer Writer’s Block

Understanding Characters

What Is It Like to Be a Ghostwriter?

Write and Publish a Book in 2020

“When my partner and I decided to write a book, we interviewed many ghost writers. Some were very inexpensive, while others were too pricey for our budget. Laura wasn’t the least expensive writer, but we chose her because she was so passionate about writing. Laura went above and beyond our expectations. I am very pleased with all her work and will continue to use her for my future writing needs.” Edwin Carrion

 

Write Your Novel: 5 Tips to Help You Prepare

Write your novel

You’ve been dreaming of penning a story and now have the time to write your novel. You sit down at your computer and stare at the blinking cursor on the blank screen. You know the story concept you want to write but have no idea how to start.

Instinctively, you know that “It was a dark and stormy night” probably isn’t the right beginning. But what is? To ensure that you communicate your concept effectively, you need to prepare to write your novel.

Here are a few tips to get you started.

1. Outline your story idea before you write your novel

A budding writer recently asked me for advice. She was having trouble writing the ending for her book and was stuck. The problem was that she had set off without a plan and then found she’d written her character into a situation she couldn’t resolve. While some people feel that they can write a novel by just typing away with no preparation, that approach can be difficult and frustrating for a new writer.

It is true that magic is created when you’re engrossed in the writing process, but I find that it’s most effective to prepare to write your novel before letting your story flow from your fingertips. I find that when I am properly set up, the process is smoother because I have guideposts and mile markers to help me find my way.

Without a plan you might wind up in a ghost town

Writing without a plan is a bit like taking a road trip by just choosing a compass direction and taking off. It could be a brilliant choice, or you might drive for two hundred miles to discover a small town that doesn’t even have a motel. Sure, it can be an adventure, and I’m sure you’d get something out of it; but if you’d done a little research, you may have found a National Park two hundred miles in a different direction with glorious waterfalls and amazing views. Similarly, outlining before you write will save you from wasted time and words. It will save you from the disappointment of tossing thousands of words later.

There are many ways to outline. One way is to write a rough summary. It’s a bit like sketching the image before you apply paint to the canvas. Just summarize your story in a few pages. Don’t worry about grammar. Do be sure to include all major plot points.

One system for outlining

Another system I like to use involves a journalistic approach to each incident in the book. I like to jot down:

  • The title of the incident
  • The characters who will appear
  • When it took place
  • Where it happened
  • The purpose of this scene in the book

 

For instance, I might create an incident like so:

  • Title: First day of college
  • Who: Theon, George, and Mikey
  • When: Sept 5, 1983
  • Where: North Dorm of Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, CA
  • Purpose: Introduce college setting and show Mikey living away from home for the first time.

Since the outline consists of notes from you to you, the form it takes really doesn’t matter. What’s important is that the method helps you to prepare to write your novel.

2. Shape your story

Shape your story with structure as you write your novel

Now that you have a list of incidents or a basic outline of the story, it’s time to shape it into a format that will work. If you’re not familiar with the three-act structure, it’s worth looking into. Once you understand it, review a few of your favorite books and movies and see how they incorporate the three acts into their story. Then consider how your story can fit into that structure.

In addition, it’s time to consider the arcs your characters will follow throughout the story. The main characters need to follow paths that make sense for your book. Although you might decide to work out the details of their journeys as you write your novel, you should have a rough idea of where they’re going and where they’ll end up before you start.

Conflict is a key element for any story. Throughout your book, your main characters should encounter many conflicts and difficulties along the way. These serve to raise the readers’ heart rates as they turn the pages or swipe forward. Suspense and mystery help keep readers interested.

As you take these factors into consideration, your outline or summary may need adjusting. That’s normal. At this phase, your story is a bit like clay that you can mold and squish into the shape you desire. After all, you’re the creator.

3. Get to know your main characters

A great story has strong, believable characters. As you prepare to write your novel, you can get a head start on creating characters that your readers will identify with and cheer for. Start by jotting down notes about your main character. If you feel stuck, imagine that you are interviewing him. Prepare questions ahead of time. It might help to start with a detailed physical description. Then write down basic information about him, such as:

  • Occupation
  • Marriage status
  • Number of children
  • Hobbies
  • Mannerisms

Create fun, realistic characters when you write a novel

After you have an idea of his basic attributes, you might delve into his ideology, general life philosophy, religious preferences, etc. Continue with this exercise until you feel you can answer any question about him with confidence. In other words, you know him inside out. Take the time to get to know each of your other characters in a similar way. When you know your main characters this thoroughly, many of the scenes will write themselves because you know how your people will act in any given circumstance.

If you still feel that your characters are disconnected strangers, imagine putting two characters into a room together. Set up the scene and watch how they interact. Take notes. Observe their mannerisms as well as their dialogue. Write it all down. You’ll learn a lot about them in this way.

Don’t worry about bit players in a scene. Although adding a few words of description can help set the scene, you don’t need to create a biography for the ballroom dancing instructor who appears only on page 39.

4. Build the world

If you’re writing a science fiction or fantasy story, you’ll need to spend some time building your world. This is a lot of fun! The laws of physics might not be the same, nor will the native plants and animals necessarily resemble those of Earth. Consider the history of the races that inhabit your world. What makes them distinctive?

One writing coach suggested to me that it helps to keep the setting somewhat familiar for the reader and change up only a few key things. If everything is completely different, it makes it hard for people to relate easily. They’ll get confused and put the book down. Also, you can wind up spending a lot of time explaining the nuances of the world, which can be boring and pull the reader out of the story.

world building is a key part of writing a bookAs you prepare to write your novel, think of all the aspects of the world that you will need the reader to understand. Sometimes it works to create intricate background stories that delve into the history of the society. Of course, it’s never a good idea to dump this data in a prologue or the first few chapters, as it clogs up the story with a lot of facts.

Some authors enjoy creating detailed maps of their worlds to orient the readers with the layout of the land. You’ll also sometimes find detailed genealogy tables for a family of characters in the book. There are many ways to build a world. Select the ones that work for you and your story.

5. Set yourself up for success

It’s easy to say that you want to write your novel. It’s another matter altogether to create a plan to actually do it. I’m reminded of the “Just Do It” motivational video that circulated a few years ago. There’s some truth in that statement. Sometimes you just need to bypass all the distractions that inevitably will crop up and decide that you’re going to complete your book. However, there are a few things you can do to set yourself up for success.

Find a comfortable spot to write your novel

find a good place to write your novelThis might be your bed or your dining room table. It might be a lawn chair in your back yard. Or it could be a bench at a nearby park. It helps to have a steady and established spot, where you know what to expect in the environment. Comfort is important. Make sure your seat is comfortable, giving you the back support you need.

