best ghostwriting process

Many people ask me about the ghostwriting process. Specifically, they want to know the “best” process for ghostwriting a book; the approach that will guarantee great results.

Unfortunately, there is no such thing as the “#1 Best Process” for ghosting a book. Individual ghostwriters have their preferences, authors (aka clients) have their own needs, and the only thing we know for sure is that the best ghostwriting process is the one that works for a particular ghost-author combination.

That said, we can break the book ghostwriting process down into five major parts:

  • Presentation – The author’s initial ideas and/or stories are presented to the ghostwriter. This generally happens during one-on-one conversations between the ghost and author, whether in person or on the phone, via Skype, Zoom, etc.
  • Development – Even before the presentation stage has been completed, the ghostwriter begins to develop the ideas and information by asking questions to jog the author’s memory, fill in gaps, open new areas for exploration, and so on. Development could be an open-ended search for whatever seems relevant or a narrowly focused deep dive into a specific area or two. Depending on the book’s topic, the ghost may acquire more information by reading books or articles about the subject; chatting with the author’s colleagues, family members, and friends; interviewing experts in the field; touring the author’s factory, childhood neighborhood, or other relevant places; or hiring a researcher to find more information.
  • Organization – As ideas, stories, and other information are presented and developed, the ghostwriter and author explore ideas for organizing it all. They eventually select a theme, a central “argument” that holds the manuscript together, as well as a structure for the book. Sometimes the theme and structure are obvious from the start. Other times, a few possibilities need to be explored before discovering the strongest combination.
  • Creation – The ghostwriter writes the book. Some ghostwriters (including me) like to send rough drafts of chapters to the author as they are written to get immediate feedback, then make any necessary adjustments. Others prefer to write large chunks of the book before asking the author to read and comment on it.
  • Correction – Once the manuscript has been completed, it is sent to a proofreader for final corrections.

The ghostwriting process need not follow this approach exactly as I’ve outlined it.

For example, some ghosts prefer to present and develop only enough information to get an overall idea of the book, then create the book chapter by chapter, going back for more material via the presentation and development stages with each new chapter. (I prefer to present and develop as much material as possible at the beginning.) And during the creation stage, the ghostwriter may feel the need to develop more information or redo the book’s organization.

As I stated at the beginning, the “best ghostwriting process” is the one that works for you and your ghostwriter. But whichever way you and your ghostwriter decide to work, it’s always helpful if you come to the process with a clear idea of who you are writing for, and why.

If You’d Like Help Writing Your Book…

Barry Fox, Nadine Taylor, ghostwriters, memoirs, business books, art books, history books, health books

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.

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