Ask a Ghostwriter: How Do I Start Writing a Book?

Dear Friendly Ghostwriter, I have an amazing story to tell, but don’t know how to start writing a book now. I have so many things all jumbled up in my head and I don’t know how to get it out on paper. Help! -Art M.

Dear Art M.,

When I received your question, I did a little search on the internet: “How do you start writing a book?” I was curious to see what other writers had to say. Up popped a dozen articles that made the process seem ridiculously easy. In my opinion, these articles pain a false picture; writing a book is far from easy and you’re not the only one to have difficulties in this area! So, I don’t want to answer your question with a cookie-cutter twelve-step to-do list; instead, I would like to give you some broad-stroke advice.

Make a list

A movie is made up of hundreds of scenes. These flow together to tell the story. With a book, these scenes can be better described as incidents. Basically, think of these incidents as the things that will happen to your characters (or if you’re writing a memoir, they are the experiences that have happened to you).

Some people like to make flashcards. They write the individual incidents out onto three-by-five-inch cards and put them into the order they think will work best. I prefer to open a word doc and write out the incidents there. I don’t number them, but just get them out of my head in the simplest way possible. For example, it might look like this:

Incident: Bob discusses breaking up with Mary in a coffee shop.

Incident: Terry says good-bye to her parents before entering her new college dorm for the first time.

It just needs to have enough information to jog your memory when you create a more complete outline later on. Don’t worry about putting the incidents in any order. You’re just trying to get the information out of your head and onto the paper (or computer document). It simply is a list of what happens.

Note: Some incidents might be super short. That’s fine!

Give each incident a time stamp

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You should end up with dozens of incidents (perhaps even hundreds). Next, go through and give each incident a time stamp, which tells you when it took place. Some timestamps might be simply a month and year. For example:

Incident: Sam starts high school: September 1979.

Incident: George gets a job at Mercury, Inc.: May 1983

Sometimes, the time of the incident will be relevant. In that case, be as specific as you can. If you know the exact date, mark that down. For instance:

Incident: Bernice gives birth to her daughter: June 17, 1988, 4:30am.

Incident: Lonny graduates high school: May 25, 1999, early afternoon.

Again, these are notes for you. Don’t get bogged down. If you don’t the exact date, just put in the year.

Put the incidents in order

Now that you have the time stamps, you can put the incidents in chronological order. It’s possible that some incidents will serve as a flashback. If you know that will be the case, you can group them after the appropriate incident. For example:

Incident: Joe waits for Sally at their favorite park bench: September 2002.

Incident: Flashback: Joe and Sally share their first kiss on the bench: August 1994.

Flesh out your incidents

Now that you have all your incidents in order, it’s time to drill down and examine each one. I find it helpful to use a kind of journalistic approach with each incident.

Here are some questions you can answer:

  • Who is in the incident? (Name all the characters, even minor players.)
  • Where does it take place? (Be as specific as you can.)
  • When does it happen?
  • Describe what occurs (very briefly)
  • What is the purpose of this incident? (Why should it be included?)

You might have other points to mention, but it is important to keep it very brief. Don’t indulge in lengthy descriptions. It’s not time to start writing your book quite yet. For one thing, some of these incidents might not make the cut!

Note: The most important element on this list is the last one—the purpose. You must have a strong purpose for including this incident in your book. If you can’t come up with one, cut the incident immediately.

If you feel inspired to write a scene from this list, go for it. You might need to rewrite it later, but that’s OK. I understand the need to get the ideas/images out of your head! Sometimes I just write a few notes under the incident description. This helps me free up my attention and move on to the next incident on the list.

The next step

After you finish creating your master list of incidents, you want to make sure they flow one into the next. Once you have them all in sequential order and you’ve weeded out ones that don’t fit or have a real purpose, take a step back and review it. Read the list over a few times to make sure it works for you. This is one way to create an outline. If you want to change the format, it will be easy to do so, because you now have all the information you’ll need.

You may just find that the book is pretty much written! Yes, it’s still in your head and you’ll need to write the 50,000 (or so) words, but now you know where you’re going.

