The Memoir Theme of a Conquering Hero

You must be brave to write your memoir

Writing a memoir requires the skill sets and virtues of a knight. The author needs unparalleled bravery and must possess an honest and true heart. They have to show humility and be generous to the others mentioned in the book (even if they have done harm to our hero).

But how do you find the theme of the tale you want to tell?

Let’s dive into that now!

Start with the end to find your memoir theme

A good memoir takes the reader on a journey of the courageous hero (you). Your path should lead to growth or accomplishment of a goal (if it doesn’t, please rethink writing the book). This growth or accomplishment will point you in the direction of your memoir theme.

While the spoils of war, the victories, are the focus of your memoir, lessons will be learned along the way. Keep in mind, that means your mistakes will be exposed for all to see. But in the end, you should be the conquering hero.

And the reader will be by your side, sharing in your victory.

For instance, if you are a successful businessperson and wish to share your story, your theme might be how you slayed your personal demons that threatened to hold you back in order to rise up in the business world. I’ve written quite a few memoirs with this message.

Or perhaps you survived a life-threatening illness. In that case, your memoir theme would be centered around the successful life changes that guided you to health.

So, look carefully at your story. Where did you win? What did you do to get there? That’s where you’ll find your theme.

Summarize your book in one or two sentences

When you complete your book, you’ll often be asked “What’s your story about?” It’s good to tackle this question right at the start. When you first sit down to write out an answer, it might take you a few hundred words to summarize your 50,000-word book. That’s normal.

Remove the extraneous words and explanations and work to pare the description down to a single line or two. Thoroughly examine what your story is about. I know. It isn’t easy, but you have to edit it down.

This description will come in handy when you need an “elevator pitch” later. And in the short run, it will help you uncover your primary theme. For instance, if your book is about your grueling escape from a communist country to find success in America, your memoir theme might be: Persistence wins in the end.

Step back and look at the big picture

Do something great and write your memoir about itIt can be hard, when you review your life, to find a theme. After all, it was your life and it can be hard to be objective. That’s probably why a lot of people reach out to me to help them ghostwrite their memoirs. It’s often tough to do on your own.

If you’re writing your book yourself, try telling someone who doesn’t know your story about your life story. This may help you sort it out because they’ll probably ask questions and make comments. Note these. If you are not ready to share your story quite yet, try stepping back and asking yourself questions you think your reader would ask about your story.

“Why did you make that choice?”

“What was your mindset when you traveled that path?”

“What would you do differently now that you know what you know today?”

These kinds of questions can help you formulate a good memoir theme, because your answers are really the successful solutions you developed. They brought you to the place you are today!

Your readers may be able to resolve their issues and be victorious in whatever battles they are fighting when they follow in your brave footsteps and apply your successful solutions. That’s the beauty of a good theme. You, the fearless knight, can really inspire and help others.

Please feel free to email me if you need a little help!

For additional reading material, check these out:

How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Ghostwriter

Your Guide to Hiring a Ghostwriter

Write and Publisher Your Book

How Can I Help You?

    What’s It Like to Be a Ghostwriter?

    Understanding what it is like to be a ghostwriterAre you puzzled by the concept of a ghostwriter. Does it seem rather mystical? That’s probably become we stay behind the scenes, like a director of a film. Some people think about the movie, The Ghost Writer, while others wonder if I pen stories about ghosts. I realized it made some sense to clear a few things up. I love what I do and would like to share a little more about the industry with you, in case you are curious.

    What is a ghostwriter?

    Ghostwriters are simply writers who are paid by an author to write their books, but don’t receive any credit for their work. These ethereal creatures are rarely seen.

    We work hard so you look good.

    Over the years, a lot of people have asked me if I mind that I don’t get a cover credit. No, I’m cool with it. Why? Because I love to write. I love being part of the process for another author. It is an honor for me.

    Now, I am also an author, with my own published works. For that reason, I don’t crave seeing my name on the cover of a book. I’ve experienced that joy!

    What’s it like to be a ghostwriter?

    It’s exhilarating!

    Truly. Each project I work on is a fresh new adventure. Sure, some themes are similar to others, but no two authors have the same experience or the same message. In addition, each author brings their own unique perspective to the project.

    I’m the kind of person who gets very wrapped up in my projects. I am fully engaged and learn a lot about the subject matter so that I become an expert in that field for the year or two it takes me to finish the book.

    What do ghostwriters write?

