Hire a Ghostwriter to Record Your Family History for Future Generations

I’ve been a ghostwriter for thirteen years and love what I do. I get to take on many different characters, such as a slothful worker in a futuristic world or a teenage rebel in Communist Hungary. I also get to share important knowledge that was once only known to an elite few.

So, it goes without saying that I’m grateful for the opportunity to help my clients write their books.

By far, the most common request I receive is to help people write their memoirs, their life stories and adventures. Each one is so different, each client with their own voice, message, and purpose for writing their book.

When I interview a potential client, one of my first tasks is to get their true motivation behind the book project. That’s important for a number of reasons.

For one thing, I want to help them achieve their goals. Honestly, their goals become mine as we form a writing team.

One of my favorite things about being a ghostwriter is that I get to become a family’s historian. It’s an honor to be allowed into each client’s inner circle, so that I can record their stories for future generations—children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

Many of my clients have no intention of ever publishing their memoirs. They have me write their stories simply out of fear their memories and lessons-learned will get lost over time, especially when they pass on. It’s a valid concern. Taking the time to write down their words, thoughts, and ideas has been not only important to them but to their families as well.

The advantage of hiring a ghostwriter to record your family history is that should you decide to have it published, you will already have a marketable book, one you can easily self-publish on Amazon.com. There’s no obligation to have the final book published, of course, but why not give yourself the option of sharing your story with others when the time is right?

While hiring a ghostwriter has many advantages, I understand that not everyone can afford the fee. In that case, I recommend appointing someone in your family to be the historian. Once selected, encourage and help that person interview every family member as in-depth as possible.

One tip I can offer the family historian is to capture each person’s exact words. After all, everyone has a different way of expressing themselves. There’s no right or wrong here, just jot down any idioms they might use and make a note of their mannerisms.

But whatever you do, don’t correct their grammar. You’re not their seventh grade English teacher. If Grandpa says, “ain’t,” keep it that way. It’s real and it’s him, and will allow future generations a better sense of who he was. Record exactly what each person says as they say it.

Through this journey, you will likely discover that your elders have lived through some amazing times. Perhaps your great uncle fought in a war. Or your grandmother escaped a brutal dictator. Maybe various family members traveled to a variety of exotic locations you never knew about. Whatever the case, you’re bound to learn a lot about your family.

So, when should you start?

Now!

I mean it!

Time isn’t always on your side, especially if members of your family are getting on in years. So now is the perfect opportunity to talk with them. Go for it! And have fun!

If you need help, feel free to contact me. I love helping families record their history!

Additional articles you might find helpful:

How Much Does It Cost To Hire A Ghostwriter?

Seven Tips For Writing A Great Memoir

Questions for a Ghostwriter

A Ghostwriter’s Fee: How Do They Charge?

Working With A Ghostwriter – What Steps Should You Take?

 

 

I Want To Hire A Ghostwriter, But Don’t Have Any Money…

Usually, I really enjoy talking to people about their book concepts. Some have very good ideas and just need help. However, occasionally there are those calls which frustrate me beyond belief. One occurred today…

I was right in the middle of the second to last chapter of a book I’m ghostwriting for a client when the phone rang. I don’t like to be interrupted while writing as it breaks my creative flow, but I worried that it might be a writer with a question, so I picked up.

“Hello?” I asked.

“Is this Laura Sherman?” the young woman demanded.

First of all, I dislike it when people don’t bother to identify themselves before asking me for my name when they call. Grrr.

“Yes, it is,” I said, letting it slide. She didn’t seem like a telephone solicitor.

“I found your website. I want to hire a ghostwriter to write my book, because I just don’t have the time to write it myself.”

“Great,” I said. That was a common plea. “And to whom am I speaking?”

She paused for a moment, probably weighing the pros and cons of telling me her name. “Joyce.” (Okay, that wasn’t really her name, but I’m a ghostwriter, so I can embellish.)

“Hello, Joyce,” I said. “What’s your book about?”

