“Should I hire a ghostwriter?” This is a common question. You have a great book idea, but don’t know how to go about writing it. After all, writing a full-length book takes hundreds of hours and a lot of expertise.
After talking to countless prospective clients, I’ve discovered that most people usually have been trying to complete a book concept for months, sometimes years. Some have even been carrying the idea for more than a decade, sometimes their whole life.
Writing a book is often a goal that burns deep within a writer. People ache to hold that completed book in their hands. I can promise you, that desire will not disappear over time. It might just strengthen.
Now, you might be asking yourself, “Why shouldn’t I just write the book myself? Why should I hire a ghostwriter to write it for me?”
Well, if you hire a ghostwriter to write your book, you’ll received quite a few benefits. Some may surprise you. Here are 10 good reasons to hire a ghostwriter:
Hiring a ghostwriter saves you time
Give an honest look at your life. Do you really have time to write a book right now. What if you give yourself another two weeks to get started? Will that make a difference?
Most of my clients are busy CEOs or successful business men and women. They have trouble carving out a few hours a week to spend time with their family or go out to dinner with friends. It would be impossible to find the hundreds of hours it would take to write a book.
Most likely, if you can’t budget the time to complete your book now, things won’t change.
Many authors hire ghostwriters
Many books that you know and love have been ghostwritten. Check it out on your favorite search engine. You may be surprised!
If you can, look through books at your favorite bookstore. How many mention a writer in the acknowledgment section? Most likely that person was the ghostwriter.
Some people fear that it isn’t quite ethical to hire a ghostwriter. That’s a very personal decision and I wouldn’t presume to advise you on your own moral code. However, it might help you to know that there are many freelance writers out there helping busy successful people find their written voice.
You gain writing experience when you hire a ghostwriter
If you talk to an accomplished writer, you’ll find that they found their voice, their style, after they penned a few hundred thousand words. It takes experience, dedication, and drive.
You may not wish to invest the time required to write your own book. There is nothing wrong with that. You probably have an area of expertise that I couldn’t even begin to touch.
Remember, writing a book isn’t just a matter of collecting the right number of words. You need to follow the basic rules of writing and story telling, so that you can captivate your readers’ interest.
When you work with a ghostwriter, she will teach you her craft. You will learn a lot about writing, which will help you in the future.
Hiring a Ghostwriter Allows You to Avoid Writing about Painful Subjects
So many people write to tell me that they have lived an amazing life, but can’t possibly tackle writing about it because it is too difficult to face on their own.
You may be too close to the subject to be able to write about it. I would guesstimate that three quarters of the people who write to me, asking for help with their book, want to write their life story. Most get very emotional about the subject and can’t write objectively. You are not alone.
Discover new things about yourself
A ghostwriter is trained to interview you, pulling information from the depths of your memory. You may discover new tidbits of information about your past as we progress through your book.
My clients routinely remark, “Wow, I’d completely forgotten all about that!” Their memories of incidents become sharper and they are often very grateful for that side benefit.
You will be an author of a well-written book
If you hire a ghostwriter, you’ll receive full credit for your book. You’ll also own all the rights.
You will be able to attend book signings and hand potential clients your book. No one will know that a ghostwriter gave you a helping hand. We all sign confidentiality agreements, making sure your secret is safe.
You get the benefit of a full author’s credit without having to put in the hundreds of hours needed to write a book people won’t want to put down.
A ghostwriter will get the job done efficiently
When you hire a ghostwriter, you’ll be able to get your book written and published quickly. If you wait until the time is right, it could take decades. Or your book will stay within the confines of your mind and never see the light of day.
You should get your book written as soon as possible. Why wait? There is no benefit to holding off, but there is a very real danger that someone else will come up with your idea and write the book themselves.
You will be a published author
Once your book is available to readers, you are a published author in every sense of the word. There is a beautiful sense of accomplishment when you have completed and published a book. No one can ever take that joy away from you.
Imagine seeing your name on the cover of a book at your local bookstore.
Remember, your book will live forever, entertaining and educating your readers throughout future generations. It’s quite an achievement.
It’s rewarding to receive great reviews
When you have a well-written book, people will write lovely reviews. This is such a rewarding experience for a new author.
Imagine reading a review about how your book changed someone’s life. What greater feeling is there?
Most authors want to move people with their writing. They wish to help others who are experiencing certain difficulties or facing particular challenges.
You will enjoy the ghostwriting process
The ghostwriting process is a lot of fun. It’s a bit like sitting in the back of a stretch limo with a friendly driver upfront guiding you to your destination.
You’ll enjoy watching the pages of your inspiration unfold before your eyes. Just imagine what it would be like to receive the first chapter of your book in your email’s inbox within a month.
If you’d like to hire me, please contact me today and we’ll chat about your project!
Sharing your life story through a memoir is an intimidate and special experience. As you outline your book, you should consider the incidents that will flow together to tell your life story. When you do it well, the memoir themes you wish to weave should pop out nicely.
You might be thinking, “Hey, I’m just writing what happened in my life. Why would my memoir need to have a theme?” Well, the truth is that memoir themes are vital to your story’s success. After all, a memoir is a specialized autobiography and, as such, it must follow the rules of literature.
What is a theme?
Simply put, the theme of a book is the main idea that ties everything together. This idea might express a basic universal truth, such as Love, Compassion, Tolerance, War, or Loyalty.
These general themes can be further refined to explore a specific aspect. For instance, in Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare broke down the idea of “Love” and particularly examined forbidden love and its potential consequences.
A theme can also delve into a deeper concept, such as the battle between good and evil. For example, A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin explores many shades of good and evil throughout.
The theme is usually not stated outright. You never want to bonk the readers over their heads with your theme. Instead, the author gives the reader insight into his view of the world and the human condition through the characters’ beliefs, actions, experiences and conversations.
How do themes relate to memoirs?
When you write your memoir, you’re not just publishing a shopping list of memories. You are telling the story of pivotal moments in your life, of the lessons you’ve learned that make you who you are.
