3 Final Unreal Expectations to Manage


The expectations just keep coming. Prospects and clients have them, and ghostwriters need to mange them. Here are three more expectations to watch for related to ghostwriting services.

Who’s the expert? The two sides have to understand where the expertise lies.

It lies with both people. 

The prospects turned clients have story expertise. They know what is the story, why they want to tell it, why they can’t do it themselves, and why they want to hire a ghostwriter. They know what they’ve experienced, what they’ve learned, what they’ve overcome, and what they want to share with their audience.

The ghostwriter has the storytelling expertise. He knows how to take the information and craft it into the most compelling, dynamic, interesting, educational, purpose-driven, truthful, and real story so it will affect the audience in the way or ways the client wants.

The problem arises when one side or the other tramples on the other’s expertise. The client might ignore the ghostwriter’s recommendations for how to tell the story, resulting in a lesser work. Or the ghostwriter might want to use his own words because they’re considered “better” than what the client can create. The problem there is that the book now sounds like the ghostwriter and not the client.

Having the story and writing the story aren’t the same. They require two different skill sets. Both sides need to respect the expertise the other has. Or else the client should just write it and not bother with a ghostwriter.

Do you need a ghostwriter, a researcher, or an editor? Sometimes, it’s obvious. I had a prospect recently contact me about a woman he wanted to have a story written about. He clearly was passionate about this woman, but he lacked details. In other words, he had the compelling subject but not yet a compelling story. The expectation was that he needed a ghostwriter/researcher to help him discover the story.

On the other hand, sometimes a person already has a manuscript and thinks all that’s needed is some editing, and that’s not necessarily true. I had a man contact me seeking editing for an 18-page letter he wrote. After I read it, I saw the potential for a full memoir. If he wants an edit, the expectation is that he will find an editor with no trouble. If he wants to expand his 18 pages into a 75,000-word manuscript, he will need a ghostwriter.

And then there was the guy who had written a manuscript that he described as “Star Wars meets DaVinci Code.” He wanted a ghostwriter to expand it into more than the 130 pages he wrote. After looking at it, it became apparent that editing would be needed first before expanding it.

People think they need one thing; a ghostwriter can help confirm or show them otherwise.

Publicity vs. ghostwriting. Clients don’t always understand the importance of publicizing the finished manuscript. They think that an agent, publisher, or publicist is going to handle all of that. In fact, the agent, publisher, or publicist is looking for how the author will publicize. It’s called a marketing plan, and it’s exactly what it sounds like: a strategy to detail where and how can the book be publicized, marketed, sold; and the author’s role in doing that. 

I once had a client that had a fantastically compelling story, but she didn’t have the marketing plan. I don’t know if she ever created one, but I do know its importance because several contacts told me so.

“No agent will take it on without a marketing plan,” Tanya Hall, CEO of Greenleaf Book Group, said.

Andrea Pass of Andrea Pass Public Relations, located in suburban New York City, said, “An agent wants it all laid out for them.”

Pass added that authors also need to do publicity because there’s no expectation that smaller publishers are going to.

“Most of the small self-publishing houses don’t care if it gets published,” Pass said. “Obviously, they don’t think that way. They think, ‘I’m an author.’ But it doesn’t matter if no one bought the book.”

The bottom line is, authors have to know what they need to do, just as ghostwriters and clients have to know how the realities differ from their expectations.

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