“My life story,” was all she offered. “I just want to know the steps involved with hiring someone to write my book.”

I gave her a brief overview of how the process works, letting her know it would probably require thirty to forty interviews, spread out over an eight month period. I explained how it takes a ghostwriter hundreds of hours to write a book. She asked a few more questions then got to the big one.

“So, how much will it cost?”

“I charge a dollar per word,” I said. “What’s your budget?”

“I don’t have a lot of money to spend.”

Just what every ghostwriter wants to hear. “Well, how much did you want to spend?”

“I don’t know, maybe a thousand dollars? I know that probably isn’t enough, right?”

“No, it isn’t,” I said. No one can charge a thousand dollars for six months work, not even starving ghostwriters. “Look, I know a few editors who are looking to branch out into writing. If you’re interested in writing a short, one-hundred page book, I could talk to one of them about maybe coming down to five thousand dollars. That’s low, but possible.”

“I don’t have that kind of money.”

“Then you’ll probably need to write the book yourself,” I said. “If you did manage to find someone willing to write your book for a thousand dollars, it probably wouldn’t come out well. Then you’d be stuck hiring someone else to rewrite it.”

She then asked me what would happen after the book was written and I gave her a rundown on what an author needs to do to sell a book, such as creating and maintaining marketing websites.

“I’m not good with computers, so I can’t do any of that,” she said.

“You’ll want to learn then,” I said. “Even if you get a publisher, you’ll need to do your own marketing. It isn’t hard, though. And I can help you when the time comes.”

Apparently, she didn’t like my answer, as she said, “So, how can I find a ghostwriter?”

“As I said, if you’re able to scrape together five thousand dollars, I can ask around for you.”

“But that would be for a good writer,” she replied. “What if I just wanted to find a writer who will do it for a thousand dollars?”

I have to admit I was speechless for a moment. Finally, I tried to repeat that anyone willing to write a book for a thousand dollars wasn’t someone she’d want to hire, but she cut me off and said, “Okay, thank you!” and hung up.

Moral of the story, if you’re serious about writing a book, you will find a way, either by hiring a good and qualified ghostwriter or by making the time to write it yourself.

Additional articles you might find helpful:

How Much Does It Cost To Hire A Ghostwriter?

Do you want to write a book about your life?

Do you need help writing a book?

Working with a Ghostwriter – What steps should you take?

How To Write A Book Proposal

 

Seven Tips For Writing A Memoir

writing a memoirUsing my crystal ball, I predict that a number of you are thinking about the book you’ve been wanting to write. Perhaps it’s writing a memoir. If so, here are some tips you consider:

Give yourself time. Writing a book isn’t an overnight process. Although it might be possible to complete a book in a month or two, or even if you have nothing else on your plate and you’re an experienced writer, there is no need to rush things. Give yourself six to eight months, setting daily targets. Your book will be better for it.

Remember to give yourself a few character flaws. It’s tempting to embellish your life story and write your book from the perspective of a superhero, without any non-optimum personality traits. The problem is the rest of us, who have flaws, will never be able to relate. So, include the mistakes, the error in judgments, along with your amazing feats and your story will be more relatable and inspiring.

Humor goes a long way. Adding humor to your story can make it more enjoyable and memorable to read. While it is best not to make fun of others in your book, there are still plenty of other ways to include humor. For instance, funny dialogue snippets lighten the mood nicely. There might be times when you can delve into an absurd moment and expand on it, shining a spotlight on certain aspects that might make others laugh out loud.

Write and write and write. If you’re choosing to write your memoir yourself, you’ll need to write on a regular basis. Don’t expect to make much progress if you only type a few pages on the weekends. Most writers write daily. Although it isn’t a requirement, it does help keep the ideas flowing.

