Should I Hire a Ghostwriter?

Should I hire a ghostwriter?

“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

gain valuable writing experience when you hire a ghostwriterIf 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

A ghostwriter will give you a well-written bookIf 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

A five star review for a book written by a ghostwriter

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!

Additional articles you might find helpful:

How Much Does It Cost To Hire A Ghostwriter?

Your Guide to Hiring a Ghostwriter

Great Memoir Themes

Interview Questions For A Ghostwriter

interview questions for a ghostwriterHiring 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

interview questions for a ghostwriter include questions about testimonialsSomeone 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

Scheduling should come up regarding interview questions for a ghostwriterWhen 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

test your writer when you ask interview questions for a ghostwriterIt 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

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!

Additional articles you might find helpful:

Understanding Characters

How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Ghostwriter

Write and Publish a Book in 2020

A ghostwriter’s fee: how do they charge?

Do you need help writing a book?

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    How Do You Find A Ghostwriter?

    Looking to hire a ghostwriterSo, 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

    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.

    Start now

    Find a ghostwriter and start now!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.

    Additional articles you might find helpful:

    How To Write A Nonfiction Book

    How Much Does It Cost To Hire A Ghostwriter?

    Your Guide to Hiring a Ghostwriter

    What To Expect When Looking For A Ghostwriter

    Looking for a ghostwriterIf you’re part way through a riveting manuscript and are stuck, you might be scouring the internet looking for a ghostwriter to help you complete your project. So many first time authors have an excellent concept for a good, but need a little guidance to see it through to the end. 

    As you search for the right person, you probably will have a few questions. Let’s tackle a few of the popular ones. If you have others, feel free to write me directly and I will answer you back to the best of my ability.

    Who typically hires a ghostwriter?

    When someone reaches out to me asking for help with their book, I can tell that they often have no idea what to expect when looking for a ghostwriter. I understand, as mine isn’t a common vocation. In fact, most people I speak to about my profession seem surprised to learn that people will actually hire someone else to write a book for them (then put their own name on that book). Many authors hire a ghostwriter and it is completely ethical.

    It’s not just the celebrities and politicians who reach out to hire a ghostwriter these days. Quite a few people hire me to write their life story simply to share their adventure with their descendants. In addition, many professionals seek out a professional writer who can put in the time and energy to put their vision on the page or bring their story to life. After all, it does take hundreds of hours to write a book. How many CEOs, visionaries, and entrepreneurs have that sort of spare time on their hands? And if they do, my bet is that they’d rather devote the weekends and evenings to their families and friends. Maybe travel a bit. Take on a new hobby.

    What’s the cost?

    No doubt about it, hiring a ghostwriter is an investment. If you cast a wide net, you’ll find a lot of different bids. Avoid the cheap ones, as those writers will disappoint you. A mid-level professional ghostwriter will charge anywhere from $15,000 – $60,000 to write a 100-200 page book.

    Plan to put 25% down and pay the rest as the book unfolds. Never ask a ghostwriter to accept a deferred payment; they could never run a business that way.

    For more information regarding the cost, check out my article: A Ghostwriter Fee.

    Who gets the credit?

    Most often, the ghostwriter never receives any credit. We sign a Nondisclosure Agreement (NDA), swearing secrecy for the project. Now and then it might be in the best interests of the author to give the ghostwriter a writing credit (such as a “with” or a “as told to” tag on the cover). And some gracious clients will give a kind acknowledgment in the back of the book, thanking the writer for their assistance. I am always tremendously grateful for such a gift. However, I personally never expect a credit and am happy to remain the invisible ghost for the book.

    How does ghostwriting work?

    My clients really become new writing partners. Most will provide me with a lot of notes, which will help me form a good outline. Then we’ll chat on the phone until I have all the information I need. Each client is different, because each author has a unique story to tell and everyone has their own style. Some clients require hours of conversation, while others have very cohesive notes right from the start. The process is almost always different with each person.

    What is the ghostwriting process?

    When you’re looking for a ghostwriter, I’d say that the process can be broken up into three phases:

    1. The Research Phase: It’s hard to write a book without all the information upfront, so I like to dive in and immerse myself in the content before I begin writing. Once I have everything I need, I’ll write up an outline for the client. This will act as our road map for us for the entire process.
    2. The First Draft Phase: Once the outline is approved, I’ll write the first draft. I often send pages as I write the book, getting feedback and approval along the way. Not every ghostwriter works this way, but I find it works well. I wouldn’t want to finish the book only to realize I’d misunderstood a key element.
    3. The Editing Phase: After the first draft is approved by the client, I begin editing. I normally hire one or two editors to review the manuscript after I finish. The client is rarely involved in this stage as I would have already received all the feedback and comments in the previous phase.

