What to Expect In an Interview with a Ghostwriter

Working with a ghostwriter to write a bookYou’ve made the leap—you’ve decided to author a book this year. Bravo! This is a wonderful goal. If you’re similar to many other busy successful people, you may need a little help. If so, you may find you learn a lot just from a simple interview with a ghostwriter.

Over the years I’ve discovered that authors sometimes aren’t aware of everything that goes into the development of a book. Some have a vague idea of the process, but most have a lot of questions about structure, format and content. That’s completely normal. I’m more than happy to share this information with you during our initial interview.

The initial interview with a ghostwriter

Naturally there are questions you want to ask to determine whether a particular ghostwriter might be qualified to take on your project. I cover this topic extensively in my article, Interview Questions for a Ghostwriter.

However, while you are interviewing her, she is also gathering information which will help her decide if she is the best ghost for you. Through this initial interview with a ghostwriter you will take the first step toward understanding what will be required to complete your book.

The genre of your book

Know your genre for your book when you hire a ghostwriterThe three most popular book requests I receive are: fiction, business nonfiction, and memoir. Within those classifications, there are many subcategories. For instance, if you’re writing a fictional story, you have various choices of genre: drama, science fiction, fantasy and young adult, to name a few.

If you’re writing business nonfiction, there are a wide variety of subjects as well as a few choices of styles of presentation of the facts and information. Some authors prefer text only, while others opt to include many photos. When I wrote Chess Is Child’s Play, we included many fun text boxes with tips and anecdotes for the reader to enjoy.

Memoirs are pretty straightforward. They are typically written in the first person and look and feel like a novel (even though they are true stories). However, some are presented as a diary or journal.

Keep in mind, there is some cross-over, too. For instance, you can have a memoir that is only loosely based on fact but is primarily a novel. Or a novel that feels like memoir but is actually completely fictional. In addition, many entrepreneurs who have important lessons to impart will write a nonfiction how-to book and sprinkle many humorous anecdotes throughout. Another option is to write a memoir and include many tips and tricks of the trade to educate the readers.

When you interview with a ghostwriter, make sure to know your book’s genre so you can hire the best ghost for the job; most writers specialize in certain genres.

Your readership

When you hire a ghostwriter, let her know your demographicOne of the biggest errors a new author can make is to try to write his book for “everyone.” While some books are very popular with a lot of people, you always want to direct your creative energies to a certain demographic.

For instance, a how-to book giving practical parenting advice for single parents will be written very differently than a science fiction novel aimed at the young adult market. The voice and style will vary depending on the readers you wish to entertain or educate.

During your interview with a ghostwriter work to determine the right readership for your book and make sure your ghost can capture the style and voice required to resonate with them.

Your goals for your book

A good ghostwriter will ask you to reveal your goals for your book early on. Over the last twenty years, I’ve heard a variety of goals from many clients. Some are interested in financial gain, while others want to share their story or wisdom with others. Many simply wish to complete their books for their loved ones.

Know your goals for your book when you hire a ghostwriterAnother popular goal of many is to see their name on the cover of a book. I understand—it’s a bucket list item. As an author, I know there’s no better feeling than seeing your story in print.

I love to work with clients who wish to share their expertise or life lessons with others. I have seen that sometimes books written with a strong purpose to help, enlighten or entertain others also result in fame and fortune. On the other hand, fame and fortune seldom come when the author is purely money-driven. Your ghostwriter must know what drives you to write your book so that she can help you achieve your goals.

Publishing plans

It’s a good idea to share your publishing goals early on as well. While this information is not vital when it comes to writing the outline of a book, it does help to bring the ghostwriter in on the overall strategy. We’re a team, after all.

If you don’t know yet, don’t worry. You have time. I always suggest my clients decide about halfway through the writing process. That gives you time to make a more educated decision and prepare a query letter if that’s what’s needed.

Subsequent Interviews

After you complete your initial interview with a ghostwriter, you will probably immediately know if this writer will be your ghost. A rapport and bond should form quickly. If you have to “think about it,” the answer is probably no. Interview another writer.

