5 Things to Do to Prepare to Work with a Ghostwriter

Writing Tips

You and I are in the same boat right now. I don’t want to write this blog post and you don’t want to write your book. Yet, we also both want to publish and get our ideas out there. Fortunately, there’s an easy solution: work with a ghostwriter.

Yep. I’ll admit I’ve used a ghostwriter before. I’m not ashamed! Having been on both sides gives me perspective. I know what it’s like not to have the bandwidth to create your own content. And I understand your hesitations in finding a ghostwriter who gets you, gets your audience, and can get the job done to your specifications.

It’s not easy to find someone with whom you can build the kind of trusting relationship that’s crucial to working with a writer to capture what’s in your head. Fortunately, if you’re thinking about setting a goal to publish your book in 2019, you’ve got some time to find the right writer. There’s also some homework you can do in the meantime to prepare and make the process go more smoothly for both you and your writer.

Homework for Preparing to Work with a Ghostwriter:

1. Gather all of your original content materials and resources.

Have you given any presentations or talks related to the book topic? Have you written any blog posts or articles that your writer could mine for content gold? When you work with a ghostwriter, she will appreciate having access to any information like this.

You might be a little shy about showing your writing to a professional writer. But fear not! She’s not going to judge your writing prowess or correct your grammar. She will, however, use what you’ve written to get a feel for your voice and the end result will sound more like you. The crucial point here when you work with a ghostwriter is to share your unique angle. What is your big idea? Spend some time writing about it if you haven’t already.

2. Locate any background resources and external references.

Is there background research that would help your writer wrap her mind around your topic? While your reader probably hasn’t and won’t read everything you’ve read, a few representative articles or books can be very helpful. Don’t be afraid to share a long list. Your writer will appreciate the direction you’re providing.

Also, over the next few months, make note of blogs, articles, and books you read that have a style or tone you appreciate. Do you want your book to be a bridge between sales and psychology? Perhaps you appreciate the way Malcolm Gladwell fits research into a memorable and interesting narrative. Are you a fan of the Hidden Brain podcast with Shankar Vedantam on NPR? This is great info to share with your writer.

3. Create an outline or table of contents for your book idea.

Your writer will be happy to help you shape and package the details of your book idea. But if all you have at the moment is a topic idea or really cool book title, you’ll want to think a bit more about the structure of the book. Remember, your writer is an expert at creating content, not an industry insider. She also may not be entirely familiar with the competitive space you’re jumping into.

If you can find a writer who has written other books similar to yours, that’s great. Otherwise, she’ll need to do some competitive research (actually, this is one of my favorite aspects of ghostwriting) to position the book and strategize about finding the right agent, publisher, or PR person.

Because you likely know the topic and your competition more intimately than your writer, you’re in a better position, at least in the earlier stages of the project, to know what information needs to be included and what chapters the book needs. Don’t get too hung up on organization. A second set of eyes can be helpful here. Simply get all the ideas down in broad strokes.

Often what’s even more useful than knowing what pieces need to be in the book from your ghostwriter’s perspective are insights into what NOT to include. You’re writing a book because you have a unique opinion or angle to share with the world. This means you have strong views about what not to say about this topic. Your writer may not be able to see the nuances of your view until you’ve been working together for several weeks. So, help her catch up where you can.

4. Share your book proposal, chapter drafts, or anything else you’ve written on the book itself with your ghostwriter.

If you’ve written anything already, gather the files and prepare them to be shared. I prefer to work with Google docs, that way my client and I can look at the document together. We can also both add comments and suggestions to the manuscript throughout the process. I’ve also worked with Word docs, though they’re more cumbersome and need to be shared via email, which can lead to frustrating organizational issues. No one wants to waste time searching for files.

When you work with a ghostwriter, ask her how she prefers to share documents and drafts. If she can explain her process clearly and it makes sense to you, that’s one good sign that you’ll be able to work well together. Then follow her instructions. Trust that she is working according to a plan that she believes yields the best outcome.

5. Get your mind right.

Once you find a ghostwriter you can trust, you’ve got to give her the space she needs to get the job done. If you’re a micromanager at heart, this could be the hardest part for you. Try to be flexible realizing that the creative process doesn’t always go according to our ideal plans. Your ghostwriter should create a content calendar so you know what to expect. But feel free to check-in and make sure you’re seeing reasonable progress too. Don’t let an entire month go by without seeing any content, for instance. Both you and your writer will want to know if she’s getting off track somehow, so you can make course corrections without needing total rewrites.

Keep in mind too that yours is likely not the only project she’s working on. Personally, I only accept one book ghostwriting project at a time. But I also have regular monthly blogging clients and I might take on an editing job or a book coaching gig while I’m writing your book. The personal attention is crucial to getting amazing results, but your writer will also benefit from being able to take a break from your project and work on other things. She has a big brilliant brain. If you trust her to use it, tell her so!

Are you ready to work with a ghostwriter in 2019 to get your book written? I’m actively looking for my next book ghostwriting client. I love to work with rebels, renegades, and mavericks with badass ideas. So, if you really are in the same boat with me, trim those sails and let’s get to work!

Photo credit : Anna Om

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