12 Steps to Company History Book Success

Your company has reached a major milestone, a new CEO is being appointed, or maybe a significant anniversary is coming up.

Press releases are fleeting, and your boss wants something more concrete, something to hand out to clients, stakeholders, investors, and employees.

The execs have landed on the idea of a company history book — one that can commemorate the company’s story and achievements for a lifetime.

Here’s the kicker: You’ve been tasked with writing, editing, and managing the book. It also needs to be polished and perfected as soon as possible, and although you get the appeal, you have absolutely no idea where to start.

Well, top up your coffee and take a breath, because you’ve landed on the right page. This article is a fool-proof, tried and tested survival guide to writing a company history book.

The professional ghostwriters and editors at The Writers For Hire have seen a ton of corporate businesses come through the door, and we’ve learned some crucial golden nuggets along the way.

This easy-to-follow guide will go over the content needed for your book, the form it should take, the people you need to interview, and, most important, how you can make your book stand out from the crowd and even generate high-ticket clients.

Why a Company History Book?

Let’s take a look at three core reasons why a company chooses to write a corporate history book, and the benefits it can bring to an establishment.

1.   Brand Storytelling

Writing in Forbes in January 2019, Celinne Da Costa declared brand storytelling “the future of marketing.” In this overly digitalized world, showing a company’s human side is crucial to its success and longevity. As Da Costa puts it, nowadays, “humanity is becoming the new premium.”

People are craving human connectivity now more than ever.

More than sales numbers, quarter milestones, and successful leaders, what really stands the test of time is a brand that connects itself to the age-old practice of storytelling.

A company history book is one of the best ways to incorporate your company’s human side.

It’s a way for a company to show its core values, its mission, and the humbling journey of founders with a big dream that then turned into a reality. These are the things that deserve to be recorded.

2.   A Growth Tool 

A company history book is an excellent way to generate leads, grow interest, and expand reach.

There are many different ways to incorporate your company history book into a lead generation system.

Setting up a landing page for your book where clients, investors, stakeholders, or prospective employees can see your professionally completed work not only sparks interest, but also accelerates the company’s professional presence.

When you build a product that highlights and declares the company’s expertise, you are in turn cementing the company and its story into a tangible and attractive form.

3.   The Ultimate Corporate Welcome

Picture this: A prospective employee walks into the office and is told to wait at reception. Maybe it’s one of those days when everyone is swamped and they are left waiting longer than you had anticipated.

They see your company history book, leaf through a mixture of some of the best company moments, and perhaps even match a friendly face in the pictures to the job interviewer with whom they were emailing.

Instantly, the company becomes more alive.

The same can be said for anyone who walks in the door.

Having a professionally produced representation of the company ensures that new clients, employees, or business investors understand what the company is about before they’ve even met the team.

Aside from this, a book is the perfect corporate gift for those momentous occasions.

Now that you understand some of the many reasons companies choose to record their story in a book, let’s focus on the how.

12 Steps to Company History Book Success

1. Set the intention of your book.

Dream big here. Don’t just limit the book to something that will make a great coffee table asset. (Although it does that, too!)

Make sure you’re clear on your company’s intention with the corporate history book. Is it to expand growth within the company? Is it to share the company’s morals and values with a wider audience? Is it to commemorate a change in management or procedure?

Whatever the intention, allow that to lead the book’s progression. Of course, you can have more than just one reason to write a company history book. But when the project feels too big to even start, it’s a good idea to remind yourself of the book’s intention, and why it’s important to get the book done as envisioned.

That brings us onto our second crucial point.

2. Consider hiring a ghostwriter.

In the same way that you hire vendors and outsource different content that isn’t available in-house, you, too, should consider hiring a professional ghostwriter to do the heavy lifting of this project.

Professional ghostwriters are experts at managing large manuscripts, writing impressive amounts of text under seemingly impossible deadlines, and organizing many of the different files, images, and information needed for your company history book.

You should consider hiring a ghostwriter to do the writing, interviewing, and managing of your book. Not only will they take the load off your hands, ghostwriters and editors will ensure that the product you’re handing over to the big boss is of the highest, professional quality.

Even if you’ve already started the project and have reached a standstill, ghostwriters are comfortable with joining projects at any given stage.

While corporate companies tend to produce technical in-house writing, business ghostwriters are wizards at transforming complex information into a relatable, compelling, and action-led story.

3. Establish project goals.

Before any writing gets done, you’ll want to ensure that you sit down with all of the project collaborators and shareholders and set out realistic and agreed project goals.

This sit-down needs to cover the following project aspects.

4. Define Your Target Audience

Your book is going to look different depending on your target audience. Is this an in-house book for employees only? Or do you intend to self-publish and reach a wider audience?

Narrow your target audience down and specify who the book’s target audience is. This will then drive the book’s writing style and content, as well as the most suitable format it should take.

5. Be Realistic About Your Book Completion Date

We generally recommend that clients allow for at least six months to a year for the book’s publication.

Ghostwriters are certainly known for reaching impressive deadlines but take it from us: A book is worth spending the time and effort.

The last thing you want is for the book not to turn out as planned because a deadline seemed more important than the book itself.

Here’s what Flori Meeks, one of our top corporate history book ghostwriters has to say about the length of time and what is needed from clients when working together:

“Project length depends on how frequently the client can meet with us, how long those meetings are, how many additions and revisions the client wants, how many people we are asked to interview in addition to the client, and how much research we need to do to complement the client’s interviews.

A project might take even more time if the company’s journey involves a lot of complex details. I worked with one client who told us about technological advances that impacted his company, a couple of company inventions, the purchase of other businesses in different industries, management and franchise challenges, and the day-to-day challenges of working with their children. Getting all of those details right–and making sure they’re understandable and interesting to readers–can add time to the writing process.”

If you do have a shorter deadline that can’t be moved, then choose to narrow down the parts of the company’s history you’re going to focus on. Short-form company histories are a thing, too. It all depends on what you need. When you find the right team to work with, they’ll make sure your vision comes to life.

6. Visualize the finished product.

Despite what you may have heard, there is no cookie-cutter approach that must be followed when writing a company history book. In fact, some of the most popular books out there have taken advantage of newer digitized formats.

Check out these 10 different book examples from The Writers For Hire, ranging from family-centered memoirs to self-help entrepreneurial reads that offer crucial advice for start-ups.

Maybe you’d prefer to have your company history laid out on your website. Or perhaps you’re a family business with a rich and century-long family tree that you’d love to investigate.

Consider exactly how your book needs to stand out and represent your company in the best way possible. And make sure to pinpoint some book examples that inspire you.

Allow yourself to get creative and excited about the finished product. High-vis photography from different generations, personal touches such as recipes from farm-run businesses, or invaluable advice from some of the top leaders in an industry are only some of the elements that take a company history book to the next level.

7. Agree to a review process.

With the book’s deadline in mind, agree on who exactly is going to be responsible for allocating feedback on the book’s progress, and how often this review process is going to occur.

Consider project goal posts, set clear and realistic deadlines as to when feedback needs to be received, and ensure that everyone who needs to see a draft has had a chance to review it before moving on to the next section.

8. Gather book materials.

If the book meeting goes according to plan, you’ll leave feeling fired up and ready to get cracking. Take advantage of this momentum! Start gathering all of the critical data that you need to include in your company history book.

Begin by tracking the many different ways your company has told its story in the past: Think of press releases, in-house newsletters, photographs, and recorded interviews. Speak to the old-timers that have been there since the beginning and figure out which department has access to archived and historical data.

Ask for help from the marketing team and track down those who remember the company’s journey in detail. Once you’ve mapped out how much content is available, as well as who can give you first-hand accounts of the company’s history, it’s time to start recording the information in the form of an interview.

9. Conduct interviews.

First-hand accounts are always a popular media form. The more personal you can make the company’s story, the better. But don’t just stop at the higher-up execs and leaders.

Think outside the box and locate employees who have been around for an extended period of time.

Have you had the same receptionist for the past 15 years? How about the maintenance guy who has fixed more photocopiers than he can count? What about the building manager who may have helped the offices move and who progressed as the company did?

Most corporate history books focus on upper management. But don’t overlook those who have been around just as long, but in smaller roles.

The insights and reflections from employees who have been dedicated to the company for years will make your book really stand out.

Create an online schedule that you can follow and, bit by bit, arrange to meet with the people you’ve agreed to interview. Have clear-cut questions prepared but be open to allowing the subject matter experts and other interviewees to lead, focusing on making the story as understandable and relatable as possible.

A business can often get indoctrinated into explaining aspects of the company that only insiders would be able to comprehend. There may be some tweaking done to the interviews when it comes to writing them down, or you may want to hand out some guidelines for the interviewees to consider before recording.

Here’s what corporate ghostwriter Flori Meeks has to say about what makes a really great interview: 

“One of the best ways a client can help us is to make themselves accessible for detailed conversations with us. We want to hear more than the “what” and “when” of their company history; we need the “how” and “why,” too.

We want to hear their stories, including their insights on missteps.

We need details that make the information they share valuable and fascinating for readers.

When clients make time for conversations, it also gives us a better feel for their voice and personality so we can do a better job capturing it in their book.”

Never conducted an interview before? Don’t let that put you off. You don’t need a Master’s in Journalism to figure it out. But there are some core skills that ghostwriters use to make an interview a successful one — the first time around. Check out these top tips.

