There’s a fairly well known saying, attributed to the influential journalist, Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011), that states, “Everyone has a book in them, but in most cases that’s where it should stay.”
Whether he meant the idea or story isn’t actually worth telling, or not everyone has the ability to tell the idea or story in a compelling way, or both, is hard to say.
Many people believe they have a book inside them just waiting to come out. You may be one of them.
If you have always dreamed of writing a book or seeing your ideas in print with your name on the cover, yet you aren’t a writer and don’t know the first thing about the process of writing a book, do you have options?
Can you still see your book completed and in print with your story written in a compelling, interesting way?
If you are reading this, you have a book in you and you just need to know how to move it from idea to the written page, all without having to learn the necessary writing skills and the months (even years) it could take to produce it.
Getting Your Book Written
The most obvious way to write your book is to pen it yourself.
Writing your book on your own is a great option if you are a hands-on person and you want full control of your book.
But it does require having the knowhow, time (a book can take anywhere from a few months to a year or more to complete), and desire to write and complete your project.
You also have to enjoy writing.
The benefit of writing your book yourself is certainly the pride you gain from accomplishing the task.
It also helps build your skills as a writer and you get full control of the words and how the book turns out.
It is also the least expensive route.
The alternative is to hire someone else to write your book – a ghostwriter.
This is a professional writer (or group of writers) who will organize and outline, write, and edit your book from beginning to end.
Ghostwriting is a great option: you get your book written by a professional who knows the process and will work with you to make sure you get the book you’re envisioning.
You get your name on the book, and the ghostwriter takes no credit.
How to Hire a Ghostwriter
Once you’ve decided to go the ghostwriting route, the next step is finding the right ghostwriter.
Your choice will depend on several factors, including your budget, timeline, goals, and even your personality and preferred working style.
There are several ways to find the right ghostwriter:
1. Use a Freelance Bidding Website
There are many freelance bidding websites where you can hire anyone for just about anything.
On Upwork alone there are an estimated 12 million registered freelancers (in various industries, not just writing) with only an estimated three million jobs posted annually.
Just type “ghostwriter” in the search bar and you’ll get tens of thousands of writers from all over the world, ready to bid on your project to write your book for you.
This option allows you to be as involved as you want: You can simply give your ghostwriter an idea and let them run with it, or you can provide detailed information and direction.
Using a bidding site is a cheaper option, with many writers available to ghostwrite books for as little as $100.
You can pay by the hour or by the project, and you can often put the project fee into escrow to ensure the project will get done or you won’t have to pay, with milestone check-ins along the way.
Remember, though, that most of the time you also get what you pay for.
Quality can be an issue when hiring freelance ghostwriters from such sites.
There is no guarantee that the writer can actually write, or that they can write your project in the way you envision it.
There might be more limited contact with the writer and you might be hiring someone who speaks and writes English as a second language.
If you choose this option, it’s important to perform a bit of due diligence to make sure that you don’t get an end product that’s unusable, or in need of extensive editing and rewriting.
Always check writer’s reviews from past clients and request a writer with experience fluent in your native language.
If you want to be more involved, make sure the writer is easy to meet or have contact with.
And get periodic updates using the milestone features on the site, scheduling to get sample chapters to review before going too far into the project.
2. Hiring a Turnkey Book Writing Service
A step up from a freelance bidding site, this option is ideal for people who know what they want in their book and who can explain their ideas clearly and easily.
From this option, you have two choices.
You can handle much of the work yourself by organizing your information and then dictating your book into an audio or video recorder.
Once done, you can hand your recording over to a service company; they’ll take your recordings, transcribe them into written form, and send you a book.
If you’d like more of a back-and-forth working relationship, you can hire a service company that offers a more personalized book writing experience.
You meet with one of the company’s ghostwriters and they familiarize themselves with your book idea and the style of book you want.
They then do in-depth, recorded interviews with you to not only get all the information you want in your book, but also to get a sense of your voice.
From there, they transcribe the information they collected on audio and edit the recordings, completing the transcription of your book into written form.
And some of these types of companies not only provide the interview, transcribe, and provide you with a written book, but they will take your finished project all the way through to the layout and printing and offer a marketing plan as well.
Keep in mind, in this process, the service company is basically transcribing the words you speak with minimal or limited editing or revising.
3. Hiring a Professional Ghostwriter
The third option for writing your book is to hire a freelance ghostwriter.
A freelance ghostwriter is a single individual, dedicated to your book.
The right match with a good ghostwriter, can be a rewarding experience, and the arrangement carries a certain amount of romanticism.
Celebrities, political figures, athletes and VIPs from all walks of life are known to hire ghostwriters to write their memoirs or autobiographies.
Good freelancers can be hardworking and dedicated to your project.
Unfortunately, other freelancers can be fickle and peevish if things don’t go their own way, and you won’t necessarily know that until further down the road in your new relationship – sometimes after dozens of hours of interviews.
When choosing your freelancer, a good tip: A freelancer’s ability to sell themselves to you has little to do with their ability to write your book.
So, don’t jump at the one that sounds the best simply because he or she gave you a good spiel.
Call their references.
Without proper due diligence, you can invest a lot of time and money before finding out the writer doesn’t fit your project or your own working style.
Another tip: Be sure to ask how much time they can devote to your book, and if they have had success completely projects on deadline in the past.
Remember that when you hire an individual, you are at the whim of his or her timeline.
While some individual ghostwriters spend most of their time writing, others may consider it a part-time job, meaning your project will need to work around their life.
On the other hand, if your writer makes a living ghostwriting, you may have to wait for an opening in their schedule — and even then they may be juggling you and several other projects which can make for a long process.
4. Hiring a Ghostwriting Company
If you want a more hands-on experience with more options, hiring a ghostwriting company might be the best choice for you.
You will still have the opportunity to develop a one-on-one relationship with your writer (complete with frequent in-person interviews), but you’ll also have the safety net of company management if a problem ever arises.
Plus, with a senior editor available for all stages of your book, those closest to the book (you and your ghostwriter) will always receive objective editorial feedback.
When you are done, the firm will consult on all of your available publishing options – from traditional publishing to print-on-demand services – so you can choose the option that is best for your story.
A ghostwriting company allows for the ability to “go where the project takes you,” in a way that may be difficult with another writing model.
Want to scan hundreds of photos?
Need to track down hard-to-reach expert sources for interviews?
Maybe you want genealogy tracked back to 10 generations, or you are determined to find a needle-in-the-haystack research item only available on microfilm.
You might need a team to sort through hundreds of pages of old legal and medical documents, chronologically sort every piece of material, cross reference it against topic categories and cite it all.
Quality ghostwriting companies are used to receiving out-of-the box requests, and they have the manpower to make them happen, without distracting from your book’s progress.
Finally, because a writing team can share the workload, ghostwriting companies can often take on rush projects and maintain quality, in a way that is simply impossible for a one-man show.
If you’re looking for attentive, white-glove service, lots of interaction with your writers, and an end product limited only by your imagination, this last option may be the best for you.