Working With A Ghostwriter

A ghostwriter can release the dream of getting your story out by taking on the commitment of the time and effort required. If you’re unsure about your own writing ability, a writer can also help you to express yourself brilliantly. When a ghostwriter creates your book, you own the resulting work, and only your name will appear on it as the author. The writer’s job is complete when you accept the final manuscript.

The writer may continue to be involved with the work if you are working with a publisher, and you choose to have the writer coordinate and review the work with the editors. You may also choose, or agree, to change the writer’s status to ‘co-author’, thereby maintaining the engagement to completion of the published work. As co-author, the writer’s name will also appear on the book.

As you evaluate a potential ghostwriting relationship, consider the writer’s technical writing experience, including general business experience, published works, and subject matter and writing style. Since you will be interacting with this person frequently for several months, you must also be comfortable with, and confident in your ability to communicate and engage with him or her as an individual.

Establish a written agreement that outlines the work to be done, the cycle of deliverables, the review process, the knowledge transfer process, the book outline and what defines ‘completion’. A simple agreement up front can save you many headaches later. Expect the project to take several months to complete, depending on the nature of the work and supporting research required. You have waited this long to hire a writer, rather than doing it yourself. Don’t compromise the quality of the finished work by rushing it or by taking shortcuts.

Develop a plan for easy regular communication. Initially, this may involve an intense face-to-face session in which you transfer as much information to the writer as possible. The writer will take notes, record your voice, ask clarifying questions and learn your personal communication style, which may be important for non-fiction works or memoirs. Ongoing communications throughout are less likely to be face-to-face meetings, with a lot of productive communication managed via the telephone, email or on Skype.

Collaborate to develop an outline of the story and approve it before the writing begins. Lay a solid foundation by transferring as much of your knowledge, writing, research, recordings, photographs and notes to help the writer represent you thoroughly and accurately. The writer will conduct additional research during the process to validate, expand and support the context for your material.

Agree on a process to completion, including document review and editing formats. Review and approve chapters as they are completed. Use the Track Changes feature of MS Word to highlight change requests. If the requested change requires a complete re-write of the chapter, rather than simple editing or adding information, you would be wise to arrange a meeting with the writer to discuss the direction of the work and clarify your expectations.

Proceeding with a work that requires every chapter to be re-written is a nightmare scenario for both you and the writer. Toiling through tedious work with negative attitudes will destroy your relationship and result in unsatisfactory work. Expect some rewrites, as the writer needs to make adjustments to capture your voice and style consistently. With clear expectations and agreement on a basic structure to manage the work, a ghostwriter can be invaluable in helping you to launch the work you have dreamed of publishing for so long.