In some cases, a ghostwriter may write the whole book, in some cases parts of the book. The ghostwriter may do all the research or some of it. The ghostwriter may work on his/her own or in partnership with the “author”.
How you work with a ghostwriter will be customized to your needs. When I start working with a new author, I send them a questionnaire to get some basic information such as what their book is about, what their motivation for the book is, who their target reader is, and how much information they have gathered for the book.
The answers to these questions will determine how we proceed. If you are a new author and all you have is an idea for a book, we would sit down in person, or over the phone or skype, and discuss the answers to these questions as well as whether or not you want to self publish or seek a publisher. We’d talk about your budget and timeline.
Once we’ve established answers to these questions, we can set up the process and schedule. I like to estimate three to six months to complete a 150-200 page book. It could take less time, it could take more. It’s often up to the author as they usually have a business to run and other activities generally take priority. That is, unless you have a strong motivation to finish your book sooner, say because you’ll be speaking or attending a convention.
We work together by phone to check in regularly as you write a chapter or send me content to write the chapter. Then I send it back to you to review while I move on to the next chapter. Or in some cases, you write all the chapters and send them to me to flesh out or polish up, or I write all the chapters and send them to you to review and add and delete as the case may be.
In most cases working with a ghostwriter is a partnership, so it’s important to have a good working relationship. I’ll talk about how to choose a ghostwriter in the next installment, so stay posted.
Suppose you want to write an article, newsletter, or column because you have expertise to share and you want to attract new business by getting this information out to potential customers. But you hate to write, you’re not a very good writer, or you just can’t find the time.
These are circumstances when you might need a ghostwriter. Let’s look at each of these reasons in more detail. Okay, you were never good in English, your high school English teacher cringed when you handed in papers, and you were never a big reader. You preferred the Cliff notes or the DVD. Writing is not everyone’s cup of tea. Most people either hate to write or love it—and a few are in between; they do it because they have to. So if you hate to write but you really would love to have articles or even a book about your experiences or your expertise, you need a ghostwriter.
Now if you do enjoy writing, but for some reason everything you write sounds like it came from your 4th grader—let’s face it, you may not have the skills or talent. Not everyone does. I wouldn’t be in business as a ghostwriter and copyeditor if everyone was good at writing. You also may not know how to get started writing a book, as the whole process can be overwhelming. A ghostwriter can walk you through the process, hold your hand, encourage you, keep you on track, and do all or some of the writing for you or fix what you’ve written.
The most common reason I’ve found that someone needs a ghostwriter is they don’t have the time, can’t find the time, or won’t make the time. Take your pick. I’m not saying they’re making excuses, but they have busy lives, they can’t focus, they get distracted, they want to have a book yet can’t seem to make it a priority in their life. A lot of would-be authors don’t know if they’ll make any money on their book, so they find it hard to put it as a priority.
However, they want the book, so they need a ghostwriter. What I do is make weekly appointments with my authors and make sure they carve out time each week to work on their book. I hold them accountable and help them keep their commitments. I have a successful track record of guiding over 100 individuals through the process of completing their books—whether they hate to write, can’t write well, or couldn’t find the time.
Let me help you through your writing challenges. Sign up for my complimentary session at www.WritersWay.com/contact.
PS. Your comments are greatly appreciated. When you comment on a blog, you create a link back to your website! It’s a win for everyone.
When I mention I’m a ghostwriter, some people get that glazed look in their eyes and say, “Oh. That’s interesting.” I know they want to ask me what a ghostwriter does but don’t want to appear ignorant. And some people say, “That’s great. I’ve never met a ghostwriter. What exactly do you do?”
So to clear up the mystery and mystique of us ghostly creatures, I thought I’d talk about ghostwriters this month. Though I probably should have waited until October to fit in with Halloween. Oh well, anyway, here goes.
So what does a ghostwriter do? What a ghostwriter does is write something for another person under that other person’s name. That way the book, article, column, etc. appears to have been written by the person whose name is on the book, etc. but it was primarily written by the ghostwriter.
The person who hires the ghostwriter has something to say and for whatever reason needs someone else to put it into words. Words are the tools of the ghostwriter. They take the ideas from the person’s head, from research, or other written materials and formulate the finished product: book, article, etc.
