How Much Does It Cost To Hire A Ghostwriter?

“How much does it cost to hire a ghostwriter?”

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. You peruse the beautiful paintings on the walls and wonder about their cost. 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, you have a rough idea of the expense involved, but what does a ghostwriter charge?

I’ve noticed that some ghostwriters don’t like to tackle this subject on their websites. Maybe they’re worried you’ll just click away when you discover the price. Well, allow me to address the question upfront. I charge one dollar per word to ghostwrite. I mean, why bury the 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

Finding the cost to hire a ghostwriterI need my authors to be available to review pages I send or answer questions that come up as I write. Understand that you’ll need to put in a couple 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 $15,000

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 about $250,000 or more.

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.

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

My Ghostwriting Process: From Start To Finish (VIDEO)

A new author researches my ghostwriting processAuthors looking for help in writing their books often search for ghostwriters on the internet. They want to know all about the process. Makes sense. If you fall into that category, welcome to my blog! Here you’ll find a lot of articles about writing and ghostwriting. This particular article zeroes in on the steps I will take to write your book. I like to be upfront about my ghostwriting process so there are no surprises.

Pre-interview emails

If you’re interested in hiring me as your ghostwriter, your first step will be to fill in my online form to request a quote. I will reply via email with a few questions to determine whether we are a match. After all, this will be a long-term relationship. To that end, we will need to discuss several key elements. Although each client is unique, there are various aspects of my ghostwriting process that hold true for any project.

If you’d like to get a jump-start on that process, please address these points in your initial query:

  • The content of your book
  • The word count you desire
  • Your proposed budget
  • The deadline for the project

When it comes to selecting a project to take on, you should know that I only work on uplifting fictional stories, inspiring memoirs, or nonfiction material that will help others in some way. Though I would be lost writing a romance novel, I do love writing a variety of fiction. Memoirs are my favorite genre; I’ve written dozens over the last two decades. I also really enjoy writing prescriptive (how-to) books. My ghostwriting process is essentially the same for any genre.

With regards to pricing, I charge one dollar per word, so if you’d like a 200-page book written for $20,000, I’m not your writer. However, I may be able to refer you to other writers who might be interested. If I can help you, I will, but I need to know how much you wish to spend.

Deadlines are a vital component of the ghostwriting process. Most books take me a year to write. I can be faster if there is a strong need, but sometimes I need to wrap up a few other projects before I can start a new one. Please let me know what your needs are, and I’ll do my best to accommodate you.

I also recommend that you scan over at least one of the books that I’ve written, which have my name on the cover: Chess Is Child’s Play (nonfiction), Joshua’s Missing Peace (Memoir), or Discovering Kindness (Fiction). That way you can get a feel for my writing.

After this email exchange, if I feel that I am able to become your ghostwriter, I will offer you a free 30-minute consultation. That initial phone call is important so that we can both be sure that we’d make a good writing team.

Our initial interview

What is a ghostwriter? Question mark.Before we chat, it would be a good idea to write down a list of questions that you have about your project. We can go over these so that you have a better understanding of how things work. There are no strings attached. I’ll give you this time for free. Honestly, I want to help you whether you hire me or not.

We will discuss your project in greater detail than we had in our email exchange. However, this isn’t the time to pour out all the details of the story to me. That will come later. Just summarize for now. If I’ve agreed to chat, I feel your project is within my wheelhouse and is worth exploring with you.

I will also want to discuss your goals for this book. As a heads-up, if your primary objective is to make a lot of money, you’ll need a top-notch marketing plan. It’s tough to make a profit as a first-time author, but it helps if you have an existing avenue for selling a book. For instance, if you have a strong online presence, a large mailing list, and an existing store, you’re in a good position to sell your book. Amazon only works if you support your book with one or more of the above tools.

Most of my clients aren’t interested in turning a profit; instead, they have a strong desire to simply publish a book within their lifetime. They have a powerful message they wish to share, and they feel they can do some good for others. Most aren’t looking to make money or recover their expenses. And some only wish to share their story with close friends and family.

Your goals are important to me. Part of my ghostwriting process is to make your goals my own and to make sure they are met.

Signing my contract

Ghostwriting ContractI work on a first-come-first-serve basis. Once you and I have determined that I’m your ghostwriter, the next step will be for you to read over my contract, sign it, and send it back to me with the first payment.

I structure the payments so that you pay the total fee in four installments, each due before the work is to be done. The four milestones are:

  1. The research and outlining phase
  2. The first half of the first draft
  3. The second half of the first draft
  4. The final draft

You and I will determine the milestone deadlines. Each milestone usually takes me three months to complete. Depending on the project, sometimes the research and outlining phase might take a few more months.

It is important to put all our agreements in writing before we start your book so that you and I are clear about the arrangement throughout the project.

Researching your project

When I begin to research your project, I like to collect most of the information in writing. Once I have a foundational understanding of your story, my ghostwriting process will include asking a lot of questions via email. Your answers will allow me to establish a written voice for you. I will also need to speak to you on the phone. By listening to your words and how you phrase things, I gain a deeper insight into how you use language.

I realize that some clients are not confident in their writing ability. So if you are more comfortable chatting with me on the phone, I’ll adjust my ghostwriting process to meet your needs. Although I have my preferences, the client’s needs always trump that.

It’s worth noting that I must also do my own independent research to gain the information needed to write your story. That’s an important part of my ghostwriting process. For instance, if you’re writing a memoir about your time in Hungary in the 50s, I would comb the internet for historical accounts of that time. Or if I’m writing about the ins and outs of running a chain of restaurants, I’d need to make sure I understand the subject well enough to portray it realistically and accurately.

Outlining your book

The path of a bookOnce I have most of the information needed, I’ll put together an outline for you. This will act as our roadmap for our project. The format of this outline varies from client to client, depending on the needs of the author. Some prefer that I summarize the story in a few pages, while others prefer a table of contents outline. Sometimes I use my own technique, where I delineate all the incidents that will form a novel or memoir. I’ve found this to be a workable system since any story is really a series of events.

I feel strongly that the outlining phase is an integral part of my ghostwriting process and contributes greatly to the success of any project. Honestly, it would be a waste of your money if I were to move forward without your agreement as to how the book will be structured and what the precise content would be. I’m not one to drive down a remote road for many miles, unsure if I’m traveling in the correct direction.

Writing the first draft

Writing your first draft is the most time-consuming segment of my ghostwriting process. As mentioned earlier, I divide this phase into two milestones. That means, if you hire me to write a 200-page book (which is approximately 50,000 words), I’ll deliver 25,000 words to you for the second milestone, and the final 25,000 as the third.

While some ghostwriters will only deliver the complete first half of the first draft at the end of that phase, I prefer to get feedback along the way. I wish to consult with you as I write to be sure that you approve of the pieces. This avoids unpleasant surprises.

Editing your manuscript

Proofreading is an important part of my ghostwriting processOnce I have completed the first draft, I will collect all your notes about what you like and don’t like. Then, after I incorporate your changes, I’ll work to polish the manuscript. This is an internal phase of my ghostwriting process, one that doesn’t involve you as much. I need to read over your book a few times, making adjustments to flow, continuity, and style with each read.

Once I’m finished with my edits, I’ll hire an outside editor to do a comprehensive review. I feel strongly that objective eyes should always look at your book before I turn it in as a final draft.

My editor will need at least four weeks with your book. Once I get the notes back from her, she and I will discuss various points. I’ll ask questions and sometimes debate a few issues. But I will make the final call.

When I feel it is as perfect as it can be, I’ll submit the completed manuscript to you.

Publishing

Although I don’t publish, I do know people who can help you prepare your manuscript for self- publication or write a killer proposal to land an agent. I will refer you to them if you wish.

Some people ask me if I have a secret backdoor to agents and publishers. I don’t. Anyone wishing to submit to an agent needs to apply through their official channels. There are no short cuts.