To capture your readers’ interest, you will need to share these incidents in the most interesting way possible, highlighting key events (creating action) and the people who influenced you most (who become characters in your book).
So, your memoir must follow the same rules as any good piece of literature: you must be able to tie the threads of your story tapestry together with a compelling theme.
How do I find my memoir themes?
If you’re struggling to find a good theme, check out my detailed article: Tips To Find Your Memoir Theme. To summarize, here are some key ideas you can explore:
Look over your life story. Were there any obstacles you overcame? What lessons did you learn along the way? Jot these down, and they might point you in the direction of one or two memoir themes.
Summarize your story in one or two sentences. When you drill down to the core of what your story is about, the theme often reveals itself.
Step back and look at the big picture. Ask yourself questions such as “Why did I make that choice?” or “What would I do differently now that I know what I know today?” These questions could help you formulate your memoir themes.
Talk to someone who knows your story. Since she has an outside perspective, she may spot similarities to unify your message.
I was working with a client who had an oppressive influence as a child. She hadn’t recognized it prior to our conversation, but when the stories started flooding out, she realized that an old schoolteacher wasn’t the hero she remembered him to be. One theme that came from these discussions is how one can overcome childhood adversities to become a success.
So, what are some good themes for your memoir? Well, let’s start with some examples of great memoir themes that I’ve encountered in my two decades as a ghostwriter. Maybe a few will resonate with you. Feel free to make adjustments to make them work for your story.
Persistence always wins in the end
If you’ve lived a hard life, one with lots of obstacles to overcome, this can be a great theme if you’ve triumphed. Others will benefit greatly from your story, perhaps finding the strength to pull themselves out of their current hardship.
Note: If you’re still amid the battle and really don’t have anything positive to share, now isn’t the time to write. And if your real goal is to complain to your reader, your story won’t make for a good read. I mean, would you want to read a book like that?
Continual courage can lead to victory
We have all experienced battles where the odds seemed against us. It’s what you do at those moments that counts and can make for a good story. If your life is filled with examples of courage and integrity, that would be a great theme.
I’ve ghostwritten many books with this theme. In fact, three different clients came to me with stories of escaping communism and fascism in bold and daring ways. We can all learn from their bravery.
Family is important
This is a simple theme, but a good one. In this day and age, where the media reports that most marriages fail and children are growing up without the support and love of their parents, a good memoir showing the beautiful bond of family is a needed commodity. Of course, this theme can go beyond the traditional family structure. If you’ve experienced success and happiness in a non-traditional setting, this can truly inspire others in a similar situation.
Then there is always a need for good advice. Especially in the field of parenting. If you’ve evolved a unique approach that had positive results, you will have an interested audience.
If your story highlights times when you stood up and did the right thing, even when it was difficult for you, your story can set an important example for others. It isn’t always easy to keep your integrity, especially when peers are pressuring you to do the opposite.
Writing a book that shows how you succeeded by being ethical can help others make similar choices in their own lives. Perhaps someone will pick up your book when he’s at an important crossroad in his life and just needs a gentle nudge to make the right decision.
Crime doesn’t pay
Over the years I have received a number of requests from former inmates who are eager to share their stories of reform. The ones who are passionate about this subject, who regularly go out and speak to young adults, can do well with a complementary memoir.
A memoir from a former inmate will be rough in places and won’t always be happy-go-lucky, but the lessons learned by someone who has traveled the wrong path can be helpful to others. This theme only works if the author is presently leading a successful and ethical life.
Being true to oneself brings rewards
In a world of peer pressure and a constant demand to conform, it can be hard to find one’s way. Influencers from all corners of the globe (or perhaps just down the street) loudly proclaim their “truths” and harass anyone who doesn’t agree. If you’ve remained true to your beliefs despite pressure to surrender, your courage can be a beacon for others to do the same.
For example, many young artists are guided away from their passions by people around them. The ones who have weathered the critics around them and have succeeded beyond anyone’s wildest expectations may instill hope in others undergoing a similar struggle.
Some people have had a difficult decision to make in life and chose an unconventional route. Those authors could motivate others to consider alternative ways as well.
I ghostwrote a book about a woman whose young son had horrible symptoms. She defied her doctors by doing independent research and discovered the true nature of her son’s illness, thus saving him. This story continues to inspire parents all over the globe struggling with a similar problem.
Journeying outside of one’s comfort zone expands horizons
So many people have well-established routines that ultimately don’t do much to fulfill their true life goals. I think most people have a vague awareness that things could be different, could be better, but have no idea how to implement the changes required to make a difference.
If you’ve broken the bonds and found new vistas of joy and fulfillment, your journey could encourage others to take their own leaps of faith.
This journey could be literal. Perhaps the author traveled to a different country and immersed himself in its culture, thereby gaining a broader understanding of what others have to endure to survive and a deeper appreciation of his own opportunities.
Or perhaps the journey is more figurative, more internal. It may be that the author has overcome a potent fear in order to pursue her dream. Or possibly she’s been able to make a change for the better, improving her moral compass along the way.
Life transitions can bring new experiences and joys
Shakespeare wrote a famous monologue about the seven ages of man, detailing each stage a person transitions through in life, a concept philosophers have been contemplating for eons. Each shift into a new phase of life can be a potent memoir theme.
Some transitions can be joyful, while others are often fraught with difficulties. How did you approach a shift in life? Did you discover a new method of tackling a transition that could help others?
For example, perhaps when you and your spouse had children while maintaining full time jobs, you discovered some methods to juggle both successfully. Or if you’ve hit retirement early and have started a new business, you can share your successful actions and help others do the same.
As you begin to write your life story, there are so many great and inspiring memoir themes for you to explore. Really, you just need to look at the positive impact your story could have on others and then write it from the heart.
If you’re in the market to hire a ghostwriter, please contact me. I’d love to chat with you about your memoir project!
