I’m in the process of signing up a new client. It’s an exciting moment. I am about to get to know a complete stranger really quite intimately. And the complete stranger is also entering a new world, one in which they will be asked a lot of very personal questions as we explore the story they want to tell and work together to create a structure which will suit the telling of it. I am confident we will collaborate in creative harmony to achieve our goal, but I’m the one who has been here before, so I have a better idea of what is involved. Read more “A New Start”
As any ghostwriter will tell you, one of the key topics we’re asked about when we first talk to clients is confidentiality. That’s understandable. For various reasons, which I’ll explore in a moment, some people feel there’s a stigma around working with a ghostwriter and would prefer to keep their involvement a secret. Hence the shadowy term we use.
January is supposed to be all about giving things up, taking things up and becoming better versions of ourselves. But it’s cold and dark and to be honest most of us just want to curl up in front of the fire with a hot chocolate and a good film and save the salads and jogging for May, when you actually feel like eating cold food and going outside.
In January there’s only one resolution worth making:
Write a book.
Now that’s an idea that just might be worth poking your nose out from under the duvet for. A book – the one you’ve had fermenting in your brain for the last few months or perhaps years, waiting for the right moment, the space, the energy and the time.
That time just might be now.
January is an excellent time for thinking, writing a few notes, making a bit of a plan (nothing too strenuous). It’s also a good time for finding a ghostwriter (so easy, just one web address needed) and for having a chat with a prospective ghost about how your book might come together.
I know, I know. Doubts can set in. There was that guy (Christopher Hitchens) who said, ‘Everybody does have a book in them, but in most cases that’s where it should stay’. He was an excellent journalist and author, but completely wrong on this point. The people who get their books out there don’t give in to doubters, carpers and critics. They get on with it, write their books and then sit back and glow with pride.
The point is that when a book is bubbling away inside you it isn’t about other people, the critics or even potential readers. It’s about you. It’s a highly personal thing.
Some books are extremely niche, but that didn’t stop the people who wrote them. Do you think the authors of How to Talk to Your Cat About Gun Safety (Zachary Auburn) or How to Avoid Huge Ships (Captain John Trimmer) would have gone ahead and written their books if they’d listened to the likes of Mr Hitchens? They would not, and nor would many others who have taken the plunge into the literary world and felt more fulfilled for it.
As it is both these books gleaned some amazingly appreciative (and sometimes brilliantly funny) reviews, including, ‘I believe cat crime would be a fraction of today’s levels if this book was made available in all vet reception areas’ (Mr Auburn’s book) and ‘I was jogging round the block when all of a sudden I was almost struck by a huge ship! Thankfully I had read How to Avoid Huge Ships. I have lived to tell the tale and now I only hope future generations read this lifesaver’ (Captain Trimmer’s book).
Your book may not be quite that niche. It might be about your life, or a time in your life that feels especially significant. It might be a business book or a guide to living better, a book about travel or therapy or a love story.
Whatever it is, it’s waiting to be brought out into the world and now is the time to go ahead and get started, so that next January you’ll be holding your published book in your hand, and whatever else you did or didn’t achieve during that year will pale into insignificance beside the huge satisfaction of having written a book.
Caro Handley has worked with authors on over 60 books
Sue Limb’s first novel, Up the Garden Path, had just one big – and rather unfair – advantage when it hit the bookshops in 1984. It sported a front cover blurb provided by her Cambridge University friend, Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
And it was, quite simply, the most compelling cover quote ever.
‘Wonderfully funny,’ Adams had written. ‘The sort of book that makes you want to sleep with the author.’Read more
Writer’s block can have a devastating effect on those of us who write for a career, and those who write for pleasure, finding it a release from the daily grind of modern life. Like many of us, I have several stories gestating in my head at any given moment, so selecting a character from the many chatting amongst themselves, awaiting selection, should see to it that I’m never short of inspiration – right? Well, not really. At least, not all of the time, for there are occasions when creative motivation withers … when the river runs dry and there’s nothing among the debris left behind that stirs my imagination into producing anything other than a few scraps of material that rarely fit the bill.
If you’re currently suffering the same fate, please don’t think that you’re alone, for virtually every writer – professionally or otherwise – who I’ve spoken to about this has experienced the soul-crushing reality of being unable to find the right words from the uninspiring rubble on offer at that time. We sit behind the wheel of that bloody car we thought we knew so well, but it suddenly feels alien to us, and when turning the ignition, it splutters into some sort of action, only to stall moments later, stubbornly refusing to burst into life and take us to where we want to go. And it may continue to sit in the driveway for far longer than we could possibly have imagined.