The incident list is a great tool to help you sort out the ideas that are jumbled in your head. And it will act as mile markers for you on your journey, helping you make sure that you’ve included all the important occurrences and events. It’s much easier to start writing a book if you have a well-laid plan. Enjoy the process!

As you begin your new adventure, you might find yourself hitting a few distractions. If you’d like some tips on how to avoid these, read my article on the subject. And, of course, if you have any questions, please feel free to email me!

Ask a Ghostwriter: What about character development?

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Dear Friendly Ghostwriter, I have written a story about a teen who has doubts about his faith. The story takes place in a different realm. I have a complete story in about 30,000 words, but it lacks deep character development. That is my struggle. I want help developing feelings of the characters on paper. Looking forward to your response. Peace, Dan

Dear Dan,

Congratulations on the completion of your first story. That’s a wonderful accomplishment! I understand your struggles with character development; it’s tricky. As you’ve surmised, it is a quintessential part of any book, whether it’s a novel or a memoir. While description and action are key to locating a story and moving it along, what keeps readers invested are the fascinating characters that draw them in. I’d like to explore a few ways you might create characters that are well-rounded, full of life, and able to keep the reader engaged in your story.

Writing with reality

Research is a crucial component of the process, especially if you are unfamiliar with the character’s skill or condition. Let’s imagine that your main character is a fighter pilot, but that you’ve never been in a cockpit. Still, you need to write your scenes so that a seasoned pilot might identify with the character, thinking to themselves, “Yeah, that’s happened to me.”

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No, you don’t have the enroll in flight school to write about an ace pilot, but you do need to roll up your sleeves and learn. Start by scouring the internet for stories about a jet jockey taking to the skies. Read a few biographies or memoirs and try to pick up a pilot’s lingo and actions, as well as his state of mind. Of course, if it’s at all possible, speak directly to a person who is passionate about flying, someone with a lot of experience. Nothing beats that one-on-one interview.

As a general rule of thumb, it helps to watch people when working to improve character development. Just go to a public place and observe how different people interact. Look for mannerisms, notice the speech patterns, etc. This will help you create character bios, which we’ll discuss later in this article. The first step is to be able to identify various traits of people in front of you.

People don’t exist in a void

Unless your book centers around one person stuck on a deserted island talking to a volleyball all day, you’ll need to create many characters for your book. Don’t just focus on the main character, the protagonist. Of course, many stories also have a “bad guy” (an antagonist), somebody bent on thwarting your hero as he attempts to achieve his goal. You’ll need to understand this person just as thoroughly as your main guy. However, don’t forget the other side characters. They contribute to the motion of the story, too, and are known as secondary characters.

Writers can make the mistake of ignoring the minor players, thinking they aren’t important enough to be fully realized. Even if the character is the barista who serves your pilot a steaming hot cappuccino with honey each morning, she deserves a little character development. Think of Gunter on the popular sitcom Friends. He had dimension and we all loved him, although he rarely said a word.

Every character needs to pop from the page; they need description, personality, and realistic dialogue. It could come from the way the barista talks. Or perhaps the way she whistles to herself as she works, a tune the protagonist can’t get out of his head for the rest of the day. When you really spend the time to create these secondary characters and create their relationship to the others in your book, they come alive and often help flesh out the protagonist as well as the story.

Create character bios

As you work to form your characters, consider creating a little bio for them. Definitely avoid stereotypes, such as the absent-minded professor or the ditzy teenager. People rarely fall into these clichés. Readers appreciate seeing their lives reflected in your book, so include lots of examples of the rich diversity of humankind in your story.

When I build a character bio, I start with the physical description: Height, weight, hair color, etc. These might never be directly discussed, but I need to know what they are. For instance, if Jeremy is 5’ 2” and Alice is nearly six foot, Jeremy will always be craning his neck up to just look at his beloved.

Now that you have these mundane details down, it’s time to focus on the aspects that make up your character’s in-depth portrait. Include his history, typical emotional state, spiritual belief, nervous tick, and anything else that makes him, him.