    There are many kinds of ghostwriters. Some specialize in screenplays, while others only pen memoirs. A number write novels or only write niche-market how-to booklets. Then again, many focus on ghostwriting articles.

    I’ve ghostwritten about thirty books. Some are short stories, while others are over 400 pages in length. Most are memoirs.

    Personally, I look for compelling content when choosing my next project. I select books with positive messages which will help readers in some meaningful way. In addition, I also look for clients who can easily communicate their ideas to me.

    There’s a special bond that forms between me and my clients; I can’t explain it, but it is apparent when it is there.

    How do clients find me?

    Ghostwriting clients just find meBefore I had a website, clients would just find a way to reach out to me, usually through word of mouth or some bizarre and extraordinary set of circumstances. Honestly, the whole process seemed magical!

    Nowadays, most of my clients come in through my blog articles. They search the internet looking for help and find my page. When my clients find my website, something resonates for them and they stop shopping around and contact me.

    I try to answer most emails that come my way, even if I know the writer can’t afford me or the project isn’t a good fit for me. If I believe I can help the person, I’ll reply.

    Flexibility is key

    flexibility in writing a bookA good ghostwriter is flexible. We have to be, because we work with a slew of different personalities and creative voices. The style and feel of one book will be different from another. It has to have the voice and spirit of the author to be authentic.

    The needs of my clients also vary. Some wish a book written very quickly, while others require a lot of time to collaborate. Each relationship I have with an author is unique and I work hard to make the process enjoyable for each person.

    I hope I’ve been able to shed some light on what’s it like to be a ghostwriter. If you need help and wish to chat with me, please feel free to reach out to me! I’d love to help you write your book.

    If you’d like help learning how to hire a ghostwriter, check out my book: Your Guide to Hiring a Ghostwriter.

    How can I help you?


      Questions for a Ghostwriter

      questions for a ghostwriterIf you’re interested in hiring a ghostwriter to help you complete your book, you might have a few questions. After all, hiring a ghostwriter isn’t an everyday activity. After talking to a few hundred people, I realize most authors have some questions about our ghostly industry.

      Do you have questions for a ghostwriter?

      Throughout the last decade, I’ve discussed various topics in my Friendly Ghostwriter blog in an attempt to shed a little light on the area. There are certain questions for a ghostwriter that seem to come up consistently, so I decided to tackle those in this article. Whenever possible, I will provide links to other articles to give you more information.

      How much does a ghostwriter cost?

      This is by far the number one question on my readers’ minds. Most people honestly have no idea how much a professional writer charges. I understand. It’s a little like walking into a boutique clothing store or a contemporary art gallery. There are no price tags so you can only guess at that cost of the item you’d like to purchase. It might run twenty dollars or it could be twenty thousand or more, right?

      I know the topic of money can be uncomfortable for some, so I’ve written a two articles about this subject:

      How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Ghostwriter?

      A Ghostwriter’s Fee: How Do They Charge?

      The simple answer is that ghostwriters usually charge by the word. If you’re looking to hire a ghostwriter to pen a 100-page book, you can expect to pay anywhere from fifteen thousand to twenty-five thousand dollars. 

      Yes, it is expensive. However, please don’t jump at a low bid. You won’t be happy with the final manuscript and may have legal problems with plagiarism in the end.

      How long does it take to write a book?

      This answer will vary depending on the writer’s experience, skill, and time available. Some writers can finish a 200-page manuscript in less than six months.

      Personally, I ask for eight months to a year to write a full-length book. Sometimes I can complete it faster, if there isn’t a lot of research required and the notes provided are complete. However, there are other occasions where the client and I need a little more time. Some projects require extra research and interviews.

      If a writer offers to complete your manuscript a month or two, know that isn’t a good sign. For me the editing process takes at least two months because I always hire an outside editor to review the book.

      Having said that, if a client needs it sooner, I do what I can to accommodate their schedule.

      Can a ghostwriter publish my book?

      No, the ghostwriter can write your book. Then it is up to you to get the book published.

      Now there are companies out there who have arms to help get a book published. Although they don’t publish the book themselves, they can help you write a proposal and find a publisher. In addition, ghostwriters can take the time to do this as well, but it requires a different skill set.

      Some people wonder if ghostwriters have an in with publishers and agents. Although it may seem like a location connection, the industry doesn’t work like that (normally). Some ghostwriters are authors in their own right. When we want to find a publisher, we need to apply just like everyone else.

