Wednesday, May 25, 2011

So, you think you've got a book in you, but you need help getting it out

I'm frequently approached by people wanting to know if I can help them write their book; of course they’ve got a great idea for a bestseller!

To help people understand what’s involved in ghostwriting/co-authoring, I’ve put together a 10 page booklet explaining what’s involved in blunt detail.I’ve edited that booklet down to the bare bone basics for this blog post.

So, if you think you may have a book in you and want some help getting it out, read this first. I’ll probably change your mind.

You can download the full booklet as a PDF by clicking here.

There’s nothing spooky about it

For many, the idea of ghostwriting is a mysterious endeavor, but it needn’t be. Writing is writing, and all writing involves plain hard work.

Usually, one person (the author/writer) comes up with an idea and then puts that idea or story into words and creates their book.

With ghostwriting/co-authoring, the work is shared between the “author” and the “writer”: You, the author/client generate the idea and general content, and the ghostwriter (or co-author), crafts your message into the final product.

You, the author, are the subject matter expert (SME). You know your subject inside and out and can probably talk at great length about your core ideas. But writing may not be as easy for you.

Reasons for using a ghostwriter / co-author

A ghostwriter/co-author is needed because, while you know your subject well and most likely can give an effective presentation or short speech on your topic, you may feel you are not as skilled when it comes to writing for print.

There are many “authors” who are not “writers.” The bottom line is that there is no shame in using the services of a ghostwriter/co-author.

Before contacting a writer, there are some key questions you should consider and answer honestly.

Why do you want to write a book?

You need to clearly decide (a) what your book is going to be about and (b) why anyone would want to read it.

What do you want to say? Why do you feel a need to share this message? Who is the message for? What do you want people to do after they read your book? What are your motives and purposes for writing this book?

Here are a couple of wrong reasons for writing a book!
  • If you’re looking to write a smash bestseller that will earn you a ton of money fast, then most likely you’re off track right from the start. If your passion for money or notoriety is greater than your passion for your message, odds are your book will not succeed.
  • If you approach a writer and say, “God told me to write this book,” they’ll most likely be skeptical. Especially if you’ve done no research, don’t have a clear idea what the outline of the book will be, and have no expertise on the topic. If God truly told you to write a book, He also will give you a strong idea, it will most likely have some relevance to your experience or expertise, and He also will provide the funds for hiring a writer.
What are some better reasons for writing a book?
  • If you are an SME on a topic and you are giving speeches or presentations, or conducting seminars on that topic, then a book that you can sell to your audience is probably a good idea.
  • If you are a minister, pastor, or evangelist, and you have done a series of sermons around a specific topic, then putting those sermons into a book could be a great idea. However, merely taking transcripts of speeches or sermons, doing minor editing, and publishing them as books is a bad idea. There is an art to taking a spoken presentation and crafting it for the printed page.
  • If you have had a very unique, challenging, or inspirational experience that others have asked you more than once to put into a book, then you may have a good reason to write a book (or an article).
  •  If you are involved in a ministry or not-for-profit organization that provides a special or unique community service, then a book about what you do and the people you serve could be an effective fund-raising tool.
If you don’t have a good, strong reason for writing the book, and no real passion for your topic, then a book is not the thing to do. Consider doing an article instead.

Also, if you’re not a SME on your topic (for example, you're a business person writing about theology), you will need to work very hard to establish why anyone should pay attention to what you have to say. Credentials are critical to credibility.

How much effort are you willing to put into your book?

Just because you hire a writer doesn’t mean there’s no work for you to do!

Remember, you’re the SME and your job is to help the writer know and understand what you already know and understand about your topic.

Since writers can’t read minds this is going to take some effort on your part.

Do you have the financial resources for such a major project?

Every project is unique and every book is a substantial undertaking. Writing a book, and writing it well, is hard, time-consuming work. When planning your budget for a book-length project, think in terms of thousands of dollars.

Still interested in doing a book? Then go ahead and download and read the full booklet by clicking here. And then send me an email.

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Thoughts?

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