Quick and Easy Bio Sheet

I have a form that I use when I’m starting a new project. Here are a few elements you might consider including for each character:

  1. Full name and nicknames
  2. Birthdate (this helps you know how old each character is in each scene you write)
  3. The address of their current residence, as well as all the homes they ever lived in
  4. Any identifying marks or physical conditions, etc.
  5. Mannerisms
  6. Hobbies or interests
  7. Educational background
  8. Jobs they’ve held
  9. Milestone events and dates (such as graduations, marriages, birth of children, etc.)
  10. The names of their significant other and children, along with their birthdates

Dan, this is just a starting point, but I hope I’ve sparked some ideas to help you with character development. Creating the people of your book is truly fun! The idea is to get to know your characters on a personal level. The more real they are to you, the more identifiable they will be to your reader, and the richer your story will be.

Ask a Ghostwriter: How Do I Charge a Friend?

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Dear Friendly Ghostwriter, A family friend has reached out to me to ghostwrite her memoir for her children. It’s kind of sticky because, although I am a writer, I write first-person food and humor columns for newspapers. I’ve never done this kind of thing before. I’d love to do it, but feel weird charging her for my work, and have no idea what I should charge a friend. Help? Thanks in advance for any words of wisdom you may have for me. – Debbie

Dear Debbie,

I think it’s wonderful that you wish to help your friend, but completely understand your dilemma. Since you don’t have specific experience in this genre, I agree that you shouldn’t charge a friend professional rates. However, I feel strongly that it’s important that you charge her something. Here are a few reasons why:

A book takes time to write

Since this will be your first ghostwriting project, you might not know the time that will be involved on your end. Honestly, it takes two to three hundred hours to write a full-length book. Also, it’s worth pointing out that your friend will need to put in time to help you collect the information needed.

If you decide to accept the job without pay, I need to warn you that it will be tough to complete. While I can tell that you’re excited about the project now,  it will be less thrilling to spend the hours required to push through the inevitable road bumps when you know there will be no payment. How much time will you be willing to devote to it on top of your full-time job? Unless you are independently wealthy, it will start to be a drain on you to work all day at your regular job and then put in another couple of hours a day to write someone else’s memoirs.

Friendship and business do mix

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While some people may preach that business and friendship don’t mix, that somehow one kills the other, I disagree. Networking is a powerful tool for marketing! The fact is, friends hire one another all the time!

If your friend is a good one, she won’t want to take advantage of your time. It’s one thing to volunteer to help a buddy move over a weekend, or paint their home, but no one would expect you to put in hours every week to complete a project without getting paid. Also, if she didn’t pay you, that could very well break the friendship because she’d feel too indebted to be comfortable around you. Bottom line: it’s OK to charge a friend.

Friend’s rates

While I don’t recommend offering to write her book for free, you can certainly offer her a special rate. My suggestion would be to find out what she can comfortably afford and work out a payment plan she can manage. I can’t say what that figure might be, because it has to make sense for you and for your friend. I just don’t want to see you working for hundreds of hours with no recompense. Also, whatever you work out, please make sure you deliver a finished manuscript. Besides preserving your friendship, it’s just good business practice.

If you enjoy the project and wish to continue as a ghostwriter, this book will give you the much-needed experience to land a second client. It’s always toughest to close your first book project.

Debbie, thanks for writing! If you can, let me know how it goes. And feel free to contact me directly any time!

Ask a Ghostwriter: How Can You Research a Memoir?

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Dear Friendly Ghostwriter, Hi Laura, I am 48. I need someone to write my life story. I read your article about hiring a ghostwriter and didn’t understand when you said that I would need to prepare work and research. What sort of research would I need to do? After all, it’s my real life story? How do I research a memoir? Thanks, Vi

Dear Vi, What a great question! Let me explain what I meant. Whenever I ghostwrite a memoir, I always do a lot of research on a number of subjects in order to get the background information needed to tell the story with authenticity. To properly answer your question, I think it would be good to explore what sort of research your writer might need to write your book. And while it is helpful for an author to provide research information to their writer, the ghost will also need to do extensive research on top of that. Ideally the author and ghostwriter will work together as a team to uncover needed information on a variety of subjects.