 

Now, this is my ghostwriting process. Over the last twenty years, I’ve talked to a number of ghosts and have observed that each has a different way of handling the various steps of writing a book. Be sure to fully understand any ghostwriter’s process before you hire her. Ask questions and do some research to make sure the book you receive at the end of the undertaking fulfills all your goals.

How to Write Your Family History Book

Family historySomeone in your family needs to become the family historian. That person must record the stories of the individual family members and relay them to the future generations, so they can learn and grow. We all need to know our family history.

When we uncover how a family struggled through hardships to get where they are today, when we really understand their viewpoints, it often answers questions we’ve asked ourselves about them, such as why grandpa responds the way he does or what makes Great Aunt Trudy hold onto certain idiosyncrasies. In addition, this knowledge can also explain our roles in our family and community.

There are many different ways you can preserve family memories. If you have zillions of photographs, perhaps a scrapbook format would work. Some people build and bury a time capsule. Others gather all the recipes handed down through the generations and create a cookbook.

Now, if your family’s story is an action-packed adventure tale, a book is the only way to truly do it justice. I know that writing a book can be quite an undertaking, but it is the surest way to immortalize your family story for the millennia to come. And this is where I come in. When you need help to write your family history in book form, call on me, your friendly ghostwriter.

Here are some tips to you get started.

How to format a family history book

If you’ve decided to write your family history, you might not know where to begin. After all, you have generations of memories and anecdotes to choose from. The first step will be to determine the focus of the book.

Will it center around one ancestor sharing his or her story?

Or will it detail a single event that influenced the course of the entire family?

Or perhaps you want to share multiple viewpoints of a generation that set the stage for the present-day condition of your family.

Once you decide on the focus, the next decision is easier: the type of book to write. No matter which focus you choose, there are really only two main formats open to you:

    • Memoir
    • Narrative

Memoir format

Share your family history though a memoirIf the story highlights one individual sharing an exciting adventure from the annals of her past, you’ll want to choose a memoir format. While other important people will be featured in your book, the story will be told through that one family member’s eyes. It will give the reader insight into her unique viewpoint.

I must say, by far the most common request I receive is to write a memoir. Each book is so different, because each client has his or her own voice, message, and purpose for writing their book.

For instance, one book I wrote a couple of years ago featured a young Jewish girl who needed to separate from her family in Europe and pretend to be a devout Catholic to escape the Nazis. Although the experiences of her brothers and sisters are shared throughout the book, they were told through the eyes of the preteen.

Tip: If you write a book in a memoir format, it will need to be written in the first person. This means that the main character will need to be present in each scene. After all, she couldn’t have experienced the incident if she wasn’t there.

Narrative format

If your family story is more of an ensemble piece, with many different people all playing an equal role, I’d suggest you stick with a narrative format. That way you can pick and choose the stories and people to focus on.

For example, I wrote a story for an author who escaped communist Hungary on foot with his family. Since he was a toddler at the time of the Hungarian Revolution, it didn’t make sense to write it as a memoir. Instead, the story revolved around his parents and older sister, but included him throughout.

Tip: When using a narrative format, you’ll write the book in the third person. Since you’ve chosen this format because you have multiple stories to tell, I’d recommend a multiple third person limited viewpoint (where you alternate between the viewpoints of different characters from segment to segment).

The goals of a family history book

If you find you need help and approach me to write your family history, I will start by giving you an introductory interview. One of my first tasks will be to get your true motivation behind the book project so that I can help you achieve your goals. After all, when I can truly understand my clients’ goals, their objectives become mine and we are able to form a writing team.

Over the years, clients who approach me to write their family’s story, have two main purposes in mind:

      • To share their story with readers around the world
      • To write a book so their children’s children will know what happened

 

write your family history for the future generationsI’ve worked with both goals and love to help families record their history. I am so grateful when I’m allowed into a client’s inner circle to learn their secrets and stories and get to record them for future generations—children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. It is an honor to become a family’s historian. It’s an important role, one that I cherish.

It might surprise you to learn that some clients hire me and have no intention of ever publishing their book. For instance, you might ask me to write your family history simply because you are afraid that your ancestors’ memories and the lessons they learned will get lost over time, especially after they pass on. Perhaps you want your future family members to never forget the events of the past.

This is a valid concern.

One advantage of working with a ghostwriter to write your family history is that you leave the door open to publishing the book, if you choose to do so at a later time. After all, goals and purposes can change. When you work with a professional writer, you can be certain that you’ll wind up with a marketable manuscript which follows all the rules of literature.

Appoint a family historian

I would be honored if you considered hiring me to be your family historian. However, I recognize that not everyone can afford the fee. In that case, I recommend appointing a family member to write your family history and become your family historian.

Find someone who is eager to embrace the events of the past. She will need to be patient and willing to wade through records and documents and be able to organize all the information. In addition, she should be an excellent communicator, who is willing to interview every family member and dig deep to uncover all the pertinent facts and memories.

Here are a couple tips to help your family historian write your book:

Tip #1: Capture a person’s exact words

It is important that you capture each person’s exact words. After all, each member of your family will have a different way of expressing himself. Jot down any idioms the family member might use.

Never correct his or her grammar. You aren’t a seventh grade English teacher. If Grandpa says, “ain’t,” keep it that way. It’s real and it’s part of what makes him Grandpa, right? Keeping his dialogue intact will allow future generations a better sense of who he was. Record exactly what each person says as they say it.

In addition, make a note of their mannerisms so you can use these when you describe your family members in your book.

Tip #2: Collect more information than you’ll use

Collecting information for your bookWhen you write your book, plan to collect twice the material than you think you’ll use. It’s a bit like carving a work of art from stone. You need to start with a huge block of marble. Then you chip away at it until you uncover your sculpture within. With a book, you’ll need pages and pages of notes detailing adventures, challenges, life lessons, observations and the like. Within these pages you will find the golden nuggets that will help you write your family history.

Tip #3: Be open to learning new things about your family

While on this journey you will likely discover that your elders have lived through some amazing times. Some children have no idea what adventurous lives their ancestors have lived, or the hardships they endured. Perhaps your great uncle was a flying ace who engaged in dog fights during World War I. Or, it’s possible that you never knew that your grandmother escaped a brutal dictator on foot with her valuables sewn into her skirt. Or maybe various family members traveled to a variety of exotic locations and never told you. Whatever the case, you’re bound to learn a lot about your family members when you write your family history. Ask questions and be willing to take the book in new directions.

Tip #4: Select your theme

As with any memoir or story, your book will need to have one or more main themes. The theme you choose depends on the message you wish to communicate. There is no right or wrong answer here.

A few powerful themes you might consider are:

    • Drive and determination can overcome obstacles
    • Families can come in many shapes and sizes
    • Sometimes the only way to survive is to fight back
    • Be grateful for everything you have in life
    • Never give up, no matter how painful the odds and opposition might be

Tip #5: Use your senses

Now that you’ve determined the theme for your book, you will probably find yourself approaching it from multiple angles. Not only will you have a variety of viewpoints to share, but through the multi-generational events, you can show your theme using all the senses and perceptions available to each character.

For instance, I wrote the memoir of a man who grew up in a small one-room hovel without running water and electricity before achieving great wealth. To this day, he remains humble and is grateful for the simple pleasures of that early lifestyle, as well as the loving upbringing his parents provided. Together, he and I brought the conditions to life by not only describing the vistas but giving texture to the mud walls and sharing the tastes of his mother’s simple, but delicious cooking. Later, when his mother and father visited his mansion in California, the readers experienced the contrasting luxury along with his parents.

Note: The theme of gratitude was consistent throughout the book.

 

So, when should you start?

Now!

I mean it!

Time isn’t always on your side, especially if members of your family are getting on in years. So now is the perfect opportunity to talk with them. Go for it! And have fun!