Once you sign the contract and send the down payment, the next step will be to send all the written information you might have to your new ghostwriter. For me, one of the best sources of research is in written form. This gives me a great foundation to start learning what I need to know to write your book.

A ghostwriter needs a lot of notes to write your bookSome clients have a first draft that needs a complete overhaul, while others have a lot of detailed notes. Some provide journal entries or articles, while some have notes or documents written on cocktail napkins. Gather up all these pieces so you can send them to your ghostwriter. These written samples are invaluable, as they will help your ghostwriter capture your voice.

I always tell my clients that they can never give me too much data. It’s a bit like creating a sculpture from a large block of marble. You need a lot of material to start so you can carve out a beautiful piece of art.

After your ghostwriter has reviewed all your written material, she will need to continue to interview you. I often conduct these over email and phone. Sometimes clients send me audio or video files, which I transcribe.

Note: while I prefer to receive most of the information in writing, I also need to talk to the client now and then. Live conversations help a lot.

Please know that these ongoing interviews are vital. They help your ghostwriter get the detailed information she needs to fully and accurately capture your style and written voice.

Getting personal with a memoir

Share the good and the bad when writing your book with your ghostwriterIf you want your writer to accurately portray you to your reader, it’s important that you participate in each interview with a ghostwriter fully.

That means if you’re writing a memoir, you must share your most personal experiences, thoughts and feelings sincerely and honestly. While you don’t need to include everything in your book, you can’t hide from all the negative events that happened.

Don’t try to make out that your life is wonderful all the time. You need to show your flaws and share your errors. Readers need to be able to identify with you. They need to see that you’re human. If you portray yourself as perfect, the reader will know that you’re lying.

And your book will be boring.

Just like life, a good story must have conflict to be interesting. So, you must be willing to open up to your readers. That begins with your ghostwriter. Your ghostwriter will help you by asking broad questions. If the questions spark an idea, feel free to elaborate. It’s fine to go off-topic for a bit because that may open the door to more ideas and even bring up interesting incidents which might have been a bit buried. Most of my clients remember many details when they interview with me, their friendly ghostwriter.

One word of warning: if you’re thinking of speaking ill of someone, be aware that her or she may read your book. Consider carefully if you are willing to face the consequences. After all, anything you put in writing is permanent.

Other categories

If you’re writing a fiction book or a prescriptive nonfiction (how-to book), keep in mind you still need to interview with your ghostwriter. She will need to coordinate closely with you and collect all the pertinent facts. In addition, she’ll require regular feedback on her work.

Each interview with a ghostwriter will help her hear how you put together phrases, learn more about your philosophies on writing and life, and better understand your ongoing thoughts and goals for the project.

Helpful material for a ghostwriter

My clients usually wish to write their book with me. I always embrace this partnership and strive to teach them about the process every step of the way, if that’s what they desire. However, some authors prefer a more hands-off approach. In those cases, I simply write pages and submit them on a regular basis.

There are various key research elements a client can provide that make my job a lot easier.

Biographies of characters

ghostwriters need to know about the characters in your bookNo matter what the genre, it is always helpful to collect biographies of the people mentioned in the book (whether they be fictional or not). If I’m writing a memoir for a client, I like to know the following information so that I can write a truly three-dimensional character:

  • Full name
  • Birthdate (month and year)
  • Birthplace and residences
  • Hair and eye color
  • Body description
  • General mood
  • Hobbies or interests

This is a good starting point, but, really, there is a lot more that can be added to this list. Consider all the things that make this person truly unique.

A detailed list of incidents

Any fiction book or memoir is really comprised of a series of incidents. It’s a timeline of the events that happen to your characters.

In order to get started on your outline, I need to know what happened. This list doesn’t have to include a lot of information. In fact, when you’re just starting out, it can just be a list of key words that triggers the right concept for you. Then, during your interview, your ghostwriter will pull out the relevant details to understand the scene as well as you do.