Your space should be as free from distraction as possible. Definitely don’t put yourself at the center island of your kitchen when the children are all home and running around. You’ll get interrupted in multiple ways. Ideally you have a room where you can close the door (and maybe lock it).

Find your writing time

When I was younger, I did my best work at midnight. Honestly, I couldn’t think with doing anything meaningful before 10am. Nowadays, I like to write in the mornings. I have  three kids and find that I write the best before everyone gets up. 6am is a great time!

I recommend selecting the right time of day for you, then working consistently at that time every day. If you’re serious about writing a book, you’ll need to put in at least one hour. Remember, it takes a while to get into the groove, so giving yourself a 20-minute window will just be an exercise in frustration.

Set realistic targets

Some people might find it more productive to set a word-count writing target each week than a time goal. If you are a daydreamer by nature, time targets won’t help. After all, sitting in front of your laptop building castles in the air for thirty minutes isn’t going to help you write your novel.

So, how many words should you plan to write a day? That really depends on you. You can estimate that 250 words is about a page, so I’d encourage you to write a few pages each day. When I get going (and I’m well set up with an outline), I tend to max out at 5,000 words. After that, it becomes an unintelligible jumble of syllables.

Set a daily, a weekly, and a monthly target. Also, decide on a final deadline for your book. Then make those targets, or better yet, beat them!

 

Being a mother of three children, I’m a planner at heart. I believe that if you really want to write your novel, you need to properly prepare and follow through with the targets you establish. Set yourself up for success and don’t accept failure as an option. If you’re embarking on your first book and want a few tips, please check out my blog or write me for advice. I’m always happy to help!

If you’re interested in hiring a ghostwriter, please check out my book: Your Guide to Hiring a Ghostwriter.

How can I best help you?

    World Building: One Step At a Time

    World Building in Star Angel by David McDanielAre you interested in world building? If you’re writing a novel, this skill set is a must.

    Today I’m pleased to bring you a guest post from author, David G McDaniel. Dave writes in the sci-fi genre, with two book series to his credit.

    His latest, a pentalogy (5 books), is the young adult series, Star Angel. Star Angel follows a girl on modern Earth and a boy from another world as they’re thrown into a fight for their lives, only to discover they may both be connected to events in the distant past far more epic than either can imagine.

    As with any sci-fi or fantasy story, David faced a certain amount of world building in order to create Star Angel. Any time imaginary worlds are used as settings, when advanced technologies are introduced, when fictional races and governments become the backdrop, the author must build a new universe of rules

    As the complexity of the story increases, more world building is required.

    World building lays critical elements of your fictional world, which then gives you a strong framework on which to hang the rest of the story. I asked Dave to share his thoughts and experiences, when it comes to this important foundation of the story.

    Happily he agreed to be my guest…

    Hello & Welcome

    Thanks to the Friendly Ghostwriter for having me. And thanks for the introduction! Laura, you’re awesome (insert smiley emoji here). Today, as mentioned, I’d like to talk a little about world building.

    Most sci-fi and Fantasy writers do world building, some more than others, and in fact there have been heated debates about how much is needed.

    I recently watched a video interview with George RR Martin, the author of “The Song of Ice and Fire” (Game of Thrones) where he was talking about the degree to which he builds out the underlying foundation — the world, the universe — for his characters and stories. He mentioned that there was another author (can’t recall his name) who was of the opinion that world building was overrated.

    Martin was (rightly, I believe) disputing that view, pointing out the fact that the other guy’s stories had major slips in continuity. If memory serves, the other author believed the story was all that mattered and the rest was a waste of time.

    In his opinion, the story would take care of itself.

    I couldn’t disagree more.

    World Building

    World building for a science fiction bookWorld building is important. I can tell you from experience the story does not take care of itself, and without a clear idea of how everything fits, your characters end up living in a vague space with no real definition and, consequently, no guidelines for their actions.

    Imagine a game (your story) played with no field, no rules, no setting, no guidelines — no world, basically. With you just making it up as you go along.

    What kind of game would that be?

    An unsatisfying one, that’s for sure.

    With no creation of a world, your reader will feel disconnected from the story. They will be left with the feeling that anything could change on a whim at any moment.

    But, you might be wondering, isn’t that what a story is? Something that could change at any moment?

    Well, a story, yes. Of course and absolutely. But not the world. You don’t wing it, merrily making it up as you go, when it comes to the world. If you do, your readers will never be able to become fully invested in the story you’re trying to tell. That approach can create a sort of low-level vertigo with your audience.

    Like life, a story needs a setting in which to exist.

    My First Rodeo

    I’ll admit to you that with my first series (not Star Angel, but one called the Saga of Ages) I had to stop early on and take the time to flesh out the full history and universe in which my characters were playing. I just kept getting hung up on all sorts of details.

    This was my first time writing a series. Every time I tried to advance the story, I found that I kept going back to figure out the elements of the world that were influencing the actions of my characters. Finally, I realized what I had to do.

    There needed to be something consistent to hang it all together.

    That was my epiphany. My big realization. Instead of dreaming up the universe as I went, I needed to put the story on pause, go back and create the elements of the world first.

    Duh.

    Once that realization hit me I felt a profound sense of relief.

    By the time I was done, the write-up of my world turned out to be 60 pages. I had sketches, pictures, references, galactic maps and more. I covered everything from past races to current governments, along with the framework and mechanics that made everything click.

    When I wrote Star Angel I knew to begin the process with a lot of research about that world I created an historical timeline from 100,000 years before the stories take place, along with write-ups for all major events. I call it the “Star Angel Companion”.

    No one will probably ever read it.

    Earth is easier

    Using Earth for World Building is easyAt the end of the day world building is a selfless thing. You’re doing it to save everyone’s sanity, not least of all your own. It helps. Greatly.

    Especially in a fictional world.

    Writers of stories in a modern or historical setting have it a bit easier, as their “world” is pre-built for them. Stories that take place right here on Earth, in the “real” world, have our entire existence to draw from. It’s the world we know. For instance, we all know the details of World War I. It’s there for anyone to access, and we all know exactly how it shaped our modern world and how it might lead to any character motivations.

    That’s a huge advantage for any author and his readers. Everyone knows the world we live in.

    This isn’t always the case if you’re creating a fictional universe. Depending on how “fictional” your universe is (is it a slightly alternate version of Earth? Or is it Star Wars fictional?), you may not be able to draw much from our shared reality at all.

    That means you must craft your own.