If you need help, feel free to contact me. I’d love to help you write your family history! Check out a few of my testimonials.

Additional articles you might find helpful:

A Ghostwriter’s Fee: How Is It Charged?

How Can You Research a Memoir?

Write and Publish a Book

Interview Questions for a Ghostwriter

Learn to Become a Ghostwriter

How to Write a Business Book

 

Steps You Can Take to Prepare to Work with a Ghostwriter

Are you looking to hire a ghostwriter? If so, you might be wondering how you can prepare to work with a professional writer. Or maybe you just signed a contract and are waiting to get started on your book. This second scenario is not unusual, as most popular ghostwriters book clients months in advance, giving them time to wrap up their current projects.

So here you are, playing the waiting game until you either find and hire a ghostwriter or until your ghostwriter is ready for your project. Being an author myself, I know how excited one can become about beginning a book project. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if you are tempted to get started immediately.

I can understand your excitement, but let me warn you: if you head in the wrong direction, you could burn yourself out before you begin working with your ghost.

If you take a moment to think about it—it doesn’t make any sense to prepare the content before you hire a ghostwriter or start working with her. It’s a bit like mopping all the floors before a house cleaner arrives or attempting to repair your car before taking it to the mechanic.

Please don’t try to bang out the first draft on your own because you will likely feel crushed when are told it needs to be completely rewritten. Unless you’ve written professionally, you might not know how to structure the content of a book. There’s an art to putting together a book, and the process is different for each one. I’ve written over thirty books. Not only am I familiar with the process of bringing an author’s vision to life, but I enjoy how each journey is unique.

So what’s an eager author to do? Well, if you find you have time on your hands and you really want to get a jump start on your project, there are a few things you can do to prepare.

Organize research material for your ghostwriter

No matter what kind of book you wish to write, there will be research required by your ghostwriter. There are a lot of steps you can take early on in the writing process that will help your writer tremendously.

Your notes for a memoir

Gather information before you hire a ghostwriterIf you wish to share your life story, you probably want to write a memoir. This is one of the most popular genres with readers. Your book will capture a portion of your life, telling your story in the first person in a way that the reader will connect with you on a deep level.

Most people who hire a ghostwriter desire to write their memoir.

A memoir follows many of the same rules of writing as a fictional piece. You need to stick with a three-act structure, build characters and develop them, and tell an entertaining story.

Items to gather

When you hire a ghostwriter, she will need a lot of information for your memoir. Here are some of the items you could collect:

  • Pages from your diaries
  • Blog posts you’ve written about your life
  • Relevant newspaper articles
  • Photographs
  • Short bios for all the people who will appear in your book
  • Addresses of homes or businesses that will be featured so the ghostwriter can do additional research

Create a list of incidents

add personal stories to your prescriptive nonfiction bookIt’s worth noting that a book is really a series of incidents that come one after the other. Some incidents are short, while others can span an entire chapter.

I would recommend that you make a list of all the incidents that happened to you during the period covered by the memoir. For instance, if you wish to share the story of how you built your thriving company, you might start with incidents that relate to that business. Say you own a chain of restaurants. In that case your book might include the first break you received when you were hired as a line cook at a prestigious bistro. You would also want to include a few opening nights, as well as disastrous decisions you made along the way (and how you learned from those mistakes).

If you left an oppressive country decades ago and are now a successful businessperson, you would share with your readers the details of the decision you made to leave your old country and the effects that created on your loved ones. Of course, it goes without saying that you’d also need to focus on the details of your daring escape and the hardships that you overcame.

At this early stage, simply make a list of the incidents that you feel should be included. Don’t go into detail, just jot down enough information so that you know what you mean. As this is your life, you know the details intimately and will never forget them. These entries might be one line or a short paragraph. Once your ghostwriter is ready, you can share this list with her and she will interview you for more information as needed.

Your notes for a business book

When you hire a ghostwriter to write a business book, she will need to do some additional research. This isn’t to say that she will need to become an expert in your field. No, she needs to become an expert in your thoughts and ideas about your industry.

Most of the reading material should filter through you. In other words, you should share your thoughts on the material with your ghostwriter because you are the author of the book and an expert on this subject. Readers don’t want to read rehashed versions of other books. For this reason, it isn’t a bad idea to start making a list of the topics you’d like to discuss in your book and include a few short notes about your ideas on these.

Items to gather

hire a ghostwriter to write a business bookIn writing a business book, there will be some overlap with the items that would be required for a memoir. For instance, you might want to sprinkle in personal stories to liven up the book. If that appeals to you, you can make a list of appropriate incidents.

In addition, here are a few other documents you might start collecting:

  • Applicable pages from company manuals
  • Articles you’ve written on the subject of your book
  • Links to websites that relate to your project
  • Interviews that you’ve given on the topic

Additional advice

As a ghostwriter, I specialize in making difficult topics easy to understand and read. This means I need to fully understand the subject matter and all the definitions of the technical terms. Although I can get some of that information from books and internet articles, it helps me to learn the definition of the terms you use so I can get your unique slant on the subject. For that reason, it’s a good idea to make a list of all these terms and definitions ahead of time.

It is also sometimes appropriate to include drills or exercises for your readers so that they can begin to apply the information you share in your book to their lives. This a forte of mine. I love creating practical exercises for readers to accomplish in a step-by-step manner. If you hire me as your ghost and have ideas for drills, start writing them down as soon as they pop into your mind and we’ll get cracking on it as soon as I am available.

Your notes for a novel

hire a ghostwriter to help you build your worldIf you’re writing a novel, the research will take on the form of world building and character development. Some writers get very detailed about the worlds they create. You might consider drawing maps and sketching out the unique animals and plants of your universe.

If you’re writing a historical novel, you will also need to include factual details about that era and location.

Of course, when you hire a ghostwriter, she will do most of the heavy lifting in these areas, but it wouldn’t be a bad idea for you to jot down some ideas to give her a direction. After all, you two will become a strong writing team.

Items to gather

As you build the world of your book, here are some areas where you can begin to create:

  • Maps of the area
  • Character descriptions and bios
  • History of the race of people you are writing about
  • Traditions, unique vocabulary, fauna, and flora of the world
  • A summary of the story

As a side note, I would suggest that you research your project by studying other novels of the same genre that you enjoy. It might inspire you.

I can tell you that I form a unique relationship with each author I work with. Some people give me a spark of an idea and ask me to create a novel from that nugget. Other clients give me detailed notes (perhaps even a first draft) and ask me to rewrite it into a well-structured novel. Then again, some wish to write alongside me. I am truly happy doing any of the above.

If you’re not quite ready to hire a ghostwriter

If you are waiting for funds to get started or just aren’t ready to hire a ghostwriter, you can still prepare by gathering some of these items anyway. Then, whether you hire a ghostwriter or decide to write the book yourself, you will be ahead of the game.

It’s important to note that you shouldn’t feel like you need to do anything before you hire a ghostwriter. It’s OK if you don’t have all these items mentioned in the above article. Your ghostwriter will help you collect them.

If you need help, please feel free to email me. Review my testimonial page to learn more about my past projects.

Additional articles you might find helpful:

My Ghostwriting Process

How Much Does It Cost To Hire A Ghostwriter?

Is Ghostwriting Ethical?

A Ghostwriter’s Fee: How Do They Charge?

Understanding Characters

Help! Help! I Need Help Writing a Book!

Get help in writing your book

Do you need help writing a book? 

Perhaps you’ve lived an interesting life and wish to tell your story. If you have overcome some obstacles and can share your successful actions, you might just help others who are going through similar situations.

Or maybe you’re a CEO or expert in a niche area and wish to share your knowledge with others. This is also an admirable goal, one your readers will appreciate.

Then again, it’s possible you may have a fictional story that has been on your mind for decades. Not sharing it with the world just isn’t an option. Am I right?