Feel free to embellish details. It isn’t realistic to expect that you’ll remember every single little detail of your life perfectly. For example, what did you have for breakfast on October 20th, 1974? If you’re writing a breakfast scene and want to put Eggs Benedict on the table, go ahead. Your readers will accept it. Dialogue is similar. If there is an important conversation, you would probably remember the gist of what was said, but not the exact words. And even if you did remember the exact words, you might want to change it up a bit to improve the flow. Having said that, don’t put unflattering words into the mouth of someone you’re mentioning by name. He or she might not appreciate your creativity.

Be honest. Although you’re delving into the viewpoint of one character, you, you need to have the ability to pull back from your perspective and be objective. This might mean that you don’t come out the winner of every argument, and, please don’t hit me for saying so, but you might be wrong on occasion. Be truthful about all of it. It’s possible that your reader might learn a lesson and avoid making the same mistakes you did.

Read other memoirs. It’s hard to write a good memoir if you’ve never read one by another writer. Reading a lot will help you learn about what works and what doesn’t.

If you want to write your memoir, start writing and continue writing until your first draft is completed. Don’t edit, just write. Enjoy the experience. Writing memoirs is one of my favorite projects! It’s so rewarding. I get to meet new people and help them share their life stories with others.

Additional articles you might find helpful:

How To Write A Nonfiction Book

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?

When You Shouldn’t Write Your Memoir

Woman_with_a_rough_life_checking_herself_out_in_the_mirror_(8436629921)Are you debating whether or not to write your life story? You’re not alone. I have had quite a few clients who have waffled over the same dilemma. And more often than not, I will advise people to go ahead and write down the chronological details of their past, if only for their immediate family. Recording your personal history for your children, and your children’s children, is a wonderful gift.

However, there are times when I would say you shouldn’t write your memoir. Here are a few examples that I have encountered this past year:

“I’ve lived a horrible life.” This might surprise you, but I get a ton of memoir requests from people who have lived a life of misery and despair. For instance, their childhood might have been filled with abuse then they later married another abuser, continuing the pattern. When I ask them about the purpose of their book, they usually say that it shows how one can live through anything.

While this may be a decent message for some, it isn’t really one to hammer into those who are trying to better their lives. It’s true that not every story has to have a happy ending, but most stories, particularly the memorable ones, inspire us. And it’s hard to be inspired when you’re reading such a depressing story. Most people would have no interest in picking and reading up such a book.

“I just can’t remember much.” A few times this year I received requests to write a book from people who truly can’t remember many details or stories from their past. Typically, when I interview a client I can help them remember things they never thought they could. However, if you aren’t able to remember much, it will be hard to put together your life story.

“I can’t write and I don’t have any money to hire a writer.” This is another popular comment. Though I’m not sure, I suspect these folks want me to offer to write their book for free (or for a percentage of the profits). Unfortunately, not everyone is completely upfront about their situation and will sometimes pretend they are shopping for a ghostwriter, even if they don’t ever plan to hire one. If you can’t write and can’t afford to hire someone to write it for you, your book won’t get written.

“I’d really like to get back at so-and-so.” Ah, revenge is a dish best served cold, right? Remember, though, that when you put things in writing, they are pretty permanent. You can’t take it back. It’s out there for all eternity for many readers to review over and over again. Writing a book to hurt someone else, even if you feel it is justified, is a bad idea.

“My family and close friends would kill me.” Surprisingly, this is a common fear. When I talk to most client prospects to give them advice and learn more about their projects, quite a few people have mentioned that they’re worried about hurting the feelings of loved ones. It’s a very valid concern, one that should be taken seriously. For as I mentioned earlier, once it’s in writing, it’s permanent.

As a ghostwriter, I can hide the identity of most people in your life through pseudonyms, but I can’t hide Momma or that eccentric uncle. Those close to you will know whom you’re talking about and they might not like what you have to say.

“I’ve lived a boring life, except for this one incident.” If you had, say, a near death experience, it might have been very exciting and worthy of a short story or newspaper feature article. However, if the rest of your life was relatively normal, or “boring,” most likely that one event won’t make for a good memoir.