The ghostwriter may write the whole book or parts of the book. The ghostwriter may do all the research or some of it. The ghostwriter may work on his/her own or in partnership with the “author”. The ghostwriter may get credit as co-author, editor, or in the acknowledgments as some sort of help. Or there may be no mention at all of the ghostwriter.
Generally the ghostwriter gets paid up front for the job, but in some instances the author may negotiate a partial payment with partial royalties. Each situation is unique.
When I work with an author, I customize my agreement and process to the individual and it’s different in each case. Find out more about my ghostwriting services at www.WritersWay.com/services.
PS. PLEASE feel free to leave comments. I love to know someone is reading these articles! 😉
Let’s say at this point you’re well into writing your book or ebook. You’ve established a sort of rhythm. You get up at 5 am and write until 8 am. You do this five mornings/week. (Or you’re a night owl and write from 10 pm to 1 am)
At this rate you’re putting in around 15 hours/week, which at an average of one hour/page is 15 pages or a typical chapter. If your book has 10 chapters, you’ll be finished writing in 10 weeks. Not too bad!
But what happens when those 15 hours don’t happen? What gets in the way? Lots of things, like…
* Emergencies, both personal and business: a family crisis, or that last minute contract
* Distractions and interruptions: the dog barking outside your office, the phone ringing endlessly
* Unforeseen circumstances: your computer crashes, you run out of paper or ink
* Challenges: writers’ block, you’re stuck, your mind keeps wandering
* Personal issues: your back hurts, your best friend needs your support
* Temptations: you’re invited to a playoff, there’s a party at the office
Okay, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about here. We all get sidetracked, off target, even me. So what are some tips, tricks, tools, & techniques to stay the course and circumvent these inevitable disruptions of your routine?
First, get back in touch with your motivation. Imagine your name on the cover of your book or ebook. I often have clients design a temporary book cover, just to get that image in their mind. Now imagine a long line of people waiting to get a signed copy of your book. Get excited, get into all the feelings of meeting your goal and giving readers an exceptional book that could change their lives.
Second, get support or accountability. I have several accountability partners who hold me to my commitments. I’m happy to serve in this capacity for you as well. Check out my accountability coaching services at www.writersway.com/services.
Third, tell everyone that you’re writing a book and are not to be disturbed during your writing time. Then make that commitment to yourself that you won’t vary your routine (well if you want to add an extra hour or write a little later or earlier, that’s fine). Being accountable to ourselves seems to be more difficult than to others, but it’s worth it.
And lastly, keep your eye on the goal, the finished product, that extraordinary book or ebook with your name on the cover and your invaluable wisdom between the covers. What a remarkable accomplishment! You can do it!
PS. Happy Memorial Day! With some extra time off from work, this is the perfect opportunity to log in some extra writing hours.
Once you have your outline for your book, you can refine it and it becomes your table of contents. Once you have your table of contents, you have the structure for your book or ebook. All that’s left is what I call “filling in the blanks”!
I find it’s also helpful to create a structure for each chapter. If you’ve seen a “For Dummies” book, you’ll notice how each chapter has similar elements. For example, a typical structure for a how-to book would be…
1) Inspiring quote
2) Topic, lesson
3) Story, example of people living the lesson
4) More lesson
5) Action steps
How this would look in the example of our book on Overcoming Obesity would be:
1) quote: To say that obesity is caused by merely consuming too many calories is like saying that the only cause of the American Revolution was the Boston Tea Party. ― Adelle Davis, author
2) topic: Discuss your views on the subject, your expertise.
3) story: Talk about your own experiences losing weight or those of people you’ve worked with.
4) topic: More lesson, comments on the story you just told.
5) Action steps: Buy a journal you will use throughout this book to keep track of your meals.
Look easy? It is! This is how you create content, by filling in your template.
Have you written articles, blog posts, white papers, brochures, web content? All of these may have content you can draw from to write your book or ebook. Gather all the content you already have and see what you need to fill in. You can get additional content from doing research, conducting interviews, talking and recording yourself then having it transcribed, or just sitting down and letting your brain empty out through your hands and onto the page.
As a professional ghostwriter, I provide a valuable service for people who can’t seem to get organized to write their book or can’t seem to pull the content out of their head. I have several ways of working with people, each customized to their needs. Call me for a 20-minute complimentary consultation if you find yourself stuck at this point. My specialty is getting you unstuck and moving toward your goal of being a published author!