When authors have a burning desire to publish a story, but know they can’t write it themselves, they often reach out to me for help. When that happens, I’m moved. It’s truly an honor for me to help a writer achieve his or her goal.

If you can’t shake the desire to complete your book, and it’s all that you can think about, it’s time to take action. Understand that if you wait a week, it will turn into a month, which will turn into a year. The majority of people who contact me tell me that they have been sitting on their book project for five to ten years. It’s at that point that they realize they need to do something different from what they’ve been doing, or the book never will be written.

I’m here to encourage you.

Now is the time to complete your book project!

If you need help writing a book and wish to hire me, here is my ghostwriting process

Steps required to write a book

There are various phases every author must go through to write and complete a book. The primary phases are:

  • Researching
  • Outlining
  • Writing the first draft
  • Editing
steps to take for help writing a book

Although each author is different (and each will have their own process), I can tell you that these are the four main steps involved in writing any book.

Each stage tends to flow into the next. As an author and ghostwriter, when I complete most of my research, I am itching to organize all the information into a chronological outline. Then as I am outlining, there comes a point where I’m just dying to start writing. When that urge hits me, I pen a few pages for my client as a sample. This becomes the start of the first draft and helps me begin to establish the style and voice of the book.

The research phase

Research is crucial for any book project. Even when you write a memoir, you still need to do extensive research. After all, you will require accurate details of the time, location, appearance and historic events.

While the bulk of the research is done at the beginning of a project, I find that I continue to research as I write. Questions do come up and I need to look up the answers. This is especially true when I am writing about any period in the past. What was a popular rock song of the era? What kind of clothes were people wearing? These authentic particulars help set the tone of the story. Remember, readers will spot inaccuracies.

There are many resources for research: your relatives, the library, and, of course, internet search engines. There are so many data bases accessible by the public. For instance, when a client provides the street address of a home he lived in or a place where a significant event took place, I can easily look it up and see what it looks like from the street. Sometimes I can even find photos that give me a sneak peek inside.

The outlining phase

Avoid problems when writing a book by outliningIf you get a chance to review my blog, you’ll see that I’ve written extensively about how to write an outline. That’s because I feel it is a vital first step for writing a book. Honestly, I wouldn’t recommend that you take a writing step forward without a good, detailed flight plan for your book. It’s the best way to avoid mid-air collisions. The last thing you want to do is waste time on a story line that just doesn’t fit into your book.

Having said that, I know some of you might be groaning at the very thought of sketching the story out before writing. Maybe you work best on a free flow basis. That’s totally okay. Do what’s right for you.

The first draft phase

Once you have the outline completed, you may find that the book is pretty well written—in your mind. Now you need to get words on paper.

Budding writers will often try to edit as they crank out the first draft. I urge you not to do that. Please allow yourself to just get the rough draft completed. It might not be brilliant. That’s OK! Fine tuning your manuscript happens during the editing phase.

Write each day to complete your bookSet up a regular time to write each day and stick to that schedule. If you hold yourself accountable for a certain word count, you will make steady progress on your story.

If you find yourself continually discouraged when you sit down to write, or if you tend to avoid writing in general, revisit your outline. There might be a flaw that needs fixing. Perhaps one of the incidents not quite working for you. That can happen if it doesn’t really have a strong purpose in your book. Also, take a look at the people in your book. Does every character have a reason for being? Are they realistic? Once you have these issues sorted out, you’ll know it because you’ll be excited to write again.

When helping a client craft his memoir, I often need to counsel him to not include certain people. While it’s fine to mention Daisy the barista in your personal journal, she might not warrant a mention in your life story. Stick to the characters that matter and move the story forward.

The editing phase

When you complete your first draft (Bravo, by the way), it’s time to edit. I’d recommend putting your manuscript down for a few days or a week before starting this phase. Give yourself a breather from the project. Fill that time slot by reading books in the same genre. For example, if you’re writing your life story, pick up 700 Sundays or a memoir you enjoy. Reading another author might give you ideas to help you sculpt your own book.

The next step is to read over your manuscript from beginning to end and see if there are any issues with continuity. Sometimes you start out with one idea and end up with another. When that happens, you need to go back and make adjustments. For example, I’ve worked with clients who will share with me a pet name for a relative halfway through the story. So, only the second half of the book will have that character’s nickname. Fortunately, it’s an easy matter to insert the new name.

You will also pick up on issues with flow as you read it through. Some scenes will flow right into the next, while other transitions will be choppy. This is the time to fix that.

Now, you’ll also spot typos. Sure, fix them, but this isn’t the right time to focus on grammar or punctuation. Instead, make sure the story sings. By the time you finish this phase, you may find that you’ve altered and rearranged the words quite a bit, so fixing typos doesn’t make sense.

Dialogueusing dialogue tags in writing a book is another element to focus on. If you’re just starting out, I’d recommend reading your book out loud, especially the conversations. You’ll immediately know if they ring true or fall flat. If you find you have trouble in this area, take a break and go out and listen to how people speak. Watch a few movies you enjoy and really listen to the words. It’s interesting how informal and “improper” the dialogue can be!

Once you’ve worked out the major kinks, you can review your manuscript for errors in grammar and punctuation. I’d recommend hiring one or two editors to look at your story with fresh eyes. It’s always good to have a detached person review your work. If you’d like to learn more about the different kinds of editors, check out my article Different Kinds of Editors.

When you need a little help writing a book

People reach out to me when they can’t write a book on their own. It isn’t easy to pen a 200 page manuscript. For first-time authors the task can seem mammoth. People sometimes start out strong, then get caught in the middle of one of the above stages and falter. They find that writing a book is much harder than they had anticipated. If this happens to you, don’t despair. There are options, steps you can take to complete your book.

Hire a writing coach

The process of writing a book is not really taught in high school or college. If you talk to seasoned writers, you’ll find they uniformly say they learned their craft from experience. I believe that authors learn how to write a book by reading and writing and reading and writing and…(you get the picture). When you’ve written a few hundred thousand words, that’s when you will find your voice.

There is another popular theory that suggests that if you want to gain expertise in a subject, you must put in 10,000 hours. There is no way around putting in the time to gain the needed experience.

So, if you want to write and publish your first book this year, what do you do?

One option is to hire a writing coach. She will charge by the hour to assist you to organize your thoughts and ideas and break through the mental blocks that are stopping you from making forward progress. This is a great solution for writers who are doing well overall, but just need an occasional helping hand. I charge $145 per hour to coach.

Hire a friendly ghostwriter

hire a friendly ghostwriterIf you are having great difficulties and it seems as if you may not be up to the task of writing your book, consider hiring a professional writer, a friendly ghostwriter like me, to help you. I charge one dollar per word to ghostwrite and will get the job done for you.

On the other hand, if you are a writer who just needs a little assistance, hire someone to edit and make minor rewrites. A professional ghostwriter can also act as a manuscript doctor, helping to troubleshoot your book and debug any issues.  For instance, he or she can assist you with character development and story line, while keeping your voice intact.

It isn’t cheating to hire a ghostwriter

Some feel that it’s cheating to hire someone to write a book for them. After all, their name will be on the cover, right? How can it be ethical to take credit if someone else wrote the book for them? Although I understand the concern, let me assure you, it’s done all the time. Hiring a ghostwriter is an accepted practice and you have the right to put your name as the author. After all, it’s your idea and really should be your book.

Having an experienced professional to help guide you through the book writing process will help you grow as a writer. It will give you an experience boost that will carry through to your second and third books. Your next literary adventure won’t be fraught with the perils of inexperience since you will have traveled these waters already.