I’ve been a ghostwriter for twenty years now and love it. Although I am also a published author, there is something singularly satisfying about helping someone complete a lifelong goal of seeing their book in the hands of enthusiastic readers. However, there is a question that comes up routinely when I mention what I do. People ask, “Is ghostwriting ethical?”
When it comes to ethics and morals, some things are very cut and dry. No, you shouldn’t steal that candy bar just because you’re hungry and broke. Yes, you should help a friend in need even if it might be inconvenient. Other issues might be less black and white; they become a personal choice. For instance, are white lies acceptable if it avoids hurting someone’s feelings? Some would say yes, while others would disagree vehemently. Still, I think most people have a good barometer for determining right from wrong.
However, I do get a variety of responses when people hear that I write books for others. Some people wonder if what I do is really OK. Here’s a semi-typical conversation:
“What do you do?”
“I’m a ghostwriter. I write books for other people.”
“So you’re telling me that you write the book, but someone else gets all the credit?”
At this point I usually give a polite nod. “That’s right.”
“But how is that fair?”
“I’m paid upfront for my work. I’m fine with it. Really, I am.”
“But…is ghostwriting ethical?”
Now, that’s a good question, one worthy of a blog article.
Is ghostwriting ethical?
I feel strongly that ghostwriting other people’s books is ethical, or I wouldn’t be in this line of work. The way I see it, I’m helping people achieve their dreams by getting their books published. If they aren’t able to write the book themselves, why not hire someone to help them?
The exception to this rule is that ghostwriting an academic paper is decidedly unethical. Once in a while I get a PhD student writing in to ask me to write their thesis. I think we can all agree that crosses a very clear line.
Being completely candid, some writers I know will not work as ghostwriters because they feel it isn’t right. They don’t feel right about giving up all the credit for words they’ve written. And there are authors who will not put their name on a book unless they wrote every word themselves. I admire anyone who sticks with their integrity. For these folks ghostwriting isn’t ethical for them. I always say: Never be swayed by popular opinion. Stick to your guns and decide what is right for you.
As I said prior, ethics is a personal judgment call. Even though I feel strongly about my opinion, I can also see the other viewpoint. In the end, you must decide if ghostwriting is an ethical choice for you.
Ghostwriters are everywhere
Maybe it would help to know that ghostwriting is a common practice. There are many published authors who had help writing their books. There are tens of thousands of freelance writers, but most don’t make a living ghostwriting books. That’s a more elite group.
You might be wondering how you can tell if a book is ghostwritten. Well, that’s a little tricky because typically a ghostwriter signs a Non-disclosure agreement. However, if you look through the books at your local bookstore, there are a few indicators that the book was written by a ghost.
Look to see if there are two authors listed on the cover and one’s name is preceded by “as told to” or “with,” these are both standard ghostwriting credits. Also, flip to the back and look at the Acknowledgment section. Many clients have mentioned me there, thanking me for my help (sometimes even mentioning my company name).
When you start looking for ghostwriters, you’ll start to see them more and more. It’s a bit like when you become a parent and become aware of all the strollers, car seats, and diaper bags in the world. They were always there, but now that you’re looking for them, they seem to be everywhere.
Plagiarism isn’t ethical
Plagiarism is when someone copies someone else’s work, doesn’t give him or her credit, and then tries to pass it off as their own work. This is illegal. It’s a misdemeanor, which can result in fines and possibly jail time. You can’t just steal other people’s work.
Some people confuse plagiarism and ghostwriting. They are very different, because a ghostwriter is paid to write for an author. The contractual agreement states that the author will own the copyrights for the work at the end of the project.
Now if a ghostwriter plagiarizes someone else’s work and turns it into the client, that is illegal. This can happen when authors pay ghostwriters very little and give them a miniscule deadline. They think their getting a good deal, but in the end, the author might be the one paying the fine and spending a few months in prison for the crime committed. It’s best to pay professional writers what they are worth.
Ghostwriting is similar to other industry practices
If you’re still on the fence and wondering if ghostwriting is ethical, consider that our agreement is not unlike others that exist in other fields. For example, large companies hire employees to write software programs or design equipment for them, asking them to assign the rights to them once the project is complete. The employees don’t usually get to keep the patents; the large corporation does.
How do you feel about this point? Is it ethical for an author to hire a ghostwriter to write a book for him or her? I’d like to hear your opinion! Please feel free to email me to discuss.
If you’re looking to hire a writer, you might be curious about the various options. There are a variety of ghostwriting methods I use when helping someone write a book or a series of articles. I select the process based on what the author needs and how developed his idea might be. After all, in the end, my client is my writing partner, and each relationship is quite different. If you’re interested in hiring me, please pop me an email and tell me which ghostwriting method makes the most sense to you.
Ghostwriting Method 1: Your ideas, my words
The most common request I get is to write a book based on a rough sketch or outline of a book concept. The author has ideas, but hasn’t had the time to form the words. After all, writing fifty thousand words is time consuming. It can take over a year.
In this case, I take all the written material my client has compiled and then I interview him or her. After that phase, I’ll do independent research and write a detailed outline. Once my client approves that, I’ll start writing and send pages as I complete sections.
Ghostwriting Method 2: Your ideas, your words
This option is surprisingly rare. Most people who have never written a book don’t know how to structure their ideas or material into a complete manuscript. They also have trouble communicating their thoughts so that others can understand them. And while some are able to write, most don’t have the time, which is why they’ve come to me.
However, there are times when a client has found the time to write but will submit pages to me to be rewritten. I use their words but restructure the flow and fix any other issues the author has been struggling with.
Some clients hire me on an hourly basis to be their ghostwriting consultant. They really want to write their own book, but need a friendly safety net. I’m happy to teach them the process and rules of writing, while encouraging them to complete their books.
Ghostwriting Method 3: My ideas, my words
This option is also rare, but once in a while a client will give me a broad topic and a few scattered ideas, and asks me to provide all the rest of the material. I know it may sound strange, but if the topic is within my scope, I can write an entire book based on my researched knowledge. A few years ago, a client handed me two pages of notes about his great-great-grandparents journey to America. He wanted a fictionalized account of their possible adventures as they struggled to make it across our great land.