1. Double check recording software.

Whether it’s a Zoom conversation or you’re using a voice recording software, double and triple check your technology before conducting the interview. This is an easy mistake that first-time interviewers can fall victim to.

Right after a meaty interview with a high-level executive, the last thing you want is to realize that the record button wasn’t switched on.

Especially when conducting interviews with employees whose time is more sensitive, it is worth spending 5 to 10 minutes before the interview starts making sure that everything is set up, that the audio on the device is being recorded, and that you’ve conducted a sound recording test.

2. Pre-send interview questions.

Over the years of conducting hundreds of interviews with all different types of businesses, we have found that pre-sending interview questions can help make the interviewee feel prepared and more engaged with what’s being asked.

Emphasize to your interviewees that the conversation is going to be transcribed in written form.

The writing process is going to be a lot easier if the interview is high-quality, with less jargon and filler, and with more crucial detail. Pre-sending interview questions can be a huge time-saver, and it can help calm the nerves of anyone who feels a little audio-shy at first.

3. Source relevant examples.

If you’re still not feeling confident about conducting interviews, take a look at some business leaders who you really admire, leaders that align with your own company’s field of work and morals.

Check out some of their top-rated interviews and see what sort of questions allow them to open up and express their company’s story.

The best way to get inspiration is to see how it has been done before. Here’s 100 must-see interviews with some of the world’s most famous entrepreneurs to get you on the right track.

10. Create a company history timeline.

Now that you’ve gathered as much data and interviews as possible, not forgetting online digging and internet deep dives, it’s time to get the story structured into a chronological order.

Barbara Adams, another one of the top corporate ghostwriters at The Writers For Hire, gave us some great insight into what this process looks like:

“Let’s face it, when it comes to reading a corporate history, no one wants to feel like they’re doing an archaeological dig. An introduction followed by a decade-by-decade exploration is probably most effective. I like what I call a “modular” approach – the history in narrative form with sidebars about the company’s key (or most colorful) personalities, products, [and] achievements.

 Any way you can break up the content into snackable pieces is helpful to the reader, as is including lots of large photos. It’s also very effective to put a timeline in each chapter. That way, you can incorporate all the key activities of a year or a decade without making the reader search through the narrative for the information. I don’t mean to suggest it’s an either-or; you can use the timeline to get important dates and initiatives in front of the reader, then expand in the narrative about what happened or why it was important.”

11. Write a sample chapter.

Once you’ve gathered a ton of material and you’ve conducted key interviews, it’s time to get started on the writing process.

You don’t have to do this in chronological order of the company’s history. Start off on the section that you feel the most confident writing about.

Don’t get ahead of yourself and write 15-20 pages before anyone has had a chance to review what you’ve done.

It’s crucial that the reviewers and editors are all on the same page with how the book should be written, as well as what format and style the book is going to take.

Another important aspect of the writing phase is how to incorporate edits and revisions.

Set up a clear review process. Are you going to use Track Changes and encourage the reviewers to do the same? Or will this be an in-person review where the edit team gets together and breaks up the review into sections?

Knowing how to integrate edits and feedback is a skill in itself. If this aspect of the project seems daunting to you, consider going to a team of professionals who can take over the writing, editing, and final review process of the project.

The writing schedule should move at a pace of about one chapter a week, with the review process continuing as you originally decided. Again, if the pre-planning of this project has been executed properly, the writing process will have been scheduled according to what’s realistic, along with usual work responsibilities.

12. Don’t let your book be forgotten.

Writing a corporate history book is not for the faint-hearted. Collecting a large amount of data, as well as finding the time to write down all of the information you have required, is a big feat. Know when to reach out for professional help and choose a team of trusted ghostwriters and editors with a proven track record.

Investing in your corporate history book is something that can lead to invaluable rewards. You want to have a book that best reflects the endurance, strength, and intellectual knowledge of your company.

As Barbara Adams explained, writing a company history book should be an exciting and rewarding process:

“I’m a long-time information junkie, so any project that requires research is fascinating to me. I enjoy digging into the corporate “time capsule” — the archive of old photos, newsletters, annual reports, newspaper clippings, and so on — to understand how the company grew and changed over the decades, especially against the backdrop of what was happening in the community and the world month-to-month and year-to-year.

It’s also exciting to find out what the founders had in mind when they started the company and to see how those goals were met or exceeded. For example, when I wrote about a century-old business recently, it was interesting to see how the company’s current community relations and sustainability policies can be traced directly back to the interests of the founder. In that way, writing the history wasn’t just about delving into the past; it was also about learning how the past created the present (and the future).

Of course, the best part is putting everything into words – bringing the company to life for readers so they see what sets it apart, where its value is, why it’s a great place to work, why customers embrace it, and so on.”

Remember to keep your book’s intention in mind and consider the finished product as your main motivator. A corporate history book lasts a lifetime and is the best way to record a company’s expertise, cementing its story and legacy forever.

What You Need to Know Before Writing Your Family Business History Book

Family-run businesses have been the backbone of the American economy for decades. A business is a source of pride for countless families, a great number of which go on to become well-established corporations. Some family companies even endure the test of time as they move from generation to generation.

When businesses grow and thrive over the years and decades, they accumulate valuable experiences and stories. However, these memories may fade as time wears on. It then becomes essential to preserve the company’s history by honoring its founders and contributors.

The question is, how can current business stewards properly preserve their company’s history?

In this article, we will explore five things to know about writing a family business history book as well as effective ways of crafting a document that depicts a family-run corporation’s true nature and character.

Defining a Family Business History Book

Before defining what a family history book is, it is worth defining what it is not.

A family business history book is not a list of facts, dates, and names.

While there is certainly a place for timelines, charts, and chronology, a family history book should be about building a coherent narrative around the company’s journey and the family behind it.

When business leaders limit their family business history book to a collection of factual information, they deprive readers of the company’s essence. In other words, the formula that made the company successful gets lost along the way.

So, what exactly is a family business history book?

A family business history book is a living document. It is a testament to the company’s evolution. Therefore, the narrative must reflect the business’s transition and the contributions of those who made it possible.

Benefits of Writing a Family History Book

There are three key benefits to consider when evaluating a potential family business history book.

1. Preserving a Legacy

Undoubtedly, the biggest benefit is also the biggest motivating factor. Business leaders must consider the importance of preserving the legacy of both their family and their business. Thus, writing a family business history book ensures that generational efforts endure into the future and beyond.

2. Honoring Founders

A successful family business would not exist without courageous founders.

Indeed, a family business history book should pay homage to the founder’s valuable contributions.

Moreover, a family business history book should honor significant contributions from subsequent generations.

After all, the business would not continue to thrive without each generation’s noteworthy efforts.

3. Celebrating Achievements

A family business history book should also celebrate achievements. In particular, achievements by the company and its founders can make up the core narrative. A family history book can provide wonderful insight into the company’s overall contribution and its collaborators’ role by celebrating achievements.

Please bear in mind that effective family business history books address challenges and failure as part of the evolution process. These experiences can serve to describe worthwhile lessons that helped the company and its founders build a robust enterprise. Moreover, readers love learning about how successful leaders overcome their challenges.

Getting Started With a Family Business History Book

Getting started with a family business history book may seem like a daunting task. However, it is not. Far from it. Writing a family business history book is relatively straightforward when business leaders take the proper steps. As a result, there are five key elements to consider when writing a family business history book.

1. Plan carefully.

The first step to writing a family business history book is to collect information. Without careful planning, it may be hard to differentiate useful information. Typically, the information-gathering process yields voluminous results. Sorting the information can become a complex task.

To streamline the information collection process, family business book authors must carefully plan the approach they wish to take. This planning process includes building a narrative and establishing the main events and people throughout the company’s history.

A great technique to use is mind-mapping.

In mind-mapping, writers use a diagram to visually organize information in a hierarchy, showing relationships among pieces of the whole.

This helps narrow the focus into a single overarching theme.

Mind-mapping can be as simple or as complex as needed.

For instance, a simple mind map can provide the book’s broad outlines and main topics. More complex mind maps can delve into the specific points surrounding the book.

Generally speaking, the planning process should guide family business history authors throughout the information collection process. Careful planning enables authors to determine what information is useful to support the book’s narrative. Additionally, careful planning eliminates pursuing tangents that may do little to build the intended narrative.

2. Highlight the company’s ethos.

The planning and outlining process must highlight a crucial element: the company’s core ethos. In general, a company’s core ethos is the basis of its mission and vision statements. Therefore, a solid family business history book must reflect this core ethos.

However, authors must ensure they accurately depict the founders’ original vision for the company. The book’s narrative can then describe how the company’s mission and vision have evolved throughout time. This approach helps readers see how the company’s core values enabled it to thrive.

It is also worthwhile to demonstrate how the vision of individuals has helped shape the company’s ethos. Often, companies revolve around the founders’ original vision. For example, founders start a business looking to serve a specific type of customer. Also, founders seek to deliver value and support their communities. These motivations must jump out at readers as they navigate the company’s history.

3. Mind the details.

A common mistake is to attempt to chronicle every detail of the company’s history.

While readers would certainly appreciate detailed accounts, providing too much detail may lead to a copious amount of information.

