Conversations: 10/6/2017

CONNECT WITH EXPERT ASSISTANTS

Have you ever considered working with a Writing Assistant (Editor/Coach), or Ghostwriter? If you have a novel, memoir, poetry collection, or any other manuscript that is buried in your basement, I hope you will consider bringing it back to life by joining forces with an expert collaborator. Here are two True Stories I hope will encourage you.

True Story: My friend Sue (not her real name) and I met at a writers’ conference last year. Instantly we knew we’d be good friends because we had so much in common. On the last day of the conference we exchanged cards and wished each other well in our writing adventures. Several months later Sue called me and asked to “get together.” We met at a local coffee shop and barely sat down with our steaming cups of caffeine before she announced, “This idea hit me—like an epiphany—and I know it’s supposed to be a book. It just has to be written, so I need your help.” That was the beginning of a two-hour conversation that sent us on a wild ride. I became her “writing assistant,” her editor, writing coach and friend. The manuscript is now with a traditional publishing house.

True Story #2: While sitting at dinner with our neighbors, Bill mentioned that he’d written a little poetry over the years. “When I’m looking at the beauty of nature, words just seem to come to me.” Of course I encouraged him to continue writing because his observations of the world around us are as unique as a finger print—no two are alike. Not long after that conversation, Bill called and asked if I’d like to take a look at some of his work—poetry that he’d matched to his prize-winning photography. To my delight, his extended dining room table was covered with small “prints” of his favorite photographs. Then he handed me a thick stack of hand-written poetry. Over the next three years we worked together to produce two beautiful collections of his photography and verse: From Delicate Lily Pads to Sculptured Peaks, and Impressions of Nature in Black and White by William A. Carlson. Would these books have ever been published without the friendship connection and the TLC of expert assistance? Maybe. “But doubtful,” says Bill.

As my writing life developed into the business of being a “writer’s assistant” I discovered a whole new level of JOY walking through the creative process with another writer and helping their works “find the light of day.” Writing a book (fiction or nonfiction) is a big commitment, and having support from a trained and experienced writer is just what the “book doctor” ordered. Assistant classifications include:

  • The Writing Consultant who can brainstorm the plot/concept with you and help you smash through any writer’s block.
  • The Coach/Editor who reads and offers editing, word choice, and enhancement ideas.
  • The Ghostwriter who develops your original ideas to complete the manuscript. And, like one Ghostwriter is fond of saying: “When it comes to our clients, we are as silent as Jeeves.” Yes, indeed, the professional Ghostwriter never reveals the names of their clients—unless, of course, the client gives permission, places their name on the cover as, written with, or decides the Ghostwriter’s input deserved the co-author title.

How do you find these experts? Most of us are proficient using Google to find any category of experts we’re looking for, including writing consultants, editors and ghostwriters. Their websites may be big and beautiful, however, finding the right FIT with someone you can work with is the real Key to Success.

Most writers’ conference (like the one that I attended with the author in the first True Story—above) set up a panels of experts for writers to talk with which is an excellent way to meet experienced assistants. Even if you’re not able to meet with them at length, and discuss your project, you can at least take their card and contact them later.

However, my go-to place to find professional help is the self-publishing company where I (and several clients) have published. If authors don’t find a perfect fit with one of their Consultants, Editors, or Ghostwriters, they offer other in-house expert connections. AND, unlike traditional houses who hire experts to create books that meet the “projected value” of their business, self-publishing companies hire professional individuals who will listen to each author, and offer their very best help to complete the book that the author has written.

So DIG OUT your old manuscript(s) and find the specialized collaborator who will pump life back into it. You owe it to yourself and your Readers! ⚓︎

 


Royalene

ABOUT ROYALENE DOYLE: Royalene has been writing something since before kindergarten days and continues to love the process. Through her small business—DOYLE WRITING SERVICES—she brings more than 40 years of writing experience to authors who need “just a little assistance” with completing their projects. This is a nice fit as she develops these blogs for Outskirts Press (OP) a leading self-publisher, and occasionally accepts a ghostwriting project from one of their clients. Her recent book release (with OP) titled FIREPROOF PROVERBS, A Writer’s Study of Words, is already receiving excellent reviews including several professional writer’s endorsements given on the book’s back cover.
Royalene’s writing experience grew through a wide variety of positions from Office Manager and Administrative Assistant to Teacher of Literature and Advanced Writing courses and editor/writer for an International Christian ministry. Her willingness to listen to struggling authors, learn their goals and expectations and discern their writing voice has brought many manuscripts into the published books arena.