    A Few Ideas

    For your story to work you need to at least have the basic elements defined. If you don’t your characters will be swimming in an ocean with no direction and no land.

    World building is important. Did I say that already?

    Here are some components you might consider taking the time to define for your story:

    • Maps
    • Historical data
    • Beliefs
    • Legends and prophecies
    • Races and their cultures
    • Lineages and hierarchies
    • The physics of the planet
    • Rules of magic (and other fantastic knowledge)
    • Languages
    • Technologies
    • Governments

    Now, keep in mind, you may never use many of these factors in your story. But when you do, because you’ve got it all laid out, interconnected, it becomes very easy to write and your readers can easily lose themselves in what’s really important.

    The story.

    It’s Your Universe

    Stan Lee, of Marvel fame, once said:

    “The best way to rule a universe is to create it.”

    Great quote. Great dude.

    Take the time to flesh out your world, your back stories, your historical motivations and all else that shapes the universe in which your characters live. This can be work, no doubt. But the reward will become clear the further you forge into your story, when you see how easily things hang together, how well the pieces fit, and how much what your characters are doing makes sense.

    Doing so ensures continuity. It removes distractions for the reader. And, if you take the time early on, it most definitely makes it easier in the long run for you, the writer.

    Thanks again for having me.

    As always, keep writing!

    If you’d like to learn more about writing a book, here are some articles for you to read:

    Write and Publish a Book 

    How to Write Three-Dimensional Characters

    Help! Help! I Need Help Writing a Book

     

     

     

    How to Find a Theme for Your Memoir

    What is your theme for a memoir?When most people sit down to write their life story, they usually don’t contemplate literary elements. After all, isn’t a memoir simply a series of events that happened in real life? While that’s true, you still need to follow the rules of writing. You must find a theme for your memoir. This theme is the fundamental idea that ties your story together.

    Over the years, I’ve discovered several approaches that might help you find your theme:

    Look for obstacles you have overcome

    Overcoming obstacles to win against all odds is a favorite theme in books and film. Most memoirs involve a triumphant victory over a major life hurdle. This makes for a great theme because the readers can root for you while identifying with the theme as it relates to their own life.

    Perhaps you battled a major illness and came out the other side healthy. Or maybe you had a particularly challenging childhood and found success through forgiveness. Through sharing your experiences and achievements, you can inspire others to take action and make changes in their lives for the better.

    Find lessons you’ve learned

    Your readers might identify with the life lessons you have learned along the road to success. As you write your memoir, you’ll probably reveal a few personal imperfections along the way. If these flaws resolve as your story unfolds, these could become a powerful theme for your memoir.

    For instance, one client of mine realized she’d been a little too trusting of unsavory characters and learned to stand on her own two feet by the end of her book. Other themes that might come from life lessons could include realizing that complacency won’t help you achieve your goals or that sometimes you need to face evil head-on to survive.

    Summarize your story in a few lines

    Ask what is the story about to find your memoir themeA writing mentor once advised me to answer the question What is my story about? before beginning the outlining phase. This direction was incredibly helpful to me as a budding writer because it pointed me in the direction of a good theme for my book.

    This question should always be answered in a few lines, like an elevator pitch. Keep it short and sweet. From this, you can often glean your theme. For instance, if your pitch is about how you managed to escape a suppressive government, your theme might be how perseverance overcomes all odds.

    I find that when I drill down to the core of the meaning of the book, I can find a theme easily.

    Ask for help

    If you’re too close to the story, it can be hard to pick out the theme on your own. In that case, you might try sharing your history with others and get their feedback. Getting that outside perspective can be invaluable to finding the unifying idea.

    In addition, you might discover a few truths that you hadn’t uncovered before. I remember working with an elderly client who had become a successful entrepreneur. After a few in-depth interviews with me, he realized that the teacher he’d idolized as a child was, in fact, a serpent in disguise, denigrating and abusing his students. As we continued to talk, we discovered other destructive people who had caused him difficulties throughout his life. These conversations brought out a powerful theme for his memoir.

     

    Finding a theme for your memoir doesn’t have to be difficult. Simply look for the universal ideas and takeaways you want you reader to receive. Once you have a theme for your memoir, you might just find that the words flow effortlessly as you share your life story with your readers.

    If you’re interested in hiring a ghostwriter, check out my book: Your Guide to Hiring a Ghostwriter.

    How May I Help You?

      Your Story Is Important

      Your story is important. Write your book!

      I believe that every person has at least one good book in them. That project might be an exciting life story, a memoir, a fictional piece, or a family history. Over the last twenty years, I’ve helped dozens of clients share their incredible stories. Sharing your story is important to me.

      You might be surprised to learn that out of the nearly eight billion people on this blue-green planet only 44,000 are published authors. That means that only an infinitesimal percentage of people realize their dream of seeing their books in the hands of readers.

      Let’s see if we can improve that statistic!

      How to begin

      While there are many steps to writing a book, I’d say the first is the most important. Begin with a firm decision to write your book within a year. When this step is completed, you will need to muster the courage (yes, courage) to see your dream through to the end. Whatever you do, don’t allow the many distractions of the world to hinder your progress. Remember, your story is important.

      I find that it helps if you create a schedule that you can keep. Ideally, find a time each day to write. I also encourage you to find a calm, comfortable, and stable writing space where you won’t be interrupted.

      Information Gathering

      Research your book because your story is importantThe next step is a crucial one. Before you take off putting thousands of words on paper, you need to research your topic. Collecting data can take different forms depending upon your genre. Within your notes, include your purpose for writing your book as well as your intended readership.

      If you’re writing nonfiction, take copious notes as you research the various topics you plan to cover. This will avoid confusion and frustration later. Make sure to record your sources so you can refer to them later. Dig deep. You really can’t have too many notes for your book.

      For a memoir you’d want to consider the incidents that made up your past, as well as the details about the environments and characters that will fill your book.

      For a fictional work, your research would include details on any real-world historical accounts mentioned or real locations featured. If your book takes place on a completely unknown planet that has nothing to do with any of Earth’s logic, you need to build a new world. Check out my article on World Building to learn more.

      Note: When you are embarking on a writing adventure, it’s very important that you continue to read books you enjoy that are in the genre you wish to write. You can learn a lot by studying other people’s writing. It’s a bit like when you were just learning the how to speak: the more you listened, the more you got the hang of the language.

      Now Get Writing!

      Before you dive into writing, create a detailed outline. That way you won’t get lost, stray from your purpose, or forget any of the minor plot lines or incidents in your masterpiece. Your story is important. Keep on track.

      With the outline in hand, it’s time to start putting pen to paper or fingers to your keyboard. Focus on banging out a first draft. Follow your outline and your book should flow naturally.

