PAT IYER, MSN, is a
ghostwriter who works
with authors to develop
materials that share their
brilliance. She joined NSA in
2008—a move that changed
her life. She is a member of
the editorial committee for
Speaker magazine. Reach her
Often, a ghostwriter can do any
or all of these types of editing
for you. But there may be times
when you need the expertise of
just one of these types of editors.
Helps the author create an
outline and organize material,
and guides the author through
the writing process, but does not
do the actual writing.
LINE EDITOR: Makes suggestions
to improve flow, style, and
redundancies—the way the
COPYEDITOR: Tightens lines,
corrects grammatical and
punctuation errors, and flags
WHY: Because you are judged by the
quality of your work, both self-published and
traditionally published books benefit from
the involvement of an experienced writer.
Just the process of discussing your ideas for
a book with a ghostwriter can create a much
WHEN: The best time to use a ghostwriter is when you recognize you should be
producing more content, but you’ve been
putting it off. You’re not sure how to fit one
more thing into your life. Working with a
ghostwriter will take time, but far less than
if you write the content from scratch. It is
also called for when you feel your writing
does not represent you well.
WHERE: Find a ghostwriter by asking
for referrals from other speakers or by
searching the internet. Set up a time to
speak to the ghostwriter. Pay attention to
how you feel when you connect with them.
Does the person make you feel comfortable
and confident? Ask about the person’s writing experience, turnaround time, fees, and
process for writing. Talk with the referrals
about both the process and the results.
HOW IT WORKS
There are several models that use ghostwriting to create a book:
Interviews with SME. The SME and
ghostwriter collaborate to develop an outline for the material. The discussion helps
the SME to solidify ideas for the content
of the book. Next, the ghostwriter asks the
SME a series of questions on a recorded line
and uses the transcripts to create chapters.
The ghostwriter edits the dialogue to create
a smooth narrative and rearranges content
to make it flow in a logical way.
Rough draft turned into final draft.
In this model, the SME gives the ghostwriter a rough draft of a book and asks the
ghostwriter to edit it. In the process, the
ghostwriter may see additional areas of the
manuscript that need to be developed and
will help the SME fill in the gaps.
From outline to chapter. In this model,
the SME gives the ghostwriter an outline to
use to research the subject and create the
content. Then the SME reviews the work and
makes changes or approves the draft.
No matter what model you and the ghostwriter decide to use, their role is to write in
your voice—your vocabulary, expressions,
views, and ideas.
Compensation models for writing a book
vary. The ghostwriter may ask for an upfront
fee, incremental payments, or a flat fee plus
a percentage of royalties. Some ghostwriters
will ask for acknowledgment on the cover of
the book with the name of the author first, followed by the name of the ghostwriter or “with”
or “as told to” and then the name. Others will
accept being named in the acknowledgments.
Your ghostwriting project will be
smoother when you have a written agreement
that defines responsibilities and sets expectations. Expect to talk to the ghostwriter on a
regular basis, and be open to the ghost writer’s
questions and perspective about your knowledge. A great ghostwriter and a great speaker
make a dynamic team. ■
The best time to use a
ghostwriter is when you
recognize you should be
producing more content, but
you’ve been putting it off.