    For a more in-depth discussion of my writing process, please check out my article: My Ghostwriting Process.

    It takes time

    It's time to start writing your business bookHiring a ghostwriter makes writing a book simple and easy. However, I should warn you, it does require some time investment on the part of the author. Still, we’re taking dozens of hours rather than hundreds. Plan to spend a few hours a week answering questions and reviewing pages. Most clients find the process rewarding and, in the end, they always have a book with their name on it.

    If you’re looking for a ghostwriter, please email me, so we can put you on the calendar to get started as soon as possible.

    In addition, I’ve written a book to help you find the best ghostwriter for you. Check it out: Your Guide to Hiring a Ghostwriter.


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      Completing a book: The Time, the Space, and the Goal

      Setting a goal of completing a book

      It seems to me that most people have no shortage of ideas for a new book. Ask your friends. You’ll find many are mid some kind of novel, memoir, or business book. However, throughout the years, I’ve noticed that many people start a project, but most have trouble completing a book.

      If you were to sneak a peek at the average laptop, I’d bet you’d find books in various stages of development. You might discover a completed outline for a business book, but no first draft. Or you could uncover fifty pages of a sci-fi novel dated over a year ago. Maybe you’d see detailed notes of various interviews of family members, but no memoir begun. 

      So, why do writers tend to push off working on their great ideas? The solution could be as simple as solving these three main problems:

      • Time
      • Space
      • Goal

      Carve out the time

      Make the time to write a book

      If you’re new to writing and it’s a hobby, I suggest that you establish a regular time to write, so you can go about completing a book. Even if you hire me as a ghostwriter, you will need to set aside this time to help me gather notes or review pages that I’ve written for you.

      Find a time of day when you know you won’t be disturbed. You might like to get up a little early each day and write as the sun comes up, while enjoying a good cup of coffee. That’s my favorite time. Or you might set aside time at night, when the kids are asleep (before your eyes droop). That’s a good time to tap away on your keyboard with a nice cup of Chamomile tea.

      Either way, make sure to write something, anything, every single day.

      TIP: If you skip a day, don’t beat yourself up and stop. Just start again the next day. The most important thing is to continue writing.

      Find a good space

      FInd a good space to write your book

      Unless you’re one of the few people who thrives on chaos, you’ll want to have a dedicated writing nook. Somewhere around your home, where you can’t be disturbed, would be most convenient. If you can swing it, select a room with a door. Some people hang a sign out letting others know that they shouldn’t be disturbed.

      I know a few writers who head for their library or Starbucks to get some peace and quiet. Others opt for the great outdoors, and they don’t even mind the occasional visits from beetles and spiders. It really doesn’t matter where you set up, as long as you can write without distraction.

      TIP: Try out a few places and see which one works best for you.

      Set doable goals

      Plan the time to write your book

      Finally, it is important to set regular goals for yourself. Professional writers always think in terms of words, not pages, because pages can be misleading. They’re too dependent on the font you use. Now, if you’re in research mode, time is really the only realistic yardstick.

      It’s hard for me to give examples here, because the word-count target will really vary from project to project. Sometimes I can write ten thousand words per week, but that’s because I’ve done months of research (or I know the topic very well). Other times I’m happy to get two thousand words done by Friday.

      Whatever your goal, set it ahead of time, and then do your best to reach it. The ultimate target is completing a book.

      TIP: If you find you want to take a lot of breaks, that usually signals a problem. Maybe you don’t know which way to go in the story or you need to do more research. I have found that operating off a good, solid outline helps, because it keeps me on track.

      Now that you know the three main solutions, you can set aside the time, find the right place, and reach the writing session goal you set each day. One of your first goals should be a finished first draft. Remember, it can be revised at a later date, so don’t worry about perfection.  It takes hard work to write your book, but the rewards are well worth it.

      If you wish to hire a ghostwriter, email me. Let me know your budget, your deadline and your goal for the project. I’m here to help! Also, check out my book: Your Guide to Hiring a Ghostwriter.