If you need help writing a book, here are a few additional articles:

Write Your Family History

Seven Tips For Writing A Great Memoir

Hiring a ghostwriter

Should I Write and Publish My Memoirs

Writing a Book: Your First Few Steps

Memoir Mistakes You Should Avoid

Three-dimensional Characters Are Vital for a Successful Novel

three-dimensional characters are all around usMost first-time writers have trouble creating realistic personalities for their novels. Whether you’re writing a memoir or a novel, one of the most important elements will be crafting three-dimensional characters.

Think about your favorite books. Weren’t you drawn to the people? If you’re anything like me, you empathized with and related to various characters and might have even been sad when the story was finished because you had to say good-bye to your new friends.

If you’re a writer, you probably recognize how important research is to writing. When you sit down to write a novel, or write your memoirs, you need to do a little homework. After all, you must know about the locales discussed in your book. These are crucial to creating a realistic setting and background for your characters.

However, what you might not realize is that you also need to research the individual personalities of your book if you wish to create truly three-dimensional characters.

Yes, even if the book is a work of fiction, you must buckle down and do your research. Why? Because you need to know and understand the nuances of each important character in your novel before you can portray them realistically. In addition, each person must develop throughout the story, completing a journey by the end. And that development needs to resonate with your readers.

Keep it real

Meeting a character in a novel is a bit like meeting someone for the first time in life. It’s probably more like a good blind date, right? Think about it. When you first get to know a new person and hit it off, you see them in a certain light. That might be a tad rosy; that person can appear to be almost perfect.

Someone new in your life will go out of his or her way not to display negative emotions. No angry outbursts, no overly dramatic scenes, no whiney arguments. That’s because he or she isn’t comfortable enough to expose their flaws in case they cause you to bolt.

No, your new acquaintance will be perfection personified, using only the best manners when they are around you.

Now, as you continue to develop a relationship with that man or woman, you’ll start to see a few faults peek out. Buttons pop up. Stephen might be super polite, but when faced with any sort of emergency, he turns into a whiny mess. Georgia might never swear, but when she finds a cockroach in her food, she will drop the f-bomb like a sailor.

Why am I mentioning this? It’s because if you want to create realistic people for your book, you must write as if you’ve known them for years. Skip the honeymoon phase. It’s overrated. Jump to the real person, the real Stephen or Georgia. Fast forward and allow them to reveal their idiosyncrasies.

That’s how you create truly three-dimensional characters.

Trust me, no one enjoys reading about flat, boring, “perfect” people. Would you? No. Your readers expect and demand that you write as if the person really existed in our world. Bad guys aren’t always bad, and good guys are rarely saints.

People have a lot of gray areas.

Give them balance.

Communicate with dialogue

Three-dimensional characters communicate with dialogue. Use great dialogue in your book.Communication is an integral part of life. It’s a bit like breathing when it comes to interactions between two people. After all, silence is usually death in a marriage, isn’t it?

Communication is also a bit like a signature for some people. Even with your eyes closed, you can sometimes pick out who said what just by the way they speak. Certain phrases are said in a particular way. Think of the people in your life that you know really well. Don’t they have catch phrases or ways of mispronouncing words that are endearing?

Heck, some of my friends make up words on a regular basis. Looking it over, there are so many different ways to put words together in order to communicate an idea. That’s partly what makes us unique three-dimensional characters in life.

Through great dialogue in a book, you can really get a feel for a character’s personality. When it’s done well, you can almost hear the people speaking out loud. That’s the point when a reader gets lost in the pages of a good book. Have you ever read a passage and actually forgotten that you were reading? I know I have.

As a reader, I find it very easy to lose myself in the story when the words just flow from character to character. Personally, I’ve always loved dialogue-driven books.

As a writer, when I’m in the zone, when I know and understand my characters, it feels like I’m a fly on the wall. I’m there, just listening in to the conversation. They speak, I write. I’m just basically a stenographer. It’s that simple and that easy.

Three-dimensional characters have a unique style

As I mentioned, people tend to say things in a certain way. They have expressions that are unique to them. Some writers refer to these as “verbal tics.” A disgruntled teen might slap a parent with “Whatever!” on a regular basis. I’ve heard some extremely polite people always refer to strangers as “sir.” And I have a friend who punctuates statements with a “BAM!” I don’t know anyone else who does that. These nuances set people apart like color on a painter’s pallet. 

A character’s communication style may also be influenced by the specific geographical location from which he hails. That’s where research can really help (thank heavens for modern search engines). For instance, someone from Minnesota might tack on “eh” to a statement to turn it into a question, eh? Or someone from the south might regularly use the second person plural pronoun of “You-all.”

Honestly, I love creating these phrases for my characters. It’s an excellent way to reveal some aspect of their personalities.

Create bonds between characters 

Characters in books bond through good dialogueIn the real world, when two close friends get together, their exchange can take on a life of its own. Someone on the outside might have trouble translating all the idioms and inside jokes the two friends have created together over the years. For instance, when I visit my friend in Massachusetts and I’m losing at a board game, I’ll accuse her of “punching me in the stomach.” She’ll retort by calling me a “carpet bagger.” After thirty years of visits, I can’t even recall the reasoning behind these expressions anymore, but I’m sure when I see her next these phrases will pop up in our normal conversation. It’s just how we interact.

As a writer, it’s your job (and pleasure) to create that realistic dialogue between close friends. Now keep in mind, it’s important not to lose your readers. They have to be in on the inside jokes. They must understand your characters well enough to understand the snippets of snappy dialogue you provide.

Sometimes you’ll need to use slang terms from another country to make it more believable. For instance, if your character is German, he might say “Gesundheit!” (meaning “good health”) instead of “God bless you!” when someone sneezes. Or if you’re creating another world for a science fiction novel, you might need to develop new words so that the reader becomes immersed in your book’s universe.

One of the best examples of this was when the characters in Battlestar Galactica used “frak” to communicate a popular swear word. It’s brilliant, because we all understood what the creators meant, but it helped the viewers know they weren’t in Kansas anymore (not even close). The writers introduced us to a new word, and today I think you’ll find it has become part of our culture. And yes, most schools forbid its use as they would any other swear word.

Mannerisms speak volumes

We all have our own mannerisms that help to define us. For instance, when someone raises an eyebrow, we know he is a bit skeptical of the previous statement made. We all know what that look means.

When building a character for your book, consider creating mannerisms that make him uniquely him. For example, I knew a Grandmaster of chess who would tap his head with all five fingers when he was deep in thought. I doubt he knew he was doing it, but it was a signature move. If you saw his bowed head and drumming fingers, you’d instantly recognize it was him.

If you’re writing a book and get stuck for ideas, go out and look around. Go to a crowded place, maybe a mall or a party, and observe what people are doing. Take notes and find a way to use that information in order to help you create more distinctive characters.

Draw from life

take notes as you observe life for your bookThe best way to write detailed actions, descriptions and dialogue for three-dimensional characters is to live your life. Pay attention to what is going on around you. Look around and notice how people behave. Take notes. I mean, literally take notes! You may want to carry a notepad with you wherever you go, so that you can jot down observations. You can also get an app for your phone that allows you to take notes.

It’s fascinating how people will put together a phrase or what they do when they think no one is looking. Also, notice how people interact, especially when they know each other well. Often, they will shorten phrases that everyone knows. “I guess I could do that” becomes, “I guess.” Or “Would you like to come with us?” turns into, “Wanna come?” The average person usually doesn’t speak the Queen’s English, so your characters should avoid these formalities as well (unless they are appropriate for their personality).

Keep in mind that there are a lot of silent communications as well. “Please pass the salt” is sometimes replaced with a nod of a head toward the saltshaker. John Cleese once commented that in England everyone always apologizes for everything. If someone wants the salt, Mr. Cleese pointed out that people will tend to nod toward the shaker and say, “Sorry?” I laughed hard at that observation.

 

Honestly, creating realistic personas is one of the most enjoyable aspects of writing for me. It is a bit like getting to know a group of cool people, except you are the one who will give them form and life. I encourage you to take your time and relish the experience.

