what are the things i can do to start my non fiction ghostwriting&self help book
How you choose to publish (traditional or self publish) is up to you, the author.
A good ghostwriter should be able to help you move towards your goals. That means that if you are not interested in self publishing and you have a ghostwriter who insists on it, then you need to find a new ghostwriter.
A good ghostwriter can write a solid book proposal that you can shop to literary agents. What the ghostwriter cannot promise is that you will get a publishing deal. The ghostwriter may have connections to literary agents, however any ghostwriter that promises that she can give you a book deal is not being truthful.
2 Ghostwriters don’t write the book without your input. It’s a collaborative project where you will be required to participate by way of interviews, reading drafts, responding to drafts, etc.
The entire book is the author’s concept, not that of the ghostwriter. While a good ghostwriter can ask you probing questions to help guide the author to clarity, essentially the idea of the book belongs to the author. What that means is that the author absolutely must make time to participate in interviews, read rough drafts, make meaningful comments on rough drafts, and more. This is part of the reason why the book ghostwriting process takes 10 to 12 months. The book literally needs time and space to breathe. The back-and-forth on drafts between the author and the ghostwriter takes time.
#3 The author pays the ghostwriter up front for a service — not with a percentage of future book sales.
No author can promise a book will sell once the book is complete. Ghostwriting a manuscript can take roughly 10 to 12 months to complete. This does not including editing, book layout, cover art, etc. That is why no smart ghostwriter will ever decide to be paid for writing an entire manuscript based on promises of future sales. With that being said…
#4 All royalties from book sales belong to the author.
The beauty of the self publishing revolution is that it allows the author to take control of both his own creative content and how he chooses to profit from it. Traditional publishers may offer some authors an advance on their book titles, however that is with the promise that the publishing company will make their money back.
So what does that mean for you as the author in real dollars? A first-time author may get the following deal:
- An advance of $10,000 (and that’s generous…)
- Roughly 6% of print book sales
An advance is money that the author borrows up front to allow him time to finish writing the manuscript. It’s an investment the publishing company makes into the author based on future royalty earnings with the belief that he will sell enough books to be able to cover the cost of cover art, editing, printing, etc. If the print book sells for $20, that means the author will receive a whole $1.20 per print book sold. The author would have to sell more than 8,000 print books just to pay back the advance. Unfortunately, most published authors are lucky if they sell 8,000 print books in one year.
This example illustrates why self publishing can be an attractive option for authors who are willing to do the work of creating their own marketing machine to sell more books.
#5 The cost of editing, print layout, book cover art, etc. is a separate fee that may or may not be handled by the ghostwriter.
The ghostwriter is responsible for the completion of a manuscript. All the other parts of publishing a complete book are handled by a publishing services company. Some ghostwriters (like myself) have a team of freelancers that handle the other portions of publishing the print and electronic book. However, the price of this service is in addition to the cost of ghostwriting services.
#6 Book marketing is the author’s responsibility.
Finding an audience for your book isn’t something that happens magically after the book is published. I want my authors to be clear on their marketing plan well before the ghostwriting process even begins. Why? Because books don’t sell themselves.
If an author is going to take the time to invest in a ghostwriter, then he should also have a plan to sell it. Placing your book on Amazon will not guarantee sales. And hoping that Barnes & Noble will pick your book up is not a solid book marketing plan either. I like to educate my authors on how to do all of that in the early stages of working together. However, no ghostwriter can promise that a book will sell. That, ultimately, is up to the author.
How to become a ghostwriter
So how do you get started in this lucrative profession?
Here are some tips for how to become a ghostwriter.
1. Gain experience
Journal. Blog. Guest post. Write for publications like The Write Life. Send letters to the editor. Make insightful comments on websites. Self-publish a book (properly edited, of course). Create a family email newsletter. In whatever ways you can, write, write, and write some more.
And don’t forget to read. “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write,” Stephen King wrote. “Simple as that.”
Read high-brow, low-brow, classics, and today’s popular books. Alternate between fiction and nonfiction — nonfiction authors must know how to tell a compelling story. Read the best books on writing and storytelling, like King’s On Writing and McKee’s Story.
Put in your 10,000 hours of reading and writing. Earn the right to write for others.
2. Be patient
Ten thousand hours is 1.14 years, but that means you’d have to be doing that one single thing every hour of every day. Let’s say that five days a week you read for an hour per day and write for two hours per day, a generous assumption for most writers with full-time responsibilities outside of writing. At that rate, it will take you 12.8 years to become an expert writer.
My story witnesses to this Gladwellian opinion. I began to take my writing seriously as a freshman in college at the age of 18. Every one of my post-college jobs was related to reading or writing, but I also suffered serious doubts about my abilities and so let the blinking cursor blink for long stretches at a time. Sixteen years later, I was offered my first ghostwriting gig.
By no means do I believe myself an expert. Hemingway, who one could argue was an expert, said it well: “We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”
Patience doesn’t mean biding your time until the right person contacts you. Patience means constant practice until you’re ready for the right person to contact you.
3. Prove yourself…and then get lucky
Of the six online ghostwriters who responded to my question about how they broke into ghostwriting, every single one said they’d been working on smaller writing projects before “getting lucky” and breaking into ghostwriting:
- Mike Loomis started in multimedia curriculum development and book and product marketing before realizing he could help authors through offering ghostwriting services.
- Pat Springle wrote for two organizations who loved what he produced and helped others finish their manuscripts before launching into a successful 20-year career as a ghostwriter.
- Alice Sullivan wrote web and magazine copy for Country Music Television (CMT) during an internship before being asked by a major publisher to ghostwrite two books.
In my case, I proofread bills and laws for the Texas Senate, directed communications for a large church, wrote copy for a law firm, edited a content marketing website, and became a self-employed editor before breaking into ghostwriting through a fortuitous referral. At the time, I thought I was lucky to have earned the opportunity to write for someone else and be paid for it.
That job has led to two more direct referrals, which makes me feel even luckier to have been granted that first step into the world of ghostwriting.
But before getting lucky, I gained experience and practiced patience. The luck would never have been achieved without them.
This is an updated version of a story that was previously published. We update our posts as often as possible to ensure they’re useful for our readers.
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