PS. Remember, if you live in the San Diego area, I’ll be speaking on Monday, May 23, at the San Diego Writers/Editors Guild. My topic is Turn Your Book into Your Business. The meeting runs from 6:30 to 8:30 pm and is at 3851 Rosecrans St. Visit www.sdwritersguild.org for additional information. Would love to see you there!
I know, it seems overwhelming. How can I write a 100-200 page book if I’ve never written one before? Well, there’s a first time for everything.
This is how you start…
You have the author motivation, maybe to share an area of expertise with as many people as possible. As an example, say it’s “how to overcome obesity”. Then you have the reader motivation for buying your book, maybe to “learn how to drop two pounds per week in a healthful manner, and keep it off”.
So, your book will take the reader from where they are when they buy the book—they can’t seem to lose weight—to where you want them to be when they’re finished reading the book: learning a healthy lifestyle plan to lose two pounds per week and keep it off.
Also, by the end of the book you want to make sure you’ve achieved the author motivation: to share your expertise. If for example, you specialize in devising vegetarian diets to overcome obesity, you’ll want to showcase that expertise in the book and have links to your website throughout the book. And, you’ll want information on your services and how to contact you at the end of the book.
This is the way you create your outline or table of contents for the book: taking the reader through the journey from where they are to where you want them to be.
When your book is done—and believe me, some authors never feel their book is done—you’ll have achieved the author and reader motivations. As a copyeditor, along with finding grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors, I confirm that the author has met these two goals.
And PLEASE, always get your book edited—with a professional copyeditor, not your spouse or next-door neighbor, although I’m sure they’re very competent.
If you’re sharing expertise, building your brand, wanting passive income—any of these great goals—you want a well edited book that meets the needs of a defined target audience, your readers!
PS. Please contact me for your free 20-minute consultation where I will help you with any editing or writing challenges. www.writersway.com/contact
I always like to begin a book project by asking my clients to clarify their two motivations:
1) the author motivation: why do you want to write this book or ebook?
2) the reader motivation: why will your readers buy this book or ebook?
Let me clarify what these mean:
Author motivation can include a variety of goals such as:
- make passive income
- share my expertise
- solve a problem
- spread my message
- promote my name and brand
- do what I love
- enjoy the prestige of being an author
You may have another motivation or several, so think about what it is, and write it down. As you move through the process of writing a book or ebook and confront challenges or distractions, you need to connect with your motivation to keep your forward momentum. (Don’t even think you won’t have distractions!)
Reader motivation has to be strong enough for someone to take out their credit card and click BUY NOW! Some might be:
- need a solution to a problem
- want more information on a subject
- desire to learn a new skill
- inspiration, guidance
- entertainment, escape
Why do you buy books? Why would someone buy your book, instead of someone else’s? This needs to be a strong WHY! Or you won’t achieve your author motivation.
So before you sit down to write your book or ebook, dig down and determine the author and reader motivation. Write these down and keep them where you can see them near your computer. They’ll keep you focused and pumped up any time you get writers’ block, overwhelm, or fear!
By the way, I have accountability coaching programs to keep you on track. Check them out at www.writersway.com/services.
PS. If you live in the San Diego area, I’ll be speaking on Monday, May 23, at the San Diego Writers/Editors Guild. My topic is Turn Your Book into Your Business. The meeting runs from 6:30 to 8:30 pm and is at 3851 Rosecrans St. Visit www.sdwritersguild.org for additional information. Would love to see you there!
Congratulations! Either you’ve written your ebook or you started the journey. I’m so proud of you. (If you’re neither of these, please call me ASAP and let me help you get started! Just fill in the blanks at www.writersway.com/contact and I’ll get in touch with you to set up our 20-minute complimentary consultation).
Once you finish writing your ebook and saving it as a PDF you’re ready to load it on your website (and other websites including Amazon) and start enjoying the fruits of your labor.
You say you’re not satisfied; you still want a print book? Not to worry. First take a few weeks, sell a few books and listen to the feedback. It’s easier to make edits in an ebook than a print book! Ouch! When you’re sure your ebook is just how you want it, you’re ready for the next part of your journey.