If you need help writing a book or just want to bounce ideas about how to create three-dimensional characters, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I’d love to help!

If you’d like to learn more about writing, check out these articles:

Write Your Family History in 2020

How to Hire a Ghostwriter

A Ghostwriter’s Fee

Learn to Become a Ghostwriter

What to Expect In An Interview with a Ghostwriter

How to Create a Compelling Character Arc

How To Hire A Ghostwriter

how to hire a ghostwriter to write your book

Do you have a great idea for a book but find yourself having trouble making your dream a reality? It could be that you don’t know where to start. Or maybe you don’t have the time or discipline to write a book right now. Perhaps you’re not a huge fan of research, or possibly you just don’t enjoy writing. Whatever the stumbling block, it doesn’t have to keep you from finishing your book. There is a solution. Bottom line, if you want to write a book this year, it might be time to hire a ghostwriter.

A ghostwriter can help you take your idea from conception to fruition. She can help sculpt your vision into a book that your readers won’t want to put down.

Here are some tips that will help you select, interview, and hire the right ghostwriter for you.

Decide on a budget

If you reach out to me, one of the first questions that I’ll ask is “What is your budget?” I charge one dollar per word, so if you have $500 to spend, I’m not your ghostwriter.

Ghostwriting pricing can span a broad range but remember the old saying: you get what you pay for.

There are ghostwriters who seem to charge impossibly low rates. These could be enticing, especially if you are on a budget; but if you’re interested in producing a high-quality book, you’ll need to pay an experienced ghostwriter what she is worth.

You can expect an experienced professional writer to charge you between $20,000 and $75,000 for a 100-300 page book. A student ghostwriter could be less.

Ask your prospective ghostwriter about his fee right up front. There is no sense in pouring out your heart and story only to learn that the writer is way out of your price range.

Don’t dance around the subject of money. If your prospective ghostwriter does, he probably hasn’t been in business for long or is simply working part time. You want to hire a ghostwriter who writes for a living, not one who tries to cram in time after his day job.

Be prepared to answer a few questions

woman thinks of questions for a ghostwriter

When you talk to a ghostwriter, know that she is interviewing you, even as you are interviewing her. She needs to know various facts in order to determine if she is the best ghostwriter for you. Plus, in order to create a bid for your project, any ghostwriter will need the following information:

The general subject matter and genre of your book

Writers specialize in different kinds of books. Some prefer to craft fictional tales, others pen memoirs, and then there are those who create non-fiction business books. By knowing the kind of book you want to write, the ghostwriter will be able to determine if your project is a good match for his skills.

Your purpose for writing your book

For me, the author’s reason for writing his or her book is important. If you’re writing a fictional book, I will ask you about your motivation for writing it. I may ask about your marketing plans as well.

If you’re writing your memoir, I’ll want to know what lessons you wish to impart to your reader. What drives you to tell your life story? Or are you simply writing your life story to entertain the readers?

If you’re writing a business book, are you doing so to gain new clients? Often that is a wise goal for new authors who are successful entrepreneurs. In addition, many of my clients wish to teach their readers how to master a new skill. They feel it is time to pass the baton to the younger generation.

There are countless reasons for writing a book. If you are clear on your main purposes, I can help you breathe life into your project.

The proposed word count

Of course, you can’t know the precise length of your book before you write it, but you will need to give an accurate estimate. Most ghostwriters base their bids upon the proposed length. An average word count will be 50,000 to 75,000 words (or 200-300 pages).

If your budget it low, consider writing a shorter book. While books released by a traditional publisher usually require a standard length of 200 – 300 pages, when you self-publish, you can play with that number and make it any length.

Your publishing goals

Do you plan to self-publish, or will you pursue a traditional publisher? If you wish to secure an agent, your ghostwriter will be able to help you with a query letter and a proposal (but that will cost extra).

Your deadline

Skilled ghostwriters are in high demand and book their projects well in advance. Be warned that the writer you want may not be able to take on your project right away.

Consider being flexible on your timeline so that you can engage the writer who will best bring your project to life. If you try to pressure him into finishing your book in an unreasonably short period, he will either try to make it work and fail or turn it down because his schedule is too tight. After all, it takes time to research and write a high-quality book.

Having said that, be clear about your intentions and requirements. You know what you need to accomplish.

Find a ghostwriter who is a good fit

Hire a ghostwriter with a handshake and a contractWriting a book is a financial investment, but also an endeavor of the heart, so you want to find someone with whom you are compatible. Make sure you feel comfortable talking with your ghost about personal matters. You should mesh well with her.

However, when you take steps to hire a ghostwriter, it is a business decision. You’ll need to do your due diligence as you would in hiring any professional. I’m always impressed when someone writes me after they have read a few of my blog articles and checked out the books I’ve written.

When researching a ghostwriter, here are a few steps that will help you find a good fit:

Check every candidate’s writing resume.

Ideally, you would want to see that the ghostwriter has written dozens of books. However, ask yourself, does your project require a highly experienced writer, or can you take a chance on someone with fewer books under his belt? Depending on his skill, you may discover a gem.

Please check out my writing resume.

Evaluate work samples.

Ask for and read over the sample of every writer you interview. Make sure that the style of the ghostwriter you hire resonates with you. In addition, make sure that she demonstrates the ability to take on different voices. After all, your voice will be different from a chiropractor’s memoir or a schoolteacher’s how-to book. Make sure that the ghostwriter you hire can write in the voice and style you want for your book.

Please check out my samples.

Review testimonial pages.

Ghostwriting client testimonialsWhat have previous clients said about the ghostwriter you are considering for your project? That’s key. Note: some writers will have trouble coming up with testimonials from clients because of the confidentiality agreement they have signed. Still, someone who has been in the industry for years will be able to find clients willing to share their experiences. Hiring a ghostwriter with no recommendations is a little risky.

Please check out my testimonial page.

Learn the writer’s process.

Every ghostwriter has a different way of working. Some will work closely with the client as the book is written. Others will deliver a final manuscript only when they are finished. Personally, I will send a few pages early on. I’ll stop working until I get feedback. Once I receive corrections and a critique, I’ll incorporate those suggestions in the next few pages. Then, when the client and I are confident that I have captured his voice and style, I’ll send larger chunks at a time. Decide what works best for you and hire a ghostwriter who can work around your needs.

It’s very important that you feel absolutely comfortable talking to her. Make sure she listens well and produces what you ask for.

Please check out my ghostwriting process.

Pay your first installment and get started

Once you have made your decision, plan to sign a ghostwriting contract and make the first payment before you begin the project. This will be required by any professional writer. Don’t wait too long to make your decision because the more popular ghostwriters will get booked quickly. If you love a writer and know you want to hire her, don’t dawdle.

I’ve discovered that January and September are key months for potential clients to contact ghostwriters. On the flip side, the summer months and December are quiet. So, my advice is to avoid the busy months and interview writers when they are less inundated with new prospects.

Plan the time to work with your ghostwriter

write a novel for your readersAs your project unfolds, it’s important to answer your writer’s emails and phone messages promptly. Don’t allow too much time to go by without communication.

If you find that you’re putting off talking to your ghost, it’s a good time to pick up the phone. Tell her what’s going on and let her help you. It’s not uncommon to hit a snag and need a little assistance. For instance, if you’re working on notes about your life story, you may want to talk to your ghost on the phone. She can help you navigate this emotional journey.

Personally, I love to shoot emails back and forth with my clients throughout the week. In addition, I will pick up the phone to talk to each client at least once a month. Frequent communication is key to a good relationship.

 

With a great concept, a little bit of help, and a lot of preparation, your book can become a reality and a success. If you realize that you need to hire a ghostwriter, please email me, and let me know how I can help.

Additional articles you might find helpful:

A Ghostwriter’s Fee: How Do They Charge?