Conversations: 5/13/2016

HELPING HANDS, MINDS and HEARTS

Part II

Did I put the cart before the horse? A current client just suggested to me that defining the work of a ghostwriter would be a big help to other people seeking assistance. SO…here goes…

  • First…we are writers who enjoy working behind the scenes FOR our clients. We are quite comfortable to see the client’s name appear on the book and it is our client who receives all the credit (and copyright) to the material we produce for them.
  • Ghostwriters are expert writers who like to help lots of different people (medical doctors, safari guides, missionaries, political activists, chefs, other writers…etc.) complete their book projects.
  • We research, write, rewrite, collaborate, and brainstorm with clients until THE END.
  • We can take a very basic concept (even a one paragraph idea) and RUN with it—writing and developing the idea—while communicating with the client until a full draft manuscript is ready for the client’s review.
  • We can also take a multi-page “draft manuscript” that is incomplete—fill in the missing pieces—and present a “complete draft” to the client.

With seventeen (17) books now listed on my resume, I’ve received some interesting comments about the working relationship my clients and I have enjoyed. Perhaps this list will further define the “role” of a ghostwriter: research-digger; big picture visionary; candid critic; surprising wordsmith; personal coach; listening friend. What is important to remember is that NO TWO projects are ever the same. Each one is developed within the unique parameters set by the topic/concept and the client. IT IS THE Ghostwriters purpose to make the author LOOK GREAT in print and help make their dream of being an author come true!

JUST IN CASE you’re thinking that ghostwriting help is NOT for you, I’ll share a bit of trivia (which can be checked out on the Internet) about a few famous authors who have enjoyed the HELP of a friend.

Raymond Benson may be one of the best known ghostwriters known for his James Bond novels. He is also behind the scene of the Tom Clancy Splinter Cell series, using a pseudonym (David Michaels) for the 1st and 2nd books in that series, after which another ghostwriter has taken up the work.

Author V.C. Andrews was just beginning to build her GARDEN book series when she passed away from cancer. Her family sought out a ghostwriter to complete one book and selected Andrew Neiderman who took over in 1986 and continues writing under V.C. Andrews today.

Business guru Stephen Cover (author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People) worked with ghostwriter Ken Shelton.

True story author Chris Gardner (The Pursuit of Happyness which was the basis for the Will Smith movie of the same title) was written “with Quincy Troupe.”

BIG THINGS CAN—and do—happen when writers HELP each other! The heart behind the help also comes in the form of professional book publishers and their staff that includes Ghostwriters, Interior Designers, Cover Designers, and Marketing Specialists. I hope you’re encouraged—today—to seek, select and enjoy the benefits of TEAM-work to see your dreams of publishing come true! ⚓︎

RoyaleneABOUT ROYALENE DOYLE: Royalene has been writing something since before kindergarten days and continues to love the process. Through her small business—DOYLE WRITING SERVICES—she brings more than 40 years of writing experience to authors who need “just a little assistance” with completing their projects. This is a nice fit as she develops these blogs for Outskirts Press (OP) a leading self-publisher, and occasionally accepts a ghostwriting project from one of their clients. Her recent book release (with OP) titled FIREPROOF PROVERBS, A Writer’s Study of Words, is already receiving excellent reviews including several professional writer’s endorsements given on the book’s back cover.  

Royalene’s writing experience grew through a wide variety of positions from Office Manager and Administrative Assistant to Teacher of Literature and Advanced Writing courses and editor/writer for an International Christian ministry. Her willingness to listen to struggling authors, learn their goals and expectations and discern their writing voice has brought many manuscripts into the published books arena.

Conversations: 5/6/2016

HELPING HANDS, MINDS and HEARTS

Whether a writer considers they are a novice or experienced writer, or even an expert writer, we all come to a season when the book we’re attempting to develop falls flat. The project may be the best idea on the planet, but if its completion seems to have reached a point of no return DON’T GIVE UP!

The positive impact of your book is not lost! It is simply time to join forces with a ghostwriter, a partner who can tap in to your vision and help you reach the FINISH LINE.