For instance, if you’re writing your memoir, you might jot down:

  • The time I got food poisoning in LA
  • The first horror movie I attended with a boy
  • The time I flew to Paris to meet my sister

Ghostwriters need to know who, what, where to write your bookOnce you make a giant list of all these incidents, you can even delve in a little further and add a few more pertinent facts:

  • Who was involved?
  • Where did it take place?
  • When did it happen?
  • What was the significance for you?

Snippets of dialogue

When you’re writing a memoir, it is very helpful to note down any actual conversations that you might wish to recreate in your book. Of course, your ghostwriter will change it around to work for your book, but these words will give her a sense for how you and others in your story speak and interact with one another. If you think about it, you speak very differently with the different people in your life. I know I don’t talk to my mother-in-law the way I speak to my children or my neighbor.

The same goes for fiction if. If you have a good handle on the characters you wish your writer to portray, I’d recommend that you provide a little sample dialogue. That way your ghostwriter can build from that and meet your expectations easily.

Additional information

I find it extremely helpful to get the addresses of former homes, offices, schools, etc., so I can research details about the locations various characters visited throughout the story. This helps me set the scenes accurately, especially if the research turns up photos of the interior as well. I love to pore over local maps to get a feel for the area.

Of course, if you have any pertinent photos, those help tremendously because they give a complete picture of how people, places and things looked.

Use your senses

use your senses when you write a bookAs you are writing down all the above information, do your best to fully describe everything so that your ghostwriter can see and feel what you did. Use all your senses. For example, if you’re describing your first girlfriend, mention the color of her hair, the sound her high heels made as she clicked across the floor, the way her perfume reminded you of the rose garden at your grandma’s house, or the silky feel of her dress when you held her as you danced.

If you’re writing a memoir, each interview with a ghostwriter may bring out a lot of emotions. Let them out. Be honest about how you felt when certain things happened. Open up and share the fear that gripped you when your car spun out of control on an ice patch, the raw anger you experienced when your brother teased you as a young child, or the pure joy you felt when you held your first-born child.

And through it all, seek the themes that you wish to impart. Share the messages you wish to communicate through your book.

Enjoy each interview with a ghostwriter. You’ll learn a lot and, through the process, you and your ghost will create an excellent book.

Additional articles you may enjoy reading:

How to Conquer Writer’s Block

Learn to Become a Ghostwriter

Write Your Family History in 2020

A Ghostwriter’s Fee: How Is It Charged?

 

 

 

How to Conquer Writer’s Block

writer suffering from writer's blockHave you ever stared at a fresh, new document in frustration because the words just wouldn’t come? Not the dreaded writer’s block. No, anything but that. No matter how hard you try, you just can’t get your fingers to perform the chorus of taps you need.

Writer’s block…

These two little words evoke fear in the hearts of many brave warrior writers, causing them to spiral down into a swirl of anxiety and self-doubt. It’s a writer’s worst nightmare.

While some claim that there is no such thing as “writer’s block,” the fact is that if you’re reading this article, you probably feel it’s real and that’s enough for me. Perhaps your well of inspiration has run dry. It isn’t “all in your head” and it isn’t an imagined curse.

The good news is that there is a remedy.

I think of writing in terms of flow—a steady, continuous stream of ideas being put into a document. Now, sometimes a flow can get stuck, just like a river can be stopped by a variety of blockades.

So, what is the solution?

Remove the barrier and get the flow moving again.

Write something, anything

My main remedy for writer’s block is to write.

Okay, I realized that might sound oversimplified. The truth is, solutions to problems don’t have to be complicated. The best ones are usually very straightforward.

prime the pump to combat writer's blockIf your creative well is dry, then you may need to prime the pump. Simply flowing words onto paper might just unstick you and pull you out of the stagnant doldrums.

Find something you can write about very easily and just let yourself go. Don’t think about your current project. Your job is to simply get words out so you can get the river of words flowing again.

