What’s it Like to Write a Book With a Ghostwriter?


When people ask me what I do for work and I get to answer, “ghostwriter”, I enjoy the confused expressions for a second. Then I explain: “I write books for people based on their ideas and experiences. Or I give them lots and lots of help to write their own.”

I don’t think that answer clears up much for most people. I figure a lot of them are still in the dark about how something like that would work.

So what’s it like to get a ghostwriter to write a book with you?

The quick answer is you get a book that’s informative/interesting/inspiring/(insert your desired adjective) without having to do a lot of work. Plus, it’s work that (if you’re honest with yourself) you’re not all that well equipped to do.

When you hire a ghostwriter, you get a book without having to:

  1. Figure out how to structure a book (e.g., “How many chapters? How do I write an introduction? How should I sequence my ideas/information?”);
  2. Stress about the quality of your writing (because somebody else is doing the word-smithing);
  3. Write enough content for a salable “real book” (i.e., generally 40,000 words or more);
  4. Edit the manuscript so that all the information you’re presenting is crisp, clear, logically sequenced, and easy to read.

Or think about it this way. Imagine you have a whole bunch of seeds and you live in town that has an active farmer’s market. In fact, you have primo heritage non-GMO seeds from your grandmother’s famous garden. You think your veggies would sell well at the farmer’s market. You also like the idea of having a stand, talking to folks who appreciate what you’re selling, and generally just enjoying the market vibe. But you’re not that knowledgeable about gardening and you don’t have a lot of time to invest into yet another big project.

So you hire someone who knows everything about organic farming. She preps your garden beds, creates a compost pile, plants the seeds, and waters and weeds the beds every day. She harvests the veggies and puts them in a box so that they’re ready for market. Now you get to do the part you think is fun.

Your ideas, experiences, and unique intellectual property are your seeds. They are unmistakably yours. When they come to fruition (so to speak), everybody in the market recognizes them as the fantastic heritage crops your grandmother used to harvest. Nobody knows—or cares—that somebody else was doing the dirty work in the garden.

So that’s about the size of it. A book without the dirty work. That’s what you get. Got it?

May 11, 2016

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