In this case, the book still belongs to the client. It always belongs to them because it is their concept and therefore they are the author.
Method 4: Researched ideas, my words
One common request I get from clients is to write a book or series of articles about a specific non-fiction topic. I often know very little about the subject. Fortunately, it’s extremely easy to do research. You can learn about practically anything these days using the internet.
I like to ask my clients to provide websites they recommend, so that I follow their philosophy and can work from accurate data on their niche market. Once I have the starting point, it’s easy to navigate through the rest.
I have twenty years of experience working with clients using these four different ghostwriting methods. I’m comfortable with any of them. Some clients hire me for multiple projects, using a variety of methods from one project to the next. If you’d like advice on the best ghostwriting method for you, please don’t hesitate to contact me!
That’s a common question, one that I’m always happy to answer when an client interviews me. Direct answers are best, I find. The answer is that I charge a dollar per word to ghostwrite and $145 per hour to consult (and I can get a lot done in one hour).
I will admit that I really enjoy talking to people about their book concepts. After all, I’ve worked with dozens of clients over the last twenty years and have had the privilege of writing their books with them. It is wonderfully rewarding!
Some prospective clients have very good ideas and just need help. However, occasionally there are those calls which frustrate me beyond belief. One occurred the other day…
A little story
I was right in the middle of the last chapter of a memoir I was ghostwriting for a client when the phone rang. Normally, I don’t like to be interrupted while writing, as it breaks my creative flow, but I worried that it might be a writer with a question, so I picked up.
“Hello?” I asked.
“Is this Laura Sherman?” the young woman asked, her voice slightly demanding.
Oh my… It wasn’t a good start. My parents taught me to identify myself on the phone. I dislike it when people don’t bother to give their name before asking me for mine.
“Yes, it is,” I said, with a sigh. I wasn’t in the mood to correct her. At least the woman didn’t sound like a telephone solicitor.
“I want to hire a ghostwriter to write my book, because I just don’t have the time to write it myself.”
“That makes sense,” I said. She had voiced a common plea. Most of my clients are busy executives, with very little extra time. “And to whom am I speaking?” (hint hint)
She paused for a moment, probably weighing the pros and cons of telling me her name. “Joyce.” (Okay, that wasn’t really her name, but I’m a ghostwriter, so I can embellish.)
I gave her a brief overview, explaining how it would probably require a couple dozen interviews, spread out over a ten month period. I explained how it takes a ghostwriter hundreds of hours to write a book. Then she asked a few more questions before she got to the big one.
“So, how much does it cost to hire a ghostwriter?”
“Well, that depends. How long will your book be?”
“About two hundred pages,” she said.
“That’s a good length. I charge a dollar per word,” I said. “So, I’d charge $50,000. What’s your budget?”
“I don’t know. I don’t have a lot of money to spend.”
“Well, how much did you want to spend?”
“I don’t know, maybe a thousand dollars? I know that probably isn’t enough, right?”
“No, it isn’t,” I agreed. “Not if you want me to write the book for you. I could coach you on writing your book, but you’d need to write it yourself.”
“No. I don’t want to do that. I want you to write it,” she said.
A ghostwriter’s fee
No one can charge a thousand dollars for ten months work, not even starving ghostwriters. However, I always like to try to help everyone who contacts me. “Look, I know a few editors who are looking to branch out into writing. If you’re interested in writing a short, one-hundred page book, that price is possible. It’s low, but possible.”
“I don’t have that kind of money.”
“Then you’ll probably need to write the book yourself,” I said. “If you did manage to find someone willing to write your book for a thousand dollars, it probably wouldn’t come out well. Then you’d be stuck hiring someone else to rewrite it.”
Then she asked me about the publishing process. So I gave her a rundown on what an author needs to do to sell a book.
“I’m not good with computers, so I can’t do any of that,” she said.
Authors need to learn about marketing
“You’ll need to learn,” I said. My bluntness sometimes gets me into trouble. However, I find it’s better to be upfront than beat around the bush. “Even if you get a publisher, you’ll need to do your own marketing. That’s part of being an author these days.”
She didn’t seem very interested in this part of the discussion. “So, how can I find a ghostwriter?”
“If you’re able to scrape together ten thousand dollars, I can ask around for you.”
She paused then said, “But that would be for a good writer. What if I just wanted to find a writer who will do it for one thousand dollars?”
I have to admit I was gobsmacked, as my British friends would say. Finally, I tried to repeat that anyone willing to write a book for a thousand dollars wasn’t someone she’d want to hire, but she cut me off and said, “OK, thank you!” and hung up.
Moral of the story
If you’re serious about writing a book, you will find a way. Either hire a good, qualified ghostwriter or make the time to learn how to write a book then write it yourself. If you choose to write your own book, consider hiring me as a consultant. I can help you with outlining, rewrites, dialogue, character arcs, etc.
Now, if you’ve read this article and you are interested in hiring a ghostwriter, I would love to hear from you.
If you’re interested in learning more about the writing process, please check out these other blog article topics:
Hiring a ghostwriter is a major undertaking. You are about to enter into a long-term relationship with someone who will step into your shoes and learn to write with your voice. Because writing a book together with a ghostwriter is such a personal journey, it’s important that you compile a good list of interview questions for a ghostwriter to help you find the best match for you.
I recommend writing down the questions ahead of time; however, as with any great interview, you’ll need to ask follow-up questions on the fly. Make sure to take notes, so that after you’ve spoken to a few writers, you can remember who said what. Notes will also help you formulate follow-up questions.
Potential interview questions for a ghostwriter
Through your questions, you should work to determine the experience and ability of each ghostwriter you interview. Here are a few topics you might consider covering:
The number of books she has written
Writing a book is not an easy task. There are many steps involved in producing a high-quality product. If your prospective ghostwriter has never written a book, you can expect that she will likely have trouble completing your project.