A few ideas

writing a letter to a friend can help fight writer's blockIf you’re stuck for ideas of things you can write about, here are some suggestions:

  • Compose an old-fashioned letter or an email to a close friend. Share a recent experience you know she’d enjoy.
  • Write in a personal journal you know no one will ever see.
  • Pen an article for a blog, sharing advice with your readers about something you know a lot about. If you don’t have a blog, now is a good time to start one.

Even short pieces can help you get back into the swing of writing. You can write out a detailed to-do list, post messages on your favorite social media sites, jot down notes for your roommate or spouse, etc.

It really doesn’t matter what you write, so long as you put words on paper. Remember, writers write.

It’s in their blood.

It’s in your blood.

Note: It’s worth mentioning that reading can also help you write. If you’re stuck, try reading a book you really enjoy. You may become inspired!

Plotters versus pantsers

I’ve recently learned that in the writing world there are “plotters” and “pantsers.” Yeah, this was news to me, too. These terms describe authors who “plot” out an outline or those who “fly by the seats of their pants” and develop their story as they go.

In case we haven’t met, Hi, I’m Laura Sherman the Friendly Ghostwriter, a dyed-in-the-wool plotter. I blog a lot about how to outline a book. I can’t even begin to write a short story without a detailed road map of where I’m going. It would be a hot mess. I’d be a hot mess.

I realize that not everyone is a plotter. Many great writers are pantsers. That’s fine. Some of my best friends are pantsers.

However, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that you can always switch from one method to the other mid-stream. It doesn’t mean you have to give up your membership card to your team. No, if you are a pantser, you can secretly plot out the rest of the book and see if that helps you steer your way out of your writer’s block. Or, if you are a plotter, you can diverge from your outline to free flow a section just to get your creative juices going.

Plotters, adjust your outline

Outlining can help you find your way out of writer's blockNow, if you’re a plotter like me and you find that you’re stuck, it could be that the writer’s block you’re experiencing is simply your common sense saying that you’ve headed in the wrong direction. If the words don’t fly off the keyboard, go back and make sure you’re on board with the direction of the story. It can be an easy fix; just make some adjustments to your outline.

A book can be boiled down to a series of incidents. I often create my outline by listing all the events that will occur in chronological order. However, where an outline can fail is when the purpose of each individual incident isn’t specified or understood.

With fledgling writers, I’ve found this to be a common problem. They’ve created a spectacular scene, but ultimately discover that it really has no purpose in the book they are creating. It just doesn’t tie into their themes.

If this happens to me, I toss it from the current project and save it in a file for future use in a different story.

As a side note, if you find that you’re bored with a scene, but it is vital for your story, just sketch it out and move on. You can spice it up in editing. Your immediate goal is to get a good rough draft under your belt.

Give yourself a break; it’s a first draft

I’ve seen too many new writers spiral into vortex of self-invalidation regarding their first drafts. One of the biggest pieces of advice I have for them is to just bang out the first draft and don’t edit.

Your first draft is the rough draft. The goal is to get your ideas out of your head and onto the page.

The first draft won’t be perfect.

It might even be ugly.

That’s okay.

Save editing for the editing stage of the process. Don’t edit as you write. The first draft should have tons of typos and errors. Mine always are littered with them.

You write, you fix, you write, you edit, you write, you go back three pages and re-read it all, maybe even deleting whole paragraphs.

You sit back and ask, “Is it perfect?”

No.

Ack! Now what? Stop writing.

woman has writer's block because she edits too muchIf this is what’s happening with you, it could explain your “writer’s block.” The above scenario can become very choppy very quickly, because the sequence of actions is confused. You should write, write, write, write the first draft until it is complete. Then, and only then, do you take out the proverbial red pen and edit. Or hire an outside editor to help you. I’ve written an article about the different kinds of editors you might consider hiring. There are quite a few.

Yes, writing a book calls for a leap of faith. So, close your eyes, let go of any preconceived notions, and just start typing. You’ll be amazed at what may come to you if you just allow yourself to create.