“I don’t want everyone to know what happened to me.” Writing a memoir is like putting your personal life on display for all to see. If you are concerned about others knowing what happened to you, it’s probably not a good idea to write a book. However, I have clients who write their memoir not for the whole world to read, but rather just for their family. If even that bothers you then, well, I’m not sure what to tell you. The only way around it would be to fictionalize your story, but then it wouldn’t really be a memoir, and there’s a good chance your family and close friends would still guess that it has something to do with you.

Most of the time I encourage people to write their book, because I do feel people often have a book or two within them. However, sometimes one must be a bit flexible about the subject matter. Perhaps it isn’t your life story that you should write about, but rather a how-to book about your niche area of expertise or a science fiction novel. Whatever the case may be, I’m here to help.

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 Write An Autobiography

If you are trying to figure out how to write an autobiography, you have probably long since passed the step of deciding whether or not your life is worth writing about. You know you have a story to tell. You know it’s worth telling. And, whether you are doing it for your family and children or for the public at large, you are interested in sharing it.

So the next question is, “Where do I start?” The easiest answer would be at the beginning.  But the beginning isn’t always so simple to identify—your life is a story, whether you realize it or not, and to write your autobiography, you have to do a little work on discovering that story.  Here are some exercises that will help:

1. Familiarize yourself with other autobiographies. Read the autobiography of someone you admire, one of your heroes, preferably one that has been broadly published, so that you get a feel for how it reads.

2. Research your own life. Your life isn’t just about what you remember. Find out about your family’s history, events leading up to your birth, and the circumstances of your family and the world around you as a child. You may find information you never knew before and make interesting connections about why you are the way you are. Digging into the past has a way of jogging your memories loose and bringing more data to the surface.

3. Organize. Make a timeline of your memories so you have them organized by date, and leave ample space to fill in the blanks.

4. Outline. Make an outline of how you want your story to go, where you want to start, if you want to write it chronologically or skip around on your timeline.

5. Identify your theme or message. It may be very clear to you or it might take some digging, but every story needs a good strong message. What is it that you want your reader to learn? What should they walk away with after reading your book? Maybe your theme revolves around resisting corruption, overcoming a handicap, or persisting through obstacles. It is also possible that this overriding idea won’t be apparent at first. Through your research and organization, you will start to see what your story is about—and the answer may surprise you. If you need a little help, please email me. This is one of my fortes!

6. Write. Okay, this can be one of the hardest steps, particularly if you don’t have much experience with writing. When I’m coaching a writer I always tell my client to just start writing. Even if you don’t love the way it sounds, even if you feel like it’s no good at all, just get words down on paper. Don’t ever let perfectionism stop you from getting things done. Know that you’ll probably edit and re-write this book several times; that’s just part of the writing process. But if you never get anything down in the first place, it’s awfully hard to edit!  So my advice is always, “Write, right now!”

7. Ask for help. Whether you are a novice writer or an experienced professional, writing your own story can be difficult because it’s entirely through your eyes. Consult a friend, an editor, or a writing coach to give you a fresh viewpoint and get you through those sticky spots when you run out of ideas entirely. I offer writing coaching at an hourly rate, which has really helped other writers get through their personal blocks.

8. If you find that you’re not up to the task, hire a professional. Professional writers are well trained in storytelling and research and can help you fill in the gaps in your story. Their level of assistance can range from minor assistance with re-writes and research, to doing all the writing themselves under your name (ghost writing). You will always keep the rights to your story. If you’re not an experienced writer, this may be the best solution for you. And if you’re writing your book with the idea of selling it, you’ll definitely need a skilled writer to help craft your story so that it’s marketable.

So now you have a few tips on how to write an autobiography. Enjoy the process! And remember – Write, right now!

Additional articles you might find helpful:

Do you need help writing a book?

How Much Does It Cost To Hire A Ghostwriter?

Should you hire a local ghostwriter?

Working with a Ghostwriter – What steps should you take?