How Should I Prepare to Work With a Ghostwriter?

Deciding to hand off the bulk of writing work to someone else feels like a weight off your shoulders. My clients get keep their cake and eat it too, saving time and energy on writing while publishing a book that solidifies their authority. But what goes into preparing for a ghostwritten book? How can you make sure your ghostwriter has all the information they need to hand over a solid draft? 

A potential client asked me this on a recent discovery call, and it’s worth a deep-dive. So let’s talk about how you can prepare to work with a ghostwriter. 

Preparing for Your Ghostwritten Book

If you know you want to publish a book, but you’re not sure about much else, here are some practical steps for preparing to work with a ghostwriter.  

1. Clarify Your Goals & Vision First

Knowing where you want to go with your book is the first step in getting there. Before collaborating with a ghostwriter, define your book’s goals and vision. Take a few moments to think about the answers to these questions:

  1. Where do you want to be in 3-5 years?
  2. Think about life after publishing your book; does it look different? In what specific ways? 
  3. What are the takeaways you want readers to have after reading your book? 
  4. Who are the specific people you want to talk to? What do they care about?

Sometimes my clients aren’t clear on what they want from their book, but they know a general direction they’d like to go. Common goals for publishing a business book or memoir include:

  • Booking more speaking engagements
  • Building a medical influencer brand
  • Reaching more coaching clients
  • Attracting more patient referrals
  • Working with larger corporate clients
  • Creating a tangible resource for patients and clients to refer to
  • Solidifying or establishing industry authority and name recognition

Publishing a book is a strong strategy for getting to these goals. Books aren’t cheap projects, so knowing your goals from the outset can help you make sure that a book is a good investment. But before we start writing, it’s a good idea to check out the leading books in your industry. . .

2. Run the Comps

Pay attention to books that have influenced your industry or field. These are the game-changers, the books that have sparked conversations and shaped the discourse. Explore their impact and consider the reasons behind their success. Is it their innovative ideas, compelling storytelling, or meticulous research that makes them valuable? 

By running comparison books and studying industry influences, you can learn what’s worked well and how you can contribute to the ongoing conversation. Understanding other books in your industry helps you position effectively within the existing landscape, offering fresh perspectives and contributing to the growth and development of your industry.

To start using comparison research, consider these questions:

  1. Which books do you idolize in your niche and why? 
  2. Which books have contributed to your practice in significant ways? 
  3. Which industry leaders do you admire and why?
  4. Note the writing style in industry books; what tones do you admire?

As an industry expert, you’re probably already aware of other books that have made an impact on your niche. Running comparison books and studying influential works can provide valuable insights for your own project. 

Now that you know what your goals and competitors are, let’s talk about solidifying your own book ideas for a strong outline. 

3. Bring Your Best Ideas 

For my clients, starting a book project can be overwhelming because of the sheer amount of ideas they want to cover. They’ve often been practicing in their industry or speciality for a decade or more, and they’ve got a ton of experiences worth sharing. If this sounds like you, you’ll want to take the time to compile all this information. 

Here are a few ideas for generating and organizing book content:

  • For course creators, go through your courses to find the key highlights you want to cover. What pieces of information do your students find the most helpful?
  • For medical infuencers, go through your social posts to learn which ones have the highest engagement; what do people want to learn more about?
  • For practicing clinicians, what are questions you get asked a lot? Where can you offer more deeper education through your book than you could in the clinical setting?
  • What industry topics do you have a unique vantage point on, and what lead you to that conclusion?

I’m not picky about how my clients organize their ideas. It’s my job to create an outline and flow for a book. Here are a few ways my clients have put together their key ideas:

  • Voice memos
  • Google docs 
  • Google sheets
  • Photo of a mindmap
  • Links to articles they’ve written
  • Links to Youtube videos

Once all your chapter topics are together, it’s my job to put together an outline and flow for your book. And once we have that together, we’re off to the races on chapter interviews. Which brings me to the final way I ask clients to prepare for a project. . .

4. Prepare for Interviews

Each of my interviews runs about two hours, and they’re very informal. These look like casual conversations between me and my client, where they show off all they know and I ask deep-dive questions. As your ghostwriter, the bulk of the work is on me to get the information I need. But you can prepare for chapter interviews by:

  • Reviewing case notes to freshen up your memory
  • Reading over old journal entries
  • Asking your friends or relatives about their perspective on an event we’re covering
  • Gathering research material you want to be sure is included

Coming to interviews prepared will help your ghostwriter put together the best draft possible, and makes less work for both of you during editing. 

Have you decided to work with a ghostwriter on your book project? For my clients, their time is valuable. They can’t afford to spend months laboring over drafts because they’ve got busy lives already. They want the benefits of a polished book without having to hone their writing skills. 

Does that sound like you?

If you’re thinking about putting a book together, you might want to check out The One Bookselling Myth You Should Know About (Before Writing Your Book)

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