Introduction: One Ghostwriter’s Process


Process (n) — a systematic series of actions directed to some end

Why have a process? It seems like a silly question. How do you get anything done if you don’t have a way to do it? And I agree that it should be self-evident that a process is necessary. 

I found this on Alan Hoffmanner’s blog from 10 years ago: “Why are processes important? They are important because they describe how things are done, and then provide the focus for making them better. How they are done determines how successful the outcomes will be. If you focus on the right processes, in the right way, you can design your way to success.”

In ghostwriting, like with anything, a process is the blueprint to your favorable outcome. For something as detailed as ghostwriting a book, not having a process costs you time, money, and reputation.

According to the International Data Corporation, inefficient processes could cost you as much as 30% of your annual revenue. I read an article on LinkedIn that told of how a $15 t-shirt ended up costing $200 because of inefficient processes.

Early in my ghostwriting career, I would meet with prospective authors who had what sounded like a great personal story to tell. I say sounded like because I could never tell because they were all over the place when they described it. They’d go from birth to something that happened last year that prompted them to want to write the book to something that their mothers once told him and how it related to their problems with drugs and alcohol to their committing crimes and getting caught and getting scared straight to the day they got lost in the supermarket when they were 6 years old…

Did that paragraph make your eyes glaze over? Was it hard to read? Imagine how hard it was to talk to them.

Interactions like that made me realize the importance of having what the above dictionary definition says: a series of steps that will result in an organized, coherent story that’s clear, concise, and compelling.

So, I started taking steps to design a process. I started by falling back to my journalism career. I would interview subjects, asking them screening questions that helped me decide if there was a story there that was worth my involvement and investment (because ghostwriting takes a lot of time).

If I decide to take them on, I contract with them, determine the deadlines, the payment terms, and the rights and responsibilities of each party. With the contract out of the way, I begin forming the outline by asking them a ton of open-ended questions that usually started with who, what, where, when, how, and why. I would listen carefully to their answers and start to get ideas of how to group bits of information into logical groups. These logical groupings are the seeds of what became chapters.

With the outline finalized, the real work then begins: the interviews and research, and the actual writing. Closely adhering to the outline, I write 1-2 chapters and then send them back to the client for comments, inputs, edits, additions, deletions, fixes, criticisms, and praises. This continues until the chapters are completed.

Finally, I make a last edit of the entire manuscript and then send to the client.

In future posts, I will go into more detail into some of these steps, but that’s basically it. This process works for me and my clients, and it guarantees that the project will be done correctly and satisfactorily to both parties, thus ensuring the rewards that come from completing such a large and important project. If you’re interested in partnering with a ghostwriter in Greenwich, CT, contact me today.

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