      As you write, don’t edit. Just write. And write. And write. Keep the words flowing. I like to record the number of words that I write per day so I can do my best to beat the previous day’s word count. Yes, I’m a bit competitive.

       

      Once you have your first draft completed, you can begin to edit. Check out my detailed article on How to Edit Your Own Book for instruction on that phase. For now, pat yourself on the back for getting your first draft completed. Well done!

      If you’re interested in hiring a ghostwriter, check out my book: Your Guide to Hiring a Ghostwriter.

      How to Conquer Writer’s Block

      Writer's block can be frustratingYou stare at a fresh, new document in frustration, but the words just won’t come. No matter how hard you try, you just can’t get your fingers to perform the chorus of taps you need. You are experiencing something very common for even the most seasoned authors. Writer’s block.

      These two little words evoke fear in the hearts of many brave warrior writers, causing them to spiral down into a swirl of anxiety and self-doubt. It’s a writer’s worst nightmare.

      While some claim that there is no such thing as “writer’s block,” the fact is that if you’re reading this article, you probably feel it’s real and that’s enough for me. Perhaps your well of inspiration has run dry. It isn’t “all in your head” and it isn’t an imagined curse.

      The good news is that there is a remedy.

      How do you conquer writer’s block? Think of writing in terms of flow—a steady, continuous stream of ideas being put into a document. Now, sometimes a flow can get stuck, just like a river can be stopped by a variety of blockades.

      So what is the solution?

      Remove the barrier and get the flow moving again. Start by writing something, anything.

      Write something, anything

      My main remedy for writer’s block is to write.

      writer's block can be handled by priming the pumpIf your creative well is dry, then you may need to prime the pump. Simply flowing words onto paper might just unstick you and pull you out of the stagnant doldrums.

      Find something you can write about very easily and just let yourself go. Don’t think about your current project. Your job is to simply get words out so you can get the river of words flowing again.

      A few ideas

      If you have writer’s block, here are a few suggestions:

      • Compose an old-fashioned letter or an email to a close friend. Share a recent experience you know she’d enjoy. Feel free to wax poetic.
      • Write in a personal journal you know no one will ever see.
      • Pen an article for a blog, sharing advice with your readers about something you know a lot about. If you don’t have a blog, now is a good time to start one.

      Even short pieces can help you get back into the swing of writing. You can write out a detailed to-do list, post messages on your favorite social media sites, jot down notes for your roommate or spouse, etc.

      It really doesn’t matter what you write, so long as you put words on paper. Remember, writers write.

      It’s in their blood.

      It’s in your blood.

      Note: It’s worth mentioning that reading can also help you write. If you’re stuck, try reading a book you really enjoy. You may become inspired!

      Plotters versus pantsers

      I’ve recently learned that in the writing world there are “plotters” and “pantsers.” Yeah, this was news to me, too. These terms describe authors who “plot” out an outline or those who “fly by the seats of their pants” and develop their story as they go.

      In case we haven’t met, Hi, I’m Laura Sherman the Friendly Ghostwriter, a dyed-in-the-wool plotter. I blog a lot about how to outline a book. I can’t even begin to write a short story without a detailed road map of where I’m going. It would be a hot mess. I’d be a hot mess.

      I realize that not everyone is a plotter. Many great writers are pantsers. That’s fine. Some of my best friends are pantsers.

      However, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that you can always switch from one method to the other mid-stream. It doesn’t mean you have to give up your membership card to your team. No, if you are a pantser, you can secretly plot out the rest of the book and see if that helps you steer your way out of your writer’s block. Or, if you are a plotter, you can diverge from your outline to free flow a section just to get your creative juices going.

      Plotters, adjust your outline

      Writer's block can be helped through using a good outlineNow, if you’re a plotter like me and you find that you’re stuck, it could be that the writer’s block you’re experiencing is simply your common sense saying that you’ve headed in the wrong direction. If the words don’t fly off the keyboard, go back and make sure you’re on board with the direction of the story. It can be an easy fix; just make some adjustments to your outline.

      A book can be boiled down to a series of incidents. I often create my outline by listing all the events that will occur in chronological order. However, where an outline can fail is when the purpose of each individual incident isn’t specified or understood.

      With fledgling writers, I’ve found this to be a common problem. They’ve created a spectacular scene, but ultimately discover that it really has no purpose in the book they are creating. It just doesn’t tie into their themes.

      If this happens to me, I toss it from the current project and save it in a file for future use in a different story.

      As a side note, if you find that you’re bored with a scene, but it is vital for your story, just sketch it out and move on. You can spice it up in editing. Your immediate goal is to get a good rough draft under your belt.

      Keep in mind that it’s a first draft

      I’ve seen too many new writers spiral into vortex of self-invalidation regarding their first drafts when they write a book. One of the biggest pieces of advice I have for them is to just bang out the first draft and don’t edit.

      Your first draft is the rough draft. The goal is to get your ideas out of your head and onto the page.

      The first draft won’t be perfect.

      It might even be ugly.

      That’s okay.

      Save editing for the editing stage of the process. Don’t edit as you write. The first draft should have tons of typos and errors. Mine always are littered with them.

      You write, you fix, you write, you edit, you write, you go back three pages and re-read it all, maybe even deleting whole paragraphs.

      You sit back and ask, “Is it perfect?”

      No.

      Ack! Now what? Stop writing.

      woman has writer's block because she edits too muchIf this is what’s happening with you, it could explain your “writer’s block.” The above scenario can become very choppy very quickly, because the sequence of actions is confused. You should write, write, write, write the first draft until it is complete. Then, and only then, do you take out the proverbial red pen and edit. Or hire an outside editor to help you. I’ve written an article about the different kinds of editors you might consider hiring. There are quite a few.

      Yes, writing a book calls for a leap of faith. So, close your eyes, let go of any preconceived notions, and just start typing. You’ll be amazed at what may come to you if you just allow yourself to create.

      Can’t find the right word?

      If you’re stuck on finding the exact word or phrase to describe something, don’t obsess over it. Sure, Google the word for synonyms or pull out your trusty thesaurus, but if nothing really works, put down something as a place holder and move on.

      Personally, if a word eludes me, I know it won’t be for long. When I move away from it, it never fails to pop into my mind, sometimes in the shower. It’s kind of the same with recalling names:

      Who was that woman at the party with the cheese plate?

      You know, the one with brown hair and glasses…

      Gladys, no.

      Judy, no.

      Then, a little bit later, while I’m washing the dishes…bam! It comes to me. It was Sarah Jones.