Finding the right ghostwriter to assist you has been likened to finding the right marriage partner. Although this writing relationship may not exist for a lifetime the connection between writer and ghostwriter must be compatible. Here are a few things to look for when discussing your project with a potential writing partner:

  1. It is preferred to meet with and interview the ghostwriter in person. However, if this is not possible, telephone conversations can provide you with enough information to make your selection. I have worked with several clients long-distance—as well as neighbors—and we’ve enjoyed great success in the completion of their projects.
  2. Ask for information about their past projects. If referrals are available—authors who will talk with you about their experience with this ghostwriter—this is the best resource.
    • Responsibility and Reliability are two key components in a writing partner. When talking with the referred authors, ask about the quality of the ghostwriter’s work and their ability to write in the author’s voice.
    • Your budget is important, too. Although the former clients may not choose to reveal their personal payment plan, you can ask them if they felt they received poor—fair—good—or excellent value for the amount paid.
  3. As you talk about your project, listen carefully to the ghostwriter’s responses.
    • Is the ghostwriter knowledgeable about your genre of choice?
    • Does the ghostwriter hear what you are saying about the book’s topic? Characters? Plot? Setting?
    • Does the ghostwriter seem to grasp the essence of what you want to communicate to your readers?
    • Do you find it easy to talk with them—as if you are already friends?
  4. As the author of your project, you have a distinct writing voice. If you have quickly established a comfortable rapport with the ghostwriter, chances are good that they will be able to identify your writing voice and use it to enhance your project. This is vital to the authenticity of your book.
  5. Your writing partner must have an excellent “handle” on the English language.
    • Grammar, sentence structure, and punctuation all hold a valuable place in communicating with the Reader. However, I’m one of those people who believe that the concept of communication is the key component in the use of grammar and spelling skills. This skill must be used in maintaining the author’s voice throughout the book.
    • If you are writing a technical document for publication at the university-level of academia, you definitely need a ghostwriter who has that experience.
    • If you are writing in the genre of historical fiction, romance, mystery, science fiction, memoir, pet stories, cookbooks, etc. then the ghostwriter who loves language for its communication value is the preferred choice.

Bottom line: Harmony between author and ghostwriter is essential and produces excellence. So if you feel shackled and unable to move forward with your book project, ASK for HELP! Seek out the partnership of an excellent ghostwriter and GET THAT BOOK FINISHED!  Then GET IT PUBLISHED! The best advice I ever received was…NEVER QUIT! Because the most difficult books to produce are the ones that will make the biggest difference in the “book world.” ⚓︎

 

 

RoyaleneABOUT ROYALENE DOYLE: Royalene has been writing something since before kindergarten days and continues to love the process. Through her small business—DOYLE WRITING SERVICES—she brings more than 40 years of writing experience to authors who need “just a little assistance” with completing their projects. This is a nice fit as she develops these blogs for Outskirts Press (OP) a leading self-publisher, and occasionally accepts a ghostwriting project from one of their clients. Her recent book release (with OP) titled FIREPROOF PROVERBS, A Writer’s Study of Words, is already receiving excellent reviews including several professional writer’s endorsements given on the book’s back cover.  

Royalene’s writing experience grew through a wide variety of positions from Office Manager and Administrative Assistant to Teacher of Literature and Advanced Writing courses and editor/writer for an International Christian ministry. Her willingness to listen to struggling authors, learn their goals and expectations and discern their writing voice has brought many manuscripts into the published books arena.

In Your Corner : Do I need a ghostwriter?

How do you know if it’s time to seek out a ghostwriter to help you complete your book?  And what all is involved in the process of ghostwriting, anyway?  Is it really any different from detailed copyediting?

If you’re asking these questions, I hope what I write here will help to answer at least a few of them.

As with any writing venture, ghostwriting is a unique experience that presents unique challenges in addition to unique benefits.  You won’t ever find me pretending otherwise, just as you won’t find me beating around the bush when it comes to recommending a thorough and professional edit of your manuscript once it’s been written––and just as I held no punches when I worked to draw a dividing line between copyediting and proofreading in my blog post two weeks ago.