At this point, authors must decide if they want to find an agent and publisher or become a self-publisher. I can’t make that decision for you; you have to weigh the pros and cons of each. To boil it down, you have more control and more profits as a self-publisher. You have more prestige and less work to produce and distribute your book if you get a publisher.
In both cases you’ll have to do the bulk of the promotion! Sorry, that’s just the way it is. Most publishers only promote their top name authors, so if you don’t get people to buy your book, the bookstores will ship your books back to the publisher and you won’t earn any royalties.
Now if you decide to self-publish you’ll have to weigh the pros and cons of using a POD (print-on-demand) press or the printer down the street (or in the Mid-West). My clients are doing both and everyone is getting a high quality book. You just have to do your homework. Ask other authors, join a writing group or organization, get online and do the research.
All new authors start from scratch and are pretty savvy after their first book experience. My favorite client, a 93-year-young crusader for healthy eating, is still learning after his sixth book!
I know you can do it. It’s a lot of work, a lot of fun, and fantastic rewards!
PS. Remember, I have four different coaching services to help you through your journey. Choose the one that’s best for you at www.writersway.com/services. My goal is to help you reach your goal—a published author!
You want it quick and easy! Don’t we all? I know you can do it. Look, I bought a 25-page ebook for $57. Do I sound dumb? The author sold me on the value, and I fell for the sales pitch. It could have been just the information I was looking for. Well, in that case it wasn’t and I was able to “return” it and get my money back.
You can’t really return an ebook. But anyway, all I’m saying is that it was 25 pages, and anyone who’s an expert on anything can write 25 pages in 25 hours or less. If you wrote for two hours a day for 12.5 days, you’d have a 25-page ebook done! If you wanted a 50-page ebook, write two hours a day for 25 days.
You say you don’t have the time for even that? Want to know how to find the time?
The quickest way to write your ebook is to decide on your topic, create an outline, and sit down and write. The best way to write an ebook is to follow this process; it might take a bit longer, but you’ll write an ebook that will sell:
- answer this question: what is my motivation for writing this ebook?
- answer this question: what is the motivation for the reader to buy my ebook?
- select a topic that will fill both of these motivations
- create an outline that will take the reader from where they are to where they expect to be when they finish reading
- turn your outline into the table of contents
- gather data you’ve already written or collected on the subject and plug it into the appropriate chapters; create new content where you need it
- weave all the content together, read it over to make sure it meets your motivation and the reader motivation
- have five people in your target audience read it; get feedback; make adjustments; get it edited professionally
- design your cover and interior or have it designed; save it as a PDF
This is pretty much the process for writing an ebook quickly. Of course there are more details, but this covers the basics. My ebook “Your Info-Product Success System” fills in the blanks and gives you a complete system for producing your first ebook. Check it out at www.infoproductsuccesssystem.com.
Email me or leave a comment if I can answer any questions.
However, I work with many reluctant writers, and frankly it’s much easier and a lot quicker to get your first ebook done than your first print book.
Want to know why?
Okay, here’s what I’ve found. I can motivate people to write a short ebook quickly and get it loaded on their website to start selling much quicker than they can get a print book done. Why? Because you write your ebook—anywhere from 25 to 50 pages (or more)—then save it as a PDF, put it on your website (or blog if you don’t have a website), hook it up to PayPal, and start having your ebook earn its keep!
Now with a print book, it’s got to be around 125 to 200 pages, or more, you’ve got to get it edited, have the cover designed, the interior formatted, a printer selected (on demand or brick and mortar), and a way to distribute those little gems. In my experience, this longer process scares a lot of aspiring authors back to the safety of their unfulfilled dreams. Well maybe not safety, but comfort zone.
And I’m not even discussing here those folks who want to find a literary agent or traditional publisher. That could be a really long haul—or never at all! (Been there…)
With an ebook you’ll still want to have it edited (please!), and a cover designed. You could format it yourself quite easily in Word—I do it all the time for my ebooks and those of my clients. But you have no printer issues and few distribution issues. At least, you don’t have to stock books in your garage and make trips to the post office to mail books.
Again, why ebooks? Because people are buying them—in droves. That’s a good enough reason for me!
P.S. If you’re not the do-it-yourself type, my ebook on producing an ebook might not be enough to get you going. In that case, check out my coaching services at www.writersway.com/services and select the one that will blast you out of your comfort zone!
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