Can’t find the right word?

If you’re stuck on finding the exact word or phrase to describe something, don’t obsess over it. Sure, Google the word for synonyms or pull out your trusty thesaurus, but if nothing really works, put down something as a place holder and move on.

Personally, if a word eludes me, I know it won’t be for long. When I move away from it, it never fails to pop into my mind, sometimes in the shower. It’s kind of the same with recalling names:

Who was that woman at the party with the cheese plate?

You know, the one with brown hair and glasses…

Gladys, no.

Judy, no.

Then, a little bit later, while I’m washing the dishes…bam! It comes to me. It was Sarah Jones.

So, whatever you do, please don’t waste hours staring at the blank screen, trying to retrieve the exact right phrasing now. It will come to you. Later.

Surround yourself with supportive people

Your inner critic can cause writer's blockSometimes writer’s block goes deeper than the writing process. Some writers fall prey to their “inner critic,” which is basically the voice inside your head telling you that what you’re doing is not good enough. Being blunt, critics aren’t my favorite class of people.

If you’re taking on the role of your worst critic, it can paralyze you to the point where you can’t write at all. There is absolutely no benefit to cutting yourself into shreds. Show your inner critic to the door of your mind and ask it to leave.

One very real cause of writer’s block can derive from peers who discredit your abilities. If you have helpful friends who jokingly tell you, “Hey, Joe, don’t quit your day job!” this can be damaging to you as a writer. The only purpose of such comments is to get you to stop writing. Don’t seek advice from these people. Surround yourself with supportive people who have your best interests at heart, people who want to see you succeed.

This isn’t to say that constructive criticism isn’t very helpful to a new (or an experienced) writer. Every writer can always improve and grow. I personally LOVE it when some kind soul writes in to tell me I have a typo in a blog article or gives me tips on my writing. It’s quite wonderful!

When you’re trying to sort out whether someone’s feedback is helpful or not, the trick is to look at the intention behind the comment and really observe how it makes you feel. That will help you figure out where to file the suggestion. If the critique leaves you feeling good about yourself, listen to it. If you feel like you’re a poser who should never write again, toss the advice and the friend.

Final thoughts

As a writer you are engaged in one of the most amazing activities in the world: creating. It’s a wonderful and impressive ability that you have!

Now, that’s not to say that writing isn’t hard work. It has its challenges.

Writer’s block can be a bump in the road. But rest assured that it is a small bump that can be handled fairly smoothly. With a bit of experimentation, you can find the actions that will help turn things around. And if the remedy works once, it will probably work again. Soon, there will be no stopping you.

If you need advice or help in the area of writer’s block, please don’t hesitate to email me!

Additional articles you might find helpful:

Help! Help! I Need Help Writing a Book!

Write and Publish a Book in 2020

How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Ghostwriter

Learn to Become a Ghostwriter

What to Expect In an Interview with a Ghostwriter

 

How to Write a Prescriptive Nonfiction Book

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

Should you write a prescriptive nonfiction book?

To answer that question, I’d like to ask a few more:

  • Have you developed a niche area of expertise?
  • Do you have specialized knowledge in a particular field?
  • Is your way of doing things better than the norm?
  • Would someone be able to do a task better and more efficiently by using your method?

If you answered YES to any of these questions, you should consider writing a prescriptive nonfiction book to share your knowledge with others.

Define your terms

Being an expert in your niche area, you probably are fluent in the language of the field. Remember, though, that your reader is probably a novice. Can you think of a time when you were surrounded by people speaking a language you didn’t know? If so, you probably felt left out. That’s not an enjoyable experience.

To prevent that in your book, make sure to define all the industry terms you use. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that people will be impressed with your liberal sprinkling of hard-to-understand technical words throughout the manuscript. The goal is to teach; the goal is to be understood. Keep it simple, so that everyone can understand.

Start with an outline

Start with an outline. Get the key principles out of your head and onto paper. I like to bullet-point the important topics, only jotting down a few notes at this stage. This outline will later form the table of contents of your prescriptive nonfiction book.