Having said that, if you’re on a tight budget, a ghostwriter with no prior experience should give you a great price on your book because she will be eager to fill in her resume. It’s a bit of a gamble for you, but if you check out her writing samples and talk to her extensively, you might find a hidden gem. Make sure to pay her enough so that she can invest the time to deliver a quality manuscript to you.
A professional ghostwriter will have a few dozen books under her belt. All the same, if a writer has written at least three books, she is experienced enough to help you with your project.
Testimonials from past clients
Someone once told me that what other people say about you counts far more than what you say about yourself. I like that tidbit of advice because it is so very true.
Any professional freelance writer should have collected quite a few testimonials from prior clients. Now, the only problem is that these will need to be semi-anonymous because all ghostwriters are sworn to secrecy. Even so, an established ghostwriter won’t have any trouble getting a few clients to write a few lines of praise.
Check out my testimonial page. You’ll see some clients proudly share their name and company name, while others prefer to share only initials. Still, you can see that I have worked with many people over the last twenty years. Make sure your ghostwriter has similar credentials.
Her writing forte
Some of the interview questions for a ghostwriter should revolve around what she likes to write. Also ask about her experience. This will help you determine if the ghostwriter is a good match for you.
A few writers only write fiction. Others love to pen memoirs, while some prefer to stick to small business books.
Personally, I enjoy writing uplifting stories, helping record a family’s history or compiling educational non-fiction material. I wouldn’t be comfortable writing a memoir centered around abuse; it would be too painful.
However, I can write a fictional novel, a non-fiction how-to book (sometimes called prescriptive non-fiction), or a memoir. I love all classifications and genres, as long as the overall message is positive.
Her current schedule
When you interview a ghostwriter, ask about his schedule. You need to have some prediction about when he can deliver a finished manuscript to you.
If the writer you select has a full-time job and is going to try to write your book in his spare time, I’ll tell you right now, that’s a recipe for disaster. You can predict that scheduling conflicts will prevent him from completing your story in a timely manner. Plus, he will be tired after his day job and will have trouble giving you his best effort.
Find a writer who has the time to work with you. You might also ask him how many projects he has on his plate at the moment. As for me, I’m comfortable working on many projects at the same time and always strive to come in ahead of schedule. However, I’m upfront about the time it takes to write a book. Eight months is a minimum requirement, but some can take up to 18 months. It really depends upon the amount of research required.
A few additional steps
Sometimes you might find that you instantly click with a ghostwriter and just know she is perfect for your project. However, there might be times when you’re not as confident and feel like you need more information. That’s understandable. If you have a good first interview with a ghostwriter, but aren’t 100% sure about hiring her, there are a few additional actions you can take.
Test your writer before hiring her
It is a good idea to test your top ghostwriting candidates by requesting a sample of their writing. This will allow you to see how you work with them.
You’ll need to pay for the samples you request. Please never ask a candidate to write for free. No professional ghostwriter should agree to that (if he does, he’s far too desperate, which should be a red flag). However, I highly recommend that you ask her to write a few pages for you—for a fee. Most writers have a per word fee. For instance, I charge a dollar per word. If asked to write a sample, I can produce any length desired.
Keep in mind that there are about 250 words per page. So, four- to eight- pages is a good-sized sample. This will help you determine the skill of the ghostwriter.
Yet you are not only checking out the ghostwriter’s ability to write, but evaluating his process as well. How much time does he take to write the piece? Make sure he gives you a deadline. Then observe if he meets it. If he is late (for any reason), know that he will probably be frequently tardy if you hire him.
How does the writer respond to your feedback? If he bristles at your suggestions, that doesn’t bode well for the future. On the other hand, if he accepts all your suggestions without any discussion, this could be equally problematic.
A good ghostwriter/client relationship involves a healthy amount of give and take. That’s what will produce the best-possible book. I will always give my clients my honest opinion and thoughts, but in the end, remind them that “you are the boss.”
Communication is key
After you ask your interview questions for a ghostwriter, observe how she handles subsequent communication with you. How quickly does she answer your emails? Does she respond to your texts in a timely manner?
My policy is to handle all communications within 24 hours. In actuality, I’m much faster. I’ve had a few clients comment on how fast I am. “It’s like you’re sitting there waiting for my email!” Well, no, I’m not. But I do check my email frequently. When I see a client query pop up, I like to handle it quickly.
Most ghostwriters offer a free consultation. Take them up on that. It’s a great opportunity to get their take on your project. See if you can get them to give you some insight into how they’d tackle the project. How would they approach the opening chapter? For instance, if you’re writing your memoir, I’d advise you not to start with the day you were born. It’s much better to find an exciting incident to begin your book and drop the reader headfirst into that scene!
Take action to avoid scammers
It’s unfortunate, but true; there are those who will try to scam you in this industry. Over the years I’ve had many people report being ripped off through Craigslist. That’s why I don’t recommend finding your writer through that source.
When vetting a writer, try putting her name into a search engine and see what comes up. If she is a successful writer, her books, interviews and articles should pop up. If the proverbial crickets chirp (dead silence), you know she isn’t very well established (or she has chosen to keep off the internet). Most professional writers have their own websites.
If a ghostwriter asks for the entire fee upfront, she is probably trying to con you. Typically, professional writers will ask for a deposit of 25% to 50%. The rest of the payments should be made as the pages are produced. I ask for 25% at the signing of the contract, then another 25% after the detailed outline is approved. The third installment is due after I complete the first half of the first draft, and the final payment is made when I’ve given the client the completed first draft. After that, I make all the edits (hiring an outside editor) and deliver the final manuscript.
The process of hiring a ghostwriter should be quite enjoyable. If you ask your interview questions for a ghostwriter and bond with her, it bodes well for a successful working relationship. After all, writing a book with a professional can be a fun and fulfilling adventure. Take the time to pick the right writer for you!