Time periods

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Memoirs take place in the past, often in a period long gone. For that reason, I like to research the culture of that epoch to ensure I describe it accurately. For instance, cell phones wouldn’t have been used in the 1980’s, so your characters would need to find payphones or use landlines to call one another. By the same token, the internet would have been in its infancy, so there would be no “surfing the web” day and night. Of course, you’ll also need to reflect the correct clothing styles of the era. When I write a book, I find myself looking up the details surrounding the scene so that I depict them realistically.

In addition, it can be helpful to refer to the current events of the time. For instance, if I’m writing a memoir taking place mid-September 1959, most households would probably be talking about the moon landing. Or if your book centers around a key moment at the end of 1989, you might mention the Berlin Wall falling, as that would have been a hot topic. Discussing those major milestones would be a good way to help the reader orient himself to the time periods in your story.

Locations

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Establishing the location is always important in any scene because it takes out the guesswork for the reader. That’s why I sometimes need to research places my characters will go. For instance, I had a client who described running down a major street near Miami. I wanted to get a feel for what the area would have looked like, so I used Google Earth and zoomed in to view the actual street. I learned it was an eight-lane highway and found there were lots of residential neighborhoods nearby. It helped me fill in the description.

Sometimes I will explore the homes I write about on the internet or through photos. Learning the layout helps me realistically put the kitchen next to the family room and the bedrooms upstairs (or not). Discovering the architectural style allows me to properly paint the picture with words. Sometimes I’ll do a search online to sneak a peek at the exterior of the home to get a feel for the front of the house. Of course, if the client has a photo of the place, that is very helpful.

When I can truly grasp the location, it helps me put myself in the space of the characters, which helps me write the story in an authentic way. I could make up details (and sometimes do), but it is wonderful when I can draw on researched facts.

Diaries, scrapbooks, and newspaper articles

When I research a memoir, some details comes in the form of firsthand recorded information. As a ghostwriter, the pages of personal diaries are like nuggets of gold. The words recorded years before provide information in a very organic way.

Likewise, newspaper clippings can help fill in missing pieces of important events, allowing me to understand more fully what happened. For instance, a wedding announcement would give the exact time and day of the event. This information allows me to look up the actual weather on that day. I’ll tell you, a wedding in the middle of a June thunderstorm is quite different from one that takes place in a heat wave.

One client had very little information about his ancestors, but wanted a story written about what could have happened. Through some online websites, I was able to determine the exact boat on which his grandfather arrived in New York in the mid 1800’s. My client had known the rough time period, so it was a joy to be able to discover the precise day, as well as the name of the ship. Then it was easy to research the boat to learn its size, crew compliment, and passenger list, all of which I could use to write faithful descriptions of the event.

So, Vi, research is an important part of any memoir. If you and I worked together, we’d be a team, tackling this vital area. So, consider collecting journal entries, newspaper clippings, photographs, and perhaps short biographies of the main players that will be featured in your book.

I’d love to hear from other writers on the subject. How did you research a memoir?

Questions for a Ghostwriter about How to Write a Book

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Dear Friendly Ghostwriter, I’ve never hired a ghostwriter, and I have no idea how I go about any of this, but I really would like to write a book on my life. Please could you give me some advice on how I even start the process, and also, I’m not very good with writing so I’m not sure I’d be able to write it myself. – Tony

Dear Tony, Your question is very common and makes sense. I can understand why the ghostwriting process might seem to be a bit of a mystery. I’ll tell you, whenever I take on a new client, the process is unique, because the author and written content are unique. However, I can share with you a few aspects that seem to occur with every book project I’ve worked on for the last two decades.

Basically, there are three phases: research and outlining, first draft, and editing. I go over these in more detail in my article called “What to Expect When Hiring a Ghostwriter,” if you’d like to read up on them.

As a first step, your ghostwriter will need to collect all the information required to write your book. In the case of a fictional novel, that could simply be understanding your core idea (which might not be time consuming). However, with a memoir, your writer will need to know everything about your life that is relevant to the book. This takes time and can be done in different ways. One is for the writer to interview you in person or on the phone. However, I find it is far more effective for the client to send me a lot of written notes (in rough form). After I study these carefully, I can follow up with emails and phone calls if I need more information or any clarification.