      So, whatever you do, please don’t waste hours staring at the blank screen, trying to retrieve the exact right phrasing now. It will come to you. Later.

      Surround yourself with supportive people

      Don't listen too critics too muchSometimes writer’s block goes deeper than the writing process. Some writers fall prey to their “inner critic,” which is basically the voice inside your head telling you that what you’re doing is not good enough. Being blunt, critics aren’t my favorite class of people.

      If you’re taking on the role of your worst critic, it can paralyze you to the point where you can’t write at all. There is absolutely no benefit to cutting yourself into shreds. Show your inner critic to the door of your mind and ask it to leave.

      One very real cause of writer’s block can derive from peers who discredit your abilities. If you have helpful friends who jokingly tell you, “Hey, Joe, don’t quit your day job!” this can be damaging to you as a writer. The only purpose of such comments is to get you to stop writing. Don’t seek advice from these people. Surround yourself with supportive people who have your best interests at heart, people who want to see you succeed.

      This isn’t to say that constructive criticism isn’t very helpful to a new (or an experienced) writer. Every writer can always improve and grow. I personally LOVE it when some kind soul writes in to tell me I have a typo in a blog article or gives me tips on my writing. It’s quite wonderful!

      When you’re trying to sort out whether someone’s feedback is helpful or not, the trick is to look at the intention behind the comment and really observe how it makes you feel. That will help you figure out where to file the suggestion. If the critique leaves you feeling good about yourself, listen to it. If you feel like you’re a poser who should never write again, toss the advice and the friend.

      Final thoughts

      As a writer you are engaged in one of the most amazing activities in the world: creating. It’s a wonderful and impressive ability that you have!

      Now, that’s not to say that writing isn’t hard work. It has its challenges.

      Writer’s block can be a bump in the road. But rest assured that it is a small bump that can be handled fairly smoothly. With a bit of experimentation, you can find the actions that will help turn things around. And if the remedy works once, it will probably work again. Soon, there will be no stopping you.

      If you need advice or help in the area of writer’s block, please don’t hesitate to email me!

      Additional articles you might find helpful:

      Help! Help! I Need Help Writing a Book!

      How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Ghostwriter

      What to Expect In an Interview with a Ghostwriter

      How to Write Great Dialogue

      How Can I Help With Your Writer’s Block?

        Problems Writers Face and Their Solutions

        solutions to problems writers faceHave you been interested in completing a book that has been on the backburner for years? If you don’t do something differently, you’ll be in the same boat in 2035. You really need to fully examine the situation. While it is true that there are numerous problems writers face, the good news is there are good solutions.

        In this article, my goal is to help you complete the first draft of your novel or memoir. I’m not going to address the marketing problems or issues of rejection and criticism.

        Let’s get your book finished first.

        Over the last twenty years, hundreds of authors have written me sharing the main problems writers face. Here are my thoughts on what you can do if you have these challenges.

        I’m too busy to write

        Problem: You have a full time job or are an entrepreneur. You have a great idea for a story but just don’t have the time to write each day. How do you fit in the hundreds of hours you know it will take to complete your book?

        Solution: Well, there are two solutions. One is you just carve out the time and make it work. Reorganize your life to fit in an hour a day to write (this gives you time to get set up and end off). In order to accomplish this, many writers get up a little earlier each day. For me, mornings are an ideal time to write.

        The second solution is to hire someone to help you. You might hire a partner, consultant, or ghostwriter. Whichever option appeals to you, you will need to pay upfront for the help. No one can donate their time for a percentage of the profits from the sale of your book.

        If you’re interested in my help, please feel free to contact me and we’ll arrange for a consultation.

        No end in sight

        no end in sight, a problems writers faceProblem: You’ve been working on this book for years and there is no end in sight. When a writer can’t complete their first draft, the problem almost always is a faulty outline (or a lack of one). There is no roadmap and therefore the author often gets lost. Which way is true north?

        Solution: Stop writing the first draft and create a detailed outline. Structuring your story (or memoir) is key to success. If you need help hitting the beats (or elements) required for good storytelling, please feel free to contact me for a one-hour consultation.

        Need more time to research

        Problem: Research is an integral part of any novel or memoir. The authenticity of the piece is what will compel the reader forward, engrossing them in your story. However, some writers get lost in the research phase and never begin writing. That’s a huge problem.

        Solution: Recognize when you done enough research to properly build the world of your novel or memoir. Your next step is outlining and then you should begin writing your first draft. Understand that as you write, you will naturally continue to research. For me, researching continues through even the editing phase. So don’t feel you need to have all the research done before you begin to write.

        Shiny objects around you

        distractions writers faceProblem: When you sit down to write, it’s very easy to get distracted. Checking email, Facebook, news, etc. are all popular diversions available 24/7. In addition, interruptions from family members and calls from friends can make writing seem impossible. The hour you’ve set aside to write disappears quickly.

        Solution: Allow yourself uninterrupted writing time each day. Find a nook in your home or outside where no one will disturb you. Turn off your internet and cell phone. Without the distractions you should find yourself much more productive.

        Too many potholes

        Problem: You’ve written over 30,000 words, but don’t feel like continuing. You are more than halfway done, but just don’t feel that spark to write anymore. What happened? You’ve gotten off track and need to discover where you took an incorrect turn.

        Solution: If you have a good, detailed outline in hand, revisit it and make sure all your elements are there. Analyze it carefully to see if something doesn’t feel right about the storyline. Contact me if you need a sounding board. I can usually spot the problem within an hour consultation.

        If you don’t have an outline that’s the problem. Writing by the seat of your pants can be fun and thrilling, but one of the hazards inherent in this way of writing is that you can find yourself on a bumpy road that needs some major construction work to fill in potholes. The reason you don’t want to write anymore is probably because the story has a major flaw. Go back and put in the time to outline; the solution should pop into view. Be prepared to do some rewrites.

        I’m bored

        Problem: You’ve been writing your book for years and find the whole story line boring now. You wonder if anyone will actually want to read your book. Finding the time to finish the project gets harder and harder with each passing week or month.

        Solution: Get some feedback. It’s possible that your story (or the main characters within it) have flatlined. If you’d like my input, I’m happy to help. You can hire me on an hourly basis to review your story and give you feedback and advice.

        I just don’t feel like writing today

        being uninspired; problems writers faceProblem: Taking one day off from writing isn’t a red flag, but if you find that you feel uninspired to write day after day, that isn’t a good sign. As I’ve mentioned a few times, make sure you have a good roadmap before you start. However, if your outline is good, but you are uninspired, I have an idea for you.