      Do ghostwriters edit books?

      Questions for a ghostwriter. Should I edit?The main job of a ghostwriter is to write your book, in your voice and style, with your information and ideas. While some ghostwriters do edit, not all are trained editors. For instance, I’m not. I always advise you to hire an outside editor (if your ghostwriter doesn’t) to review your manuscript. No matter how experienced and skilled your writer is, you need the eyes of a professional reviewing your material before publishing. 

      It’s good to be familiar with the different kinds of editors available, so you can hire the one you need. Ideally, you can afford to hire all of them. If you find a mainstream publisher, they will do this work for you.

      To learn more about this field, check out my article:

      Different kinds of Editors

      Is ghostwriting ethical?

      Over the years, questions for a ghostwriter seem to often revolve around this central issue. Personally, I have been asked this a lot. People wonder if I’m ever bothered by the fact that I work a year on a manuscript only to turn it over to the author completely. My client owns all the rights and my part in the project is often kept a secret.

      Do I mind giving up the rights?

      No. It really doesn’t bother me at all. That seems to surprise some people.

      Do I feel this is unethical in any way?

      Again, no. I wouldn’t be in this line of work if I felt that way.

      In reality, I see the book as my client’s baby. That would make me the midwife. Yes, I work hard to deliver the book, but the author is the one who came up with the idea. He or she provided all the information. It really is my client’s book.

      I have a passion for helping other people fulfill their lifelong dream of finishing their books.

      For more about this subject, please check out this article:

      Is Ghostwriting Ethical?

      What kind of books do ghostwriters write?

      Ghostwriters write many different kinds of booksSome ghostwriters specialize. I know writers who only write fiction. Others prefer to write memoirs.

      Personally, I love writing about a wide variety of subjects. Over the last twenty years, I’ve written over three dozen prescriptive nonfiction books (how-to books), novels, and memoirs. I prefer writing uplifting books that help, inspire, or teach others and am happiest when I have a few projects going at once. I’m not the type of person who enjoys a lot of down time.

      Here are a few titles of books that I have written:

      Chess Is Child’s Play: Teaching Techniques That Work.

      Joshua’s Missing Peace.

      Discovering Kindness

      Taking Flight.

      How do clients provide information to ghostwriters?

      It’s been my experience that every client/ghostwriter relationship is different. For me, I love a lot of written notes. Then I can interview based on that preliminary information. However, some clients prefer that I interview them extensively. 

      I often get hundreds of pages of notes, which can be in the form of a very rough draft. Although the book needs to be completely rewritten, the notes are very helpful.

      Once I have everything I need from the author, I need to double and triple check everything using the internet, the library, and book stores. It’s important to verify information. My clients often provide me with references.

      What is the ghostwriting process like?

      Again, this will vary from ghostwriter to ghostwriter, but there will be some commonalities. I like to break up any long project into three steps.

      First step

      Before I begin writing 50,000 – 100,000 words, I need a roadmap. For a writer this takes the form of an outline. When working with clients, I need to make sure they and I are on the same page. I would never want to write a first draft without one. This phase requires a lot of research and interviews.

      Second step

      Once I have my outline, I’m usually chomping at the bit to write my client’s book. This is the stage where I write the rough draft following the outline precisely so there are no surprises. I’ll send pieces of the work to the client as a write to get feedback. That way I can learn and improve. Together we create the voice and style for my author.

      Third step

      With the first draft completed and approved, it is time to edit the manuscript. My first step in this phase will be to incorporate the author’s suggestions and comments. Then I’ll do my own internal edit before I turn it over to an outside editor for review. By the time the book is completed and turned over to the client, it will be in excellent shape.

      Throughout the process there should be a lot of back and forth communication with your writer. If you have questions for your ghostwriter, be sure to ask.

      To learn more about my ghostwriting process, please check out this article:

      My ghostwriting process

      If you have more questions for a ghostwriter, please feel free to ask me! I’m here to help.

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        A First-Time Author Needs a Good Marketing Plan

        A first-time author must have a good marketing strategy

        Authors must roll up their sleeves and get creative in order to sell copies of their book. Many people seem to have the misconception that if you write a good book, it will sell on its own. Unfortunately, that’s just not true. These days, if you’re a first-time author, you must sell your book. Even if you have a traditional publisher, they will expect you to have a killer marketing plan. And if you self-publish, your book will die on the vine if you just put it up on Amazon and hope for the best. So, what do you do?

