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Working with a Ghostwriter

The word ghostwriter probably seems a bit mysterious to many people. However, like any other business, it has a rhyme and reason and a logical flow to how it works.

Writing your memoirs or the business book or other nonfiction, or even your novel can be a daunting undertaking. In fact, it can be so intimidating many people never follow through.

Enter the ghostwriter.

When you work with a ghostwriter there are factors that are out of your immediate control; you have to trust a very important job to someone else. You are essentially collaborating with a guide, and you want to be sure that guide has helped others down the same path you are considering. The first step begins with an important first conversation between the two of us.

During that first (phone)conversation, I will answer any and all questions you have. We will discuss how “sellable” your story might be. You’ll find out what it will cost, how long it will take, how each step proceeds, what interviewing is all about, what style I feel your story deserves, and a host of other important elements that form a unique collaboration between two creative and determined people.

Ghostwriting has been around for as long as books have been written. One of my own books is about a famous example of this having to do with then Senator John F. Kennedy publishing a wonderful book titled, Profiles in Courage, back in 1956. It went on to win a Pulitzer Prize for Biography the next year.

And the book was largely written by a ghostwriter.

His name was Theodore “Ted” Sorensen. And when Senator Kennedy was elected to the Presidency, Mr. Sorensen put famous words in JFK’s mouth, such as: “Ask not what your country can do for you; Ask what you can do for your country.”

Great and inspiring words—all written by a ghostwriter. In fact, many of the books on bestseller lists write now were ghost written.

Is it time for you to follow through and write that book with the help of a professional best-selling author?

The most effective process for writing a book with the help of a ghostwriter is to begin with the SPOKEN WORD. When you think about it, this has been a tried and true method throughout human history.


Socrates never wrote a book, but Plato recorded his words.


Jesus never wrote anything, but his Apostles wrote down what he said.

The great explorer, Marco Polo, talked to the man who shared a jail cell with him, and that man wrote it all down, which is how we know about Polo’s epic adventures.

Even the great Winston Churchill dictated most of his many books to secretaries, who feverishly tried to keep up with what he was saying.


In fact, for much of human history, writing and thinking were different jobs. Those who wrote were called “scribes” (as in the Bible with Ezra). They were craftsmen with a valuable skillset. Take Julius Caesar, for example. He spent his time thinking and doing, so he always had scribes on hand to record his thoughts. And those thoughts survive to this day because someone was there to write them down.


This is why I think the best way for you to write a book is to speak it into existence and let me write it down, organize it, polish it, and in general craft it so that your thoughts are its “DNA.”


Here’s how it would work. We would have a series of conversations—CONTENT CALLS (ZOOM, etc.)—which would be recorded. I would, in effect, interview you to draw out ideas for book content. 


Each call would need to be at least one-hour long (sometimes a bit longer), so time would have to be cleared on yourschedule for this, but I’d be very flexible to your calendar demands. Prior to each call, I would send you a memo indicating what I’d like to discuss when we talk.


This first call(s) would be to figure out the “big ideas” for your book—themes, subject matter, etc. From there, I’d create a draft “Table of Contents,” which would then function as a draft outline that we’d follow for the rest of the calls.


I would envision at least seven or eight such calls (possibly more), one about every ten days.


Throughout this process, I will encourage you send me any notes, materials, web links, or even others you might want me to talk to—anything that can supplement our conversations. It’s all grist for the mill and raw material for the blender.


Also, I would encourage you to keep a voice recorder handy as ideas come to you. You could then record your thoughts and send me the audio for transcription. And always keep an eye out for stories, they are vital to a good book, the glue holding ideas together.


Early on in this interview process, I will send you some “First Pages,” about 1,000-1,500 words. This will be to make sure I am capturing your “voice” and “tone” before I plunge into writing the full manuscript.


I will be writing all along, but won’t likely send anything else to you until our calls are done and I am approximately half-way through the first draft.

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