Almost every single author asks me the same question during our introductory call: What’s your process? It’s a question they should ask because it’s important. However, every project is different, and every author begins the process from a different place, so it’s difficult to give a one-size-fits-all answer. What works for one author on one project may not work for another. That’s why I feel it’s important to remain flexible and to recognize how to collaborate with each author individually so we can write the best book. Still, we have to begin somewhere.  

KEEPING IT SIMPLE

Since most authors haven’t worked with a ghostwriter before, they have no idea what to expect, never mind which process may work best. It’s important to keep it simple. It’s difficult to write a book, but we’re not reinventing the wheel. At the most basic level, the point of any collaboration process is for the author to provide the ghostwriter with information. What’s the best way to do that? For me, it’s consistent one-on-one conversations, either in person, over the phone, or on Zoom.

After I review all of the author’s existing material, we work together to make sure the concept is sound. We identify the target audience and the promise to the reader before establishing publishing goals and timelines. Once on the same page, we work together to create a book outline that will serve as a guide. Only then do we begin the writing process. Unless there is a good reason not to, we start at the beginning. That could be the preface, introduction, or first chapter. I get that material from the author during one-on-one conversations.  

In my experience, these conversations are most effective when they are casual discussions about the subject matter. It’s my job to steer that conversation, so I come into each one with a series of questions that will provide me with the material I require to begin writing. We use that first chapter to make sure I’m capturing the style, tone, and voice. We review and edit. It doesn’t need to be final, but we want to make sure the author is happy with the direction before continuing with the book. Those conversations drive this process and are a great way to further develop content.   

ENHANCE EXISTING MATERIAL

Many authors enter this process with a deep well of existing material in other mediums, be it blog posts, presentations, speeches, workshops, podcasts, or YouTube videos. That material can be extremely helpful when laying out the foundation of the book. It’s also a great way that authors can save time because it prevents them from having to relay all of that information to me. While experience and existing material are invaluable and part of what makes authors credible experts, it can prevent them from elaborating on or discussing their content in a different context. In other words, they’ve said the same thing for so long that it’s difficult for them to say it any other way. One-on-one conversations can help break this spell by forcing authors to explain or rephrase certain concepts. It can lead them down rabbit holes and result in engaging conversations that can take the content to the next level. That’s something that could never have occurred if we had only relied on the source material. 

As beneficial as this conversational approach is to the process, it doesn’t work for everyone.

HOW ARE YOU MOST COMFORTABLE WORKING? 

Almost every single author asks me the same question during our introductory call: What’s your process? It’s a question they should ask because it’s important. However, every project is different, and every author begins the process from a different place, so it’s difficult to give a one-size-fits-all answer. What works for one author on one project may not work for another. That’s why I feel it’s important to remain flexible and to recognize how to collaborate with each author individually so we can write the best book. Still, we have to begin somewhere.  

KEEPING IT SIMPLE

Since most authors haven’t worked with a ghostwriter before, they have no idea what to expect, never mind which process may work best. It’s important to keep it simple. It’s difficult to write a book, but we’re not reinventing the wheel. At the most basic level, the point of any collaboration process is for the author to provide the ghostwriter with information. What’s the best way to do that? For me, it’s consistent one-on-one conversations, either in person, over the phone, or on Zoom.

After I review all of the author’s existing material, we work together to make sure the concept is sound. We identify the target audience and the promise to the reader before establishing publishing goals and timelines. Once on the same page, we work together to create a book outline that will serve as a guide. Only then do we begin the writing process. Unless there is a good reason not to, we start at the beginning. That could be the preface, introduction, or first chapter. I get that material from the author during one-on-one conversations.  

In my experience, these conversations are most effective when they are casual discussions about the subject matter. It’s my job to steer that conversation, so I come into each one with a series of questions that will provide me with the material I require to begin writing. We use that first chapter to make sure I’m capturing the style, tone, and voice. We review and edit. It doesn’t need to be final, but we want to make sure the author is happy with the direction before continuing with the book. Those conversations drive this process and are a great way to further develop content.   

ENHANCE EXISTING MATERIAL

Many authors enter this process with a deep well of existing material in other mediums, be it blog posts, presentations, speeches, workshops, podcasts, or YouTube videos. That material can be extremely helpful when laying out the foundation of the book. It’s also a great way that authors can save time because it prevents them from having to relay all of that information to me. While experience and existing material are invaluable and part of what makes authors credible experts, it can prevent them from elaborating on or discussing their content in a different context. In other words, they’ve said the same thing for so long that it’s difficult for them to say it any other way. One-on-one conversations can help break this spell by forcing authors to explain or rephrase certain concepts. It can lead them down rabbit holes and result in engaging conversations that can take the content to the next level. That’s something that could never have occurred if we had only relied on the source material. 

As beneficial as this conversational approach is to the process, it doesn’t work for everyone.

HOW ARE YOU MOST COMFORTABLE WORKING? 

Every author’s situation is different. Some authors can’t meet regularly. Some authors live on the opposite side of the globe, which can make for a scheduling nightmare. Some authors simply don’t feel comfortable talking over the phone or on Zoom. Some authors prefer to write out all of their material first. Some authors are podcasters who feel most comfortable monologuing in front of a camera. Some authors discover the best way for them to convey their thoughts is to record a series of voice memos throughout the day. 

If you’re a first-time author, don’t expect to know your preferred way of working right out of the gate. If given the choice, I will always opt for one-on-one conversations, and it’s the best place to begin working together, but if we discover that you aren’t comfortable with that approach, we’re not going to write the best book. Every author-ghostwriter collaboration is a separate universe, so if something isn’t working, we tweak the process until we discover an approach that is the most comfortable, effective, and efficient for that project. It’s my job to adapt so we can remain on track, make progress, and write the best book possible.