Therefore, minding the details becomes a crucial factor in establishing the book’s overall construction.

Here are some points to ponder:

  • Will the book provide an overview of the company’s history? If so, what are the most important events the narrative will revolve around? These are the points that require the most details. Other events may not require highly detailed depictions.
  • Will the book center on a specific event? If so, the surrounding narrative should only provide context to the book’s main point. For example, a book that focuses on a specific product’s success can offer details on other events to give readers context leading up to the product launch. From there, the narrative can go into greater depth regarding the product’s creation, development, and launch.
  • Will the book focus on its founders and their role in the company? If so, details on the people must reflect their influence on events. Therefore, chronicling specific events in detail should serve to illustrate the founders’ influence.
  • Will the book’s narrative be part of a broader social or historical context? If so, details about the social and historical context must link to the company’s history. For example, a family business history book about a company surviving the Great Depression must link the company’s survival to the overall challenges businesses faced during the Great Depression.

On the whole, it is crucial to avoid providing too many inconsequential details. The aim should be to produce a sharp narrative that will keep readers turning pages. Details must, therefore, provide the right amount of information while keeping readers interested in the book’s next portion.

4. Focus on the right people.

When writing a family business history book, it is easy to focus on the founders and neglect other valuable contributors. Thus, authors must ensure they include everyone’s contributions. While founders are crucial to the narrative, other contributors, such as employees, suppliers, customers, or local government officials, may have played a significant role in the company’s success. These contributions should make up the book’s narrative whenever they are relevant.

Likewise, it is crucial to avoid listing people without reflecting on their importance to the company. Hence, it is best to avoid listing people unless their contributions have somehow influenced the company. Readers want to know why the business has been successful and the people that have made it possible.

5. Say it with pictures.

Carefully curated pictures speak volumes about a family business’s history. Pictures provide depth and substance to the book’s overall narrative. After all, it is one thing to portray events with words, but a completely different situation emerges when using imagery.

Effective use of pictures allows readers to put faces to names. It also helps readers see the company’s evolution.

For instance, a common use of pictures is to show the evolution of store locations or products. These transitions help readers grasp the thoughts and emotions behind the descriptions in the narrative.

It is also important to avoid including pictures for the sake of it.

Including random or unrelated pictures, while entertaining, may contribute little to the book’s substance.

Thus, selecting pictures based on the mind map and outline will go a long way toward conveying the right company image.

Hiring a Ghostwriter to Write a Family Business History Book

There are instances where putting pen to paper can be a considerable challenge.

For instance, business leaders may not have the time or expertise to write a full-length book. Also, organizing, cataloging, and utilizing information can prove to be a complex and time-consuming endeavor. Additionally, some folks find that writing is not their strong suit.

What can business leaders do in these situations?

This is where it pays to hire a ghostwriter.

Ghostwriters are professional scribes that can take archival information and transform it into a seamless narrative. They have the expertise and experience to transform pictures, dates, names, and stories into a carefully woven quilt of emotions, events, and accomplishments.

How can one hire the right ghostwriter?

Hiring the right ghostwriter for a family business history book depends on experience and know-how. Thus, reaching out to individual ghostwriters and ghostwriting firms is only the first step.

Business leaders must take the time to interview prospective ghostwriters and ghostwriting firms. These interviews should allow business leaders to ascertain a ghostwriter’s overall suitability for the project.

Finding the right ghostwriter may take some time. However, taking the time and effort to find the perfect ghostwriter will eventually pay off in droves. After all, the alternative to foregoing a ghostwriter is letting a family business history book project stagnate.

When projects simply stall, it can be nearly impossible to revive them. It is, therefore, essential to consider employing a ghostwriter before the writing project languishes into oblivion.

Please bear in mind that the most significant benefit of hiring a ghostwriter is the savings in time and effort.

Unless one is willing to devote the time and effort needed to produce a full-length family business history book, hiring a professional ghostwriter may be the best way to see the project to fruition.

Conclusion

Writing a family business history book is no easy task. It is a labor of love.

Indeed, producing a high-quality family business history book is about finding a balance between accurate information and a compelling narrative. Ultimately, careful planning and thoughtful information gathering make striking this balance possible.

The most important element to consider is planning. Careful planning provides organization and clarity when pursuing a family business history book project. This clarity helps sort through large amounts of information, allowing authors to find the most suitable information for the project.

Employing a professional ghostwriter is a worthwhile consideration, especially when business leaders lack the expertise, time, or experience to produce a full-length book. A professional ghostwriter can weave various information sources into a seamless tale. Thus, employing a professional ghostwriter can differentiate between a stalled project and a completed chronicle.

Lastly, a family business history book should pay homage to the people who made the business grow and thrive. It is about preserving a legacy, enabling it to endure through subsequent generations. Moreover, a lasting legacy involves handing down valuable knowledge to future generations. After all, one cannot know where they are going if they do not know from where they came.

Five Things to Know about Using Descriptive Narrative Writing in a Nonfiction Book

Conventional wisdom suggests that descriptive narrative belongs in the domain of fiction writing.

Undoubtedly, fiction writers do need to exploit descriptive narrative as much as possible. However, for nonfiction writers, utilizing descriptive narrative can provide an effective tool to draw in and engage readers.

Conventional wisdom also suggests that nonfiction writing may be boring or dry. As this article will show, nonfiction writing can be just as interesting and lively as any creative writing endeavor. The secret lies in using descriptive narrative effectively within the nonfiction domain.

Five Things to Know about Using Descriptive Narrative Writing in a Nonfiction Book

1. The Purpose of Descriptive Narrative Writing in Nonfiction Books

One might ask, “what is the purpose of using descriptive narrative writing in a nonfiction book?” To answer that question, writers must consider their readers’ experiences. This is the point where nonfiction meets descriptive narrative writing to create a singular reading experience.

Assuming that nonfiction writing cannot benefit from using descriptive narratives is short-sighted. Virtually any nonfiction topic can benefit greatly from implementing a descriptive narrative.

In particular, topics such as history, art, politics, and journalism, among many others, can use descriptive narrative writing to paint a picture in their readers’ minds.

Consequently, the descriptive narrative provides writers with an effective tool they can use to transport readers to a completely new world.

Please note that descriptive narrative writing does not entail somehow reducing the seriousness of topics. Quite the contrary, descriptive narrative writing aims to properly focus on nonfiction so that the language used helps portray material vividly. Descriptive narrative writing allows content to flourish in readers’ minds, thereby effectively fixating information.

The key to descriptive narrative writing lies in the way writers use the language to convey their message persuasively.

2. The Use of Descriptive Language in Nonfiction Books

 A common misconception about descriptive narrative writing is that writers must “create” material. While this is certainly the case in fiction writing, nonfiction writing can utilize descriptive narrative to cement factual information.

Descriptive language aims to enhance readers’ perception of the writer’s message. As a result, descriptive narratives enable writers to frame their ideas in a much more compelling way. Here are some descriptive adjectives that exemplify this proposition:

  • Charming
  • Ornate
  • Gregarious
  • Puzzled
  • Discerning

Utilizing these adjectives allows nonfiction books to transmit messages and ideas better. Consider this comparison:

  • The President addressed the nation this evening about his proposed tax reforms.
  • This evening, the discerning President addressed the puzzled nation about his much-anticipated tax reform bill.

While properly structured and even economical, the first sentence offers a bare-bones, matter-of-fact description of the President’s address.

The second sentence, in contrast, offers many more clues about the President’s personality and the state of the nation.

Moreover, the statement offers insight into public opinion regarding the tax reforms.

This example is a small sample of how simple, yet highly effective, language can make a considerable difference in capturing readers’ attention. The beauty of descriptive narrative writing lies in simplicity. There is no need for overly ornate or inflated language. The secret lies in choosing words carefully to produce the desired effect.

3. The Power of the Senses

Focusing on the senses in a nonfiction book may seem counterintuitive. After all, how can one link sensory perception to a how-to guide or a cookbook?

Ah, therein lies the secret!

Some specific nonfiction topics lend themselves perfectly to sensory perception. For instance, cookbooks are the quintessential example of how sensory perception can greatly enhance the readers’ experience. Please note that sensory experiences help fixate readers’ understanding of the topic at hand.

Consider this situation:

  • Chop three onions and toss into a frying pan until cooked.
  • Chop three crispy onions and toss into a scorching frying pan until golden brown.

In this example, both sentences refer to the same situation. However, the first sentence merely describes the steps in the cooking process. The sentence does not provide readers with parameters they can utilize to determine if they have done the recipe correctly.


Conversely, the second sentence clearly highlights how using clear sensory words can activate the readers’ imagination. Readers can use the descriptive narrative to activate a mental picture without seeing the cooking process. This approach greatly enhances the overall effectiveness of nonfiction writing.

Some may argue that using sensory expressions in a cookbook is an obvious example. But what about other types of nonfiction books? For instance, could a history book use sensory experiences to portray historical events accurately?

Absolutely!

Sensory perception is a wonderful way of providing depth to historical events and figures. Consider the famous speech King George VI delivered at the outset of World War II:

  • The King’s voice commanded every Brit to take up their arms and fight.
  • The King’s resounding voice defiantly commanded every brave Brit to take up their rightful arms and fight courageously.