        Solution: Some writers feel bored and uninspired if they know exactly where the story is going. They don’t feel like continuing because they know all the nuances of the piece. One trick to keep yourself engaged is to leave off at a cliffhanger after each writing session. Don’t conclude the scene but leave it for the next day. Yes, I stole this idea from Scheherazade, who stayed alive night after night by telling her husband parts of an exciting adventure, making sure to leave off before its conclusion. For me, this keeps the process exciting.

        I’m too tired to write

        Problem: You sit down to write but feel exhausted after the day’s events. The kids were screaming over who got the purple dish with the bunny or your boss asked you to stay late to do extra tasks because your coworker was out sick again. These are problems writers face every day and leave one feeling wholly uninterested in writing one’s book.

        Solution: Take the time to take care of yourself. A writer expends calories doing mental exercises like writing (about 60 – 100 calories per hour). You need to eat properly and get enough sleep, or you won’t write well. In addition, make sure you are getting physical exercise. Swimming, running, or even walking will help increase your energy, which will make you a better writer. For me, I love to take a two-mile walk each day. I listen to Audibles, which keeps me doubly inspired.

         

        If you find I’ve missed problems writers face, please feel free to write me. I’m here to help you. And if you’d like a consultation, please fill in the form below so that I can reach out and set up a time to assist you.

        How Can I Help You?

          Memoir Mistakes You Should Avoid

          Avoid crucial memoir mistakes when writing your bookMemoirs are an extremely popular genre with readers. Why? I think that’s because so many people love to step into the shoes of another person and learn about their world for a few hours. However, it’s important to understand that readers will put your book down if you fall into certain traps and commit basic memoir mistakes.

          If you are new to this genre, your first step should be to really understand what a memoir is and how to structure this kind of book. Really embrace this style of writing and focus on your memoir themes. This will save you a lot of frustration in writing and marketing your book.

          What is a memoir?

          A memoir is a very personal story, told by the author from his or her viewpoint, which shares a certain period in the author’s life. While it can be confused with an autobiography, it actually has a different feel. An autobiography reads more like a biography but is told from the author’s perspective. It typically commences with the author’s birth and spans through their entire life. This book a bit more clinical in style, whereas a memoir is all about emotion.

          Reading memoirs allows us to delve deeply into the lives of people who have done something remarkable in their lives. Perhaps they overcame incredible odds to reach success in some aspect of their life, or they fought an illness and survived, or maybe they lived through an extraordinary moment of history. We can learn so much about others and ourselves through memoirs.

          Popular Types of Memoirs

          Within the memoir genre there are a host of categories to choose from. Of course, there is bound to be some overlap, but here are a few options to consider when writing your memoir:

          Transformational stories

          Stories of transformation can be popular memoir themes

          As a ghostwriter, these are my favorite memoirs to write. These are the stories where the author has overcome some great obstacle in life and wishes to share the details of his or her redemption or recovery. This can encompass overcoming an illness such as cancer, surviving a traumatic childhood to achieve success as an adult, recovering from an addiction, leaving a country with an oppressive government to flourish in a new place, or the classic rags to riches story, which can take many forms.

          Success in business stories

          When you talk to most successful entrepreneurs, you’ll discover they faced numerous daunting obstacles as they climbed the ladder to victory. People in power will often tell you that they failed many times before they figured out how to make it. They wish to share the lessons they learned and their triumph with others, and a memoir is a natural vehicle for their story. This type of memoir is also a favorite of mine (and there is often crossover with the transformational memoir).

          Travel stories

          Some memoirs take the reader on a journey through an exotic land, sharing all the details of that location. These stories usually encompass another theme, so they aren’t only about the new foods the author ate or the striking vistas he or she viewed. Rather, they are usually about a spiritual, emotional, or transformational journey for the author as well.

          Memoir Mistakes

          After talking to hundreds of first-time authors, I’ve discovered there are some common misconceptions about how to write a memoir. If you’re considering writing your life story, you’ll want to avoid these very basic memoir mistakes. Don’t worry, they are easy to sidestep.

          Memoir Mistake Number 1: Focusing on the trivial rather than the big picture

          Do you need help writing a book?

          When you write your memoir, you aren’t recording your life’s trivial events in detail. This is high on the list of memoir mistakes because your readers are not interested in what you ate at each meal or which bus you took to work. Toss most of the trivia and focus on the big picture.

          This is fairly easy to do. Before you begin writing your memoir, ask yourself, “What can the reader learn from reading my story?” You might need to dig deep and really mine for the gold that’s there. The lessons you have learned over the years will form the backbone of your book.

          It might help to zero in on a theme. This will provide focus. There are a wide variety of great memoir themes to choose from. Here are just a few examples:

          • Hard work pays off
          • Self-pity is a trap
          • A positive outlook helps you attain your goals
          • Change can be a good thing
          • Life is too short not to forgive

          When you determine what your book’s theme is, your next step will be to find incidents that illustrate these ideas for your readers. Of course, you wouldn’t want to come out and tell your readers what the theme might be within the pages of your memoir.

          Instead, you should show your readers your message through the incidents of your book. Delve into the emotional sacrifices, mistakes and triumphs to share the journey you took. They’ll get the message!

          Memoir Mistake Number 2: Covering your entire life rather than focusing on a specific time period

          Remember, you’re not writing a school essay or an autobiography. A typical memoir mistake for new authors is to want to start at birth and move forward chronologically. You’re writing a memoir, which will focus on a certain period, one that would fascinate a reader and teach him or her something new about an area of life. It’s a slice of your life, rather than the whole pie.

          Now, it’s worth noting that a memoir is usually not written in diary form. Journaling can be a wonderful and beautiful expression of one’s deepest thoughts, but it usually doesn’t translate directly into a book. For one thing, the target reader of a diary is, well, you; a memoir is usually written for others to read. Having said that, one client recently hired me to help her compile her life story into a book that she could then have and read. If you are the sole target reader, you should write your book the way you would like to read it.

          If you hire a ghostwriter to write your memoir, keep in mind that diaries always have a strong place in the research of a memoir. Having been a professional ghostwriter for twenty years, I can tell you that a client’s diary is a rich source of color when I write a memoir for a client.

          Memoir Mistake Number 3: Not considering the feelings of the real people mentioned in your book

          It's a memoir mistake not to consider the feelings of others when writing your book

          Memoirs are not a good avenue for retribution for past wrongs done to you. Writing a book for revenge is a sharp-edged weapon which can do permanent damage. Besides being a morally questionable action to take, remember that you can open yourself up to lawsuits.

