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The Step-By-Step Process to Using Ghostwriting as a Shortcut to Publish Your Book

Ghostwriting is one of the most overlooked secret weapons in writing.

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As the owner of self-publishing company MindStir Media, I’ve often crossed paths with people who have incredible stories to tell but lack either the free time or the technical skills to tell them.

That’s where ghostwriters step in.

Whether you’re too busy to write a book or just not confident enough as a writer, hiring a ghostwriter empowers you to tell your story in the way that you want it told. Ghostwriting a book can be a career changer, too, because of the value it brings to you and your brand. 

It’s still your book, your ideas and your name on the cover — just not your time going into writing it. 

Here are a few best practices for creating the best ghostwritten book.

Related: Putting Your Spirit Into Ghostwritten Work

Connect with your ghostwriter

When you’re looking for the ghostwriter who’s best-suited to bring your book to life, you need to connect with them.

Most likely, you wouldn’t get married to the first person you go on a date with. In the same way, you shouldn’t feel like your first candidate should be your ghostwriter.

There are a lot of factors to consider when you begin thinking about a good ghostwriting partner. This could include their background, previous work, areas of expertise or even how you connect with them personally. Rule of thumb: Don’t trust a project as important as writing a book to somebody you wouldn't enjoy playing a round of golf with. 

Instead, pick a ghostwriter like you’d hire an employee — interview candidates, consider follow-ups and perhaps even work together on a sample chapter. You need to get good results and enjoy the partnership for it to work. 

Communicate your vision and ideas

If a quarterback snaps the ball, his receiver runs a route according to the play that was called. If instead, the receiver ran wherever he wanted to, he’d probably never get a reception and the quarterback’s job would be difficult. To score big, you need to be on the same page as your team. That applies to ghostwriting, too.

You’re hiring somebody to write your book when you work with a ghostwriter, but you must bear in mind that they can’t know exactly what’s going on in your head at all times. Because of that, you must communicate your ideas. If you don’t, your ghostwriter will be doing a lot of guesswork, and the results will be subpar in your eyes — and it won’t be your ghostwriter's fault!

To prevent this, I recommend working with your ghostwriter to draft a detailed outline for the book before beginning the writing process. That way, you both have an idea of not only the starting point and finish line, but also every step to take along the way. In those situations, your plans might occasionally change, but you’ll never stray too far off the path if you have a great roadmap.

Related: The Entrepreneur's Complete Guide to Ghostwriting 

Be willing to participate in the process

One of the most common mistakes made in ghostwriting comes from the writer who thinks they have no part to play in writing the book beyond supplying a topic to a talented ghostwriter. That’s far from the case.

Instead, writers need to be highly involved in the process and willing to roll up their sleeves. 

Ghostwriting is a secret weapon because it saves you time, but that does not mean you spend no time at all with the project. If you do that, you’re preparing for disaster. 

Instead, you’ll need to be involved every step of the way. There are a lot of different strategies for ghostwriting, but one successful model could look like this:

  1. The writer and ghostwriter thoroughly plan the book. 

  2. The ghostwriter drafts a chapter or two.

  3. The writer reads, edits and offers feedback.

  4. The ghostwriter applies edits and drafts another couple of chapters.

  5. Repeat until complete.

  6. Then, both parties work back through the manuscript to polish it up.

As a writer, if you’re willing to stay engaged throughout the ghostwriting of your work, it is infinitely more likely to turn out the way you’ve envisioned. Even the best ghostwriters can’t write your ideal book without support, so be prepared to either actively participate or live with the results.

And that might sound like a lot of work, but many books take hundreds of hours to write. So if you’re putting in one hour to every four or five that your ghostwriter logs, that’s a healthy relationship and you’re still saving a good deal of time by using the ghostwriter’s service.

Related: 5 Ways Your Business Will Benefit From You Writing a Book

Make sure you know the subject

When you’re ghostwriting the book, make sure that you know the subject of the book inside and out. After all, this is your book.

Imagine attending a book signing where a member of the crowd asks a question that you can’t answer. It’s not a good look, and it’s another good reason to be heavily involved in the writing.

The easiest way to ensure the book is aligned with your ideas or expertise is to be the one responsible for the content creation. You should supply your ghostwriter with all the paint and brushes he or she needs and give a clear description of the picture that should be painted. Then, a talented ghostwriter will deliver a book that’s aligned with your ideas and vision. 

But who does the research — the writer or ghostwriter? 

That’s a tricky question because, in many cases, it depends. If you’re writing a nonfiction book, you should supply the ghostwriter with most of the research needed to write the book — that’s why they are a ghost-writer and not ghost-researcher. 

In some cases during the ghostwriting of fiction books, your ghostwriter will research to make sure their writing makes sense and is accurate. 

Either way, understand that if you ever asked the ghostwriter to perform heavy research, that will probably come at a price. It’s better to do the research yourself — you’ll save money and also be a subject matter expert. 

Be prepared to spend money on quality

Like every other service or commodity, good quality comes at a higher price.

Writing a book is a big deal. It can change your life, even, and with such an important event, you shouldn’t skimp on quality to pinch pennies. 

It’s always going to be better for you to work with an established ghostwriter (or writer) who has a track record of success, even if that comes at a cost. 

That cost, as noted in this article, will be over $15,000 to find a decent ghostwriter, but the same article goes on to say that a good reference point would be $40,000 for a book, if not more. 

It’s not cheap, but the investment in quality writing is an investment in your future and professional career. 

Don’t take it lightly.