        Let’s start with guerrilla marketing as an approach.

        What is guerrilla marketing?

        Simply put, guerrilla marketing is a low-cost way to promote, which relies on creativity and ingenuity rather than large amounts of cash.

        When you’re a first-time author, you probably don’t have tens of thousands of dollars to throw at marketing and promotion. Am I right? However, you must get the word out about your book, if you want to sell copies. That’s where guerrilla marketing comes in.

        You will need to find some simple, free ways to promote your book. Keep in mind these tips aren’t a complete marketing system by any means; rather, they are suggestions to get you started so that you can reach readers and make yourself known. The rest is up to you!

        Know your reader

        Before you begin to promote your book, you must know your reader. Who are the people you want to pick up and read your book? Take the time to consider your market.

        Define this demographic as precisely as you can. Then brainstorm ideas about how to reach them. There really is no cookie-cutter plan when it comes to guerrilla marketing your book. Remember, you’re substituting brilliant creativity for cash.

        For instance, if you’re promoting a sci-fi book, why not create bookmarks featuring your book and hand them out at the next sci-fi convention? You could also create a T-shirt with your book’s title on it, along with a catchy tag line.

        The World Wide Web Is Yours

        Many of us spend a good portion of the day online. This is where we shop, find information, and sometimes just hang out. Reaching people online is a vital part of any promotional strategy.

        However, be warned: Nobody likes to be harangued into buying books.

        It’s annoying.

        Instead, become engaged with the folks who share your interests. Become a vibrant, vital part of the community you join. As you establish yourself as an expert in your field, others will take notice and naturally become interested in what you have to offer.

        Online Marketing Tools

        1. Author Website – Every first-time author needs their own website. This is your “virtual home” where your readers (and future readers) will come to find out all about you and your books. I highly recommend avoiding the free websites and splurging for your own domain name. It looks more professional.
        2. Blog – Your author website needs a blog. Write content that is relevant to your audience, sharing your expertise, viewpoints and experiences. Plan to post once or twice a week. In addition, exchange guest blogs with another author. It will help you both.
        3. Facebook – Set up a personal page and a separate author page for your book. You can share content between the two, but you should not flood your personal page with a lot of book announcements. Also, consider starting or joining Facebook groups that relate to your book topic or genre.
        4. YouTube – Book trailers are a key part of any marketing plan these days. They should be short and sweet and, of course, very catchy. Check out mine for Chess Is Child’s Play. If you get lucky, it might just go semi-viral. If you have a non-fiction book, consider also creating a how-to video series related to your book’s content. Be creative in sharing your expertise. And don’t forget to include links to where viewers can purchase your book.
        5. Other social media platforms – Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter are three other key websites you might explore. Each has their own style and purpose. Engage with the ones you like best. It will be more fun for you, and you’ll probably be more authentic on the platforms you enjoy.

        Get reviews

        Feedback from readers is one of the cornerstones of any marketing plan for first-time authors or even experienced writers. Amazon and Goodreads are two important platforms to collect reviews.

        Always offer a no-strings-attached free book to any reviewer. Keep in mind that not everyone will follow through, so budget accordingly. But never be stingy with the number of books that you’re willing to send. Also, be sure to give people time to properly review your book. Don’t rush them. Having said that, you can politely request that they let you know when they can schedule time to read and review your book. That gives you some leeway to tactfully nudge the process along.

        Marketing for Chess Is Child's Play

        In addition, consider requesting reviews from popular bloggers. Those can be harder to get, but they are invaluable. Find people who would appeal to your target readership. For instance, to promote Chess Is Child’s Play (a book which instructs parents how to teach their young children chess), I approached parent bloggers as well as chess enthusiasts, as these were two of my key target readers. Sometimes readers would send me photos featuring my book (see photo above from the West Pasco Chess Club).

        In-Person Promotional Activities

        While many of us are learning to master online avenues for reaching our audience, the tried and true promotional activities are still effective. Honestly, nothing beats the thrill of live interaction. Here, again, your emphasis should be on establishing relationships and helping others; don’t just peddle your books. And whatever you do, don’t just go to friends and family and beg that they buy a copy of your book. That’s always an uncomfortable approach.