          When you write your memoir, you can’t avoid discussing the lives of the people around you. They will become the main characters in your book. Sure, you can change the attributes a bit—maybe alter the name of the grouchy neighbor or make the schoolteacher a brunette instead of a blond. These minor modifications can go a long way to hide the characters in your book.

          However, it will be impossible to completely conceal certain pivotal people in your life. For instance, your parents or siblings will recognize themselves.

          The safest approach would be to ask all your friends and relatives who might be in your book how they feel about that. If they agree to be featured in your memoir, take the additional step and ask them to sign a release. You can find examples of a legal release online. If any friend or family member refuses to sign, it might be best to keep them out of your memoir.

          The bottom line is that whenever you put something in writing, it becomes permanent. While you might feel fine with airing your family’s dirty laundry today, will you be all right with it two years from now? How about twenty years? To avoid these memoir mistakes, it’s best to write about everyone in a good light now to prevent potential upsets later.

          Memoir Mistake Number 4: Writing for every reader rather than focusing on a specific demographic

          It is a memoir mistake to write for every reader; pick a demographic.

          When I’m working with a first-time author, I’ll ask who the ideal reader might be. Many times a client will say, “all readers.” Writing for “everyone” is high on the list of memoir mistakes because you need to pinpoint a demographic and write to them. The more specific you can get, the better.

          • Consider that you might be at a dinner party. You have a story to share, something amusing that happened to you last year. How would you share that anecdote? I would imagine that you’d tell it differently if you were visiting the White House, seated with dignitaries, than if you were sitting with your bowling buddies or your teenage children. You’d use different vocabulary and your tone would probably change a bit. That’s because you’d want to create the biggest impact with your storytelling; you’d want your audience to receive your communication on a level that they would enjoy.

          So when you write, you need to keep your specific type of reader in mind, as if they were in front of you. Of course, even though you’re writing to that reader, that doesn’t mean others won’t enjoy your book. You may accidentally discover a new category of reader as you begin to market and sell your book.

           

          When you write your memoir, it can offer your readers a peek into your soul and universe. They will relish this. Memoirs are an important genre of the literary world. Just avoid the common memoir mistakes and you might just make a difference in someone’s life.

          Enjoy the journey!

          Check out these additional resources:

          Write and Publish Your Book

          How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Ghostwriter?

          Your Guide to Hiring a Ghostwriter

           

          How can I help you write your memoir?

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            How to Create a Compelling Character Arc

            Your protagonist needs a powerful character arcBestselling novels and memoirs have believable and memorable characters who carry the reader through the story. Think of your favorite books. Consider the main characters. They probably followed a compelling character arc, which encouraged you to follow them loyally and happily on their adventures.

            What is a character arc?

            A character arc is the journey the character follows through the story. This path usually parallels a traditional three-act structure. As you develop the first act, your reader is introduced to your main characters. The stage is set, a conflict is established, and the main character’s goals are revealed. After that, the protagonist encounters an incident that compels her to begin her journey. This catapults her into the second act, where she follows her personal call to action. Then in the third act, she encounters the climactic confrontation and has her triumphant victory.

            There are four main kinds of character arcs used in literature:

            • Transformational
            • Positive
            • Flat
            • Negative

            Transformational and positive arcs are somewhat similar. At the start of the story the character is in an unfavorable situation, but, by the end of the story he winds up in a far better position. Flat character arcs have no change. The character stays the same throughout the story. This type of arc is usually reserved for superhero-type protagonists, because they don’t need to change. They start out good and end up good. It’s worth noting that often minor characters don’t change much. In a negative arc the character ends up in a worse position than when he started.

            As a ghostwriter, I specialize in transformational or positive character arcs because I feel strongly that these make for a better reading experience. Although stories like Breaking Bad, where the main character becomes a meth dealer to solve his problems, can be very popular, they aren’t my cup of tea. I prefer to stick with uplifting plot lines.

            Positive character arcs

            transformation of a character in a book you writeIf your story has a happy ending, this is probably the character arc you’ll want to choose. A popular example of this would be Harry Potter. He starts his journey as an abused boy, confused by his special abilities. Along the way he blossoms into a confident hero of both the magical and muggle worlds. It’s worth noting that many of the other major characters go through their own arcs.

            If you’re writing a memoir, you are the protagonist of your piece, and your experiences will determine your character arc. Most likely it will be a positive one, otherwise why would you write your book?

            Over the last twenty years I’ve worked on seventeen memoirs. Each one told the story of my client’s fierce battle to overcome nearly impossible odds. These books were successful because the reader believed the characters’ journeys. They could identify with the authors on some level.

            One client shared his story of growing up in an impoverished community which lacked running water and electricity. He had a happy childhood, but there were many challenges and a lot of conflict. As he grew up, he overcame many obstacles. By the end of the book, he found his way to America and became a successful entrepreneur. The story is powerful, riveting, and relatable to many. Not surprisingly, this book is currently being made into a movie.

            A few tips for a successful character arc

            Tip #1: Conflict is key

            You need conflict in your bestselling book!Any story worth reading will start off with a bang (ie: it will throw the protagonist into a heap of trouble early on). Honestly, I always do my best to drop my readers into the deep end of the pool so that they have to tread water to keep up.

            Now, in order to produce this kind of an effect on your reader, you need to create conflict throughout your book. Your main character needs to struggle and fight his way through whatever circumstance life throws at him. Sometimes this conflict can be quiet because perhaps it comes in the form of a disagreement. Or it can be splashy, as the beginning of a war or an invasion. A story without conflict will become a book that collects dust in a forgotten thrift store.

            Tip #2: Develop strong characters

            Your goal is to create a main character your reader will want to follow. This can be difficult if she isn’t well developed. You must introduce your main character to the reader early on and make her intriguing and captivating. Firstly, give her strong characteristics. Then, be clear and certain in your presentation of her attributes and personality.

            I recommend that before you begin writing your first draft, you create bios for each of your major characters. Flesh out their back stories, work out their motivations, and make sure their behaviors are believable. Really understand who they are. Know them just as well as you know your real-life best friends. Once you have realistic three-dimensional characters, you can create compelling arcs for them to follow.

            Tip #3: Show, don’t tell

            Show, don’t tell is a popular phrase among writers. It means that you need to show elements of your story through action rather than through narrative. Keep this in mind as you create your lead character’s transformational arc.

            For instance, how boring would it be if your protagonist announced out of the blue that he planned to turn over a new leaf and stop selling drugs. Where is the conflict and drama? Your character needs a reason to make a change. And you must show that to the reader.

            Tip #4: Determine the correct character arc for your story

            Select the right character arc for your bookBy choice I have never written a book with a negative or flat character arc. But that doesn’t mean that these are not viable options. You will determine the correct path for your character based on your story and the message you wish to impart.

