‘Everyone has a book in them’ How often have you heard that phrase?
When researching who originally said this well- worn observation, Christopher Hitchin’s witticism cropped up in Google:
‘Everyone has a book in them, but in most cases that’s where it should stay,’ he wrote.
But of course it’s a ghostwriter’s job to help these stories be told, so I prefer author Jodi Picoult’s more positive take on the phrase:
‘Everyone has a book inside of them- but it doesn’t do any good until you pry it out.’
Prising the book out is half the battle, and one where a ghostwriter can ease the pain. However that’s not to say the process won’t be challenging at times, and this blog post considers the top six emotions every ghostwriter and author is likely to feel once the contract to write the book is signed
The idea of writing a new book is always exciting, whether you’re the author or the ghostwriter. The author will probably have been mulling over their idea for years before taking action, whereas the ghost will see new potential and bring energy and perhaps a fresh perspective. Whether the passion is a slow burn or a new one, both parties will brim with ideas. Everybody loves a shiny new project.
2) Fear (of the unknown)
Knowing where to start a book isn’t always obvious, or sometimes what to put in the middle, or even the ending. At the beginning of many projects it’s a case of having a general idea and it happening in an organic way. Trial and error is inevitable at times, but often it’s only after conducting interviews and starting the first few pages that a narrative arc becomes clear. The only way of conquering the fear is to plough ahead and go for it.
No story is easy. Nothing is linear and simple and perfect because real life isn’t either. Re-telling or deciding how you want your story to be told is often revealed slowly during the process. You can have an idea, but it needs developing over time. Things might need to be cut or included to make your story reach a wider audience. You might decide something is too uncomfortable to reveal after all, or have a burning desire to say the unsayable. Bear with the frustration as eventually you will get there, wherever ‘there’ is. Much depends on your market too. If you want to reach a wide audience and make your book sell there’s certain rules to play along with, a very different proposition to writing a tell-all memoir for a family legacy.
There are no short cuts to writing a good book. It’s hours and hours of talking, writing, discussing, writing, talking and editing and more writing and editing. This can’t be done in a rush over a long weekend. It’s the ghostwriter’s job to take on the challenge of sorting thoughts and ideas into pages of riveting words. Let the ghost handle the burden, that’s what we’re there for after all.
5) Nail biting suspense
When the first draft is ready for reading it’s a nerve-wracking time for both author and ghostwriter.
Those first few chapters will set the scene and decide if it’s what the author is aiming for. Capturing an author’s voice is all-important and the top priority alongside the essence of the story. It’s key the author and ghost-writer can communicate honestly what each other wants to accomplish. The ghost might need more hours of interviews or further questions answered, whereas the author might need more time to digest the text so far. The first draft won’t the last.
There’s no better feeling than watching a plan comes together and words turn into a manuscript ready for that final edit. Finishing a book is a massive achievement and a once in a life-time experience for many. Whether it’s memoir or a business book for a client, a copy of a book gives solidity to ideas, emotions, experiences and memories in a way other art forms arguably don’t quite hit the spot.
- Shannon Kyle is a journalist and ghostwriter. She has ghostwritten 12 books, including four Sunday Times bestsellers. For more on her work, go to http://www.shannonkyle.co.uk/