        A few ideas

        1. Hold readings and book signings – Your local bookstore is likely to set up a table for you one Saturday, even if you’re a first-time author. In addition, libraries are often game. However, think outside the bookstore and consider setting up a table where your readers might be hanging out. Get creative!
        2. Teach classes – There are many venues that would appreciate hearing you share your expertise. Again, go where your readers are and offer your advice for free. If they like what you have to say, they will probably pick up your book.
        3. Partner with other writers – It’s a well-known business axiom that businesses do better when they are positioned together. That’s why you often see a Coffee Bean near a Starbucks or a Papa John’s near a Pizza Hut. As an author, you can apply the same principle and join forces with other authors to market your books together. Besides, you might find the process more enjoyable.
        4. Attend events – Go to any event where you might find people who are interested in the topic of your book: conventions, craft fairs, business networking meetings, vendor fairs, etc. Connect with others, share with them, maybe even bring along some copies of your book and hand them out. You never know what these connections might lead to.

        Of course, these suggestions are just the tip of the iceberg for a first-time author. Keep your eyes and ears open for any and all opportunities to share your expertise and your story with others. Be genuine and focus on helping people and book sales will naturally follow.  I’d love to hear your guerrilla marketing ideas in the comment section below!

        Here are a few other articles you might enjoy reading:

        Need a Ghostwriter?

        Do You Need Help Writing A Book?

        Become a Ghostwriter

        Become a ghostwriterMany writers wish to earn a living through their craft. If you enjoy helping others share their ideas with the world through the written word, perhaps you might wish to become a ghostwriter.

        A ghostwriter is someone who writes for another and receives no author credit. If you’re a professional writer who wishes to become a ghostwriter, you should know that although there are some similarities between authoring and ghosting, a ghostwriter flexes different muscles.

        I have been a ghostwriter for twenty years. During this time hundreds of experienced writers have emailed me, asking what it takes to venture into this world. I’m ever eager to encourage others to explore this unique writing opportunity. At the same time, I always caution that this move isn’t right for everyone.

        A few drawbacks

        I love being a ghostwriter. There’s nothing more rewarding than helping an author write a book. However, there are some aspects of the trade you might not like. It’s good to be aware of these before entering the field.

        A ghostwriter works for someone else

        A ghostwriting client is king. He is the author.As an author, you’re the boss. You decide what to write, how to communicate your ideas, and ultimately how the book turns out. When you’re ghostwriting, you give up this control. For example, if you’re building a world in a sci-fi story and want to develop the main character into a strong independent woman, but your client wants her to be less so, that’s how she’ll be.

        I always tell my clients, “I’ll tell you what I honestly think, but in the end you’re the boss and I’ll follow your wishes. After all, it’s your book.” And I mean it. My job is to educate my client on the process and guide him to the best-possible book. It’s not my job to push a particular agenda. You need to be okay with the idea of following the course set by another if you want to become a ghostwriter.

        You can’t share what you’ve written

        Everything you write as a ghostwriter is protected by a confidentiality agreement. Although some clients are extremely generous and allow me to share portions of their books as writing samples, it was not always so. In the beginning, people had to hire me on faith or simply based on my blog or short stories. I can tell you from experience, it’s not always easy to encourage someone to take this kind of leap of faith. Lack of writing samples makes getting a new client difficult for new writers in the industry. Even now, after having written over two dozen books, I still can’t share the titles with others.

        When you become a ghostwriter you must keep the secretIn addition, if your friends ask you about the projects you’re working on, you won’t be able to discuss the details of the book. So, when I’m delving into the history of a new cryptocurrency or uncovering the secret remedy for a disease, I can’t share much with my friends and family. And they know not to ask. Unfortunately, this can make for awkward silences when people are talking about their day around the dinner table.

        Bottom line, you must be willing to keep mum about your work and find ways to promote your writing skill without samples if you want to become a ghostwriter.

        Your name won’t be on the cover of the book you wrote

        I think this is the toughest pill to swallow for most writers. Being a ghostwriter is a bit like being a surrogate parent. Once you finish the manuscript, your baby is out of your hands. The completed book rightly belongs to the author who hired you. This can be emotionally rough. For many this is a deal breaker.

        After spending a year creating a masterpiece, you must be willing to hand over the project and disavow having played any part in its creation. You must be willing to silently step back and allow someone else to claim full credit. I honestly don’t mind this, but many do.

        Having laid out all the drawbacks, I must say there are many perks for ghostwriters. Aside from the financial rewards, it’s an emotionally rich and satisfying career. We get to walk in the footsteps of many different people, learn their crafts, feel their emotions, and then share their experiences with the world. I wouldn’t trade it for anything!

