Recently I’ve realized there may be some misconceptions among aspiring authors about the role ghostwriters play in helping them produce their books and other written content. I’d like to clear these up and offer publishing guidance which can save you time, money and possible frustration.

What is a ghostwriter?

A ghostwriter is a professional writer who can help you write books, articles, web content and other published works that are credited to you. If you’re too busy to write these on your own or find the process daunting, they are a great asset. 

And since the purpose of hiring a ghostwriter is to help you create a publication which is credited to you, your readers won’t know the work wasn’t written by you. It’s your story and expertise. The ghostwriter merely works with you to help you tell it in a way that will be engaging to your readers. Of course, LegacyONE Authors offers ghostwriting services.

How does a ghostwriter work?

Though you may not realize it, ghostwriting is everywhere, from political speeches to books, website content, magazine articles, or your favorite celebrity’s news. Using clients’ recordings, written input and edits, ghostwriters transcribe conversations, ideas, experiences and feedback into books, website content and other materials.

The process a ghostwriter uses to write resembles film, television and theater acting. The best actors completely immerse themselves into the roles they play and, for the purposes of the performance, actually become those characters. Similarly, when a ghostwriter writes a book, they adopt another person’s voice, inflection, ideas and delivery.

However, ghostwriters are storytellers, not mind-readers. They’re not you!

Ghostwriters can’t write your story for you unless you’re actively involved in sharing it with them. They have honed the skill of writing for others – sharing your story and expertise in the way you’d like others to read it. However, you have to first give them the information they need. You must be an active participant.

The process of writing a book for another person is a symbiotic relationship between the client and ghostwriter.

The ghostwriter simply cannot do it alone. So you, as the subject matter expert and aspiring author, need to realize you will be doing some hard personal work to complete your manuscript or message. Your ghostwriter will provide the writing creativity and context for your publication but you will also need to provide a lot of content. This exchange takes time and doesn’t happen overnight or quickly. 

Ghostwriter Catherine Lenox says, “Just as actors need scripts and directors to authentically portray their characters, ghostwriters need “scripts and direction” from their clients to accurately “take on their clients’ voices” and tell their clients’ stories. As a result, would-be authors need to be actively engaged in the writing process, providing detailed information, history, insights, thoughts, ideas and purpose to support the project.” 

So if you’re thinking of hiring a ghostwriter to help you write your ExpertBook™, here are suggestions which can help make the manuscript writing process easier.

  • Know your audience. Who are you trying to reach with your book? What do you want your book to do? Share this with your ghostwriter. The more specific you are about these aspects, the more meaningful (and marketable) your book will be for you. And the easier the writing process will be for your ghostwriter. You’ll also save time, money, a lot of grief and countless edits if you are clear in the beginning who you want to reach.
  • Jot down and/or record all the information you can imagine for each section of your book without regard for the final product. Many authors discover during the course of writing the book, their focus and audience changes. They gain clarity through the writing process.
  • Be patient. To do it right, this is a lengthy process. In order to meet your expectations, your ghostwriter will need a lot of participation and feedback from you during both the writing and revision process – face-to-face communications, your written and recorded thoughts and ideas, and your continued feedback and involvement. Be prepared to expect many revisions of your project until it conveys your message perfectly.
  • Be transparent with your thoughts and ready to answer questions. Your primary objective will be to give your ghostwriter as much information as possible. So determine ahead of time what you want to convey and accomplish with your publication. Frame your message around this objective. Your ghostwriter will then work with you to tell your story in a creative way that is both meaningful to you and your audience.

Karen Lynn Maher is a leading authority on writing and self-publishing expert non-fiction. Since 2001, she’s developed more than 50 authors, guiding them from concept to published book. She’s the author ofExpertBook™ Planning Made Simple: The Best Ever Guide to Writing Your Book, and co-author ofExpertBook™ Marketing Made Simple: Publicizing and Promoting Your Book.

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