Six common questions that I’m often asked about working on your memoir with a ghostwriter.
I’ve been told I should write a book but I don’t know where to start.
That’s a ghostwriter’s job. They should be able to help you structure your memoir depending on your aims. What’s your reason for writing your story? Is it memories and anecdotes about your life to leave behind for future generations to read or are you hoping to have your memoir picked up by a publisher?
What if I want to write some of it myself?
Great! In past projects I’ve worked on it’s been an added bonus when a client has produced some copy they’ve written themselves. One woman had even written the entire first chapter which saved me time and, with a few tweaks, provided a great starting point for the whole book. A ghostwriter will be able to work with you and incorporate any material that you’ve already written into the finished book. If it needs to be edited or they don’t think it will work then they will explain why.
What if it doesn’t sound like me?
Any ghost worth their salt will make sure that your voice as the author comes through. With all of the authors that I’ve worked with I’ve made sure that I’ve spent time with them and got to know them. As I’m writing, I try and make sure I use phrases and little colloquialisms that they say as much as possible so people reading it would instantly recognise it as them. A memoir should have the author’s voice and identity coming through loud and clear on the page not the ghostwriter’s.
How will the process work?
A good ghostwriter will work with you in whichever way you feel most comfortable with. Some people prefer working face-to-face particularly if it’s a very emotional or harrowing subject. One woman I worked with who had been sexually abused as a child understandably found it very distressing to talk about and face-to-face meetings worked better for her. I’ve flown to see an author in America and spent a week interviewing her for her book while other authors I’ve worked with have preferred the convenience of phone calls. Whichever way an author wants to work, I have always met them at least once in person initially as I feel it’s important to establish that personal relationship.
What will the ghost need?
Most importantly plenty of your time. But there are other things that are useful to help the ghost build up a picture of your life and the people you might be talking about in your memoir such as photographs (particularly if you’re talking about something that happened in the past), newspaper cuttings, letters and books.
What if I don’t like what they’ve written?
With every project that I’ve worked on, I’ve sent each chapter as I’ve written them to my author to check that they were happy with it. It’s always a nerve wracking time waiting to hear back from an author about whether or not they like your work and it’s always a huge relief to know that they’re pleased with the style and tone. It’s our job as ghostwriters to work with our clients to make sure that you’re happy. After all, it’s your story, not ours.