Do You Want To Write A Book About Your Life?

Tips for World Building

Understanding Characters

Interview Questions for a Ghostwriter

How to Write Three-Dimensional Characters

Help! Help! I Need Help Writing a Book!

 

 

The Ghostwriter’s Process: Six Tips

The ghostwriter's processIf you’re reading this article, you might be considering hiring a ghostwriter to write your book. Perhaps you don’t have the time (or expertise) to complete the task. Yet, working with a ghostwriter may seem like a mysterious undertaking; you might have many questions. Over the years, I’ve noticed that several prospective clients have the same basic misconceptions and confusions about a ghostwriter’s process.

To clarify one basic point: If you hire me, you and I will form a powerful partnership and together we’ll create a book. However, you are the author of your book and will always retain all the rights for the work that we create together. You are a vital part of my ghostwriter’s process.

Having over two decades of experience in this area, I want to share with you a few tips about working with a ghostwriter that will help make the project a success.

Tip #1: Ask about your ghostwriter’s process

People are naturally curious about a ghostwriter’s process. The truth is that the procedure varies depending on the writer you hire. Make sure to discuss the ghostwriter’s process with any potential ghost before you begin to prevent unpleasant surprises later.

I break down most projects into four major milestones:

  • 1: Researching and outlining
  • 2 and 3: Writing the first draft
  • 4: Editing

Over the last twenty years, I’ve talked to several ghosts and have noticed that no two follow the same procedure. Some will interview exclusively over the phone, while others (like me) prefer to receive the bulk of the information in writing. Some ghostwriters will submit the first draft of the manuscript to the author only after it is complete, while I prefer to send each section as I write it. I often hire an outside editor, as I wish to have an objective set of eyes review each manuscript I write, while others never hire anyone.

Tip #2: Don’t rush your ghostwriter’s process

Don't rush the ghostwriter's processIf you rush your ghostwriter, you’ll wind up with a rushed book that will be subpar.

Having said that, it’s important to hold your ghostwriter to the agreed-upon contract, which should clearly state the exact timeframe for each milestone. However, if she comes to you and asks for more time because she needs to do more research or add new segments, it’s a good idea to allow her the time she needs to complete your book.

I usually ask my clients for one year to eighteen months to complete a book. This gives me time to do the proper research, create an outline, write a first draft, edit, hire an outside editor, and review the clients’ notes about the final draft.

Sometimes a client requests that I complete their book in a shorter time period. If I can accommodate the author, I will; but I’ll also be honest if I can’t. There are times when I’m fully booked months in advance and can’t start his or her project right away. I’ll never sign a contract when I know I can’t make the target dates. I prefer to deliver ahead of schedule.

Your turnaround time

One way you can help speed up the ghostwriter’s process is to give a quick turnaround on your end. I need to be able to communicate with you and get feedback throughout the project. You will also need to read what I’ve written and contribute your thoughts. I’ll give you advance notice so that you can review a few chapters within two or three days.

However, there are times when I’ve had a client who has pushed off a project for a few months or even a year. Life happens and you can’t always predict these unfortunate delays; however, this situation can be very difficult for any ghostwriter. Any long interruptions can add more than the lost time to the project because I lose momentum and need to re-immerse myself into the story or information. As a result, the project can suffer.

Tip #3: Don’t haggle too much with your ghostwriter

Some authors who approach me ask for a discount. Over the years I’ve realized that negotiating my fee isn’t workable. I charge what I charge. I’m usually booked out into the future so I’m not desperate for work and prefer to work with clients who value my time and expertise.

Some ghostwriters aren’t in that position. They will slash their proposed price out of an eagerness to work with you. You may want to examine that practice. Why did they quote one price when they’re willing to work for half-pay?

If you’re shopping around and know that your book should probably cost $40,000 to write and you receive a quote for $5,000, please take a moment to consider this offer. If you were buying a luxury car, would you really feel comfortable even taking it for a test drive if it had a $5,000 price tag? You might not make it two miles down the road without a problem. A lowball quote might get you 50,000 words written, but those words won’t form a book. The manuscript will be riddled with problems no editor can handle without completely rewriting it.

It’s best to know your budget and be upfront about it.

Discover your budget to hire a ghostwriterWhen prospective clients who can’t afford me write in, I always try to give them advice to meet their needs. Perhaps we can write a shorter book, or maybe I can help them find another writer who charges less. I do want to help, but I must know the bottom line of your budget.

Please never ask a ghostwriter to work for a percentage of the profits. This is a common request from people who don’t understand the industry. No matter how brilliant your book may be, selling copies always comes down to marketing skill—and that isn’t within the scope of your ghostwriter’s job description. We all need to get paid upfront. Trust me, most ghostwriters are working on their own books as well and don’t wish to write your book for free.

Tip #4: Read up on your ghostwriter

I’m always impressed when prospective clients contact me and have done their homework. Reading through some of my blog articles or glancing at one of the books I’ve written will give you a sense for my writing style. Yes, a ghostwriter’s style and voice will change to reflect each author’s personality, but it’s a good idea to gain a feel for her writing before you hire her. The last thing you want is to discover is that you don’t enjoy her writing after she’s halfway through your book.

Some ghostwriters won’t have a book title with their name on it because they haven’t written their own books, and none of their clients have gifted them with a cover credit. If that is the case, ask for samples of their work so you can vet them. If they can’t give you an appropriate sample, similar to the book you want written, know they are not experienced in that genre. For instance, if you asked me for a sample of a steamy romance novel, I’d be hard-pressed to create one, since that is not a genre I could write.

Tip #5: Communicate openly with your ghostwriter

the ghostwriter's process requires the client to be open and honest Your ghostwriter will need a lot of details from you. If you aren’t open and honest about your material, she can’t write a brilliant book for you. One ghostwriter I recently talked to commented that his client wasn’t forthcoming about his personal life. He rightly commented that every memoir needs to show the author’s vulnerability; he can’t be perfect in every way. If the author isn’t authentic with his readers, they won’t identify with him and won’t give the book good reviews.

Likewise, if you’re writing a prescriptive nonfiction book, and you don’t share the details of your successful action, the book will read like a rehashed series of blog articles that anyone can research for themselves on the internet. Amazon doesn’t need another book like that in its catalogue.

A ghostwriter will also need to ask you questions as they come up. Plan to provide these answers within a reasonable turnaround time. Again, this will speed up the ghostwriter’s process tremendously.

Tip #6: Expect your ghostwriter to rewrite what you have written

There are times when clients have handed me a very rough draft of a manuscript for a book they want me to write. They sometimes ask for a “little polish” to ready it for publication. I can tell you from experience that this draft is rarely in a condition that simply requires a quick edit.

If you hire a ghostwriter and present her with a rough draft manuscript, expect that it will need to be completely rewritten. Don’t be offended by this; it’s why you’re hiring a ghostwriter in the first place.

Unless you have experience writing books, the structure will probably need work, as will the prose. Remember, you’re not hiring an editor. You’re hiring an experienced writer.

Now, I will say that I do appreciate receiving a first draft in any condition. This helps me write a good book for my client. Although I’ll still need to rewrite it from scratch, I can get a feel for some of the themes and messages the author wishes to communicate.

 

So you see, the ghostwriter’s process isn’t a mystery at all. It’s filled with common sense principles. And if you follow my tips, it should be an enjoyable and fulfilling experience that results in a well-written book.

How to Write a Prescriptive Nonfiction Book

Write a prescriptive nonfiction book from your laptopA prescriptive nonfiction book is basically a how-to book that gives someone direction or information on a subject. It does not tell a story. Instead, it helps readers understand about an area of life. Readers wishing to improve a skill or educate themselves on a topic would reach for a prescriptive nonfiction book.

CEOs, business leaders, and entrepreneurs are great candidates for writing a prescriptive nonfiction book. They often have wisdom to share that can help others.