Indeed, the second example attempts to deliver a sensory experience that closely resembles the true historical event. Descriptive narrative writing allows readers to immerse themselves in any nonfiction book. The purpose is to give readers colors, textures, scents, visuals, and emotions they can firmly grasp. In doing so, nonfiction books can come alive in the readers’ minds.

4. Using Figures of Speech

Figures of speech can go a long way toward helping portray meaning effectively.

Please note that figures of speech have a place in both formal and informal writing. A common mistake is to believe that using figures of speech reduces a serious topic into a trivial one.

Quite the contrary, figures of speech can put a fresh spin on what may be a dull or monotonous dialog.

Consider the following figures of speech.

Metaphor: A metaphor is a wonderful way of exemplifying concepts and ideas. Metaphors often work very well with abstract concepts to represent them accurately in the readers’ minds. For example:

The government’s economic stimulus plan cast a wide net across the economy.

In this example, “cast a wide net” helps readers latch onto the idea of an overarching economic recovery plan. This statement clearly refers to a proverbial net rather than a literal one. Consequently, readers can find this statement much more enjoyable than something like “The government created a broad stimulus plan.”

Simile: Similes are a staple of creative writing. Nevertheless, similes can also become effective tools for nonfiction books. Similes help draw a clear picture in the readers’ minds by drawing comparisons between various objects, ideas, or people.

Consider this example:

The American and British soldiers stood as tall as giants on the beaches of Normandy as they faced the relentless onslaught of German machine gun fire.

With this example, the author attempts to paint a highly detailed picture in the readers’ minds. By stating that the American and British soldiers stood “as tall as giants,” the author intends to draw a clear expectation of the soldiers’ bravery. In contrast, a statement such as “The American and British soldiers bravely faced the German resistance at Normandy” does not fairly depict the bravery of the American and British soldiers.

Analogy: An analogy, like a simile, draws comparisons between various objects to enhance comprehension. The difference between an analogy and a simile lies in the objects they compare. A simile compares two objects that have some similarities between them. An analogy compares two seemingly unrelated objects, thereby enhancing the quality of the comparison.

Here’s an example:

The court’s decision was like a stick of dynamite.

This analogy compares two completely different ideas. After all, what does a court decision have to do with a stick of dynamite? Therein lies the beauty of analogies. Readers can infer that the court decision was “explosive.” It is then up to the author to further explain why this court decision is “explosive.”

Personification: Personification consists in providing human qualities to a non-human element. This tactic aims to enhance comprehension by enabling readers to create parallels between a concept and human behavior.

Consider this situation:

The new gun control bill has the legs to go far.

In this statement, the author uses the term “has the legs to go far” to imply that the new gun control bill will eventually become a law. While the author could have said “The new gun control bill will eventually become a law,” using personification makes a dry statement become much more vivid in readers’ minds.

Hyperbole: In short, hyperbole utilizes exaggeration to drive home a point. Hyperbole is a great device, especially when authors feel strongly about a point.

Here is a great example:

Employment figures this week caused a monumental collapse on Wall Street today.

Affirming there was a “monumental collapse” is a serious statement. After all, what exactly would constitute a “monumental collapse?” Using hyperbolic statements allows authors to paint the picture they want in their readers’ minds.

5. Overdoing Descriptive Narrative Writing

Descriptive narrative writing can make nonfiction books come alive. Nonfiction content can quickly go from a “stale” monologue into a vivid two-way dialog.

However, there is the risk of overdoing descriptive narrative writing. “Overdoing” descriptive narrative writing refers to using inflated and even pompous language to adorn writing.

Please bear in mind that it is easy to get carried away. At that point, descriptive narrative writing risks becoming counterproductive as substance gets lost amid fancy language.

Consider this situation:

  • The Prime Minister’s speech was boring.
  • The Prime Minister’s speech failed to light a fire in the audience.
  • The Prime Minister’s speech resulted in a colossal failure that did not deliver on the precious pearls of wisdom sought by the audience.

These sample sentences illustrate the degrees to which writing can be effective or miss the mark.

While effective in conveying the main idea, the first sentence is simplistic. One can infer that this sentence is pedestrian in its style.

The second sentence offers a balance between descriptive narrative and concise writing. The author communicated their impression of the speech without overinflating the language.

The third sentence goes over the top. It uses too much language, causing the reader to go on a winding journey before reaching the ultimate destination.

The goal is to balance narrative with precision. Using descriptive narrative in nonfiction books is as much skill as art. Authors must find the appropriate mix of linguistic artistry and substance.

One Final Thought

What happens when the writing well comes up dry? In other words, what happens when authors, editors, and publishers want to spruce up writing but cannot seem to find a way to make it work?

Instead of struggling to spice up nonfiction books, authors, editors, and publishers can turn to a ghostwriter. Hiring a ghostwriter can become a highly useful solution when looking to incorporate descriptive narrative writing into nonfiction books. In particular, a professional ghostwriter can utilize descriptive narrative to craft the right message audiences want to hear.

How is this possible?

Professional ghostwriters are a mixed bag of skills. On the one hand, they have the skill to produce substance based on fact. On the other hand, they have the sensitivity to use the right language to evoke emotions in their audience.

There is a catch to hiring a ghostwriter, though.

Hiring a ghostwriter entails finding a person with the right mix of skills. Finding a ghostwriter that can incorporate descriptive narrative writing in a nonfiction book requires someone with experience in both fiction and nonfiction.

These ghostwriters typically have a long track record of producing a variety of works. Additionally, professional ghostwriters are willing to work with their clients until they find an appropriate voice. From there, the narrative builds itself. It is quite feasible to create an entire narrative from a single word.

Crafting a memorable narrative in a nonfiction book should not be a daunting task. It should be a labor of love. Often, it is like a master artist patiently creating an artwork until it is perfect.

5 Reasons You Should Hire a Ghostwriter to Get Your Business Book Written NOW

Writing a book is no easy task. If it were, everyone would have dozens of titles to their name. The fact is, success in writing a book requires a desire to communicate your message to the world and some good old fashioned writing skills.

Writing a company history book or a personal memoir can fulfill the desire to get a message out there in the business world.

Additionally, a business book is the ideal means for professionals to share their expertise or unique skills. As such, a business book can serve to perpetuate one’s legacy by making an enduring contribution.

Reasons for Writing a Business Book

There are plenty of reasons why a business professional would want to write a book. More often than not, writing a great business book is about communicating a message.

A business book communicates valuable lessons, knowledge, and experience to current and future generations.

Specifically, these three main reasons may compel business professionals to write a company history book or memoir:

  • To preserve a legacy
  • To be viewed as a subject matter expert
  • To communication a specific message

Preserve a Legacy

Often, memoirs, autobiographies, and company history books perpetuate a legacy. Preserving a legacy is about encapsulating a lifetime of hard work and dedication to a craft. A book can preserve a legacy for generations to come.

Become a Subject Matter Expert

Business leaders often write books to share their unique skills with the world. These skills are often the result of dedicated work and natural ability.

Nevertheless, renowned business moguls have keys that others can use to unlock their potential. As such, business leaders, as subject matter experts, write books in which their singular talents become accessible to everyone.

Ultimately, these gurus make priceless contributions that outlast their lifetime.

Communicate a Message

There are times when a writer needs to communicate something to the world. A message burns within and must get out. However, merely telling others about it is not enough. There needs to be a broader platform that can catapult the message to a wider audience. A great business book can achieve that purpose.

97% of Authors Do Not Finish Writing Their Books

Unfortunately, wonderful book ideas do not always come to fruition. In fact, it is estimated that 97% of people who start writing a book never finish it. Thus, it is worth taking a closer look at the most prevalent reasons why books stall.

Writing Skills and Expertise

Writing a book takes a combination of skills and expertise.

It is often not enough to have the good intention to write a book.

Business leaders may have a wealth of knowledge and experience. Nevertheless, they may not have the ability to translate these thoughts into text.

As a result, they become frustrated and ultimately choose to put off writing.

Time

Business professionals are busy people by definition. As such, these folks may not have the time to sit down and write a full-length book. Sadly, their company history or subject matter expertise may not make it into a tangible form.

Lack of Support

Business leaders understand the importance of support. They know that going alone is not always the best way to make things happen. As a result, they surround themselves with folks that can support them. As such, a lack of support when attempting to write a book may lead the project to stall.

5 Reasons to Consider Hiring a Ghostwriter to Write Your Business Book

The most successful business leaders and entrepreneurs know when it is time to get help. Therefore, hiring a ghostwriter can make a business book transition from a concept into reality.

Here are five ways hiring a ghostwriter can help professionals write their business books or get their message out as subject matter experts.

1. Ghostwriters have the skills and expertise.

Professional ghostwriters have the skills and expertise needed to make a business book or specific subject matter come to life.

Granted, not all ghostwriters boast the same skill set. As a result, business leaders must hire a professional ghostwriter with the right knowledge and experience.

2. Ghostwriters help save time and effort.

Busy business professionals understand how valuable time is. As such, hiring a professional ghostwriter can help them save time and effort. A ghostwriter can take on the arduous task of putting pen to paper. In turn, the business professional’s role is to ensure the right message comes through in the text.

3. Ghostwriters are consultants.

Professional ghostwriters often come from various backgrounds such as business, technology, literature, and engineering, among others.

As such, ghostwriters bring a lot more to the table than merely exceptional writing and organizational skills.

