Writing A Book? Maybe You Need a Ghostwriter

write a book

I run a busy ghostwriting practice, and wish had a dollar for every person who’s ever said to me: I’m going to write a book when I:

  • retire

  • have more time

  • start working part-time

  • start working from home

  • take my sabbatical

  • take a course

If you don’t start writing your book now, it will never happen.

Here’s how I know. None of the people who made comments like the ones above have EVER completed a book.

A friend who’s an editor quit her job last year, just to write her book. After 20 years of reading and editing, she said she’s got all the inspiration in the world. She knows what not to write. :-)

She and her family moved to the Blue Mountains, to get way from the city. We chatted online and on the phone, and finally we had lunch last week.

I didn’t mention her book at all; if it’s going well, I thought, she’ll tell me.

After telling me about the clubs she’s joined, her kitchen renovation, and their new pool, she mentioned her book. She hasn’t started it. Her eldest daughter is on her gap year. So the whole family’s going to the UK for a month in August. She’ll get to the book next year, she says, when she has more time. She knows that the UK will trip inspire her to start writing.

Obviously, my friend isn’t ready to write her book. I wish she’d write it, because I want to read it. I know when to keep my mouth shut, however. We’ve been friends for a long time; she’s edited several books I’ve ghostwritten, so she knows that “next year” is code for “I don’t want to write this and no one can make me.”

A ghostwriter forces you to “write” your book

That’s the big benefit of working with a ghostwriter. Your book gets done. It’s your ghostwriter’s job to get the material out of you, so that he/ she can write it.

Here are some tips to help you to write, if you’re procrastinating on a book:

  • Sneak up on it

Make a deal with yourself to spend five minutes every day on your book. You don’t even have to spend those five minutes writing. Just sit at your desk, and doodle if you like, but carve five minutes out of your day, and reserve them for your book.

  • Play with titles

Titles are fun. There’s a great title for your book somewhere in your subconscious mind. If you find it, your book will almost write itself, because it’s the “hook” that will drag your book into the light of day.

  • Write elsewhere

I can’t write fiction in my office. Usually I prop myself up in bed to write novels. First drafts are always on Rhodia pads, written with a Pelikan fountain pen, with J. Herbin ink. (I’m a fountain pen and ink fan.) For second drafts, I take myself along to the library, or to a coffee shop.

Try several different locations for writing your book. Eventually, the words will start to flow.

The hardest part of writing your book is getting started. So, start. :-)


Three Ghostwriter Secrets For Writing Your Book

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I’m a ghostwriter, so I write books and book proposals for my clients.

Let me share three secrets that ghostwriters know. They may help you to write.

1. Write your book proposal first — it’s a business plan for your book

Even if you have no intention of going the traditional publishing route — you intend to self-publish — creating a book proposal first helps you to write the book you should be writing.

I like to create a blurb first. What’s a blurb? As this post, The Keys to a Great Book Proposal | The Steve Laube Agency, puts it:

“Back Cover Blurb: In two or three short paragraphs, make me want to buy your book. Take the time to make this sparkle, because great back cover copy will help sell me on your book, then the editor, then the pub board, then marketing, then your readers.”

Your blurb keeps you on track. All books morph as you write them. Your blurb reminds you what you’re writing.

If you’re writing a mystery, make sure that there’s a mystery to solve. If you’re writing a book of seafood recipes, every recipe must contain seafood, or be a recipe for something you could eat or drink with seafood…

2. Ground your book in daily life

Novelists and short story writers are told to “show, not tell”, and this applies to your book too, no matter what you’re writing.

Use the evidence of your senses, such as touch, taste, and smell, to ground your book. Your writing will be real. You’ll show, rather than tell.

3. Start anywhere you like

You don’t have to write from the first chapter to the last. You can start anywhere. When you begin writing each day, go where your energy directs you.

If you force yourself to write sequentially, and you’re bored, your reader will be bored too. Your own energy is the perfect guide. Follow your energy.

Writing a book is hugely satisfying. There’s nothing like the feeling of holding your own book in your hands for the first time, or for seeing it on bookstore shelves. Have fun writing. :-)

Don’t Want to Write It Yourself? Hire a Ghostwriter


Everyone’s busy these days. For many people, a ghostwriter’s an essential part of the team.

Your ghostwriter gets your writing chores done for you. Chances are, you’ve passed up opportunities because you didn’t have the preparation time. You knew the speech or the presentation would help you, but you couldn’t spare the time to draft the material.

That’s where a ghostwriter can help.

How to work with a ghostwriter

Working with a professional ghostwriter’s simple. You tell your “ghost” what you want done: “I need a keynote speech for….”

The rest is up to your chosen ghostwriter. He’ll chat with you about your goals for the project and the audience. (Confidentially of course.) If he accepts the commission, the rest is up to him.

He’ll put the material together, interviewing you, and researching your audience. He’ll write a draft of your speech for your review; then he’ll complete the speech.

Tips for choosing and working with a ghostwriter

  • Choose a ghostwriter who understands your industry and your audience. An experienced ghostwriter will freely admit if he’s not right for a project.

  • Ask for a scope up front. A professional will charge for the scope, but it’s money well spent. The scope will tell you how your ghostwriter will approach the task, give you an outline, and a projected timeline. A scope’s chargeable because it takes time to research the project, and develop the outline. A good scope allows you (or someone else) to complete the project if you decide not to hire the ghostwriter.

  • Make yourself available for interviews. Most ghostwriting projects require an interview, or many interviews, in the case of a book. A speech may just need a 30 minute chat. A book usually takes a couple of chats per chapter. Your ghostwriter will usually send you the chat’s questions a few days in advance.

Working with a ghostwriter can increase your effectiveness. You’ll achieve your business goals faster, with less stress.

Get Known: Hire a Ghostwriter — Celebrities Do

Celebrities do it: you can do it too. If you don’t have the time to write, you can nevertheless “write” articles and books — just hire a ghostwriter.

Ghostwriters write articles, books and speeches for you. Those articles and books are published under your name. This is a common practice. Most books supposedly by celebrities, magnates and politicians are actually written by “ghosts.”

So why would you hire a ghostwriter? If you’re famous, and you get a contract from a major publisher to write a book, you’ll have no choice. The publisher will hire a ghostwriter for you. You’re famous for a reason, and you don’t have time to learn to write — that’s the writer’s job.

Ghostwriters are hired to help others to tell their story, or to share their expertise.

Publishing books and articles helps you to become known and respected in your field. If you’re an academic, there’s pressure to publish. For business people, publication wins respect, and will enhance a CV.

How Do You Work With a Ghostwriter?

It’s a simple process. Your writer knows what’s required to write a book, article or speech, and he’ll interview you, and research, to get the information he needs.

If you’re already under contract to write a book, he’ll speak with your editor, so that he understands exactly what the publishers’ needs are.

Your ghostwriter will interview you. Usually these sessions will be recorded and your writer will take notes as well. The more extensive the material he’s writing, the more sessions you’ll have with him.

Once he feels comfortable with the material, he’ll write an outline. Then he’ll do some additional research, and using the material from your sessions, he’ll write a first draft.

At this stage, you can delete material, and add material too. When you’re happy, your writer writes the final draft.

This may be all that’s required for a speech, or for a magazine article. However, if you’re writing a book, there will be several drafts, and your editor will have input as well.

The thought of hiring a ghostwriter may be strange to you, but it’s a very common practice, and it will help you to get known in your field.