Next, take each important point and expand on it. Don’t write out the entire chapter now, but rather, express your thoughts in a few paragraphs of prose. Create further bullet points which will serve as your subheadings.

Add personal stories 

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

Your readers will want to hear your stories and anecdotes that complement the lessons. When you’re outlining, add a few lines to jog your memory about these stories. 

Include practical exercises

Very few people can absorb information without trying it out. Add in a few practical exercises for your readers. It’s a good idea to get people out of the mode of just reading and put them into action. Make the assignments simple and easy to follow. The goal should be that they can accomplish a task and feel they can do it again and again. The last thing you want to do is frustrate your reader.

Starting your first draft

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

Continue to write each chapter, in any order that you like. You might find it helpful to start at the beginning, now that you’ve gotten your feet wet.

Don’t edit as you write. Just let the words flow onto the pages.

As you progress through your first draft, you’ll most likely think of other things to include in other parts of your book. Simply add them into the detailed outline; don’t stop midway to write that new segment. Finish the chapter that you’re on.

Final steps

When you complete your first draft, review it all and make sure it flows. Take out any repetitions.

If you are self-publishing, your prescriptive nonfiction book can really be any length. Having said that, be sure to cover your topic thoroughly. When you’re done, I highly recommend that you hire an editor to polish your manuscript and fix any typos.

Please understand that every writer needs an editor. We all make errors, which are hard for us to see because we’re too close to the piece.

Share your knowledge in your niche area of expertise with others. You’ll feel great when people write in to thank you! And if you need some help writing your book, please email me. I’d love to help you write your prescriptive nonfiction book.

Additional articles you might find helpful:

Seven Tips For Writing A Great Memoir

Why Should I Hire a Ghostwriter?

A Ghostwriter’s Fee: How Do They Charge?

Working With A Ghostwriter – What Steps Should You Take?

How Much Does It Cost To Hire A Ghostwriter?

How to Start Writing a Book

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

Dear Art M.,

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

Make a list

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

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

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

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

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

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

Give each incident a time stamp

Photo by Mohammed Fkriy on Unsplash

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

Incident: Sam starts high school: September 1979.

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

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

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

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

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

Put the incidents in order

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

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

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

Flesh out your incidents

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

Here are some questions you can answer:

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

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

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

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

The next step

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

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

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

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

So, How Does Ghostwriting Work, Anyway?

You are the author

I get a few emails a month asking how the standard ghostwriting arrangement works. While there are some commonalities, the truth is, no true two projects are alike, because no two clients are the same. There really isn’t a “standard ghostwriting” deal.

How to present your notes to a ghostwriter

Different clients present me with notes in different ways. Some clients will drop 60,000 words in my lap and ask me to write a book. Others will give me a rough concept of a story or nonfiction book and let me “have at it.”

Which do I prefer?

I love both!

Both also offer their own challenges. The first option gives me a wealth of information and I begin the project with a good idea of what the client wants. I always still need to do extensive research in order to fill in gaps and be sure I have a complete understanding of the material, but with a good set of notes a lot of the initial homework has been done.

The second option gives me complete creative freedom, and, I’ll admit, there’s something very appealing about that!

Either way, I’ll need to write the actual book from scratch, as the notes need to be sculpted into the proper form required for a memoir, novel, or business book. Sometimes the notes are presented to me as a manuscript, but it’s rare that a simple edit will turn it into a book.

Cost of hiring a ghostwriter

Different ghostwriters charge differently. My cost is very straightforward and easy to calculate. I charge a dollar per word for standard ghostwriting (for either method discussed above). So, a 200-300-page book, which would be 50,000 – 75,000 words, would run $50,000 – $75,000. I’m flexible on the payment plan but would need to be paid before I begin the work. Please email me for specific details on how you and I could work together.

