Many business owners want to write a book but they don’t have the time or skill to do so. It takes upwards of 100 hours to write a good business book so it’s no surprise most choose not to.
But if you’re committed to writing a book, hiring a ghostwriter is a great way to do so without writing a word. A ghostwriter helps you uncover your signature stories, unpack your intellectual property, write the book, edit it, get it published and, if you choose the right ghostwriter, market it too.
If you do choose to work with a ghostwriter, choose carefully. You’re putting your brand and reputation in their hands, and the results could be disastrous if you choose the wrong person.
To protect yourself and to ensure you find the right person, here’s seven questions you should ask a ghostwriter.
1. Are they any good?
If you’re going to write a business book, make it good. Really good. Having a bad business book with your name on it is worse than having no business book at all. People will definitely judge you by your book, so don’t put out anything that is less than your best work. Here’s a few specific questions that will help you determine how skilled they are:
- Have they written a successful business book before?
- Have they ghostwritten any business books before?
- Can they send you sample chapters of their published work?
- Do they have a background in business?
If they can’t send you any samples, think twice about hiring them. Your book is too important to be left in the hands of a novice.
2. Do they have a background in marketing?
Your business book is a marketing tool so it needs to be written with a marketing focus. It needs to have a purpose – to sell more products, get you speaking engagements, drive people to a website, promote a coaching programme. At its core, a good business book is a long piece of (great) copy that grabs attention and inspires people to work with you.
3. Can they write in your ‘voice’?
A ghost writer needs to ‘be’ you so they need to be able to change up their voice for every client. A recent client of mine was Gabby Leibovich, the cofounder of Catch of the Day, Eat Now/Menulog and other e-comm businesses. Gabby is Israeli, speaks with a strong accent and is very ebullient. We worked together to create that distinctive voice so that people knew instinctively it was him talking. Ask your ghostwriter to provide examples of how they’ve written in different voices.
4. Do you like and trust your ghostwriter?
You’ll be spending at least six months with your ghostwriter so it’s important you enjoy their company, respect them and feel comfortable sharing your most vulnerable moments with them. Quick tip: before you engage your ghostwriter, schedule a few Zoom calls with them so you can get a sense of who they are and whether you’ll enjoy spending time with them.
5. Do they challenge you?
Be careful of ghostwriters who just take orders and write on demand without questioning why or how that will make a better book. You want a writer who will stand up to you, be bold and have your best interests at heart, even if it means disagreeing with you. A good ghostwriter will challenge you, provide input, give guidance, steer you in the right direction and ensure the book makes you look amazing.
6. Do they know how to unpack your intellectual property?
Many successful people don’t know why they’ve been successful. A good ghostwriter will help you unpack the behaviours, processes and beliefs that made you successful. They’ll use a specific set of questions and guidelines to uncover your intellectual property and document it in a way that helps the reader apply those principles in their life.
7. Do they have a storytelling formula?
Before you hire them, ask them to reveal what formula they use to tell a story. If they don’t have one, get a new ghostwriter. Telling great stories that follow the Hero’s Journey is essential for the reader to feel engaged and connected with your journey.
Writing a business book is a brilliant way to protect your intellectual property, showcase your points of difference and inspire people to work with you. If you can’t or don’t want to write it yourself, hiring a ghostwriter could help you accomplish it more quickly (and effectively) than doing it yourself.