      How to Create Three-dimensional Characters in a Book

      three-dimensional characters are all around usMost first-time writers have trouble creating realistic personalities for their novels. It can seem like a daunting task. Whether you’re writing a memoir or a novel, one of the most important elements will be crafting three-dimensional characters. And keep in mind, if you’re writing a memoir YOU are a main character. You need to be very relatable to your readers.

      Consider your favorite books. Weren’t you drawn to the people? If you’re anything like me, you empathized with and related to various characters. In addition, you might have been sad when the story was finished because you had to say good-bye to your new friends. (Am I alone here?)

      In order to create memorable, three-dimensional characters for your book, you need to do a little homework. Even if the book is a work of fiction, you must buckle down and do your research. Why? Because you need to know and understand the nuances of each important character in your novel before you can portray them realistically. Also, each person must develop throughout the story, completing a journey by the end. And that development needs to resonate with your readers.

      Keep it real

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

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

      Rather, your new acquaintance will be perfection personified, using only the best manners when they are around you.

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

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

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

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

      People have a lot of gray areas.

      Give them balance.

      Communicate with dialogue

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Three-dimensional characters have a unique style

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

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

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

      Create bonds between characters 

      Three-dimensional characters create bondsIn the real world, when two close friends get together, their exchange can take on a life of its own. Someone on the outside might have trouble translating all the idioms and inside jokes the two friends have created together. 

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

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

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

      Mannerisms speak volumes

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

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

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

      Draw from life

      take notes as you observe life for your bookThe best way to write detailed actions, descriptions and dialogue for three-dimensional characters is to live your life. Pay attention to what is going on around you. Look around and notice how people behave. Take notes. I mean, literally take notes! 

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

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

      In Summary

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

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

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

      Write Your Family History in 2020

      How to Hire a Ghostwriter

      A Ghostwriter’s Fee

      Learn to Become a Ghostwriter

      What to Expect In An Interview with a Ghostwriter

      How to Create a Compelling Character Arc

      Now Is the Right Time To Write A Book

      write a novel for your readersDo you have a burning desire to write a book this year?

      You are not alone!

      I believe that everyone has at least one book within them. Whether you wish to share sage business advice to help others succeed, a personal life story that just needs to be told, an exciting fictional story, or a family history project that is time sensitive, now is the best time to start.

      As a ghostwriter of twenty years, I’ve worked with dozens of clients in each of the above categories. Each genre has its own particular challenges and its own rewards. And although they are all unique, each book project requires the same elements and preparation.

      If you follow the steps in this article, you will avoid the common problems people face, which can cause writer’s block and cause you to fail in your goal to complete your book.

      Get ready…

      Before you can really get started on a book, you need to prepare yourself for the project. I believe the reason most people never complete their books is that they don’t set themselves up properly from the get-go.

      Make a firm decision to write a book

      Make the firm decision to write a book—no matter what. This decision will help you stay on track in the face of distractions. Give yourself a final deadline and target dates along the way for milestones to complete. That will help you finish your book.

      Find the time

      The best way to complete your book is to make regular progress. Find a time of the day when you won’t be disturbed. This may be early in the morning before the kids wake up, or late at night after all of your other responsibilities are done.

      If you can only carve out a few hours a week on the weekends, that’s a good place to start. Just know that you might find you lose some time in reacquainting yourself with the material if you allow too many days to pass between writing sessions.

      See if you can find even a little time to write every day. You’ll soon be immersed in creating your book and may even find extra time to work on it.

      Find a place

      writers need a good, dedicated spaceFind a dedicated writing space. Somewhere around your home, with a door you can close, would be most convenient. I know some writers who are inspired by the great outdoors and settle down near a lake or in a meadow. They don’t even mind the occasional visits from beetles and spiders.

      It doesn’t matter where you set up, as long as you can write without distraction.

      Experiment, and find your place.

      State your purpose

      Over the years, my clients have voiced a variety of different purposes for writing their books. Many writers yearn to see their names on the cover of their books. As an author, I understand; I know there’s no better feeling than seeing your creation in print.

      Beyond that, there are authors who crave financial gain, while others want to share their story or wisdom in order to help. Some simply wish to complete their books for the benefit of their loved ones.

      Be clear about your purpose right from the beginning. It will allow you to better determine what direction you will take.