So, what is ghostwriting?  It is, according to the “Publishing” page on About.com, “the practice of writing for and in the name of someone else. It is most commonly associated with book publishing, but today it is also widely used in public relations, corporate communications, social media, and many other industries and fields that are producing greater and greater amounts of written content.”  Many of our most prolific “superstar” genre specialists, like John Grisham and Tom Clancy and Nora Roberts (and so on and so on to infinity) employ a combination of understudies, assistants or secondary writers, and ghostwriters.  They are called upon to generate, quite simply, too much material for a single human being to keep pace.  But many if not most niche storytellers––whether famous or indie, traditionally published or self-publishing––lead hectic and busy lives that keep them from writing the books that they want to.  We just can’t ignore the fact that self-publishing authors deserve to know that there is another option out there for them!

ghostwriting

The process is relatively simple: most ghostwriters work on a contract or freelance basis for companies like Outskirts Press, so the fastest way to get yourself set up with an accomplished and expert ghostwriter is to go through one of these established websites.  Perhaps the best reason of all to go with someone who has been vetted and proven trustworthy is this: ghostwriting is, at its core, a collaborative venture between you (the author) and your ghostwriter.  How you choose to work depends more on you and what your vision for a piece demands than it does on time constraints, or one hopes for such a truth in a perfect universe.  (Being too rushed for time to go it alone is a wholly valid reason to hire a ghostwriter!)

Ghostwriting has been around awhile.  Long enough, in fact, that industry supergiants like Forbes have taken a look at it––and, circling back to my comment about collaboration:  In this article for Forbes, contributor Sydney LeBlanc writes that “you can turn [your] entire book project over to the writer (research and writing) or you can provide research, notes, periodicals, etc that will help the writer.”  That’s one option, but “You can also have regular ‘interviews’ with the writer who will take notes or record conversations with you about the topic. The writer will write draft chapters for you to review, edit, or make suggestions.”  LeBlanc says that, ultimately, “There are many ways to work with a ghostwriter; it all depends on what is convenient or best for you and what is in your budget.”  (Emphasis mine.)

Hopefully this is enough to convince you that seeking out a ghostwriter is a simple and easy thing to do, and that therefore we can move past one of several possible obstacles to taking that course of action!

(PERSONAL ASIDE & RANT: Enough with the stigma, already!  Everyone’s writing method looks different, anyway, so why do we feel guilty over choosing to bring someone else in on the process?  Let’s celebrate diversification through collaboration rather than taking ghostwriting as a marker of a lack of creativity!)

So, how do you know it’s time to start researching ghostwriting as a viable option for your book?  Well, here’s a simple rule of thumb: if you can answer all or even most of the following questions with “yes,” then it might be time:

  1. Are you overworked, overstressed, or overcommitted?
  2. Do you have a story to share?
  3. Do you need a little help developing your ideas beyond the outline or draft stage?
  4. Do you believe in artistic collaboration?
  5. Can you trust the ghostwriter you pick to do justice to your vision?

Here’s where ghostwriting diverges from that other industry-specific term, “copyediting” : a copyeditor’s job is to take a finished draft and polish it up for final publication.  A thorough copyedit involves more than just shuffling commas around, but it won’t substantially change the core content of a piece.  Ghostwriting, on the other hand, involves the conceptualization and generation of a great deal of new material.  Your ghostwriter becomes your collaborator and your partner in crime, your sounding board and scribe.  Ghostwriters become folded into your stories, and it is in their best interest as paid professionals to deliver the best service they can––but if you’re both lucky, your ghostwriter might even become your ally and friend.  And what could be better than that?  Writing can be such an isolating experience, but I’d like to assure you as I do each and every week:

 

You’re not alone. ♣︎

ElizabethABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 18 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, pre-production specialists, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

Didn’t Finish NaNoWriMo? No Problem!

So you tried your best to complete the NaNoWriMo challenge, but you just weren’t able to finish the manuscript. Don’t feel guilty. It happens to the best of us. Sometimes, our daily lives prevent us from committing our time to writing. While all self-publishing authors would love to dedicate their free time to their manuscripts, life often has other plans for us. Or maybe you had the time, but you just couldn’t find the words to explain the story bubbling in your head. It happens, so don’t feel like a failure.