So, you’ve got an epic book idea and you dream of getting it published, but you haven’t been able to find a way to complete it. Do you need help? Hiring a ghostwriter can certainly bring that dream to fruition. But how do you find a ghostwriter? It’s tough to know who to hire, who will be the person to see your project through to the end.
Just doing a search in Google for the term “ghostwriter” will provide a myriad of results. Many of the companies you’ll find are large firms that subcontract out to thousands of writers. It can be a bit overwhelming if you have no clear plan of action in place. Here are a few tips to help you make sense of it all and find a ghostwriter to be your voice.
Avoid cheap writers
There are freelance sites like Fiverr, where you can find someone willing to do the job. They charge much less than the market generally demands. While that might sound appealing, you should be hearing the faint echo of blaring warning sounds. If you know that the average ghostwriter bids $15,000 to $60,000 to write a full length book, and requires six to twelve months to complete the project, it doesn’t make sense for someone to bid $500.
There’s a reason for the low bid. If you hire someone for a tenth the price, you’ll wind up with a subpar product. Trust me, you will need to rewrite the book once it is delivered. However, at that point you’ll probably be frustrated and will be less likely to continue. Chances are the book will never get written.
The best strategy is to:
Establish your budget
Finding a ghostwriter starts by finding your budget. You need to know what you can spend before you start looking.
Don’t be shy about discussing your budget early on in the conversation with your prospective ghostwriters. I’ve noticed that some authors hesitate to tell me what they want to spend when I consult them. Sometimes they just don’t know.
If you only have a few thousand dollars, you’ll need to write the book yourself and hire an editor. Editors range from $1,000 – $5,000, depending upon what kind of editor you hire. Check out my article: Different Kinds of Editors to learn more about this area.
If you only have a few hundred dollars, you can hire a writing consultant by the hour. If you need a consultant, please feel free to contact me.
Know your budget before you begin your search to find a ghostwriter.
Check work samples
If you have a budget to hire a ghostwriter, it’s time to do a little research. Be sure to check their work samples and any books they may have published ahead of time. Do this prior to contacting them if possible.
There is no better indicator of the type of work someone can produce for you than the work they have already published. Professional writers have varying styles. Find a writer who writes in a style you and your readers would enjoy reading. If you don’t like the writer’s samples, chances are you won’t like how they tackle your book.
Establish a rapport
Once you get through the initial stages of research and are drawn to a particular ghostwriter, take the time to talk to her. The writing process is a very bonding experience. Most likely, you’ll be immediately drawn to the right writer. If not, keep looking.
Remember you will work closely with this ghostwriter for the next year or so. If you’re writing a memoir, you’ll need to open up to her and share very intimate details. If you don’t have a strong rapport right from the start, the book will reflect that.
Once you find the right writer, start immediately. Don’t put it off.
It’s been my experience that whenever a client puts off a project too long, the project never gets completed. It is rare that someone postpones for more than a month and then does what is required to publish a book. Keep in mind that it will take about a year to write your book and then another few months to self-publish it. When you consider that, now is a good time to start!
Finding a quality ghostwriter to deliver your book doesn’t have to be a haunting, I mean daunting task (a little friendly ghost humor). I am always happy to answer all of your questions and give you advice about the ghostwriting process.
Many people desire to record their family’s history. If you feel strongly about this, I recommend that you appoint someone to be 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 from the experiences of their ancestors. We all benefit from our family history.
When we uncover how our 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:
If 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.
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
I’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
When 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?
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.
If you want to be a great writer and create a best-selling novel, memoir, or business book, you must learn how to edit your own book.
As an author, you are probably adept at magically weaving words together to create worlds which will entice and educate your readers, but keep in mind that you are also in charge of making sure your words communicate. A book that doesn’t communicate to its readers is destined to remain unread.
If you can become your own editor, you have a good chance of becoming a popular and well-read author. In addition you will become a stronger writer. Your first drafts will become better and better with each subsequent book because you will spot your weak points and correct them. Not only will you improve your ability to structure plot, create characters and highlight themes, but you will reduce the number of spelling and grammatical errors.
Edit your own book before you publish it
It’s important to note that after you edit, and before you publish, you will need to hire outside editors to make sure everything works. Most authors hire at least a developmental editor and a copy editor. If you have questions about this area, please check out my article about the different kinds of editors available to you.
However, before you turn over your work to a professional editor, you will need to make sure it is the best you can make it. That way the editor can do a better job for you.
The editing process begins with you
Your editor can do a much better job if he doesn’t need to wade through a super rough draft. It’s a little like hiring someone to clean your home after a party where litter and lampshades are strewn around the floor. While some may feel it is silly to clean up for the cleaner, it actually makes sense.
With the obvious mess out of the way, he can spend his time doing a detailed cleaning. It’s the same with your manuscript. When you clean it up, it will save your editor time, which will save you money.
The editing process ends with you
When you hire a professional editor, she will give you a lot of comments. Some will be elements that you must change, while others will be an opinion. You need to recognize the difference and act accordingly.
If you misspelled a word or misused a comma, you’ll need to make those corrections. However, sometimes the editor might not quite get your voice, your style, or your meaning. In those cases, you need to know not to make those changes. If you plan to develop a long-term relationship with an editor, communicate directly with her about those points so that she can understand how to better edit your work. If she is defensive, find another editor. There are many good ones out there.
While it’s true that traditional publishers provide in-house editors for all the books they have under contract, you still need to get in the front door. It’s vital to present the best draft you can. Otherwise, they will ignore your manuscript and reach for one of the many thousands that grace their inbox.
Most authors opt to self-publish. Although you can self-publish anything these days, the last thing you want is to publish a book full of plot holes and riddled with typos and errors.
You can never erase the bad reviews you’ll get.
Proper editing will go a long way to encouraging a slew of five-star reviews, which will help you to develop a following.
Edit your own book with the big picture in mind
It’s a mistake to focus on grammar and editing when you first sit down to edit your own book. This isn’t a good place to start. Instead, begin by looking at the overall structure and flow of your book. Later you can work your way down to the fine details. When you tackle the big picture first, many of your words and sentences will change, thereby possibly eliminating the need to correct spelling and grammatical errors.