      Determine your readership

      One of the biggest errors you can make as an author is to fail to identify your readership. You can’t write a book to everyone. Trust me, you’ll fail. No, you need to target your words to a specific demographic.

      It’s important to figure this out early, because the voice and style of your book will depend on the readers you wish to entertain or educate. After all, wouldn’t you write a how-to book for experts in your niche market differently than you would a science fiction novel aimed at a young adult audience?

      Consider your themes

      Share the good and the bad when writing your book with your ghostwriterSimply put, the theme of your book is the glue that ties everything together. This idea often conveys a universal truth, such as Love, War, Forgiveness, Courage, Friendship or Faith.

      For example, I think we can all agree that J.R.R Tolkien communicated courage beautifully in The Hobbit, as did J.K. Rowling in Harry Potter. Friendship was another theme in both these works.

      Keep in mind a book’s theme is rarely stated outright. It’s more subtle. It’s a takeaway the reader will experience and consider for years to come when you express your viewpoint of the world and the human condition through your characters’ beliefs, actions, experiences and conversations.

      Get set…

      Now that you’re fully set up to write a book, it’s time to organize your thoughts. A lot of first-time writers fall on their faces when they just begin to write without a strategy. After all, if you were to bake a wedding cake for your best friend, you’d probably do a little research and at least follow a recipe.

      Create detailed notes

      It is so helpful to jot down detailed notes before you begin to write a book. Get these ideas out of your head and onto paper. This process will help you envision your story and get the creative juices flowing.

      I have found an effective way to collect notes is to create an idea folder. This could be a word processing document or a notebook. Any thought you have about your book should be recorded in this folder. Don’t worry about the order, grammar, spelling or anything else.

      Just let your ideas flow.

      Have fun with it.

      Remember to research

      Photos are good research tools for your bookResearch is crucial for any book project. If you’re writing a memoir or recording your family’s history, you’ll need to provide accurate details as to time, location, appearance of the historic events. This also holds true if your novel is set in a past era.

      Fortunately, you have many resources available to you for research. Many writers use the internet and the library, but don’t forget the treasure trove of information within the minds of your family members. Many of them lived through the decades past and can share experiences with you.

      As you gather information, add it to your notes file. Be sure to always record your sources, so you can refer back to them.

      Your story will take place in a location. If it is a real place, use the information from your memory or research to paint it accurately. If you are writing fiction and setting your story in an imaginary place, I recommend that you do some world building. World building consists of fully fleshing out the universe which your characters occupy. This includes the geography, history, scientific laws and developments, culture and customs of the inhabitants, etc. By having a crystal-clear idea of what these are, your story will flow, and your readers will happily come along on the adventure.

      Know your characters

      Regardless of your genre, you will probably have a cast of characters in your book. Even most business books include personal anecdotes that involve friends and family. Remember, these characters all need to be developed.

      I find it helpful to create character biographies. Here I list each person who will be featured in the book and jot down their name, birth date and various other attributes that will help me write realistically about them. Some things to consider might be:

      • physical appearance
      • clothing style
      • speech patterns
      • mannerisms or habits
      • hobbies

      Go…

      At this point you have an excellent, solid foundation in place; you are well set up for success. Now it’s time to pull together all your notes and research into a cohesive plan. Then you can begin to write.

      Create an outline

      Ghostwriters create an outline by asking who, what, and whereAn outline allows you to organize your notes to create a good flow for your book. I am a big fan of outlining. It’s a road map that allows me to know the direction I’m going with my book. Without an outline it’s very easy to take a wrong turn and wind up in a dead end.

      If you’re writing a novel or memoir, consider putting all the incidents in chronological order. That’s usually the best plan. Of course, you can opt to indulge in the occasional flashback, but don’t overdo it.

      Your outline can take any form that works for you. After all, it is for your eyes only and is purely a tool to help you organize the content of your book.

      When writing a business book, I suggest that you create a table of contents along with subheads. Jot down descriptions or bullet points under each to remind you about the content you wish to share.

      For a novel or memoir, I prefer to use a different system. I create a large incident list which answers the following questions:

      • Who is in the scene?
      • Where does it takes place?
      • When did it happened?
      • What happened in the incident?
      • What is the purpose of the scene in your book?

      Note: The last point is by far the most important aspect of this process. After all, if a scene has no purpose, it will just land on the editing room floor at the end of the project.