The time I need to complete a book

The standard ghostwriting contract gives me eight to eighteen months to complete a full-length book project. Even a short, 100-page book, requires a lot of research. It’s rare that I can commit to completing even a mini-eBook in under a half a year. However, if that is important to you, I can sometimes move things around; however, in that case, the price would need to be adjusted.

Sometimes a client will ask me to write a book in a few months. I can do that, but I pretty much have to drop everything, kiss my husband and children goodbye, and rent a cabin in the woods to get it done. Okay, I’m exaggerating, but there is a nugget of truth to my hyperbole.

The time required by the client

Photo by Andrik Langfield on Unsplash

Some authors are happy to sit back and let me write their book with little input, while others prefer to see the pages unfold and comment on them regularly. I will never just take a client’s money and write the entire book on my own in a vacuum. That is a recipe for disaster, on many levels. After all, their name will be on the cover and my client will need to answer for each and every word.

The first thing I do is outline the story and run it by the client. Once they sign off on the summary or outline, I begin writing the chapters of the book. During the early stages, I’ll send a few pages at a time for them to review. Then, as we really establish the style and voice, I’ll send larger chunks.

So, as you can see, every author does need to be somewhat involved in the project. My clients should plan to spend a couple hours a week on average answering emails. The feedback they provide doesn’t need to be polished. Many clients use speech recognition software, so they can send me notes on the road or from their balcony as they sip Chardonnay. Punctuation and spelling don’t matter, as long as I can understand the message.

A fast turnaround time by my clients helps me complete the project faster.

One of the things I love about ghostwriting is that I get to work with many different people on many different projects. Each relationship is truly unique, and the process is always fun and challenging!

How To Write A Nonfiction Book

how to write a nonfiction bookAre you wondering how to write a nonfiction book? The process doesn’t have to be hard. Here are my thoughts on how to write a nonfiction book.

Pick a topic

Some people want to write a book, but have no idea what to write about. Or they have a concept, but all their ideas don’t quite fit and the words just don’t flow. The first step is to pick a subject you have a specialized knowledge about.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself to get started:

  • Is there a subject that you know about that others don’t?
  • What really interests you?
  • What could you write about that would help your business?
Read More

Writing a Book: Your First Few Steps

Congratulations!

I’m thrilled that you made the momentous decision to complete that book that you’ve been thinking about writing for years! Bravo! That’s the first step. Now let’s tackle the next few.

I’m not here to tell you that writing a book can be made simple through a few steps. No, it will take time and patience. There is no way to even pen a short book in a few weeks. However, with a few preliminary steps I’d like to try to cut down on potential frustration!

Sum up your book in just a few lines

Before you can really start even outlining your book, you need to answer this fundamental question in a few lines: “What is your story about?” Then see if you can boil it down to a single line, a single breath. For example: This is a story about a young man, who rose from extreme poverty to become a successful entrepreneur. You know what the book is about, don’t you?

Why is this important? It keeps you on track. Plus, the themes, messages, and purposes of the book come out quickly from this simple one-line statement. It also keeps you from traveling down a divergent path. For instance, you might be tempted to devote three chapters of your business memoir to a failed marriage, designed to help budding entrepreneurs. Perhaps you’re hoping to get in a few good digs along the way. Well, that doesn’t really match your original concept, does it? So, toss it.

However, delving into an early business failure could definitely help your readers avoid the same pitfalls. Those stories would definitely be good to tell and would be important to your story.

Assignment: Write a one- to three-line summary of your story, answering the question, “What is your story about?”

What’s your purpose?

A ghostwriter will give you a well-written bookWhy are you interested in writing your book? What do you hope your reader will gain from reading it?

As I’ve written a few times in my blog, if your purpose is to get back at someone, think again. That story just isn’t something worth reading. Another purpose that rarely works is financial. If you’re looking to make a million off of your story, and that is your primary goal, it won’t come out right.

By defining your purpose, you can help yourself stay on track. When you get into outlining, you can make sure that each scene, each segment aligns with that purpose fully. And if you find yourself straying, you can toss the paragraphs into a roaring proverbial bonfire.

