Many busy executives would like to write a book but really don’t have the time. They may have started jotting down ideas and stories, but found themselves pulled away by the never-ending swirl of business and personal matters.
So how can you reduce your time commitment yet still create a book you can be proud of?
The obvious solution is to hire a ghostwriter to write your book for you. Yet even that can require a major investment of time, especially if you’re writing a memoir or autobiography, or a book on business, politics, or social matters heavily based on your insights and personal experiences.
Fortunately, there are ways you can reduce your time commitment without sacrificing quality. Here are eight of the best ones:
- Allow your ghostwriter a study period before beginning work on the book – When I’m engaged to ghostwrite a book, I often ask the author (aka client) for a couple of weeks to study up before our first working session. I spend those weeks reading about the author and the topic, talking with experts on the subject matter, and otherwise preparing myself to hit the ground running. This ultimately saves both of us a lot of time.
- Send the ghost helpful material – You can help the ghostwriter prepare by providing pertinent information. For example, if you’re writing a memoir, you might have photographs, letters and other relevant items scanned and sent to the ghost. Or, if you’re writing a book about your new marketing approach, you might send copies of the marketing materials from various campaigns you’ve run.
- Designate subject experts – You might ask certain people to supply the ghostwriter with specific information. For instance, when I first spoke with the CEO of a large investment firm about his book, I asked if I could interview someone in his organization about the legal constraints hampering his industry. I also wanted to talk with someone about the effects of social changes on his company, and perhaps someone else about his recent IPO. These designated subject experts could give me a great deal of information without “costing” the CEO a minute of his time. If you don’t have access to subject experts, you might instead engage a university professor or other expert to talk with your ghost.
- Bring in the family – If you’re writing a memoir or an autobiography, the ghostwriter can learn a great deal about you by speaking with your siblings, parents, cousins, children, and other family members, as well as your friends and colleagues. This will allow you, the busy exec, to escape some of the lengthy fact-gathering process.
- Stay involved – Your ghostwriter will send you drafts of the chapters as they are written, asking you to review and comment on them. You may be tempted to assign this chore to someone else. But that can easily cost you time because even if the “assigned reader” understands your topic well, they aren’t you and can’t respond exactly as you would. The ghostwriter may be given misleading feedback that results in a finished book that won’t be what you envisioned. In the end, you’ll have to spend a lot of time redoing the manuscript.
- Avoid too many cooks – I ghostwrote a book for a physician who gave everything I wrote to six or seven of his friends to critique. There were conflicting opinions, and he and I spent a great deal of time trying to straighten the whole thing out. Be aware that your friends may be well-intentioned but they are probably not expert writers. They won’t understand how books are crafted, how to read and respond to rough drafts, and how to structure a book aimed at a specific audience.
- Keep your eye on the theme – Early on, you and your ghostwriter will develop a theme for your book that will dictate which of your stories and ideas should be included and which should be set aside. If you lose track of your theme, you’ll waste time explaining ideas or insisting on including irrelevant stories or information that will eventually have to be tossed out.
- Work with a ghostwriter you trust – You’ll rely heavily on your ghostwriter to create a book that is worthy of your topic, your ideas, and your name. If you don’t believe the ghost is up to snuff, you may spend a great deal of time looking over their shoulder. So don’t grab the first ghostwriter you find—find one you can trust.
Your time is precious, so give some thought as to how you can reduce how much of it you need to spend while ensuring you still produce a wonderful book.
If You’d Like Help Writing Your Book…
Give us a call! We’re Barry Fox and Nadine Taylor, professional ghostwriters and authors with a long list of satisfied clients and editors at major publishing houses.
Check the Testimonials Page on our website to read their comments.
Then call us at 818-917-5362. We’d love to talk to you!