      Write your first draft

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

      New writers often edit as they crank out the first draft. Try to avoid doing that. Just get the rough draft completed. I know, it won’t be great. That’s OK! You’ll fine tune your manuscript during the editing phase.

      So just sit down and write…

      And write…

      And write.

      If you’re writing a memoir, and find yourself sharing personal stories, be as detailed as possible so that you can help the reader feel as if he were right there with you. To do this, close your eyes and see the colors, hear the speech patterns, smell the odors, taste the food, and feel the textures in each incident.

      The same goes for a novel. Use your senses when you’re telling the story. Draw on personal experience if possible. If not, use your world building notes to help guide you.

      If you’re penning a how-to book, be sure to give step-by-step, detailed instructions for your reader. Put yourself in the shoes of someone who knows nothing about the subject. Imagine what questions he may have as he tries to do the steps, or any difficulties he may run into, and address them accordingly.

      Edit your first draft

      Edit your bookAfter completing your first draft, it’s time to edit. I’d recommend putting your manuscript down for a few days or a week to take a breather from the project.

      The next step is to read over your manuscript from beginning to end and see if there are any issues with continuity. It can happen that you switch gears on a subject mid-writing. In that case, you’ll need to go back and make adjustments.

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

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

      Once you’ve worked out the major kinks, you can review your manuscript for errors in grammar and punctuation. I’d recommend hiring one or two editors to look at your story with fresh eyes. It’s always good to have a detached person review your work.

      With these steps for how to write a book, you should be ready to start. Regardless of the decade and what is going on in the world at the time, there’s no time like the present to begin. If you have any questions or would like some help, please contact me. My greatest joy is in helping others achieve their dream of sharing their story in a book.

       

      Should I Hire A Ghostwriter to Help Me Write My Book?

      Should I hire a ghostwriter?Are you searching the web asking yourself, “Should I hire a ghostwriter to help me write my book?”

      You’re not alone.

      I can tell you, it isn’t always the right decision.

      “Wow, did she just say that?”

      I know, it’s strange to hear that from a professional writer trying to earn a living, right? I may be looking for my next client, but I like to be honest. Not everyone who writes me for help actually needs a ghostwriter. Sometimes it’s best to write the book yourself and sometimes the book shouldn’t be written.

      Making a decision

      To determine whether or not you need a ghostwriter, here are a few questions you might ask yourself:

      • Am I able to write the book on my own?
      • Do I have the budget to hire a professional writer?
      • What are my goals for my book?

      If you have the ability to write the book on your own, and you have the time to do so, that’s probably what you should do. However, you will need to budget money for a few good editors. Your book might need a major overhaul, especially if it is your first one. Not to worry—that’s normal.

      Having acknowledged that some of my clients could write a book on their own, why would they hire me? Because they just don’t have the time to do so. They’re too busy being successful in their chosen field.

      Budgeting for a ghostwriter

      Discover your budget to hire a ghostwriterIf you know you need to hire a writer, you must budget $50,000 – $75,000 for the project. Do not expect a professional writer to work for a “share of the profits.” This isn’t realistic. Professional writers need to be paid upfront for their work. You can offer to give them a percentage of the profits from the sales as an added bonus. This is a wise plan, as the writer will be more invested and might help you with marketing and sales if they are profiting on the back end.

      It is important to determine your goals for your book project before you start. If you want a bestselling book, you will need to invest in a bestselling author. If you want to create a little 99 cent eBook, you won’t need to spend as much on the ghostwriter.

      Remember, you get what you pay for—even with a writer.

      Recouping your investment

      For many authors, spending $50,000 on a book makes sense because their professional reputation is on the line. Ask yourself, will my business expand if I publish my book? If each sale you make has a hefty price tag attached, it will be easy for you to recoup your investment in a good, professional ghostwriter.

      After all, if your goal is to have a professional book with your name on it, you need to build your brand’s reputation in the right direction!

      When you’re asking yourself, “Should I hire a ghostwriter to help me write my book?” you need to evaluate your goals and resources. Please feel free to email me anytime if you’d like help weighing your options!

      Check out Your Guide to Hiring a Ghostwriter for more detailed information.

       

      How to Hire a Memoir Ghostwriter

      Hire a memoir ghostwriter to help you write your bookIf you’ve decided to hire a memoir ghostwriter to write your life story, you’re probably scouring the internet in search of the perfect person. Find someone with a website that resonates with you. That’s a good first step.

