Many authors hire a ghostwriter simply because they don’t have the time to write their book themselves. They have an idea they believe in and are committed to writing a good book. Many are even great writers. The problem is that they have so much going on in their lives that they can’t complete the task in a timely manner. 

Yes, ghostwriters help authors save time. Part of my job involves taking the pressure off authors, so they can do everything else. That requires accomplishing what I can on my own and being respectful of their time. However, even when authors hire a ghostwriter, there is still a time commitment, but it’s all manageable with the proper planning. 


At the beginning of the process, the ghostwriter is at a disadvantage because they aren’t familiar with the material. While an author may have lived with their idea, stories, and content for years, this is all new to the ghostwriter. That means the ghostwriter must play catch-up.

The single best way to do this is through existing content. Authors who have a deep well of written, video, or podcast material can save themselves a lot of time because that’s material the ghostwriter can use to learn about the author and the subject matter. Rarely is the entire book scattered throughout other sources. Still, it’s an excellent starting point and prevents the author from having to update the ghostwriter on material that is readily available elsewhere. Not only will this give the ghostwriter a big jumpstart, but it can help them more efficiently utilize content calls to fill in gaps and discuss how to expand that previously existing material. 


Not all authors have a deep well of existing content, and that’s perfectly fine. They just need to enter the process knowing that they will need to provide the ghostwriter with all of the necessary material. That will take time, and there is no getting around that. The only exception is if they want to hand over creative license to their ghostwriter to research and craft the story without their involvement. This does happen occasionally, and authors who fall into this category want to have this conversation early so they can lay out the parameters. Otherwise, authors want to make sure that they can carve out enough time. 

It may seem daunting in the beginning, but it’s manageable if we remain consistent and break the manuscript down into smaller milestones. Laying out a project timeline in advance gives us a target for which to shoot. A simple approach is to schedule recurring weekly calls for 60 to 90 minutes. It might not seem like much, but it’s amazing how much can be accomplished in even just one hour per week. Knowing that we only have a limited amount of time, we can make sure to use that time efficiently. I make sure to get enough information during that hour so I can remain busy and make progress in between calls. 


One-on-one calls with the ghostwriter can be fun, especially if it affords authors the opportunity to discuss subject matter that they’re passionate about. However, there is more to the ghostwriting process than talking. As we move further along, authors must make sure that they consider the time commitment required to read and edit the material. Some authors have no problem with this and enjoy the opportunity. Others find this extremely difficult. Some just aren’t comfortable with the process, so they put it off. The problem is that this can lead to unexpected delays and create additional scheduling and time issues down the road. 


The best author-ghostwriting relationships are collaborations with open communication. The finished product is only as good as the material the author can provide the ghostwriter. We can’t work magic or create content out of thin air. If authors want the book to be good and an accurate representation of them and their ideas, it must come from them. When collaborating with a ghostwriter on a nonfiction book, the author gets out what they put in. So, if the author’s time is limited, or they are working with a tight deadline, they must get out in front of those issues. Authors want to be honest and realistic about their time commitments. That way we can plan accordingly and adjust when necessary so we can complete a quality book in a timely manner.