Choosing your ghostwriter – a subject that has been very well covered in other blogs on the United Ghostwriters website – is an active process. You find someone you feel you can talk to, work with, has the necessary experience and who fits in with your timetable. Ultimately you should feel you can trust the person you’ll be sharing your story with.
But that should not signal the end of your preparations. To make the most of your collaboration, there are several extra steps you can take. They will save you time and money and you’ll end up with a much better book.
A TRIP TO THE BOOKSHOP
When a pitch starts ‘It’s like Fire and Fury meets We’re Going on A Bear Hunt’ at an editorial meeting, it’s usually greeted with yawns or outright derision. But there is merit to having in mind some examples of the kind of book you want to create when you first start discussing your project. Ghostwriters are dedicated, professional readers. We know what’s selling, what’s worked and what’s misfired: it’s part of our job to be on top of these things. So, having even one or two suggestions of the style of book you’d like to see your name on, is a good first step. Even if the book ends up being somewhat different, it’ll open up a creative conversation and prompt questions about why you admire those books, what elements you will work in telling your story, or, even, what you liked about the design or structure.
ESTABLISH ‘NO-GO’ AREAS
If the book is autobiography, memoir or describes anything personal to you, say what you are prepared to discuss and what’s off-limits. I’ve been caught out in the past by authors who are writing ‘tell-all’ life stories only to say when we get to a particularly juicy part that it’s out of bounds. If the book is with a publisher already, what goes in or stays out of the book might already have been discussed, but if you’re aiming to self-publish or to sell the book to a publisher, think very carefully before you embark about what you are willing to commit to print.
BRACE YOURSELF – IT COULD BE A BUMPY RIDE
The process of being ghosted is often compared to therapy of one form or another (or mental torture in some more extreme cases). Your story is your story and you’ll have told it to yourself and perhaps to family and friends, countless times. Telling it to a ghostwriter can be a completely different experience.
To create a book that fascinates and engages your readers, your ghost will want to be clear about every element of it, from the smell of a particular room to the expression on someone’s face to your own innermost feelings about an event that has perhaps defined you. The process can be revealing in ways that can challenge and provoke.
So be prepared, when you start out, to be prodded and probed in surprising and sometimes disconcerting ways. It can get bumpy.
These three steps will make a big difference to your creative collaboration: you’ll save time, money and your book will be so much the better for it. And this ghostwriter at least will be eternally grateful.