Continuing my online book publishing series, today’s video discusses how to get the best possible results from your ghost writer.
After you’ve taken the decision to get started with online book publishing, you will no doubt have chosen your first book niche and made a decision on whether to write the book content yourself or find a ghost writer to write it for you.
In this post I go into more detail on the specifics of working with a ghost writer. It’s important to set expectations of exactly what you want from your writer. If you’ve decided to hire a ghost writer to write a book for you, use this post as a resource for how best to work with them.
If you’d rather read what I’m talking about (or perhaps you’re at work or somewhere you can’t easily watch), here’s a brief synopsis:
Even though you may have already communicated to your writer what it is that you’re looking for, it’s a good idea to set your exact expectations down in writing. The more information you can give your writer for what it is that you’re looking for, the more likely that they will write something that you are happy with. It’s important to be specific.
I like to create a Writer’s Notes document that I send to the writer either during the interview process so that we can discuss my needs, or immediately as we sign a contract to work together.
I normally use a word document template for my notes (to make it quick each time I prepare new notes). I send this to the writer as an attachment through the Fiverr (affiliate link) or Upwork messaging system. This is advisable because it means you have clear documentation of your specific requirements, just in case there is a dispute further down the line (though disputes are rare, especially if you maintain good communication throughout the project). Even if you didn’t want to create an actual document, it’s worth at least typing some bullet points into Fiverr or Upwork’s messaging system, so that your requirements are clearly documented.
What Goes Into My Writer’s Notes?
I use the Writer’s Notes to confirm various different types of information about the project, including:
- How I like to be contacted and when
- Contract information such as agreed word count and timescales
- The working title and subtitle
- What tone I would like the book to have
- Content specifics
- Whether I am happy for the book to include images and instructions on how to incorporate these
- Deliverables I am expecting by the end of the project
Create Your Own Writer’s Notes
I would recommend that you create some form of Writer’s Notes to set expectations with your writer. To help you consider things to include, I have gone into more detail on the types of information I normally cover…
1. Let Them Know How They Can Contact You And When
Include your preferred method of communication. As a rule of thumb, try to stick to the messaging system of the freelance site you’re using, but it’s ok to also provide an email address for direct communications. If there are any other contact methods you want to use, such as video calls, specify your preferred software here.
You may also want to consider stating your hours/days of work. For example, this can be useful when your writer has sent a message to you, but they know that it might take a couple of days to receive a response if you’ve previously stated that you don’t work weekends.
2. Introduction To The Book Topic
A couple of sentences overview of what the book will be about should suffice. You can also specify what you want the working title/sub-title for the book to be. It’s a nice idea to ask your writer to let you know if they have suggestions for an alternative title as they work through the project, because you’re looking for something that’s attention grabbing & snappy, but also that includes your keywords.
3. Who The Target Audience Is
It’s important that the book is written with your target reader in mind. For example, if your book is targeted at women, any examples used in the book can be written with the right tone and language. You may even want to consider writing a description of a couple of the types of people who you expect to buy the book, these are known as your Reader Avatars.
4. Main Book Content Details
This section can contain a list of bullet points of ideas for topics to be included in the book. You can also specify if there are any particular areas you would like the writer to research.
This section also offers an opportunity to let your writer know if there’s a specific way you would like the book to be structured.
Be sure to state whether you’re happy for there to be images in the book. You will generally have a feel for this based on the topic of the book. I would say that if you can avoid needing images this is preferable because they add a level of complexity, cost and impact the amount of royalties you can receive. Having said that, if a book won’t work without images, don’t skip on them - if you do, your reader reviews could take a hit!
If you plan to include images, state how many are acceptable (if you want to set a limit), and let the writer know if these will be black and white only, or colour (again, costs are higher for colour books). Agree with your writer at the time of signing the contract if you want them to source suitable images. You can provide a link to your preferred stock image website and ask them to find suitable images, for which they include the URL and a screengrab in the main content. Once the book is complete you can then go and make all the image purchases yourself, replacing the placeholders in the manuscript.
6. Deliverables Section
In this final section, list all of the items you’re expecting to receive from the writer as part of the contract.
It’s a good idea to split this into 3 headings:
Deliverables Before The Main Content Is Written
You may want to ask for a Chapter Breakdown from your writer. This is usually just an A4 side, with a list of the chapters and a 1-2 sentence description of what will be discussed in each chapter.
Deliverables For The Main Content
Let your writer know the word processing software you want them to use (I recommend sticking to Microsoft Word).
Send your writer the ebook word template you want them to use, and ask that they adhere to the formatting that is set-up in it. You could also re-confirm the desired word count here, as well as specifying which sections of the template you do/don’t want them to complete (for example, you might not want them to fill in the Dedication, or About Author sections).
Deliverables After The Main Content Is Complete
Detail any additional content items that you have agreed with your writer when you signed the contract. For example:
- Wording for the book description on Amazon
- Wording for the back of the paperback version
- Sales snippets for different word and character lengths (I tend to request at least 5-6 of these, so that I can quickly use them when purchasing book promotions)
To summarise the message of this post. It’s important to establish good guidelines for your writer, and to ensure good communication throughout the project, if you want to get the best results. Creating writer’s notes need only be 1-2 A4 sides and can be kept very informal, chatty even. The key thing is that you’re creating a resource that your writer can refer back to, and it could save you a lot of time in the long run by preventing delays due to questions, or re-writes being needed.
This has been a high level summary of how best to work with a ghost writer, for getting the best book content possible. Always remember that communication is key. Maintain good, clear contact and you will both be happy with the results.
Let me know in the comments if you have any questions. If you have any experiences working with ghost writers, or if you have worked as a ghost writer yourself, I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Previous & Next Posts
My last post was part of my Disney series: What To Pack To Get The Most From Disneyland Paris.
Next you can read about the annual FREE Coventry Godiva festival, perfect for frugal daytrippers!
If you’d like to start at the beginning of my series on geting started with online book publishing, here are the previous posts:
- 5 Reasons You’ll Love Publishing Books To Make Money
- 5 Things You Need To Get Started With Online Publishing
- How To Pick A Profitable Book Niche
- How To Find A Ghost Writer For Your First Book
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