Professional ghostwriters can also provide perspective and contribute valuable knowledge, enhancing the material’s overall quality and substance.

4. Ghostwriters simplify processes.

Ghostwriters and ghostwriting agencies simplify the entire book creation process. Ghostwriters help with content creation and support the editing, design, and publishing process. In particular, ghostwriting agencies have the staff needed to streamline the entire process. Ghostwriting agencies can also help business professionals self-publish.

5. Ghostwriters provide reassurance.

Business leaders can find reassurance in knowing that a trusted ghostwriter will be with them every step of the way. As a result, a ghostwriter’s skills, experience, and dedication to work provides peace of mind.

In turn, business professionals can go about their core functions knowing their precious ideas are in good hands.

Summing Up

As you can see, writing a business book is not as easy as one may think. However, with the help of a professional ghostwriter, you can finally get your message out there and become a well-known industry leader in your field.

Overcoming Writer’s Block: 7 Great Tips for Getting Over the Hill

“It’s not the fear of writing that blocks people. It’s fear of not writing well; something quite different.” — Scott Berkun

All writers inevitably face the dreaded writer’s block phenomenon. Whether they like it or not, writers must deal with tough periods in which nothing seems to flow.

There are times when staring at a computer screen or a blank sheet of paper seems to last an eternity. However, writer’s block is not always about lacking something to say. It’s about fear. The fear of not properly articulating things.

To overcome writer’s block, it is crucial to focus on your message. Having a clear message will help make the language come out. Of course, there are times when rewrites are necessary. But that is merely a part of the process. The main point is to keep going despite the fear of “not writing well.”

Here are seven tried and true tips to overcome writer’s block. These tips will ensure readers get the message loud and clear.

7 Great Tips for Overcoming Writer’s Block

1. Create a comfortable workspace.

A comfortable workspace can mean the difference between writer’s block and turbocharged productivity.

Various factors go into creating a comfortable workspace. For instance, a cluttered, messy desk can become a distraction.

In contrast, a clear desk can boost productivity by creating a distraction-free zone.

Other key factors include room temperature, background noise, and lighting. Furnishings such as desks, chairs, and keyboards also greatly impact writer’s block.

In short, the more comfortable the workplace, the easier writing becomes.

The time of day can also become a significant factor in writer’s block.

Morning people may struggle writing at night. In contrast, a night owl may find it virtually impossible to get anything done in the morning. Therefore, finding the most comfortable time to write is pivotal in overcoming writer’s block.

2. Block distractions.

Nowadays, distractions abound.

Anything from a cluttered desk and poor room lighting, to constant incoming calls or the incessant chirping of notifications can foster writer’s block.

Highly productive writers find that getting rid of distractions enables them to focus better and get more done.

After all, getting into the so-called 'zone' requires unfettered focus.— Focus that can't be achieved with constant distractions making it hard to concentrate.

And when the mind cannot concentrate, writer’s block can easily creep in.

A 2012 article in the Harvard Business Review highlights this assertion. In essence, individuals cannot expect to be truly successful without finding their “flow.” However, achieving that state of heightened focus requires the removal of distractions. Getting into that mental state requires time to calm the mind and focus.

A great way to keep distractions at bay is the use of distraction-blocking apps. These apps temporarily mute notifications, restrict access to social media sites, or filter content (emails, calls, or messages). Removing distractions can be the single most powerful tool in fighting writer’s block.

3. Become a creature of habit.

Some of the best writers believe in the power of habit. Building consistent routines help keep the mind sharp and focused. This approach helps writers feel comfortable, thereby boosting their time in “the zone.”

Nobel Laureate John Steinbeck once noted, “In writing, habit seems to be a much stronger force than either willpower or inspiration.”

Indeed, inspiration is a key factor in effective writing. Likewise, writing requires willpower to get things done.

These two factors, however, pale in comparison to habit. Inspiration and willpower can only go so far. Consistency and routine help build great literary works one word at a time.

Great writing habits include working simultaneously, devoting a specific period, sitting at the same place, and taking scheduled breaks. While it is not necessary to work for hours on end every day, it is paramount to maximize output during productive periods, whenever they happen to be.

4. Use writing prompts.

Often, the hardest part of writing is the first word. Jotting down that first word can open the floodgates. The challenge, however, is unlocking that literary deluge. Writing prompts can serve as catalysts to unleash creativity.

Writing prompts are a common device in school. Teachers typically use a few words to introduce the topic for students to write.

For instance, prompts like 'write about the best day of your life in 300 words or less' serve to delineate what students must produce.

Similarly, professional writers can use prompts to help them guide efforts.

Legendary writer Ernest Hemingway used prompts consistently. He would narrow his focus down to a specific topic and begin writing.

Moreover, Hemingway would usually stop writing mid-sentence. This practice enabled him to pick up from where he left off.

According to personal accounts, Hemingway felt it was harder to start fresh than to complete an ongoing idea or discussion.

Indeed, writing prompts can help writers overcome writer’s block. This strategy helps reduce distraction while enabling writers to get past the roadblocks keeping them from penning their ideas.

5. Accept flaws.

The fear of writing often stems from the fear of making mistakes. In other words, writers often seek to be “perfect.” Thus, a common attitude is to produce flawless language and narrative from the start. The reality, though, is much different.

To begin with, there is no such thing as perfect writing. All writing work is subject to improvement.

Professional writers understand that editors can help them boost their use of language, find factual inaccuracies, and assist in crafting the right approach for the intended target audience.

Writers ought to accept that their work is always prone to improvement. The challenge then becomes not to take things personally.

Instead, one must keep an open mind and accept suggestions and helpful criticism.

If constructive observations mean rewriting parts of the text or furthering research, then so be it.

Ultimately, letting go of the need to be perfect can significantly boost overcoming writer’s block.

6. Read as much as possible.

Common wisdom suggests that great writers are avid readers.

This logic assumes that good writers can use others’ work to draw inspiration.

Indeed, reading can help burst through writer’s block.

Reading consistently helps writers find new ways to articulate their ideas. The aim, of course, is not to piggyback on others’ work.

Quite the contrary.

Being an avid reader aims to help writers become more attuned to how other writers approach their craft.

This practice is akin to what professional athletes do when observing other top athletes.

There is always an opportunity to learn something that can help them improve their game.

7. Avoid acknowledging it.

Acknowledging writer’s block creates an unfavorable predisposition. It signals to the writer that there’s something “wrong.”

After all, writer’s block is not a good thing.

While it may be impossible to ignore it completely, focusing on it can fix one’s mind on the block. This fixation only enhances the block itself.

There are times when the best thing a writer can do is get up and do something else.

Common practices include exercise, meditation, or merely switching to another activity.

When the mind obsesses with getting things done, the attention placed on writer’s block only increases. Therefore, a great remedy to overcome writer’s block is to forget about it. Letting go helps liberate the mind. Eventually, ideas will begin flowing again.

How can a ghostwriter help overcome writer’s block?

Unfortunately, writer’s block can delay or even derail writing projects. There are instances in which writers cannot seem to get over the hill. This seeming inability to move a project forward may cause significant frustration and disappointment.

Here is where a professional ghostwriter can make a huge impact.

A professional ghostwriter can support writers struggling with writer’s block in several ways.

First, a professional ghostwriter can assist a writer by acting as a coach.

Professional ghostwriters can share their tips and strategies for overcoming writer’s block.

The benefit of their experience can help struggling writers develop their coping strategies.

Second, professional ghostwriters can produce parts or text. For instance, a writer stuck on a particular topic can seek help producing that content. The writer can then resume working on the remainder of the project.

Third, a ghostwriter can tackle an entire project. In this approach, a writer can take a step back to catch their breath and collect their thoughts. Meanwhile, the ghostwriter can set about producing the remaining content.

In the end, enlisting the help of a professional ghostwriter can mean the difference between a project stuck in neutral and getting it off the ground once and for all.

One Final Thought…

Writers should not fear writer’s block. It is an unfortunate part of being a writer. Thus, overcoming writer’s block is about developing the right set of strategies that can facilitate dealing with writer’s block when it occurs. By having adequate strategies, writers can reduce their anxiety, and most importantly, focus on doing what they do best.

5 Reasons to Hire a Ghostwriting Agency to Produce Your Non-Fiction Book

Producing a non-fiction book is a great way to jumpstart a professional career, boost brand positioning, or raise awareness on a specific topic. A well-crafted book provides a clear image of professionalism and expertise in any given domain.

It’s no secret that writing a quality book takes time and effort. It also requires dedication to completing the task. However, there are occasions when professionals and experts lack the time or writing experience needed to take a book from scratch to publication.

That point is where a ghostwriter can help bring a writing project to fruition.

What is a ghostwriter?

Simply put, a ghostwriter is an author that produces content on someone else’s behalf.

They write material that will eventually list another person (or organization) as the author.

This process is a common practice in the business world. Companies often employ professional writers to produce their material, instead of relying on the in-house staff to do it.

Additionally, celebrities and experts often hire ghostwriters to do the bulk of their writing work for them.

Please note that ghostwriting is a legal agreement where the hiring party employs the ghostwriter to work for them. The ghostwriter retains no rights over the published work. Sole ownership belongs to the hiring party.

Why hire a ghostwriter?