Just because NaNoWriMo has ended, that doesn’t mean you should give up on your manuscript. Set realistic goals to help you complete the book. If time is an issue, space out your writing and give yourself a longer deadline. Maybe three or six months is a better goal for you. If finding the words is your challenge, brainstorm ways to get your creative juices flowing. Take a creative writing class. Pick up a new book on writing. Read books by your favorite authors. Google writing prompts.

If the above ideas still aren’t enough to help you finish your book, there is another solution: hire a ghostwriter. Many self-publishing authors choose to hire a ghostwriter to help them finish their book. Whether you don’t have the time to commit to your project or you need help getting your ideas on paper, a ghostwriter can help make your dream of self-publishing a book come true. Outskirts Press offers ghostwriting services. You can also get recommendations from other writers or look for freelance ghostwriters online.

I’d love to know, would you consider hiring a ghostwriter? Why or why not?

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog at http://kellyschuknecht.com.

4 Ways to Find a Great Ghostwriter

A great ghostwriter can help make your dreams of self-publishing a book come true. Whether you are too busy to finish your book project or need the assist of someone with excellent writing skills, you need to find a ghostwriter who is experienced and trained but who also meshes well with your personality.

When interviewing ghostwriters, be sure to ask about their education and work background as well as writing projects they have completed. Don’t be turned off by a writer who hasn’t completed a book exactly like your project because hopefully, your book is a one-of-a-kind idea. Instead, look for a writer with excellent writing and organizational skills. Having some background knowledge in your subject may also be a good idea, but most writers are magnificent researchers and enjoy learning about new topics.

Even more important than the writer’s background is the writer’s personality. When interviewing ghostwriters, ask about their work habits and expectations. Think of hiring a ghostwriter as dating someone new. You will be spending a lot of time working with this person, so you want to make sure you connect with the writer. There is no perfect way to determine if a ghostwriter is a good fit for you and your project. You just need to trust your gut.

So where do you find the perfect ghostwriter? Here are four places to look.

1.) Ask for references – If you know other authors who have used a ghostwriter, ask for references. They will be more than happy to share their experiences with you. This is a great way to find a writer who will do a great job because you can often trust other writer’s opinions.

2.) Check out your self-publishing company – Some self-publishing companies offer ghostwriting services. They will match you up with a ghostwriter that meets your needs. This is another great way to ensure you are hiring a reputable writer because self-publishing companies will only use writers they trust to produce great work.

3.) Search the web – If you go to your favorite search engine and type in “ghostwriter for hire” or other related keywords, you will find links to various writers’ websites. If you choose to go this route, be sure to thoroughly research the writer. Just because they have a website doesn’t mean they are qualified to do the job.

4.) Post a job ad – There are plenty of websites that allow you to post a listing looking for a writer. Be sure to include as many details about the project as possible and explain your expectations. One great place to begin is the Association of Ghostwriters.

I’d love to know, where did you find your ghostwriter?

ABOUT WENDY STETINA: Wendy Stetina is a sales and marketing professional with over 30 years experience in the printing and publishing industry. Wendy works as the Director of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable customer service reps and publishing consultants; and together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process in order to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction, or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Wendy Stetina can put you on the right path.

Two Ways a Ghostwriter Can Help You Become a Self-Published Author

A ghostwriter is someone who can help you write your book, and no one has to know you used a ghostwriter. In almost all cases, the ghostwriter does not receive any credit for writing the book. Instead, your name appears on the cover. If you choose to hire a ghostwriter, there are two ways to approach the project. Here is a summary of each.

1. From Start to Finish

The ghostwriter can help you write the book from start to finish. Most likely, the ghostwriter will ask you questions about your vision for the book and may require you to create an outline. The ghostwriter will then use this information to create a first draft of your book. Most ghostwriters allow you to make at least one round of changes to the manuscript. If you choose this process, you don’t have to do any of the writing yourself. You simply share your ideas with the ghostwriter, and the writer will turn your vision into a book.

2. Help Finishing

Another option is to hire a ghostwriter to help you finish your book. This is perfect for people who have already began the writing process but are too busy to finish the job. One of the perks of this option is the writer has some material to work with, so he or she can get a sense of your writing style. Similar to the first option, the writer will ask you questions about your vision and may require an outline.

I’d love to know, what questions do you have about the ghost writing process? Please comment below.

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Vice President of Outskirts Press.  In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog at http://kellyschuknecht.com.