3 More True Bona Fide Expectations to Deal With


The professor and motivational speaker Leo Buscaglia once said, “Never idealize others. They will never live up to your expectations.” Ghostwriters—and their clients—would be wise to remember this so expectations can be properly managed and everyone remains united in making the project the very best ghostwritten work possible.

But that means recognizing that some expectations are unreal and need to be taken care of. Here are three more to watch for.

The first draft is going to be perfect. As I’ve previously written, the first draft is ugly, sloppy, messy, wild, untamed, raw, incomplete, and sometimes just plain awful. Clients might wonder why they paid a ghostwriter for this drek.

It’s only drek now. It will get better. But there’s a process that client and ghostwriter must undergo to get the first draft out of hell and into something more like what the client imagines. That means analyzing the work to determine what doesn’t work and what the client thought he or she was going to get. Whether it’s factual errors, organizational issues, timeline troubles, emotional problems, plot holes, or whether the theme or voice or tone needs work, the two sides need to come together and address what needs to be done. With patience and trust in the ghostwriter, it will start to look more acceptable, reasonable, and excellent.

The next two unreal expectations are opposites, but either need to be addressed when they arise.

Ghostwriting is cheap. This actually could be true, but prospects would be wise to remember, You get what you pay for. It’s true you can find ghostwriters on upwork.com and fiverr.com, and there are plenty of ghostwriters on LinkedIn based outside of North America, but buyer beware.

One prospect I spoke to came to me after spending money on an Indian ghostwriter and not feeling like he got his money’s worth. He wanted feedback on how to make his writing better; he got back a manuscript replete with typos, factual errors, and grammar clearly written by someone who spoke Indian English as opposed to American English.

I recall a guy wanting me to ghostwrite his memoir about being the brother of a famous rapper. He figured it would cost $200. He was surprised when I told him it costs thousands.

My first ghostwriting project paid me $8,500 back in 2013. That was before I learned that reputable ghostwriters start at $15,000 and go up. Celebrities can expect to pay six or seven figures because publishers recognize a famous name is more likely to sell.

Ghostwriting is the major expense. So many times I’ve had a prospect turned client tell me, “I’ve got multiple books in me, and I’d like you to write them all.” If I could count the number of times I’ve been told something like this, I’d be able to count pi to a thousand places.

When first-time authors tell me they’ve got a series in them. I always say, “Let’s get through the first one before we talk about a second.” I have yet to do anyone’s second book, and it’s not because I’m terrible at what I do. It is because the publishing world is so competitive. Going the traditional route through the Big Five—Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Random House, and Simon & Schuster—is tantamount to making a Hall of Fame or winning an Oscar: an extremely small percentage succeeds.

And hybrid publishing, which is pay-to-play, is often so expensive that the first book never sees the light of day, or it doesn’t make enough money to make the author want to invest in a subsequent book.

If the ghostwriter and client clear the air when these unreal expectations come up, one of two positive outcomes will occur: The prospect will look elsewhere or their working relationship will be far more harmonious. Either way, the prospect becomes the ghostwriter’s client, and everyone is saved untold amounts of aggravation and frustration.

For unparalleled ghostwriting services, contact Lee Barnathan today.

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