        Skills required to become a ghostwriter

        If you’re a writer who wishes to become a ghostwriter, you might need to develop a few skills. These will set you apart from a solo writer.

        Learn to listen

        When you become a ghostwriter you must learn to listen to others.A ghostwriter is a great listener.

        She not only listens to the words her clients speak or write, but she also listens to their messages, themes, and writing goals. A ghostwriter breathes with her client, gets in sync with him and does her best to fulfill all of his intentions and purposes for the book.

        For instance, when I interview a client and discover she wishes to write a memoir chronicling how she became a successful entrepreneur, I’m jazzed. Not only can I help her share her life story, but I can help her help others follow in her footsteps. Now, if her goal for the book is also to gain new clients, that’s important to know, as I’ll need to write her book with that in mind. Since her readership will include her future client base, these people will be interested in how specific aspects of her business might benefit them.

        If you wish to become a ghostwriter, but are concerned that listening is a weak point for you, don’t worry. It’s a skill anyone can learn. It just takes some practice.

        A little exercise

        Start with your friends.

        Listen to them.

        Really listen.

        After they leave, write down what they said.

        Can you recount what they said in the way they said it? Keep in mind, you’re not only listening to the content of what they’re communicating, but you’re observing the nuances of their language. Everyone has a different way of speaking. You need to hear how they put words together.

        If you find yourself drifting off as your friends speak, that’s not good. You need to quit that bad habit. It’s like biting your nails. How would you handle that? Yes, you can just quit doing it.

        Rein yourself in and really listen to what your friends are saying. Work on improving the accuracy of your perception of the conversation until you capture the full content and tone of it.

        You also need to become adept at hearing what people don’t say. If you’re writing a memoir, you are hired by your client to get at the truth. When he says something that begs a question, bring out your inner journalist and ask for details. Or if you sense that he is hiding a pertinent fact, pry a little. Of course, he has a right to his secrets, but his memoir will fail if he doesn’t open up to his public. They will be able to tell if he’s not being genuine.

        A good ghostwriter will find a way to get her answer. Interviewing clients is another necessary skill to become a ghostwriter. That sounds like a good topic for another blog article!

        Become a good writer

        A ghostwriter is a compelling and competent writerIt goes without saying that in order to be a ghostwriter, you must first be a writer: a competent, compelling, and confident writer. Writing comes from experience; you don’t need a college degree, nor must you be a published author. While both could help, neither is absolutely necessary.

        Having said that, I believe it would be difficult to ghostwrite a book if you’ve never completed one yourself. There are lessons one learns simply by seeing a project through to completion. For instance, how do you overcome writer’s block? Are you able to edit out a cherished character that just doesn’t quite fit in? Every time you conquer an obstacle, you learn a lot. This helps you write a better book for your client.

        I believe it will be helpful to you if you develop your own writing style and voice before you embark on the grand adventure of helping your client develop his.

        Learn to capture another’s voice and style

        One of the signature skills of a ghostwriter is to discover and bring out the voice and style of your clients. In order to do that, you’ll need to take a lot of notes and study all their current written work. Some clients will give you pages of a diary or blog articles they’ve written. You need to pick out the phrases they use, hone in on their style of communicating, and create a voice that will accurately portray them.

        While you wouldn’t want to pass on the grammatical errors of your clients, you want their unique speech patterns and mannerisms to shine through. For instance, one client might use endearments for everyone around her, while another pauses dramatically between meaningful thoughts. You want to be sure to weave these into your book.

        On the other hand, if your client has a lisp or stutter, you wouldn’t pass a speech impediment on to his character. Find the qualities that highlight who he is without amplifying the negative characteristics.

        A little exercise

        Capturing someone else’s style and voice is another skill you can practice. Jump on the internet and find a prolific writer who blogs. See if you can pick out her voice. What makes her uniquely her? Find those nuances.

        Zero in on any cultural references. For instance, if the author is from the UK, he might use some colorful phrases unique to his region. “Blimey” or “dodgy” might be sprinkled into his dialogue.

        As a ghostwriter, when you capture the author’s dialogue, you can even drop a few foreign words here and there, as long as their meaning is clear.

        Guten Tag, Herr Schmidt!” helps us know the character is of German origin.

        When the foreign word’s meaning isn’t completely clear, define it within the text.

        “She handed out the Stollen to her family. The buttery fruitcake was enjoyed by all.”