      Once you find a ghostwriter you feel might be right for you, reach out to her. Now, you might be wondering how to broach the delicate subject that is your life story. After all, you’re basically looking for that special person who will be able to write your words for you. I’d recommend starting with an email describing yourself and the project in a few paragraphs.

      Next, set up a time to talk on the phone. The initial interview will reveal a lot and help you make a decision, if you know what to say and ask.

      Learn about your memoir ghostwriter

      During the interview your prime objective is to get to know the ghostwriter. If possible, I recommend that you research the ghostwriter’s background prior to the initial interview. Look for:

      • Extensive experience
      • Dozens of testimonials
      • Writing samples that you enjoy reading
      • A fee that matches your budget

      Once you know that a ghostwriter meets your basic requirements, you can sit back and really get to know the person on the other end of the phone. This is someone you’re going to spend a lot of time with over the next year. Make sure that she is not only a highly qualified writer but that she will also be compatible.

      In addition, spend some time discussing her writing process. Although my process will shift in small ways to suit the client’s needs, there are certain effective actions I take that make for a successful project.

      By the end of the interview you should feel good about the ghostwriter. You should also know that you can communicate easily with her. If she dodges your questions or doesn’t seem quite “present,” I would keep looking. There’s a better ghostwriter out there for you.

      Share yourself with a memoir ghostwriter

      Any memoir ghostwriter you might work with will need to know about you before she even considers taking on a project. Even during the initial interview, it’s a good plan to share important personal information. Just enough so that she gets to know you.

      It’s also important to let your ghostwriter know your purpose for writing a memoir. She needs to know the reason that motivates you to share your life story with the world so she can express that for you. As a ghostwriter, I am extremely interested in my client’s main purpose as I wish to help him or her fulfil that goal. I love it when I can help someone impact the world in a positive way.

      As a side note, if you hire a memoir ghostwriter, I highly recommend that you create a detailed biography to share with her. Even if you’re writing about a period in your mid-thirties, your writer will want to know all about your childhood and school experiences. Though these stories won’t appear in the book, they will help your ghostwriter understand you better. I always tell new clients that they can’t share too much information with me. It all helps develop your character in the book.

      Share the specs of the book

      Share the specs of a book when you hire a memoir ghostwriterWhen you are interviewing a memoir ghostwriter, you’ll need to be prepared to answer a few questions about the project. Since the fee is directly linked to word count, it’s good to have a rough idea of the length of your memoir. An average length book is 200–300 pages. Some are just a hair over 100 pages, while others exceed 400 pages.

      In addition, if you have an urgent deadline, it’s a good idea to communicate that upfront. Most ghostwriters are busy and require at least eight months to year to complete your book. If you’re fine with skipping the editing phase and you have most of the research to hand, this timeline can be shortened quite a bit. Unless you have an urgent need for a rushed deadline, I’d encourage you to allow the ghostwriter to create your book on her schedule. It will come out better that way.

       

      When you interview and hire a memoir ghostwriter, it should be a fun task. You’ll be meeting someone who will become an integral part of your life for the next year. And in the end, you’ll have a completed memoir your readers will enjoy.

      If you’re interested in learning more about how to hire a memoir ghostwriter, check out my book: Your Guide to Hiring a Ghostwriter.


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        Ask a Ghostwriter: How Do I Write a Book?

        how do I write a book?

        How do I write a book?

        Dear Friendly Ghostwriter, I’ve never hired a ghostwriter, and I have no idea how I go about any of this, but I really would like to write a book on my life. Please could you give me some advice on the ghostwriting process? Also, do I need to know how to write a book first? – Larry

        Dear Larry, Whenever I take on a new client, the process is unique, because the author and written content are unique. However, I can share with you a few aspects that seem to occur with every book project I’ve worked on for the last two decades. To learn about my process, please read my article: My Ghostwriting Process.

        As a first step, the ghostwriter you hire will collect all the information required to write your book. In the case of a fictional novel, that could simply be understanding your core idea. However, with a memoir, your writer will need to know everything about you and your life that is relevant to the book. Your writer will probably interview you over the phone. Personally, I find it is effective for the client to send me a lot of written notes (in rough form). After I study these carefully, I can follow up with emails and phone calls to clarify.

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

        Don’t edit your book before you complete your first draft

        stuck in the mud; how do I write a book?

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

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

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

        How to write a book about real people

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

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

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

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

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