In essence, hiring a ghostwriter is an investment in time and effort. Professional ghostwriters are experienced scribes that can handle significant workloads and create content in less time. In some instances, a skilled ghostwriter can produce articles in mere hours. In contrast, inexperienced writers may take days or even weeks to finish an article.

Also, experienced ghostwriters can bring various skills to the table. They may have backgrounds in specific areas such as business, economics, journalism, political science, and technology, to name a few. They can combine their adept writing skills with a specific area of knowledge.

Most importantly, ghostwriters can ensure projects actually get completed. Often, writing projects languish midway through the process. Other times, projects never fully get off the ground. A professional ghostwriter can take a project idea and shape it into a working manuscript. Ghostwriters can truly make a book project become a reality.

What is a ghostwriting agency?

A ghostwriting agency is a dedicated organization that employs multiple ghostwriters and assigns them to projects. In some instances, more than one ghostwriter may be necessary to complete a project.

Ghostwriting agencies match up writers whose experience and skill set align with a project’s requirements.

In many occasions, highly skilled ghostwriters wear several hats. These ghostwriters are able to tackle various types of projects, and write about many different industries.

Keep in mind that ghostwriting agencies are not job boards. In other words, they do not simply advertise jobs for individual projects. Instead, a professional ghostwriting agency has a streamlined process that takes a project idea all the way to a completed manuscript. Within this process, ghostwriting agencies can assign specific ghostwriters to particular projects. Moreover, some ghostwriting agencies can even help their clients throughout the entire publication process.

A professional ghostwriting agency typically has a single point of contact. This representative acts as an intermediary between clients and writers. This approach facilitates communication by coordinating interactions among all parties. This way, the ghostwriter can focus on getting the project moving. At the same time, the client can confidently voice their concerns and provide feedback.

Five Reasons to Hire a Ghostwriting Agency

Hiring a ghostwriting agency can sometimes be a better choice than hiring an individual ghostwriter. On the whole, ghostwriting agencies facilitate the entire process needed to complete your nonfiction book. Here are five reasons why hiring a ghostwriting agency can be a better alternative than hiring an individual ghostwriter.

Reason 1: A ghostwriting agency is a team of writers.

Hiring an individual ghostwriter entails finding the ideal candidate and then committing to them. While this arrangement can work out very well, it makes the hiring party vulnerable.

How so?

When the client commits to a single ghostwriter, any relationship disruption can potentially derail the entire project. If for any reason the ghostwriter is unable to continue working on the project, it can stall progress or even grind the project to a halt.

Of course, professional ghostwriters dedicate their efforts to delivering a completed project. Nevertheless, situations could arise that prevent them from moving forward. At that point, the hiring party may have to start over and search for someone else to take over.

A ghostwriting agency can proactively prevent such issues. Since a ghostwriting agency is a team of writers, other writers can pinch-hit if needed. Having access to multiple writers ensures that projects come to fruition and can reduce the time needed to produce a full manuscript.

Reason 2: A ghostwriting agency brings many skills to the table.

As skilled as they may be, individual ghostwriters can only tackle so many topics and projects at a time. After all, there are limitations on what a single person can reasonably accomplish.

In contrast, a ghostwriting agency has multiple skill sets from various writers. Most professional ghostwriting agencies have a cadre of scribes that can tackle multiple topics, often all at once.

Ghostwriting agencies are the best option when it comes to complex, multi-layered projects. For instance, projects that involve a variety of topics may exceed a single writer’s scope. A team of talented writers can provide expertise across several fields. Highly complex projects are feasible, using experienced writers to focus on specific projects. Conversely, asking a single writer to cover such wide ground may ultimately become unworkable.

Ghostwriting agencies purposely employ writers skilled in various areas. They tend to avoid hiring writers all with similar backgrounds. Successful ghostwriting agencies strive to have diverse teams. This approach allows ghostwriting agencies to serve their clientele’s needs better.

Reason 3: Ghostwriting agencies take care of the legwork.

A cursory online search reveals a number of how-to guides on recruiting, vetting, and selecting a ghostwriter. While these guides all contain sound advice, they underscore an important element: Finding the right ghostwriter takes time and hard work.

Ghostwriting agencies help save time and work by having a dedicated writing staff.

These writers are vetted professionals that have experience and credentials to back up their work.

Clients can trust that the agency has selected the best available talent.

On the flip side, some critics claim that ghostwriting agencies try to hire the cheapest available talent. They accuse agencies of lacking quality talent in their writer pool. In particular, lower-priced firms or discount ghostwriting companies may offer lesser-quality work.

Please note that there are probably less expensive alternatives available compared to an agency. However, these alternatives do not always represent a good option. After all, recruiting, vetting, and training great ghostwriters requires an investment on the ghostwriting agency’s part. In contrast, a high-profile ghostwriting agency does not necessarily mean it is better based on pricing alone. Ideally, a balance should be at the forefront. That balance can come from properly assessing a ghostwriting agency’s experience and reputation.

Thus, hiring a ghostwriting agency is about understanding where their strengths lie and what they can deliver. The best ghostwriting agencies manage to find a balance between delivering high-quality work and maintaining an appropriate price point.

Finding a reputable ghostwriting firm boils down to their track record. Obscure companies with amateurish websites should raise a number of red flags. Professional ghostwriting firms always strive to put their best foot forward. That approach begins with great references and customer reviews in addition to suitable customer service.

Ultimately, a professional ghostwriting agency can cut down a project’s overall timeframe by a significant margin. The savings on time alone can easily offset the financial cost of hiring one.

Reason 4: Ghostwriting agencies are a one-stop shop.

Hiring a freelance ghostwriter can work out very well. There are many talented writers offering high quality services. However, hiring a one-person band may prove to become more expensive than initially anticipated.

Publishing a polished finished manuscript requires several steps. First is the planning stage, which is something clients prepare before reaching out to ghostwriting agencies. Then, the ghostwriter can take care of the research and writing stages. However, polishing a manuscript requires an experienced editor. Depending on the subject matter, a specialized editor may become necessary. Therefore, the client would also have to go about hiring an appropriate editor for their project. This task would add to the time and effort the project requires for completion.

Once the editor has reviewed the manuscript, there are formatting and design tasks that must take place before the material is ready for publication. In short, hiring individual professionals for each task can become onerous in terms of time and attention to detail.

A professional ghostwriting agency can take care of most of these various steps, thereby leading to significant savings in time, effort, work, and attention to detail. By hiring a reputable ghostwriting agency, project owners can free up their time and attention for creative tasks such as planning and research.

How does a ghostwriting agency become a one-stop shop?

Professional ghostwriting agencies usually evolve over time. As ghostwriting agencies grow, they are able to expand their services. These services include editing, formatting, design, and even translation. As time goes on, ghostwriting agencies become one-stop shops that are able to facilitate all aspects of the book creation process.

Reason 5: Ghostwriting agencies put a lot on the line.

A professional ghostwriting agency has a lot on the line whenever they take on a new project.

After all, a successful track record always bodes well for a ghostwriting agency’s reputation and profitability. In the business world, reputation weighs heavily on success.

Ghostwriting agencies understand the power of word-of-mouth referrals.

They also understand that online reviews are critical to success. Hence, ghostwriting agencies will strive to do their best to complete projects and do them well.

Given the competitive nature of the ghostwriting industry, both freelance ghostwriters and ghostwriting agencies must go above and beyond to meet their clientele’s needs.

In particular, ghostwriting agencies continuously compete for the best talent available. By attracting and retaining a high level of writing talent, ghostwriting agencies can provide their clients with greater assurance of their quality, timeliness, and overall level of services.

In contrast, if a ghostwriting agency cannot deliver, it may see its business severely affected. Ghostwriting agencies have a lot riding on their reputation. Their track record will need to speak for itself. Therefore, ghostwriting agencies should strive to meet or exceed their client’s expectations.

The Bottom Line

Hiring a ghostwriting agency is an investment in time and effort. Clients can focus on their creative endeavors by essentially delegating tasks such as recruiting, hiring, vetting, and coordinating. In turn, this approach can lead to more book ideas.

The ghostwriting agency can take care of the heavy lifting. Employing a ghostwriting agency is a great alternative to trying to write your nonfiction book alone. It can be the determining factor that brings a writing project to completion.

Finding a professional ghostwriting agency can help aspiring and established authors and publishers boost their production and save time and money, while relying on a trusted business partner.

Nevertheless, finding that ideal ghostwriting agency may seem somewhat challenging. Thus, the search begins with understanding a ghostwriting agency’s cost-benefit relationship. This relationship boils down to determining the ghostwriting agency’s core strengths and how these strengths suit a client’s needs.

Additionally, getting a clear idea of a ghostwriting agency’s reputation is a crucial element in figuring out the best option. A proven track record is always the best way to go. However, up-and-coming agencies may prove to be worth taking a chance on them. After all, ghostwriting agencies have a lot riding on their performance. Therefore, clients can be certain that a reputable ghostwriting agency will do its best to meet or exceed its clientele’s needs.

Writing an Autobiography? Hire a Ghostwriter!

When you tell people about your life, do you often hear, “you should write a book!”?

Have you lived a life that inspires others, or do you have a fascinating family history that you are confident would be a bestseller?