Assignment: Write down your purpose(s) in writing your book.

What are your messages?

It’s good to work out what messages you wish to impart to your reader early in the process. This will help you sort through all the information you’ll gather later, in order to figure out what will make the cut. It will also help you find your writing voice and determine how you want to tell your story (or share your wisdom).

For instance, one of your messages for your memoir might be about the value of perseverance. Another message could center around the importance of ethical behavior in business. So, the individual stories that will make up the book should center around these themes.

Assignment: Write down the messages you wish to impart to your reader.

Once you’ve finished these steps, you’ll be ready to start collecting notes, which you’ll use to create an outline. That will be the subject for the next blog article! Let me know how you did with the assignments above in the comment section below!

If you decide you wish to hire a ghostwriter, please contact me. I’d like to help. And if you wish to learn about my pricing, please check out my article on the subject!

Thank you and keep writing!

If you liked this article, here are a few additional ones you might find helpful:

Interview Questions for a Ghostwriter

A Ghostwriter’s Fee: How Do They Charge?

Working With A Ghostwriter – What Steps Should You Take?

Help! Help! I Need Help Writing a Book!

Steps You Can Take To Write Your Book

StepsDo you often think of how you would love to record your life story, or maybe pen a novel?

Getting a book published is not out of the realm of possibility. With the advent of new technologies, it’s easier than ever to be a published author. Here are some steps to follow:

  1. Answer the question, “What is my book about?” This may seem like a simple task, but it can be difficult. You should be able to answer this question within a few lines, as a sort of pitch. Once you have this down, you have a guiding light to see you through the journey. This answer will help you stay on track through the writing process.
  2. Create an outline or table of contents. This is a step that will give you the mile markers you need to get from point A to B then C and all the way to the end. Don’t spend too much time on the details, just summarize the sections.
  3. Write the rough draft. Get the words out of your mind and onto paper. Follow your outline, presenting your scenes as you go. Do not edit at this phase, just write and write and write!
  4. Take a break. It’s a good idea to walk away from a manuscript after you complete the first draft. It is much easier to edit if you can see it with fresh eyes. I usually give myself three to ten days before starting the editing process.
  5. Edit all the way through. Now is the time to play with the words and tighten your book. If you love a scene, but realize it doesn’t fit, scrap it. It might help to pretend it isn’t your book, but a client’s manuscript. Nothing is too precious to keep.
  6. Hire an editor or show the book to fellow writers. Now is a good time to get other feedback. What are you missing that someone else finds glaringly obvious? Get good feedback then make changes as you see fit.
  7. Read your book again. If this is your first book, I highly recommend that you read it out loud. There’s no better way that I know of for catching errors or stale dialogue. If you can, read it out loud to another person.

Next, you can brainstorm titles and a tag line. Write down candidate titles. I like to ask friends for their ideas, too. Once you have a few, you can survey them with many people, discovering the title that really communicates to your readers. That’s the one to pick.

Once you have your title and tag line, and if you’re self-publishing, you’ll need to hire a designer to create your cover art. It is important that it be professional and appealing. If you can get your artist to create three unique designs, survey those and see which is most popular. If it’s close, survey more people. You want the winner to stand out.

If you don’t have a blog, now is a good time to start one. Blog weekly (or biweekly) about your book. This will help promote your book. If you get an agent and publisher, they will be looking for a healthy blog promoting the book.

I would also recommend getting onto various social media sites. Start now, as it takes time to build a following. Keep your content relevant for you and your readers.

Writing a book is a huge undertaking. Finding a ghostwriter to help can aid the effort tremendously. Please feel free to email with any questions you might have about the book writing process or click here to submit a quote request.

Additional articles you might find helpful:

How Much Does It Cost To Hire A Ghostwriter?

Tips For Writing Good Dialogue

How To Write A Nonfiction Book

A Ghostwriter’s Fee: How Do They Charge?

Do You Want To Write A Book About Your Life?