So, you’ve decided to work with a ghostwriter. Congratulations. Or, maybe you are just thinking about it. It’s still a good call. The issue you have now is: how do you choose the right ghost for you?
On this website there are 13 hugely talented, professional ghosts, all with an enviable record of bestsellers and award-winning books. Take a look at our profiles. We’re all awesome. Ok, I may actually be making the whole decision-making process worse. Let me help you break it down.
First and foremost, the goal is to find a ghost who ‘gets’ you. In other words, there needs to be a good chemistry between you. If this doesn’t happen, the project will drag from the very beginning and it’s highly likely the end result will reflect that. Good chemistry means the author will be comfortable speaking freely with their ghost during the interview process and the ghost will, in turn, be able to expertly capture and reflect the author’s voice.
The only way to check chemistry is to, well, check chemistry. You will need to talk to ghosts. I mean this in the plural, too. I always advise would-be clients to speak to other ghosts as well, to find out who they feel most comfortable with. I’m not turning away potential commissions – it just makes commercial sense that everyone is happy from the off. Generally, I will have a brief email exchange with potential authors and then, if it looks promising, I suggest a telephone conversation.
Another criterion worth considering is the type of books as a ghostwriter has tackled in the past. There is information on this website about our previous work, and also on our individual websites. You will see that each of the United Ghosts has a broad range of experience. However, some of us have skills in specific areas, such as romantic fiction or educational works or autobiographies. If you take a look at my ‘back catalogue’, I mainly specialise in business and entrepreneurial books, triumph-against-the-odds style stories and biographies, with a smattering of fiction and sex ‘n’ shopping works for variety. It is well worth checking out some of a ghost’s previous work. I recommend using Amazon’s ‘Look Inside’ feature, to cross-check and read excerpts.
Another important consideration is geography. It is not a lifelong relationship, but you will need to spend some time with your ghost for the interview process, perhaps up to 20 or even 30 hours, depending on the book. My preference is to do this in chunks of up to two hours at a time to get the best material. If you live at opposite ends of the country, this can be a bit of a commitment. That said, I have worked with clients as far afield as Sri Lanka, Thailand and the USA, so there is always a way. It is worth thinking about in advance though.
Overall, each of us works slightly differently, so it is well worth taking the time to explore how individual writers work via their websites. Here you will find helpful outlines of the process, what we expect from authors and how we make sure that your book is the best it can possibly be.
This preparation stage is a crucial part of the process and will have a bearing on the success of a book. If both you and your ghost are happy and confident in each other from the outset, the rest should be smooth sailing from there.
Teena Lyons publishes a weekly blog on ghostwriting at www.professionalghost.com