Should you write a prescriptive nonfiction book?

If you’re reading this article, you most likely have a concept for a book and are wondering if you should follow through on that idea. After all, it will take you hundreds of hours to put your ideas into a form that others will want to read.

To answer that question, allow me to ask a few more:

Have you developed a niche area of expertise?

If you’re an expert in a field and have a unique and specialized focus, most likely there are others who would like to learn from you. Maybe you understand how to decorate an airbnb to maximize your ability to rent it out, or maybe you can produce a full-length feature film on a shoestring budget. The possibilities are as wide as one is creative.

Do you have specialized knowledge in a particular field?

share your knowledge in a prescriptive nonfiction bookAnyone who has taken the time to study a subject thoroughly, drilling down to gain an insight into a field of knowledge, probably has at least one book within them. For instance, maybe you’ve achieved a master’s degree relating to the effects of global warming on a specific ecosystem, or maybe you have developed tasty recipes for certain restrictive dietary requirements. Your hard-won research deserves an outlet so that others can learn and benefit from what you’ve discovered.

Is your way of doing things better than the norm?

When I first learned to play chess, I was taught how all the pieces moved, then told to “play.” I was nine and found the experience a tad overwhelming. When it was time to pass on my love of the game to my first child, I realized I could improve on this technique of teaching.

I started teaching my son when he was four by introducing him to one piece, the rook. I focused on how it moved and made sure he understood that before I moved on to the bishop. He soon learned how to play proficiently, and this success propelled me into teaching hundreds of other young kids. I felt this technique was better than the normal way to teach, so I wrote the book Chess Is Child’s Play in order to help other parents become good chess coaches for their kids.

Can you make someone else’s journey easier?

Help someone follow your pathAnyone reading this article who has forged a new path in life has undoubtedly stumbled along the way countless times. Those errors you committed years ago probably paved the way to solutions that others can benefit from today. There is no need for others to scrape their knees on the same problems if they can read your book and learn how to avoid them.

If you answered YES to any of these questions in the subheads above, you should consider writing a prescriptive nonfiction book. Readers are eager to learn from you, so why not share your knowledge with them.

Tips for writing a prescriptive nonfiction book

Tip #1: Define your terms

Being an expert in your niche area, you’re probably fluent in the language of the field. Depending on the subject, the terminology can be very specialized and complex. Remember that your reader is probably a novice and completely unfamiliar with these foreign words. I remember a time I went to a country on the other side of the world with a good friend and sat on his friend’s couch and listened to them speak their language for hours. Even though I had studied the language a bit before the trip, I was lost. I’ll admit, I felt left out. It wasn’t an enjoyable experience.

Don’t make this mistake with your reader; don’t allow them to feel left out.

To remedy this potential problem in your book, define all the industry terms you use. I think some people think readers will be impressed if they liberally sprinkle hard-to-understand technical words throughout their manuscript. Trust me, they aren’t; especially if they don’t understand the words.

Remember, your goal is to teach; the goal is to be understood. Keep it simple so that everyone can get it.

Tip#2: Start with an outline

Get the key principles out of your head and onto paper in the form of an outline. There are a variety of methods, but I usually bullet-point the important subjects and make sub-bullets for all the related topics. I’ll jot down a few notes under each to help me remember my main point for each segment.

This outline will form the table of contents of your prescriptive nonfiction book.

Tip#3: Add personal stories

add personal stories to your prescriptive nonfiction bookWhile your readers have picked up your prescriptive nonfiction book to learn more about a subject, they still want to be entertained. No one enjoys reading dry text.

Entertain your readers with exciting stories and humorous anecdotes that complement the lessons you wish to impart. When you’re outlining, you can add a few lines about these stories to jog your memory.

Tip#4: Include practical exercises

Very few people can absorb information without applying the data. It doesn’t hurt to include a few practical exercises in a prescriptive nonfiction book. Get people out of the mode of just reading and put them into action. The goal is to have them use your wisdom in their daily lives to reap the benefits.

Create assignments that are simple and easy to follow. Make it so that your readers can accomplish each task relatively easily and then perform that task again and again. If you feel they might fail, break down each step into even simpler steps that will help them achieve the overall intended goal. The last thing you want to do is frustrate your reader.

How to write your first draft

When you have your detailed outline worked out, begin by writing one chapter. This can be any chapter; you don’t need to start at the beginning of your book. I’d suggest starting with your favorite topic, one you know very well. You’ll gain confidence in writing that way.

Keep the above tips in mind as you write your first draft.

Continue to write a few more chapters, in any order that you like. Once you feel confident, start at the beginning and write the chapters in order. This will help with flow. However, if you write chapters out of order, you can always correct flow and transition issues later in the editing phase.

That reminds me: please don’t edit as you write. Just let the words flow onto the pages. A lot of new writers will want to rewrite and rewrite. This is just a waste of time. Get the first draft written. Then you can edit.

As you progress through your first draft, you might think of other segments to include in your prescriptive nonfiction book. This is great! However, don’t stop what you’re doing to write the new piece. Instead, add it to your outline. Then write it when you get to it, if it occurs later in your book. If it comes prior to the chapter you’re on, complete the segment you’re writing before you add the new piece in.

The Final Stages

Proofreading is part of editingWhen you complete your first draft, read your book all the way through and fix all the typos you can find. Make sure all the segments flow and the transitions work well. Look for any repetitions of ideas and remove them.

Next, you’ll need to hire an editor. Every writer makes errors, and these can be very hard to spot in your own work because you’re too close to it.

Although you might know an English major who can help you for free, I’d recommend paying to hire an experienced professional editor. He or she will be fluent with all the latest style and grammar points. Yes, these change over time. For instance, when I was young, it was proper to put two spaces after a period. Now it’s one. Honestly, there are countless grammatical points that have changed over the last few decades. It can be hard to keep track.

If you can afford to hire two editors, that’s even better. One can do the heavy lifting and point out errors in grammar, style, transitions, flow, as well as help you fact-check. The other can do a light review, catching any remaining little errors.

Once you’ve completed the editing phase, it’s time to publish. You can either write a proposal and find an agent and publisher or self-publish your book on a platform like Amazon.

Today self-publishing is very quick and easy to do. It’s the popular choice for most authors. And you have the added bonus that your prescriptive nonfiction book can really be any length. Just be sure that you’ve covered your topic thoroughly.

I can tell you from experience, sharing knowledge about a niche area of expertise with others is terribly rewarding. I continue to receive praise for Chess Is Child’s Play a decade after its release. I’m truly grateful when people write in to thank me for helping them teach their four-year-old child to play chess.

Of course, if you need some help writing your prescriptive nonfiction book, please email me. I’d love to help you!

Additional articles you might find helpful:

How to Edit Your Own Book

How to Select the Right Ghostwriter for You

A Ghostwriter’s Fee: How Do They Charge?

Tips for Self-Publishing Your Book

How Much Does It Cost To Hire A Ghostwriter?

 

 

Memoir Mistakes You Should Avoid

Avoid memoir mistakes and avoid frustration

Most people who contact me wish to write their memoir. It’s an extremely popular genre with readers, too! We all love to step into the shoes of another person and learn about their world for a few hours. However, readers will put your book down if you fall into certain traps and commit basic memoir mistakes.

If you want to avoid frustration in writing and marketing your book, avoid these common memoir mistakes.

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

Focus on the big picture to avoid memoir mistakes

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 settling on a specific demographic

Don't write for every reader; pick a demographic.

Before you even outline your book, you need to determine who your reader is. 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.

Some examples of your audience might be:

  • Teenage boys who are addicted to video games
  • Medical professionals who are open to holistic cures
  • Parents who have lost a child to cancer
  • Fans of Star Trek

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 articles:

Write and Publish Your Book

How to Write Great Dialogue

How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Ghostwriter?

Understanding Characters