        Ultimately, there are many ways a person communicates his thoughts and ideas. If you want to become a ghostwriter, know that it’s your job to spot these and create your client’s voice using their distinct style.

        Capture your client’s viewpoints

        As a ghostwriter you need to see another's viewpoint and capture their style.People have a unique take on things; they see things from their particular point of view. Some will tell you outright how they feel and what they believe, while others won’t. For those who don’t, you’ll need to glean their viewpoints using interview questions. You must be able to identify these so you can help the reader see things from the author’s standpoint.

        Recognizing the viewpoints of others is another skill that can be learned. You can start by observing others around you. Slip into their shoes and really see things from their perspective. Their point of view might not be yours. That’s OK. Simply understand how they feel and think about things.

        In order to be a great writer, you must be able to adopt the various viewpoints of your characters. That’s one way they come to be three-dimensional (and beloved).

        Another tip to differentiate characters in a book is to observe how different people react to the same situation. For instance, one friend might shriek when surprised, while another will do his best to suppress his reaction. Then there is the person who will laugh hysterically. These little details go a long way to creating believable characters.

        The Business Side of Ghostwriting

        One of the chief differences between being an author and being a ghostwriter is that when you’re a ghostwriter you’re running a business. That means that you’re in charge of everything—all aspects of the enterprise. You must:

        • Procure new clients
        • Complete all projects on time
        • Collect testimonials from existing clients
        • Write the entire book yourself
        • Ask for payments from your clients
        • Hire outside team members to help when needed

        It’s important to be highly organized, to keep track of all your deadlines and to answer emails and texts from clients as quickly as possible. I have a policy of answering all incoming emails within 24 hours, but usually do so within hours of receiving them.

        As with any business venture, you must be professional in all aspects of the business. Of course, you should never deliver any piece late; in fact, I recommend being early. Exceed expectations.

        And above all, respect the confidentiality agreement as if you were a secret agent. Your word is your bond.

        Always work with a contract

        Always work with a ghostwriting contractDon’t try to go into business without a good professional contract. Trust me, if you work on a handshake basis, it can become a disaster. Part of running a successful business is making sure to provide the services you promised your clients. In order to do that, you need to be clear about what your services are.

        A good contract should contain:

        • A confidentiality agreement
        • The rough word count of the book. Note: Word count is much more accurate than page count.
        • The deadlines for all the major milestones. This would include:
          • The outline
          • The first draft
          • The final manuscript
        • The ghostwriter’s fees
        • Confirmation that the copyright of the book belongs to the client
        • The number of revisions included in the price

        While you can find decent contract templates on the internet, I highly recommend that you hire a lawyer who can draft one to fit your particular needs. An ambiguously worded agreement will cause you and your client trouble down the line in the event of a disagreement.


        I find being a ghostwriter a very rewarding experience. Over the last twenty years I’ve worked on ten novels, eight nonfiction how-to books, and seventeen memoirs (along with a few children’s books and screenplays). I enjoy the diversity: getting to know all different kinds of people and stretching my writing muscles in a variety of genres. I have learned so much from each project and have found fulfillment in helping others meet their goal of creating a book. If you’re a writer who wants to become a ghostwriter, please don’t hesitate to contact me with questions. I’m here to help!

        Additional articles you might find helpful:

        Interview Questions for a Ghostwriter

        Different Kinds of Editors

        How to Conquer Writer’s Block

        Guide to Hiring a Ghostwriter

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          Outlining a Memoir

          outlining a memoir saves timeDear Friendly Ghostwriter, I want to write my life story. I’ve been working on my memoir for seven years, but haven’t made much progress. I know what I want to write about, but I can’t seem to get my thoughts on paper. Help! – Emma V.

          Dear Emma V.,

          Yours is a plight I’ve heard many times. You aren’t alone! Many people wish to tell their life stories, but don’t know where to begin.

          Honestly, I think the solution might be simpler than you think. In my experience, outlining a memoir solves a lot of problems. Working from a jumbled mess of notes can be daunting for many.

          Now, some writers feel that outlining takes all the joy out of the process. One friend once told me, “If I were to outline the entire book, what would be the point in writing it? I know exactly what will happen!” Although I understand what he means, I couldn’t disagree more.

          Outlining a memoir saves time

          As a writer, I enjoy creating the mile markers first and then filling in the details. It’s a bit like sketching the elements of a painting before applying the pigment. It helps to have those guidelines.

          As a writer, I prefer knowing where I’m starting and where I’m going. It puts me in the driver’s seat.