            For instance, if you’re writing a high-action adventure story along the lines of Indiana Jones, it might not work to have your main character undergo too many changes. A flat arc could work. In addition, it’s possible to tell a powerful story with a positive message through a negative arc illustration. The Godfather comes to mind as a good example. Michael Corleone starts out as a good guy, but by the time the door closes at the end of the first movie, you can see that he’s undergone a transformation for the worse.

            Not every character arc needs to see the protagonist through from complete failure to complete success or have a complete one hundred-eighty degree shift in viewpoint. Not every protagonist needs to be an Ebenezer Scrooge who turns from a miserly grump into a philanthropic benefactor by the end. No, the change might be a bit more subtle.

             

            As you work on outlining your book and creating the protagonist for your novel, consider the arc he or she will follow. Choose one that works for the story and the message you wish to write. Create an engaging character and a compelling arc, keeping in mind that you want your readers to relate to and understand them. Using these tips, you will find your readers rooting for your main characters and happily and loyally following them on their adventures.

             

            Seven Steps to Avoid Writing Distractions

            Don't allow distractions from writing to get in your way

            Are you sitting in front of your computer or typewriter, wondering why the words won’t flow? Don’t allow writing distractions to stop you from completing you book.

            If you want to finish your project within a year, you must commit to spending a few hundred hours. That can take forever if you’re piecing together tiny increments of time, spread out over months. If you allow writing distractions to creep in, you’ll find that you will just spend your time reviewing, rather than make forward progress.

            To avoid writing distractions, here are a few tips that might help:

            Step 1: Turn off your Wi-Fi

            Unplugging from the internet will stop you from checking your email, social media feed, or what’s up with your favorite sports team every two minutes. Unless you need the internet to do research, there’s no reason to have your Wi-Fi on. It’s the number one cause of writing distractions for many. You aren’t alone.

            Now, if you need the internet for your word processing program, you can use an app like Freedom, which allows you to block various websites. Sometimes we all need a little help to avoid the temptation of distractions from writing.

            Step 2: Turn off your cell phone

            Cell phones and writing distractions go hand in hand

            When writing, you must give yourself a chunk of time when you won’t be disturbed. When I hear that familiar ping from my cell phone, politely letting me know I have a new text message, it is hard to ignore.

            A ghostwriting client needs me…

            A friend has something important to say…

            My brother has a cute meme to share…

            Remember back to the time before cell phones? We all somehow got along without a barrage of continual communication. Your friends can wait an hour or two while you write.

            My advice is to completely turn your cell phone off while you write. That way you’ll avoid many different forms of writing distractions.

            If you don’t, the temptation to check texts and voice messages might be too great. These interruptions make it difficult to complete a writing task. Even putting the phone on vibrate will interrupt your creative flow. 

            Step 3: Use the tools that are best for you

            You are an artist. There’s no doubt about that. Please don’t be pressured to conform to another writer’s methods. Write in a way that’s most comfortable and productive for you.

            I work best on my laptop using Word. I’ve known writers who prefer working on yellow legal pads, writing long hand. Some like the old fashion feel of a typewriter’s keyboard. 

            There is no “right way” to write.

            The only wrong way is not to write. Whatever works to produce words on a page is correct. 

            Step 4: Find a quiet writing spot

            Avoid distractions from writing

            It’s important that you discover a good, quiet, comfortable place to write. This might be in your car, in a coffee shop, a library, or a nook in your home. Or perhaps you prefer to sit propped up on your bed with lots of pillows for support.

            Find a spot where the distractions are limited. For instance, setting up in the middle of a busy kitchen probably won’t work well.  Likewise, if you walk into a bar where everyone shouts your name upon entry, that might not be the most distraction-free environment for your work.

            If you aren’t sure which spot is best, try different ones. Which locations produce the most number of quality words per hour? 

            Step 5: Eat well, sleep well, take care of yourself

            It’s hard to write well when you’re tired or hungry. Exhaustion and an empty stomach can cause powerful writing distractions. Get a good amount of sleep and eat regular nourishing meals. Keep in mind that while junk food will stop the grumbling in your tummy, it is liable to make you tired, which will result is poor writing. Side note: If you’re fasting, your characters are likely to discuss food more than they should.

            Bottom line, writing is hard work. Take care of yourself. Get a good seven or eight hours of sleep each night.

            It’s worth noting that you do burn calories when you write. Yes, mental activities consumes energy, about fifty calories per hour.

            You might also do some aerobic exercise before writing, as it gets the blood pumping. 

            You know what your body and mind needs! Take good care of yourself and you’ll write a better book.

            Step 6: Prepare ahead of time

            I find that I’m less distracted when I’m well prepared. When the research is completed and I know where I’m going, the words usually flow seamlessly.

            One trick that I’ve learned over the years is to end a writing session mid-scene, especially if I leave off at an exciting cliffhanger. This takes some discipline, as you will probably want to push through and just finish it, but leaving it to the next day will give you something to look forward to. That way, you’ll know exactly what to write, and can embark on the next day’s target with ease.

            If you get carried away and complete the passage, you can still set yourself up for the next day. Put your notes in order and write the first few lines before you end off.

            Step 7: Don’t edit as you write

            After coaching various writers on the craft, I’ve noticed that editing too early is actually a writing distraction. Writers start doubting their ability to write and often stop in the middle of their book. They never pick it back up again.

            While it is fine to review the previous day’s work, don’t fall into the trap of editing before you finish your first draft. I know that can be hard, but remember, you really need to just get words down on paper. As long as you have a good, detailed outline, you’re fine to continue to the completion of that initial draft.

            Editing midway can cause many problems and is usually a complete waste of time. Understand that when you finish your first draft, you’ll be in a different place. You’ll know a lot more about the story, the characters and the plot elements, so that you can do a proper edit. 

            Most writers will do at least some rewrites during the editing phase, so if you start reworking pieces before you complete the first draft, you’re just doubling your work. Just plow forward and plan to correct errors later.

            In conclusion

            Every writer is different and every writer has his or her own process. What works for you might not work for me, and that’s fine. Find the successful actions that help you be as productive as you can be. The best measure of success is progress.

            How many words did you write this week?

            If you need a little help from a ghostwriter, please feel free to email me. We can work together to create your book!

            If you could benefit from my consulting services, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I can assist you on an hourly basis and troubleshoot any problems you might be having.

            Please check out these additional articles and resources:

            Your Guide to Hiring a Ghostwriter

            Memoir Themes

            How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Ghostwriter?

            How Can I Help You?