If you are reading this, chances are you have a spark burning inside you to get your story out into the world. There may be obstacles standing in your way. Maybe it is time, money, skills, or even the frustration of how to tackle such a massive project.

You may be under the impression the public only wants to read about well-known people. The truth is you do not have to be famous to write your life story.

Helen Garrison-Williams, publishing director at 4th Estate (owned by HarperCollins), says, “Celebrities aren’t inspiring anymore, and people don’t want to be them.” 

Instead, Garrison-Williams says regular people’s autobiographies are becoming more popular. “What readers want is people who are normal and who they feel they can trust.”

Unfortunately, though, many people who want to tell their life stories never follow through. They fear that it will be too much work or that they don’t have the necessary skills.

They don’t realize that hiring a ghostwriter to co-author your life story keeps you and your voice at the epicenter of the project.

The purpose of a ghostwriter is to uncover your voice and author your story for and with you.

Ghostwriters not only have a robust understanding of narrative but also an exceptional ear for individual voices.

Their job is to recreate your story in an effective and authentic voice—your voice, a voice you may not even realize you have—and to tell that story using the skills and elements of narrative writing.

Jennifer Rizzo, a ghostwriter at The Writers For Hire, explains how autobiography ghostwriters successfully write using their client’s voice. “Ghostwriters are skilled at really listening to the way our clients speak, in order to genuinely mimic (their) style and rhythm of speech.”

Autobiography ghostwriters seamlessly bring clients’ voices to life. Rizzo says, “We use those unique inflections and ways of saying things to weave their characteristics into the story.” 

All you have to do is hand over the reins to your ghostwriter and remain available for interviews, answering questions, and periodically approving the writing throughout the project.

Reasons to Consider Hiring a Ghostwriter for Your Autobiography

Many people joke about drafting the stories of their lives. And the truth is that many really would love to produce a book to share with their families—including future generations—or to publish on a larger scale.

However, very few actually do so.

Below are some great reasons to consider hiring a ghostwriter for your autobiography.

1. You have a remarkable story but not the writing skills to publish your book.

You know that you have a story people will want to read but you also realize your dream of others reading your book will not come true without the support and expertise of a ghostwriter and editor.

2. You have written out bits and pieces but need someone to put it all together coherently.

You may have written down ideas and thoroughly enjoyed the process. You may even want to continue writing sections of your autobiography, but you know you need an experienced co-author to organize those sections into a coherent narrative.

3. You have the skills to write your autobiography, just not enough time.

Crafting your autobiography solo involves a huge time commitment and you may not have the time to make it happen. An autobiography ghostwriter is a partner who can help you efficiently move the process along.

4. You have great ideas in your head, but you need someone to help get them onto paper.

You have a clear mind movie of your autobiography, and you may have even begun drafting your story, but you know you need structural help with pacing and other elements of your story.

What is the Difference Between an Autobiography Writing Coach and a Ghostwriter?

Now that you have established the need for some outside help, you may wonder what distinguishes an autobiography writing coach from a ghostwriter.

There are several differences, ranging from the amount of writing and research each of you will do to the total cost of your project, as well as how much time you will need to invest.

Autobiography Writing Coach

An autobiography writing coach works closely with clients to establish the book’s theme, content, research, and outline. The writing coach’s primary purpose is to help clients draft their own books.

An autobiography writing coach does not complete any of the actual writing—instead, they help clients set goals and give them strategies to succeed as an author.

A coach’s services are based on the client’s needs and wants, such as research or editing. Typically, coaches are given partial credit for authoring the book.

Autobiography Ghostwriter

Like a coach, an autobiography ghostwriter also works with clients to establish themes, plan content, and create an outline—however, a ghostwriter provides additional services.

Ghostwriters serve as co-authors and interviewers as they discover and develop the clients’ stories.

Ghostwriters can complete and verify all relevant research and track down any necessary supporting documentation.

The most significant difference between a writing coach and a ghostwriter is that ghostwriters compile all the content and draft the book, generally receiving no credit. No one reading a book written by a ghostwriter will know someone else is the author; instead, the client gets full credit.

In most cases, hiring a ghostwriter will cost more than hiring a writing coach, because of the larger scale of services offered. However, if money is a deciding factor, there are ways to reduce your costs by playing a more active role in the process.

For example, supplying your own documentation and providing images may significantly reduce the costs of working with an autobiography ghostwriter.

How Hiring a Ghostwriter Can Help You Get Published

The grand finale of your autobiographical journey is getting it published. Although self-publishing is not new, the recent popularity of self-published books like “The Martian” by Andy Weir and “50 Shades of Grey” by E.L. James has given this format of publication a widespread stamp of approval.

It also offers new authors a variety of options to get their story out into the world.

Although self-publication can give authors additional options for success, it can be difficult for new authors to determine which path to take.

This is where working with a seasoned writing partner can pay off.

Not only will ghostwriters sharpen your content and weave your story into a literary work you can be proud of, but they can also help guide you through an overcrowded marketplace that is often hard to navigate.

Ghostwriters are not agents, but they can be insightful allies on your journey to publication.

“While we are not publishers ourselves, we work very closely with several independent publishing agencies,” says Rizzo when asked about ways The Writer’s For Hire can help clients get published. “We are very well versed at getting autobiographies written and formatted in a way so that they are in good shape to hand directly over to the publishers when completed.”

Working With a Ghostwriter

Hiring a ghostwriter offers a multitude of benefits. You will have someone who listens carefully to every detail of your past while learning your goals, dreams, hopes, and fears. The ghostwriter will come to understand your story in a way no one has before.

Working with a ghostwriter is a partnership with someone whose entire goal is to understand your story, from your point of view, wholly and wholeheartedly. Someone who will provide feedback to your ideas and construct your story in a way that will satisfy you and resonate with readers

“The process can take many forms, depending on the client’s needs,” Rizzo says. “Some clients know exactly what they want their autobiographies to say, but struggle to put those words to paper . . . In other cases, a client may want to take a stab at the writing themselves, and just need a ghostwriter to help smooth things out and do edits.”

Authoring a book takes time. It does not happen in a month or two. Rizzo stresses, “Writing an autobiography is a marathon, not a sprint.”

Good writing is honest writing, and ghostwriters must take time to get to know you in order to convey your story and your truth, in your own voice.

Considering Writing Your Autobiography?

Writing your life story is one of the most fulfilling projects you can ever embark upon, regardless of whether it is for yourself, your family, or a broader audience.

Hiring an autobiography ghostwriter means building a relationship based on trust and honesty.

Finding a skilled ghostwriter with whom you feel comfortable will allow you to relax and enjoy the creation of your memoir while maintaining creative control.

7 Best Practices for Creating a Memorable Company History Book

Companies are like living organisms that take on a life of their own over time.

Like living organisms, companies change and evolve. They experience success and challenges leading them through a transformative process.

Chronicling a company’s history can become an integral part of that evolutionary process.

Keeping a detailed account of a company spurs evolution by helping future generations understand the corporation’s founding principles. Moreover, a company history helps future members avoid past mistakes.

Understanding a company’s origins allows its current generation of staff members to revisit the values and principles that made the organization great.

Creating a memorable company history book is essential for preserving the company’s identity. It can also be a useful resource for guiding employees to take actions in line with the company’s culture and priorities.

7 Best Practices for Writing a Company History Book

1. Look for inspiration in other companies

A great first step for starting the journey of creating a company history is to look for inspiration in other corporations.

Many business giants have recorded their enterprise’s narrative using a variety of approaches. By reading the history of other companies, corporate executives can find a suitable format for their own company’s history book.

Consider “The Microsoft Way” by Randall E. Stross (Basic Books). In this book, the author chronicles Microsoft’s rise to corporate prominence by highlighting its singular ability to outsmart its competition. Moreover, the book underscores how Microsoft’s company culture was pivotal in taking over the technology industry.

The Microsoft Way was published in 1997 after Microsoft spent 20 years shaping the technology scene. The author divided the company’s story into four distinctive parts:

  • Beginning- How the idea for the company emerged.
  • Growth- How Microsoft gained a foothold with its customers.
  • Expansion – How Microsoft became an industry leader.
  • Monopoly- How Microsoft progressively dominated the market.

The story’s overarching theme links each historical period, underscoring Microsoft’s successful journey. Essentially every company’s history goes through specific phases or periods. The challenge is to identify the turning points in which one period ends and another begins. This structure gives readers a clear perspective on the journey a company has taken from its origin to its current market position. Along the way, the company’s values and principles serve as the common thread linking each distinctive phrase.

A good place to start is by dividing a company’s history into main segments. These segments should serve as signposts throughout the writing process. Ultimately, clearly defined turning points should demarcate the end of each phase and the beginning of the next one.

2. Showcase highs and lows

Well-written company history books showcase breakthrough achievements and important accomplishments. Often, the book revolves around an innovative product or unique service of the company. It can focus on a consistent track record of success. Each period covered in the company’s history may center on its most significant achievements.

There will undoubtedly be instances in which a company’s history includes failures, mistakes, and financial losses.

While it may be tempting to leave out these events, company history authors must consider including them. In doing so, the narrative can adequately reflect the company’s path toward its current state.

A great example is “The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon” by Brad Stone (Little, Brown, and Company). This book highlights Jeff Bezos’s journey of taking an innovative idea and transforming it into the corporate behemoth that became Amazon. Along the way, Amazon suffered setbacks and growing pains. Building a company history narrative around important milestones can lead to an engaging book readers will truly enjoy.