To get a sense of the big picture, I find it helps to find a one-line answer to the question, “What is my story about?” The answer you come up with will help you align your book around that central concept.
For instance, let’s say you determine that your book is about how you struggled through adversity to become a successful business owner. Skip the late-night stress-baking scenes or the irrelevant tiffs with in-laws. Unless the scene directly relates to the purpose and thrust of your book, delete it.
Let’s examine various key elements of the big picture.
When you first start to edit your own book, I suggest that you examine the plot. Make sure it hits all the areas you need it to hit:
If you haven’t outlined your book, now might be a good time to analyze the purpose of each incident within your story. If you can’t find a purpose for the scene, delete it.
The next step is to scrutinize your characters carefully from a big picture viewpoint. Do they each have a purpose in the novel or memoir? If not, cut them out. This can be the hardest part of editing for an author, I know. Writers tend to get attached to the people they created.
While you are sharpening your editing sheers, keep in mind that a character’s role can be small, yet significant. For instance, the barista who serves Joe a cup of joe every day might be a sounding board for his new ideas. Or Clarissa’s strict piano teacher might help the reader understand why she is such a perfectionist as an adult.
The main characters should all follow character arcs. In other words, they need to have some sort of transformation through the incidents of the story. Look over a few of your favorite books. Can you identify the character arcs within the stories?
If you’re writing a memoir, keep in mind that you are the main character of your story.
Themes are the main ideas that tie your story together. Universal themes deal with ideas about Love, Friendship, War,Faith and the like. More specifically, you can have themes such as “Persistence always wins in the end,” “Family is important,” or “Being true to oneself has rewards.” For more information about themes, read my article, Great Memoir Themes.
Your book should explore one or more themes. I like to think of it like weaving gold thread through tapestry to make it shimmer. You never want to hit your reader over the head with a theme. Instead, you want to suggest it and have the readers recognize the concept for themselves. Or not. Readers never like to be told what to think. I mean, who does?
As you edit, make sure your story aligns with your theme. For instance, if you want to promote the idea that kindness wins in the end, you might not want your lead character to succeed by gleefully hurting others around him with no consequence.
Zoom in to edit your scenes
Now that you have all the big picture elements the way you want them, it’s time to closely examine your individual scenes one by one.
In the opening scene you want to grab the reader by the scruff of his neck and (hopefully) never let go. One way to do this is to drop him in the middle of the ocean and demand that he treads water to keep up. This is the make-break point of your book. The opening scene can be the most challenging to write, so some authors rewrite that first crucial scene after they complete their first draft. It can be easier to edit after the book is completed because you know exactly where the story winds up and you have all the story elements worked out.
As you review each scene, make sure it has a strong purpose in your story. It should move the story forward or illuminate an important aspect of your characters.
Also, determine if the scenes flow well the way you have them organized. You might need to switch them around and create new transitions.
If you’re a writer who writes by the seat of his pants rather than outlining ahead of time, this is a good time to sprinkle in a few foreshadowing elements. While plotters might have that covered, during the editing process they might have brilliant insights that inspire them to add in a few more.
This is also a good time to review your transitions. If they are too jarring, your reader will be flung out of your book and might never find his way back. Ideally, you want one scene to flow into the next like a long river.
Characters, a closer look
When you examine your characters, make sure they are believable and three-dimensional. Even if a character is secondary, she needs to have proper development and realistic motivations for her actions. Of course, a bank teller who appears once on page fifty-nine doesn’t need a back story, but consider that the third-grade teacher, who is featured in a quarter of the book, will need more than a mere physical description.
Continuity is something to look at in this phase. In the big picture you’ve gone over the character arc and made sure each main character has hit the highs and the lows that he or she should. But now it’s time to make sure each character is consistent in his speech and actions. If Matilda was angry and sullen in the first part of the book, but suddenly becomes cheerful halfway through, there needs to be a reason. Likewise, if you established that Terry wasn’t very bright, it wouldn’t make sense if you later have him wax intellectual about a scientific discovery.
First person – The protagonist is telling the story. He is part of the story and shares his experiences directly.
Second person (rare) – The narrator is telling the story of “you,” so that it seems like the action is happening to you (the reader).
Third person limited – The narrator shares some of the thoughts and experiences of the characters, usually just one character.
Third person multiple – The narrator shares the thoughts and experiences of several characters.
Third Person omniscient – The narrator shares the thoughts and experiences of all characters.
Make sure you are keeping the point of view consistent throughout the story. For instance, if you’ve chosen third person limited and are writing from Mary’s point of view, you can’t suddenly switch over to James’ in the middle of a scene. Find a way to show how he is feeling from Mary’s viewpoint.
For instance, you wouldn’t say:
James couldn’t believe his ears. How could she have said that?
Instead, you might say:
Mary took a step back as James advanced on her saying, “How could you say something like that to me?”
Dialogue should have a purpose. It should move the story forward by providing information, advancing the plot or giving insight into your characters. Dialogue can be a wonderfully subtle way to reveal your characters’ motivations, as well as their overall moral compass and viewpoints.
Each character should have his or her own way of speaking. For instance, someone who is angry at the world will speak in shorter sentences, whereas someone with a flair for the dramatic might wax poetic with long, flowery prose. In addition, people in the real world sometimes make up their own words or phrases.
As you edit your own book, read your dialogue out loud or maybe have a friend read it to you. Listen carefully to the words and see if they sound real. Bad dialogue stands out like a leech on your leg.
Make sure each character has a distinct voice which is consistent and predictable. Pay close attention to your main character’s voice, especially if he or she is the narrator.
Edit your own book line by line
Now it’s time to zero in on each line of your book. Again, you shouldn’t focus on this task until you have completed the big picture and the scene analyses. Here you’ll focus on the word choice and look for errors.
