A big part of what we do as ghostwriters is to write in the voice of our clients. This is why interviews are so important because they offer us a chance to understand the person’s point of view, the way they talk, and the method in which they describe scenarios, or relay certain information. But now and then, we get approached by someone who prefers our voice over theirs.
Not long ago, I was contacted by a businessman from Germany to write a business memoir. While he had excellent spoken English, he did not like the way his personality came across in his writing. In person, he was very charismatic and engaging, but on the page, he felt he was a bit dry and boring. That’s why he was looking for someone to add more warmth and colour to his story. As his story was a fascinating one, it was a real pleasure to bring it to life in the way he wanted it, and even more fulfilling to be allowed freedom of expression in such a vital way.
Rewarding though this project has been, it made me think about other book projects I have written – how much of it was the client’s voice and how much was my own? The answer probably lies somewhere in between. The truth is that I tend to take on projects offered by people with whom I can relate. Perhaps their experiences match my own, or their stories trigger a sense of empathy, or their viewpoints are similar to the ones I hold.
Overall, the best books I have worked on are when the voices (mine and the client’s) merge into one smooth harmony – that’s when all the hard work becomes truly worthwhile.
Emma Murray is a best-selling author and ghostwriter, specialising in business, psychology and higher education. She also ghosts books, blogs, articles, case studies, and book proposals.