Over the years, I’ve lost count of the amount of times my clients have compared the ghostwriting interviewing process to therapy. And although most of us at UG are not trained therapists, I can sort of see where they’re coming from.
You might think that the ‘therapy’ only applies to people who have harrowing stories to tell, but that’s not the case at all. I have written business books for top professionals where the client has broken down in tears because something has gone wrong in his personal life, or self-help books where the client has shared past secrets she has never told anyone before, and even academic books where the client has revealed that he is suffering from serious health problems. The point is that while ghosts may not all be qualified therapists, we tend to share similar traits: patience, excellent listening skills, empathy, good communication, and good social skills; all of which encourages the client to confide in us.
At the very heart of the ghostwriting process is building an environment of trust – to ensure that the client feels comfortable enough to confide in us, even outside the boundaries of the book itself. Yet, despite our therapeutic nature, we also of course have a responsibility to the client to keep the book on track during the interviewing process. In other words, we need to be mindful enough to gently steer the client towards talking about the topic at hand, rather than letting personal issues distract from the process. This sort of guidance is arguably a skill in itself.
Overall, book collaborations, especially over a lengthy period of time, can lead to greater intimacy between the client and the ghostwriter, often resulting in life-long professional relationships. Therapists we may not be, but building a relationship based on trust and confidence is central to everything that we do.