One of the questions I get asked most is, “how can I find the best ghostwriter [or co-writer] for me?” An excellent question, and one that I will address in a future post.
But what about you – are you ready to launch into the writing process? Have you got all your ducks in a row? Are you ready to be the perfect client for your ideal ghostwriter?
Here are five qualities of the ideal client:
- A clear vision
- A realistic schedule
- Good feedback
As part of your vision for your book, you could put together a sample chapter. Or you could assemble a mood board – Pinterest is a great tool for that. Include book jackets, photos of writers or thought leaders, article headlines, magazine covers, and film stills that capture an element of the voice you want to convey, or an attitude or style that you feel aligned with. Mood boards are traditionally visual, but you could also write your ideas in a brainstorm-style list. For this kind of thinking, I find a large sheet of blank paper and a set of colored pens takes me places a computer rarely goes.
In your schedule for the book-writing process, build in time up front for the writer to digest your ideas and materials, and time at the end for the manuscript to “percolate”. Don’t expect a first chapter to hit your in-tray days after you start working together. At the end of the process, I always recommend that writers put their manuscript in a drawer for a month before reviewing it one last time and submitting it to a publisher (or an editor if you are self-publishing). I try to abide by that principle myself: sometimes my month shrinks to a week, but even that much “percolating time” makes a huge difference to the maturity of the final work.
Just because you sign up a ghostwriter for your book, doesn’t mean you can lock the door and go on vacation (or even go back to running your business). You won’t have to dedicate many months of your time (as your writer will have to do), but you will need to be available on a regular basis throughout the process. Your ghostwriter needs you: this will be a collaborative, iterative process, with plenty of back and forth and exchange of ideas and information.
When you give feedback to your writer, avoid the temptation to be ironic or prove that you are smarter than them. Questions and suggestions work well: “I think this paragraph would read better if it started with xxx, what do you think?” is constructive and collaborative. “This section is boring” doesn’t give your writer much to go on.
When you consider your working style, think about your weaknesses. In choosing your ghostwriter, you have an opportunity to balance those flaws. Are you unable to let go of a project? Find someone who is clear and decisive. Do you have a tendency to rush things? Look for a writer who is meticulous and careful. Remember, though, that polar opposites can be uncomfortable, so make sure there is enough common ground between you to make the partnership work.
Put all of this together and it could be a match made in heaven.