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1.3.17

Why hiring a ghostwriter is a mistake

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Professional writers are wonderful people (if I do say so myself). I am one, after all. Because we write every day, we have a way with words, are experts at finding information, and are efficient at getting the job done. One service professional writers offer is ghostwriting; this means that we write your book but you appear on the cover as the author. Sometimes ghostwriters are credited on the cover underneath the author’s name – By Jane Doe with Kath Walters – for example.

When I am talking to thought leaders – coaches, trainers, and speakers – about writing their books, I can almost see the question bobbing in the front of their minds: ‘Can’t I just pay you to interview me and write my book?’ And the answer of course is yes. Well, you can’t pay me personally because I don’t ghostwrite. But you can pay a skilled ghostwriter to do the work. In today’s global marketplace, quality writers are ever cheaper. They were never expensive; like all the practitioners of the creative arts, supply exceeds demand.

So why would I recommend against a ghost writer, assuming you can afford the fee?

Clarity and confidence

Clients tell me they gain great clarity from the rigour of focusing and structuring their book. The discipline of sitting down and deciding what you want to write about, and who you are writing for, is challenging. Almost everyone goes through a crisis of confidence in the process, and questions the value of their ideas. Pushing through that crisis and letting those anxieties go is an essential step needed to self-publish and market a book.

You might argue that, if your book is based on interviews, it reflects your ideas. So, you will go through this step even if you don’t write the book. I disagree. The crisis comes from the scary process of committing words to paper, editing and refining them. Uncertainty about how to express our ideas causes the crisis, and the process of writing resolves that uncertainty.

And there is another reason.

Your voice

The way we express ourselves is individual. I have conducted thousands of interviews in my 20 years as a journalist and I know this from quoting others. Your clients buy more than your ideas; they buy you and your approach. Thought leader, Tracey Ezard — who is the author of two books, The Buzz and Glue – says readers have told her they recognise her way of speaking when they read her books. That’s a great compliment.

I recommend recording the first draft of each chapter in your book and getting it transcribed because the recording process captures your idioms, energy, and personality. Yes, a good ghostwriter will keep those qualities, but it’ll be different. It’s like asking a professional to do your makeup or choose your clothes. Sure, they bring a panache that is impressive, but it just doesn’t look at the same as if you make those choices.

Thought leaders cannot outsource sales 

‘In my view, no one can sell you like you can sell yourself,’ Robyn Haydon, author of three books and a thought leader in communicating value, told me in a recent interview. ‘People really need to know how to do this [write a book] themselves; they can’t contract it out.’

Your book is a crucial marketing tool. The pride and confidence that thought leaders feel when they hand their book to a prospect often clinches a sale. That conviction is forged in the writing process. It’s not the fact that the book is word perfect that wins clients; it is the fact that the book is targeted to a specific audience, communicates great ideas in a clear structure and that is there, in print, on the table. It knocks their socks off. And for good reason. It takes time, confidence and commitment to write a book.

Go on. You can do it.

PS: Want more? You might like: How US President Donald Trump makes writing my blog more fun.

 

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