Writing a book can be an excellent way to promote your business, whether you are a consultant, speaker, or business owner. It can help you land your ideal client, or give you the credibility to speak at a conference. You can sell it at workshops and use it to build your brand.
Writing a book opens doors.
You know this. And you probably already have an idea — your patented sales process, the story of how you built your business from the ground up, or your unique take on management and leadership.
What most people are missing is the time and the know-how to bring the business book of their heart into the world.
That’s where ghostwriters come in.
Celebrities, politicians, famous speakers, consultants — authors of all kinds work with ghostwriters to bring their book from dream to reality. Ghostwriting is an extremely collaborative process that reflects your authentic voice and ideas, and it’s a fantastic way to bridge the gap from “someday” project to huge accomplishment.
As a ghostwriter, I’ve worked with clients who don’t enjoy writing, as well as talented writers who hired me because they wanted to outsource the drafting of the book so they could stay focused on other core capabilities of their business.
Wherever you fit on that spectrum, you’ll find working with a ghostwriter a very rewarding experience.
So, what’s it like to work with a ghostwriter?
Finding a good fit
First — and most important — you want to find a good fit.
Ideally, you want a ghostwriter who has experience writing business books and speaking to your audience. They may not have expertise in your specific industry, and that’s okay. Most ghostwriters specialize in research and interviewing rather than a niche topic, so don’t worry if they aren’t subject experts.
After all, you’re the subject expert! A good ghostwriter will quickly be able to learn.
The book discovery process
Once you find a ghostwriter is a good fit, you’ll start the discovery process. This is an interview (or series of interviews) to help uncover your vision for the book. You may already have a strong idea, or you may need help teasing out your unique perspective — either way, a ghostwriter will come to the interview with a smart series of questions to help guide the process.
After the interview, the ghostwriter will sit down with the interview transcripts and any other material and come up with an outline for the book. Together, you will revise and solidify the outline, and come away with a plan for writing the rest of the book.
Interviewing for the book
Generally, that involves another series of interviews, with the ghost writer digging deep to get an understanding of your voice and what sets your ideas apart, digging for anecdotes, and asking the sorts of questions you may not have ever considered.
This interview process is one of the biggest perks of working with a ghostwriter, because it helps you see your own ideas from a different perspective. In fact, I’ve occasionally interviewed authors who planned to write the draft on their own, because the process of being interviewed helped them clarify their thinking before they got started writing.
Drafting the book
At the end of the interview process, the ghostwriter will transcribe all of the audio from the interviews and use it as a source material — along with the outline you already agreed upon — to write the first draft of your book.
Depending on the agreed-upon length of the book, the drafting phase can take several months. During that time, the ghostwriter will likely be in touch with you to clarify parts of your conversation and give you progress updates. They may even ask for follow-up interviews as they dig deeper into the work.
Depending on your agreement, the ghostwriter may deliver a complete draft once they’re finished, or send you a few chapters of the time.
The revision process
Once the draft is finished, it goes back to you to polish and revise. The amount of revision you do will depend on many factors — I’ve had a few projects that went through multiple back-and-forth passes, but the majority only involve lightweight edits from the author.
After you’ve taken a look at the draft, the ghostwriter will give the book another pass based on your revisions and notes. You now have a complete manuscript!
Publishing your business book
If you’re working with a traditional publisher, this is the stage where you will send the manuscript to your editor. If you plan on publishing it yourself, you’ll send the manuscript to a professional editor for final polish.
(Don’t skip the final editor step! Even the most skilled writer will have trouble editing their own work, and a professional editor will turn your manuscript from great to excellent.)
Many ghostwriters will be able to advise you on what to do next, whether they have experience working with traditionally published authors or — like me — can offer advice on self publishing. The path you choose here will depend on your goals for the book.
What can you expect to pay for a ghostwriter?
Writing a book is an incredibly time-intensive process, but the value that it can bring to your business — whether you write it yourself or hire a ghostwriter — can be huge!
The lifetime value of a book to bring in a better quality of clients, expand your audience and boost your career is well beyond the actual revenue that you will get from the book itself, whether you are going with a traditional publisher or putting it out yourself.
Ghostwriting rates will vary wildly based on a ghostwriter’s experience, but you can roughly expect to pay $8,000-15,000 for a shorter lead magnet book of around 100-150 pages, and anywhere from $25,000-$100,000 for a full-length business book.
Working with a ghostwriter to bring your idea out into the world can be an incredibly fulfilling process, and the results will be a business book you can be proud to call your own.
What kind of opportunities will a book open for you? It’s time to start imagining.