Successfully Write A Book With A Ghostwriter: Tips For Nonfiction

You want to write a book. Perhaps you’ve started, and given up: you’re wondering whether a ghostwriter can help.

Ghostwriters can help you to write fiction or nonfiction; let’s look at nonfiction. Check out Esquire’s list of the best nonfiction of 2022 to see what’s currently popular.

Write a book: what type of book will it be?

What type of book would you like to write?

Popular types of nonfiction include:

  • An autobiography or personal memoir: a book telling the story of your life, an episode in your life, or exploring a passion. Examples include books about love, travel, food, war, crime…
  • Biography: the life story of someone you know, or don’t, or the history of a company or an industry.
  • Expertise or experience. Possibly you’re an expert in an area, or have had an interesting experience you want to share. Mine your life experiences, you’re sure to hit gold.

Basically, a nonfiction book can be about anything at all, as long as it has facts at its core. As advertising genius David Ogilvy suggests: “tell the truth, but make the truth fascinating.”

If you find the thought of writing a book overwhelming, consider a ghostwriter.

Can a ghostwriter help you to write a book?

One of the advantages of working with a ghostwriter is that it’s their job to make your topic—whatever it may be—fascinating. Over the years, I’ve ghostwritten books about topics as diverse as spirituality, illnesses, and horse racing, helping to make them fascinating to readers.

A ghostwriter can help at any stage of the writing process, to:

  • Explore ideas, then choose and focus your topic.
  • Structure your book, so that readers are drawn into your story, driven by curiosity.
  • Write. Your ghostwriter can write the book from go to whoa for you. Alternatively, you may commission your ghostwriter to create an outline, write sections, or write a book proposal to submit to a publisher. (The proposal has elements such as an overview, an outline, and several chapters.)

Let’s look at some tips to help you to write a book, with assistance from a ghostwriter.

1. Choose a topic, and collect materials to inform the writing

You want to write a book to share your amazing experiences and expertise—you can do it.

Start with seeds, which will sprout into ideas. Gather materials: letters, journals, clippings—anything at all. In this article on five-minute writing tips, I talked about creativity boxes (an idea from Twyla Tharp), and suggested:

All creativity is messy. You need a discrete area to store your stuff. Grab a box.

Choose a large box; archive boxes are excellent. I use large double-handled plastic boxes with lids. Print materials from your computer, and toss them into the box too.

At the collecting stage, toss everything that catches your attention into your box. After a week or two of this, sit down with your box and go through your materials. Make a list of ideas: what is important? What gives you an inspirational glow?

Don’t try to “write” your ideas. Be open-minded. Give your possible ideas time to gestate and coalesce.

2. Explore nonfiction: online, in book stores, and elsewhere

Wander around a big bookstore. Explore the shelves. Nonfiction books come in many sizes and shapes: large, photo-filled coffee-table books; tiny books which fit into your purse or pocket.

3. Consider your audience: for whom are you writing?

An author can have any audience they choose. If you’re considering an autobiography, perhaps you want it for your family. Alternatively, you may want wider publication: you can see your book on library shelves.

Maybe your goal is promotional: you want the book to promote your company, services, or a project.

Uncertain? That’s fine. You can discuss your thoughts with your ghostwriter, who will offer ideas. Recently I worked with an author who wanted an autobiography solely for his family archives. After a chat, we explored ideas for a commercial project: a personal memoir. We’ll create a proposal, with the aim of getting literary representation.

When you write a book, it’s a process

I’m fond of saying that “writing isn’t typing”.

Typing’s involved, of course. However, so is:

  • Staring into space: musing and day dreaming.
  • Scribbling an idea onto a sticky note when you wake at three in the morning.
  • Reading.
  • Frustration, because you can’t turn on inspiration on demand.
  • Making sense of a jigsaw of insights, ideas, and writing.

Creativity is always chaotic.

Avoid organizing the mess too soon. This is unbelievably difficult for many people, including me. Trust your process. Realizations will come, and so will your book’s structure.

If you feel a ghostwriter could help you to write a book, check out my ghostwriting services for assistance at any stage of your process.

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