Please understand, when you hire a ghostwriter, you don’t need to write the book; you just need to provide notes. All your notes will be rewritten, so don’t worry about spelling and grammar. Now, some people prefer to work with the ghostwriter and write their book alongside them. That works, too! Again, each relationship is unique, but never feel you have to be a good writer to hire a ghost.

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Dear Friendly Ghostwriter, I need help and inspiration in surpassing the first eight pages of my book. I am sooo stuck… It feels as if I’m writing the same thing over and over, so I delete and delete, while continuously whittling my pages away. Also, I am constantly unsure of my grammar and punctuation. Any help is appreciated! –  Ennayt

Dear Ennayt, Stuck in the mud? You know, I hear this a lot! You’re not alone; not by a long shot. The fact is, a lot of new writers make the mistake of cutting out words, then pages, as they produce their first draft. It’s important to let yourself go and just write. I implore you not to waste any time (and words) editing in the beginning. Allow yourself the freedom to create! Trust me, once you get to the end of your first draft, you’ll be better equipped to sculpt your draft into a book.

I’d also recommend that you not worry about grammar in this phase. Just let the words pour out of your mind onto the page. If you’re interested in learning more about the English language, I’d recommend reading a simple grammar book or checking out an online source like Grammar Girl. Start by learning one rule, then applying it. Then select another and so forth. Take it step by step. You may just find the learning process fun!

Dear Friendly Ghostwriter, I would like to write an autobiography/screen play. This is something I have thought about for many years, but I’m extremely nervous how to approach this because of safety issues. I am not sure where to start. I would appreciate a consultation if possible. – Gen

Dear Gen, You bring up an excellent point. Honestly, I do think you have a right to be concerned. Once you put your story out there, you can’t take it back. I believe there are many instances when it just isn’t wise for someone to write their memoir. And it isn’t always safe.

Another point to consider is how a book will affect the people in your life. When writing a memoir, your characters are real people. They might not like what you have to say about them and if it isn’t handled correctly, the whole situation can blow up.

I always advise my clients to hide the people in the book as much as possible. For instance, it’s fine to change their names and physical appearances. The story will still be true even if the details are changed to protect the people involved.

Thank you all for your questions! Please feel free to write more in the comment section below or write me privately and I’ll do my best to answer!

Ask a Ghostwriter: How Can I Add Descriptions in a Book?

Dear Friendly Ghostwriter, I am your average Joe. And I won’t call myself a writer by any means. Though I wrote a book because the idea was stuck in my head. I had ten people read and edit it. Then I self-published it through Author House. I know it has potential, but I was told I need more descriptions in a book. I wrote for a fast read and people say it’s too fast. So, now I’m lost and know I need help. I can’t afford those big bucks ghostwriters. What do I do?

D.T.

Dear D.T.,

Congratulations on writing your first book!

You are absolutely a writer. Don’t sell yourself short.

As I’ve stated in a few places on my blog, I truly believe that everyone has at least one book within them. It takes a lot of courage to take that idea that you have stuck in your head and put it down on paper. By sharing our stories, it brings us all closer, making the world a little brighter.

Your question is wonderful. Let’s get into the subject of the art of storytelling through using descriptions in a book.

The importance of descriptions in a book

As an author, you want to help people feel they are smack in the middle of the adventure you’re sharing. For instance, when you’re sharing a memoir experience, proper descriptions will allow your reader to feel what you felt, see what you saw, etc. If you don’t help set the stage, people will be lost.

If you’re spinning a yarn (telling a fictional story) good description helps the reader visualize what you create. After all, as a novelist, you are often creating new worlds to explore or transporting people to a different era or culture. It’s fun!

Don’t overdo it

In this fast-paced world we like to keep things moving along. This especially applies to books. Readers really need you to get to the point. If the author spends two pages describing the food at a buffet, readers will often skip over those pages. If that happens too often, they’ll put the book down. Very few people have the time or interest to read through pages or even paragraphs of flowery explanations of the way things look.