Line editing is an art and there are many, many ways to edit your words so that they communicate effectively and efficiently. There are too many areas to discuss in this article, but I wanted to highlight a few key ones.
Show, don’t tell
This is a writer’s mantra.
When you edit your own book and see that you’re explaining something such as an emotion or a thought, consider how you might show it. This allows the reader to see it and draw his own conclusions, making him an active part of the story.
For example, you wouldn’t say:
Susie thought of the way Barry broke up with her. This made her feel sad. She missed him so much.
However, you might write:
Susie saw Barry across the room. She turned with a sigh and blinked away a tear as she fingered the silver chain he’d given her the previous month.
For a more detailed explanation of this concept of show, don’t tell, please check out my article on the subject.
Minimize your use of adverbs
Adverbs can weaken your writing. They also tell the reader something rather than allowing him to experience it. So, it’s good to use adverbs sparingly. Instead, use strong verbs to show the reader what is happening.
“I’ll do it later,” he said tiredly.
Instead, use something like this:
John yawned and closed his eyes. “I’ll do it later,” he said.
Keep your language real
Never try to impress your reader with fancy vocabulary. Instead, focus on words that best communicate your ideas.
For example, please don’t say:
Katie was stultified as the lecturer pontificated.
Katie found the lecture boring.
Take out needless words
When you write your first draft, the emphasis is on getting your ideas on paper. You should just let your ideas flow. To do that, you’ll probably use a lot of words to give them form. Now it’s time to delete the filler words.
For example, you may have written:
Smith took over the empty pilot seat in order to navigate around the mountain peak.
You can tighten it like this:
Smith took over the pilot seat to navigate the mountain peak.
After all, we can guess that no one was in the seat when he sat down and of course you’d go around the mountain peak.
When you write your first draft, you may find that you’ve repeated yourself. This is the time to edit out those redundancies.
For example, it is not uncommon for writers to write:
…he thought to himself.
You can simply say:
You can only think to yourself.
Or if you wrote:
She kicked him with her foot.
You can edit it down to:
She kicked him.
We know it was with her foot.
Check your “trouble words”
These are words that give you difficulty. Maybe you just can’t remember the spelling or the grammar rule. No worries, everyone has them.
For instance, some people struggle with the difference between “your” and “you’re”. Or they have trouble remembering when to use “it’s” and “its.”
Luckily, there are plenty of online resources and tools to help you with trouble words. But nothing beats finding these errors for yourself. So, keep a list of your trouble words handy and look out for them as you line edit your own book.
You’ve made it through the editing phase of your book project. Now you can turn over your manuscript to one or two professional editors. Then it’s off to the printing presses, virtual or otherwise.
If you have any questions or need help as you edit your book, please feel free to comment below or write me directly. And if you’re in the market to hire a ghostwriter, please check out my book: Your Guide to Hiring a Ghostwriter.
Do you want to write a nonfiction book that will allow readers to learn about a niche market that only you understand well? Many people have a unique skill set and knowledge that sets them apart from everyone else in their field. If you’ve reached a level of success, it might be time to write a nonfiction book!
Help others achieve their goals in your given field of expertise.
Pick a topic
Some people want to write a book, but have no idea what to write about. Or they have a concept, but all their ideas don’t quite fit and the words just don’t flow. The first step is to pick a subject you have a specialized knowledge about.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself to get started:
Is there a subject that you know about that others don’t?
What really interests you?
What could you write about that would help your business?
It’s important to pick a subject that will capture your readers’ attention and hold it. You can select a target niche market, but you will need to make sure your book will appeal to those people.
One day, about a year ago, a lady called and asked if I would help to write her memoir. After speaking to her I determined that her life story would not make a good book. Not everyone’s does. However, she had a wonderful niche market, a side business that was flourishing. I advised her to start working on a nonfiction eBook about that.
Determine the problems your reader needs to solve
Your readers will pick up your book because they need to solve a problem or get answers to questions plaguing them. Figure out what these issues are so that you can help them.
The first step will be to determine who your reader is. “Everyone” is not a good answer. It’s way too general.
In the case of Chess Is Child’s Play – Teaching Techniques That Work, we determined that our primary reader would be parents who do not play chess. Yes, the book is applicable to grandparents and educators, as well as well-established chess coaches, but they weren’t our target reader.
With Joshua’s Missing Peace, the target market was parents of children who are having a medical crisis. Of course, I want all parents to read our book, but realistically parents of children in similar situations to Joshua’s would be searching for this book.
Find out who your reader is and then write the book to that person.
Create a table of contents
Before you start writing your book, you need to create an outline or table of contents. Consider what your readers will want to learn and put the information in an order that will help them gain the knowledge quickly, making sure that each concept builds on the previous ones.
Next it will help you to write down paragraph summaries for each chapter. Ask yourself, Why do I feel a certain subject deserves a spot in my book?
Once you have this written, note the subheadings for each chapter. Think about the best way to break up the chapter, so that people can easily understand and apply the information you are giving them.
Write and write and write
The next step is where some people fall off. You must roll up your sleeves and write. Make regular progress and do not allow too many breaks between writing sessions.
It might help to keep a log of how many words you write each day. Make a game of it! Create a target. See if you can write something each day, setting a minimum number of words to be written, such as 500 words per day?
Do not edit as you write, just get all the information out of your mind and onto your laptop. There will be time to edit later.
eBooks can be any length these days, but shoot for 50,000 words if you can. That will be around two hundred pages.
If that’s too much, go for a mini-eBook.
Hire an editor or ask your friends to read your book
After you finish your first draft you can go through and polish and edit. You’ll catch a lot of errors on your own, improving the manuscript through this process, but most writers need a second set of eyes on their work.
You may need to hire an editor. If you don’t have the money, try asking a few friends to read over your manuscript, looking for errors and typos. The more people you can get to read it, the better.
Don’t worry too much about learning how to write a nonfiction book. Just get out there and start writing. I bet you have a specialized area of knowledge that people want to know about. Start writing and don’t allow yourself to stop until you’re done!