          Before I commit to months of writing, I want to know my direction. I want to know that the path I’ve selected will lead me to a worthwhile destination. I mean, if wrote thousands of words, which veered off a cliff, I’d have to toss it. That is frustrating to anyone.

          Bottom line, if you’re stuck and unable to write, please consider organizing your thoughts into a good, strong, detailed outline.

          How to outline your memoir

          If you’re writing a memoir (or a novel), tackle each individual incident of the book. It’s important to work out:

          • Who is in the scene
          • Where it takes place
          • When it happened
          • What happened (briefly)
          • What is the purpose of the scene.

          The last point is the most important aspect for this exercise by far. After all, if a scene has no purpose, you shouldn’t waste your time writing it. It will just land on the editing room floor at the end of the project.

          The fact is, your outline should be purpose driven from the start. Every scene must propel your story forward. Each incident must have a reason for being there, something that fits in with the flow of the book.

          Once you finish your outline, the theme for your memoir should pop out. This will help you organize your thoughts, too.

          Outlining a how-to book

          If you’re writing a how-to book, your outline will be very different. I’d suggest that you create a table of contents, with bullet points for subheads. I often write a little paragraph describing the proposed text under each segment.

          I’d love to hear from fellow writers. What do you think? Is outlining a memoir realistic for you? Please post your thoughts in the comments below.

          Additional resources you might find helpful:

          Help! Help! I Need Help Writing a Book!

          Do You Want To Write A Book About Your Life?

          How Much Does It Cost To Hire A Ghostwriter?

          How to Edit Your Own Book

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            Options for Hiring a Ghostwriter

            Man drinks a cup of coffee and considers hiring a ghostwriterDo you have a story to tell, but don’t have the time or expertise to write a book? Perhaps it is time to consider hiring a ghostwriter. Many authors do.

            Your first step will be to interview several writers, so you can get quotes for your project. Take your time and get to know the ghostwriter before you sign the contract.

            It’s good to remember that you have options. Discuss these with your ghostwriter and determine the best path for you.

            There are a few ways to go:

            Write a proposal

            Do you have a nonfiction book (memoir or how-to book) concept that is very marketable? Would you prefer to have a publishing contract? Then your best bet is to write a proposal. In addition, when the idea is strong enough and you have an excellent marketing plan, you might be eligible to receive a healthy advance.

            You can find examples and how-to articles on how to write a proposal online, but keep in mind that a publisher will be looking for certain components. If your proposal is poorly written or violates the basic rules, it will be rejected automatically.

            If this is an unfamiliar arena for you, hiring a ghostwriter to write your proposal is your best bet. It typically costs about $10,000 and will include all the requirements, including two chapters of your book.


            If you know that you can market your own book, self-publishing offers a lot of advantages. Many busy authors hire ghostwriters to write their books for them.

            Expect to spend anywhere from $25,000 – $80,000 on your book. The price will depend on the ghostwriter’s experience, ability, and the size of the project.

            You may get quotes that are below $10,000 and that might sound very tempting. However, a book written for such a low price tag will most likely not meet with your expectations. It will draw poor reviews, which is the kiss of death for a new author.

            Write the book yourself and hire an editor

            If you realize that you don’t have the budget needed for hiring a ghostwriter, you will need to buckle down and write it yourself. This is a reasonable option for people who are able to write.

            If you need help, consider hiring a mentor to help you through the basics. A good writing coach can guide you through the steps and help you avoid basic errors.

            For those authors writing a memoir or novel, I would also highly recommend that you pick up and read Digital Ink. Available on Amazon for just a few dollars, it will give you many important tips on how to write your book. Read it cover to cover.

            Once you have finished your final draft, you will need to find and hire an editor to help you polish and correct any errors or inconsistencies. This service will cost a few thousand dollars.

            Whatever option you pick, whatever path you take, understand that you will need to market your own book. You’ll need to have your own blog and be acquainted with all the basic social media sites. That’s a must for any author.

            Writing your first book is a big step! If you are hiring a ghostwriter, make sure that you’ve explored your options and you have selected the right path for you. If you need help sorting through your choices, feel free to email me. I’m here to help!

            Additional articles you might find helpful:

            How Much Does It Cost To Hire A Ghostwriter?

            Do you want to write a book about your life?

            Do you need help writing a book?

            Working with a Ghostwriter – What steps should you take?

            Help! Help! I Need Help Writing a Book!