Find a way to give just enough descriptions of the people, places and things in your story to help your reader truly understand what you are sharing. Too little and they’ll be confused, too much, and they’ll get bored. I know, it’s not easy. Writing takes experience. You’ll get the hang of it!

Identify the mood

I like to break my stories into incidents. In each scene there are characters that perform specific actions to accomplish a goal. So, read over your story and isolate all the individual incidents.

Now, select one. What is the mood of that event? Is a married couple arguing over money? Is a corrupt businessman afraid of the intern who is threatening to expose him? Name the mood, then look for places where you can amplify it with some descriptive words to complement your intention.

For instance, angry scenes can be punctuated with shorter sentences and violent gestures. People tend to cross their arms, their faces become flushed or red involuntarily, and they sometimes clench their jaw. There are a ton of mannerisms you can describe. These help the reader understand the emotions involved.

Use your senses

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Writing instructors often recommend that you make a chart of sensory words you could use to describe something. So, let’s say you want to describe that corrupt businessman. List out some of your senses and find words that describe your character or environment. For example, smells associated with the corrupt man might be stale cigarette smoke, musky cologne, or old sweat. Sounds could include a raspy cough, or the clink of the coins he rubs together when he’s nervous. You get the idea.

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It’s a good idea to hone your senses so you can write more vivid passages. Go out to a variety of places (eg: the mall, a forest, a busy street intersection, a supermarket, etc.) and just observe. How do they make you feel? When you close your eyes, what to you hear? What do you smell? Use all your sense and keep notes in a log.

Show don’t tell

I know I’ve mentioned this axiom (show don’t tell) a zillion times in my blog (not exaggerating), but honestly this is a cardinal rule in writing. Your readers want to see the story unfold. When I write, I imagine my story as a movie. This helps me avoid explaining things or being too vague. After all, when I write a screenplay, I can’t “explain” anything with descriptive passages. It all needs to be told through action and dialogue.

To illustrate, I’ll continue with the corrupt businessman example. Let’s say you want to show that he’s scared. You could just write, “He was scared.” However, that really doesn’t help the reader slip into the moment with you. Here’s another approach: “His throat was so dry, he could barely swallow. Small beads of sweat dripped down his back as he clutched his hands in his lap to stop them from trembling.”

Which do you find more effective in putting you smack dab in the middle of his fear?

Which one shows the emotion properly?

Descriptions in a book should show rather than tell the reader what you wish to share.

You have already done the hard work, D.T. Bravo! It sounds to me like you have the action down. Now you can round it out by adding a few descriptive details. Have fun with it!

Ask a Ghostwriter: How Do I Communicate Through Writing?

Dear Friendly Ghostwriter, I would love to write a book, but have trouble getting my thoughts down on paper. Whenever I write, I don’t feel it communicates what I’m trying to say. How do you get to the point where you can write something, and others understand what you intended to say? How do I communicate through writing? – Cole

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Cole, your question gets to the heart of writing. I think we can all forget sometimes that we’re simply working to communicate an idea to another person. That’s really all we are going for, right?

To answer your question, here are a few ideas to help you get your point across.

Summarize your message

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It’s a good idea to create a little summary of what you wish to communicate before you begin writing a piece. No matter the length of the piece, take the time to jot down your message and read it over before you begin your writing session. It will help keep you on point.

Say you’re writing an article. You might summarize it simply by saying, “I want to teach someone how to braid their hair efficiently.” Or if you’re writing your memoir, you might be driven to share an overall message of “When you can forgive others and let go of your anger, you can find freedom and peace.”

Noting this for yourself will help you share your communication with your readers.

Know your reader

In order to communicate with another, you first need to understand who will be reading your book. You need to know your reader. Now, some writers make the mistake of saying that “everyone” is their reader. While some books might appeal to many people, you can’t write to everyone. It just doesn’t work. It’s too general.

Pick a reader and write to that person. Maybe it’s a middle-aged woman with children or maybe it’s a high school kid in the gifted program. Maybe your readers are elderly people on a fixed income or maybe they are professional businesspeople. When you know your reader, you can communicate directly to them. It becomes personal and they feel it.

Don’t try to impress anyone

Some writers feel they need to haul out the big words when they write. Why? I believe some people feel that they are being judged on the complexity of their writing. They’re trying to impress someone.

It’s been my experience that it works best to write simply and from the heart. Use words that most people understand. Fluffing up your text with fancy imagery, long sentences, and sixty-four-dollar words often gets in the way of sharing your message with the reader.. Remember, writing is a form of communication. It doesn’t impress anyone if they can’t understand you or lose track of the message you wish to impart. Write to your readers as you would talk to a close friend.

Find your voice

We all can develop a written voice. It’s not a magical skill reserved for only the elite. After speaking to many writers over the years, I have learned that it takes professional writers a few hundred thousand words before they discover their written voice. It takes experience, sometimes trial and error. It takes patience and work.

Cole, I suggest that you write an article and show it to your friends, people who fit into your readership. Ask them to give you feedback. Ask, then don’t speak. Whatever you do, don’t lead them or give out hints, but find out if you are able to communicate through writing to them. If you didn’t get your point across, try again. Then ask again. When people start understanding your written word without explanation, you’re on the right track.

Keep writing. You’ll find your voice and you’ll learn to communicate your ideas on paper. It truly is an amazing art form! Of course, if any of my readers need the help and guidance of a ghostwriter, please feel free to email me!

Ask a Ghostwriter: Please Write a Book about My Life

i want someone to write a book about my life

Dear Friendly Ghostwriter, I want someone to write a book about my life. I’ve experienced so much, and I feel others could benefit from reading my story. There have been a lot of ups and downs, but I’ve come through and have a good life now. People are always telling me that I should write a book, so I’m reaching out to you. I don’t have the time and frankly, don’t have the experience needed. I need help! – R.W.

R.W. I’ll tell you, each week, I get at least three letters that paraphrase this sentiment. There are variations to this request, but the plea is basically the same. Help, help, I want someone to write my book!

I hear you!

I’m here to help.

I can’t always respond to everyone who writes, but here are a few ways you can be sure to catch my attention.

Have an uplifting angle

Trust me, no one wants to read a book about how horrible a life has been. While the story could be completely true, it will make reader feel awful (and sometimes squeamish). In addition, there will be no progression of the characters, which makes the book flat and boring.

Personally, I will only write meaningful stories, with good, uplifting endings. There is plenty of bad news in the world; I don’t need to add to it. It’s very rewarding for me when a reader walks away from reading a book I wrote with a new positive outlook and fresh approach to life.

I’ve ghostwritten a few books about the Holocaust, because I feel the survival stories are each important to share. I spoke to a woman the other day, who lives her life every day feeling grateful for being alive. She feels the weight of responsibility to make good decisions that help others. Shouldn’t we all feel that?

Research my website

I love it when authors write me and have done their homework. They have reviewed my website and want to hire me because they like how I write. I’ve written over a hundred blog articles, so if you want to get a feel for my writing style, my website is a great place to start.

I’ve also written over two dozen books, but unfortunately, you can’t read them. That’s because I always sign a confidentiality agreement with each client. After all, when you hire me, you’ll be the author and once we’re done, I’ll just be a ghost.

Still, I have two books that bear my name. Check them out. You don’t have to purchase them but can see a preview on Amazon. Yes, each client has a unique written voice, but it’s always wise to do a little research and become familiar with your ghostwriter’s writing skills.

Know what I charge

Take a moment and review my pricing. If you do, and I’m within your range, let me know. It saves us a lot of time. If you can’t afford me, but have a budget, be upfront about that. I can sometimes help you work something out with another writer.

I charge $50,000 for a 200-page (50,000 word) book. That works out to a dollar per word, so if you have a smaller budget, I can write a shorter book. Mini-eBooks are popular on Amazon, so that’s always an option.

Please understand that no matter how compelling your book is, I am not able to write it for free. It takes hundreds of hours to write a book!

I love working with new authors but am very selective about the books I write and the people I write with. My clients become my partners for the period we work together and most become good friends. It’s a special relationship, one I cherish.

If you’re saying to yourself, “I want someone to write a book about my life” email me and we’ll see what we can do to get started.