3. Bring back the memories

People are the most valuable resource in any company. As management guru Zig Ziglar once said, “You build a better company by building better people.” Indeed, good people make good companies. As such, people hold the keys to unlocking the formula behind a company’s history. While the public may see a company’s achievements, it is the employees who know the story behind the story. Building a company history book using people’s accounts provides significant depth to the book’s overall narrative.

Interviews are a great way of getting first-hand accounts of events and experiences. Ideally, accounts from people at various levels are collected. Of course, CEOs and top executives can provide valuable insight.

But including middle managers, clerks, factory workers, and even maintenance staff can enrich the narrative with their unique perspectives.

Nevertheless, it is important to delineate the number of accounts in the book’s narrative. Including too many stories might bloat the overall story, and the book’s main focus could get lost in the shuffle. It is best to find a sample size that is representative of every level in the company.

“McDonald’s: Behind the Arches” by John F. Love (Bantam Books) provides a unique behind-the-scenes narrative of the McDonald’s company. In particular, this book focuses on the role of employees in making McDonald’s a successful company. McDonald’s employment program targeted seniors and disabled individuals. The book provides first-hand accounts from those workers that contributed to McDonald’s success.

In the end, getting first-hand accounts from current and former staff members provides depth and perspective that readers will appreciate. Finding a representative sample size within every company level can give the narrative both substance and an interesting human element.

4. Build a company timeline

Breaking up a company history book into major phases or eras provides a systematic overview of the company’s evolution. It might be necessary to provide more specific chronological details for particular accomplishments.

Building a timeline helps smooth the transition between one achievement and another. Timelines are especially useful when a company’s history is extensive.

Organizing facts, achievements, and significant events in chronological order help readers maintain a clear picture of the company’s evolution.

Foregoing a chronological approach may result in a confusing narrative. In particular, identifying causal relationships between events and outcomes may become quite difficult to achieve. Ultimately, readers will not get the full picture surrounding the company’s overall growth and development.

“When Genius Failed: The Rise and Fall of Long-term Capital Management” by Roger Lowenstein (Random House) chronicles the rise and fall of the world’s largest hedge fund at the time. To paint an accurate picture of this company’s history, the author detailed the events leading up to the company’s catastrophic failure in painstaking chronological order. Of course, this book ends on a sour note. Nevertheless, it is a great example of how building a narrative through a clear timeline helps the reader fully comprehend how and why specific events unfolded.

5. Hire a professional ghostwriter

Often, company history books require outside help from a professional. Because of their magnitude, a professional ghostwriter is often brought in to complete these projects successfully. Their level of involvement can vary, depending on the company’s preference. For example, a company can strictly hire a ghostwriter to gather information and craft the book’s narrative. Others may be asked also to conduct interviews, do research, and then write the book.

Hiring a professional ghostwriter addresses several challenges. First, companies may lack experienced in-house writers capable of producing a high-quality company history book. Second, in-house staff may not have the time to focus on producing a company history book. Third, external pressure may be necessary to jumpstart a languishing project.

Not all ghostwriters specialize in producing company history books. Therefore, companies must take the time to find the right ghostwriter for the job. In doing so, companies can ensure that a high-quality company history book will be representative of the company’s desired image.

Companies can also save time and effort in producing their history book by hiring a professional ghostwriter. Particularly, a professional ghostwriter can take the burden off in-house staff. Tasking in-house staff with a company history project could require them to take time out from their core functions. It could even force them to work overtime to get the project off the ground.

A great example of how a professional ghostwriter can help get a project off the ground is Barbara Corcoran’s book “Shark Tales. How I Turned $1,000 into a Billion Dollar Business.” Corcoran takes readers through a chronicle of her life and her business model in this title. At first glance, the book resembles an autobiography. Nevertheless, a closer look reveals an in-depth analysis of valuable business lessons. Moreover, these lessons illustrate how a creative entrepreneur can build a successful business on a shoestring budget.

The Kevin Anderson Agency, a ghostwriting and editing firm, collaborated on this book’s production. This agency has helped hundreds of business leaders produce their company history materials. Thus, hiring a ghostwriter, or ghostwriting agency, helps take the burden off having to navigate the entire content creation and editing process. In doing so, business leaders can save considerable time and effort, allowing them to focus on reviewing the book’s narrative and content.

6. Illustrate it

 A great company history book makes use of photographs and illustrations to make it come alive. Including high-quality images can create a visually interesting book that delivers on substance.

A great rule of thumb is to use photographs to illustrate the company’s transition from one time period to another.

For example, the book can contain pictures reflecting how its storefronts changed over time. Also, an illustrated chronicle of company logos is a wonderful way to reflect a company’s evolution.

Additionally, pictures of staff working, changing equipment, or portraits of influential leaders can help readers put a face to the stories throughout the narrative.

“Drive”: Henry Ford, George Selden, and the Race to Invent the Auto Age” by Lawrence Goldstone chronicles the rise of the Ford Motor Company as it competed against its rivals. Throughout this book, illustrations such as photographs, diagrams, and blueprints show how automobile production evolved, leading to the emergence of the automobile age.

Specifically, this book’s illustrations serve to show the innovations that Henry Ford implemented in his production processes. As a result, these illustrations are enlightening, particularly to those who may not be familiar with the technology of the time. Moreover, the photos shown throughout the book help transport readers to a completely different period in history.

7. Get professional help

Hiring a ghostwriter is a crucial part of getting professional help. There may also be a need to bring on other professionals. For example, hiring a professional historian can help both a ghostwriter and a company produce a high-quality and accurate company history book.

Professional historians can help a ghostwriter frame the company’s evolution within its broader historical context.

Also, a professional historian can help fill in gaps. For instance, a professional historian can help source information and documentary evidence to support accounts in the book.

This approach provides something highly valuable to the narrative: authenticity. Indeed, having a truly authentic narrative helps paint a company history that is consistent with the company’s values and principles.

Additionally, professionals such as librarians, archivists, journalists, older citizens, and teachers can all provide additional insight into a company’s history. Finding excellent sources of information will give a company history book the depth it needs to back up its credibility and authenticity.

Final Thoughts

Producing a high-quality company history book requires a combination of information, imagination, and attention to detail. It should include baseline facts such as dates and names as well as personal accounts of the people who have driven the company’s evolution and success.

Creating a memorable narrative may require the help of external professionals, such as a professional ghostwriter. Assistance from professional historians, librarians, and archivists can also assist in gathering the information needed to make a company history book come to life.

Lastly, a company history book should reflect the values and principles that made the company a success. Breaking down the narrative into phrases that accurately reflect its highs and lows provides an authentic view of the company’s evolution. Creating a true depiction of the company’s unique journey is the ultimate goal of a company history book.

Anatomy of a Ghostwriting Contract

When you first start out as a writer, you grab gigs where and whenever you can. You don’t sweat the formalities like contracts. However, as you build your career and you start to realize the value of your time, you learn that those handshake deals start to get too risky.

It’s one thing if you’re penning a quick blurb for $50 and the client flakes out on you, but it’s a whole different ballgame when you become an established ghostwriter and you have a full slate of work on your calendar.

The best way to protect your interests and your time is to create a contract that you use for each assignment.

By creating a solid template that has all the parts you need, you can quickly modify it for each new project.

The key is to make sure you have all of the important elements of a ghostwriting contract in that template.

So, what makes up a good ghostwriting contract? Let’s take a look. 

The 6 Must-Have Sections of a Ghostwriting Contract

That quickie contract you see in the movies that’s scribbled on a napkin won’t cut it these days. The whole point of a contract is to avoid ugly situations down the road.

Don’t think of a contract as a lack of trust, but as a safeguard against unforeseen circumstances. To that end, there are six essential sections your ghostwriting contract should have. Here is the breakdown. 

1. Basic Information

This is where you lay out the most basic nuts and bolts. It’s almost a cover page. Think of things like:

  • Your name and contact information
  • The client’s name and contact information
  • Contract date
  • Project due dates for outline, first draft, and final

2. Price

There is more to consider here than just the whole project price.

You’re doing this for money, so it’s essential to nail down the specifics right away to avoid surprises later.

This section should include:

  • Price – What is the total and how is it measured? Will you be paid by the hour, by the word, or by the project?
  • Method – How will you receive your money? If you think you’ll get a quick PayPal deposit you’ll be horrified when a client says they’ll snail-mail you a check. Figure it out right away to everyone’s satisfaction.
  • Payment times – Will you get one payment when the project is done, or will you get payments at various milestones such as outline and first draft? Set these expectations right away.
  • Currency – This may seem absurd, but if you get a client that is across a border, you’ll need to establish this. If you agree to $1000, but it turns out to be Canadian dollars instead of USD, you’re looking at about $777 with the current exchange rate. That’s not a surprise you want!

3. Description of the Project

This section is where you really lay out the meat of the project itself.

What are you doing? How long should it be? What elements are required? Where will you get your information and photos? Will you be required to interview people?

Work with your client to establish these guidelines so each party knows what is expected. 

4. Ownership Agreements

Typically, most ghostwriting projects end up with the client retaining full ownership of the work.

That’s kind of how ghostwriting is defined.

The writer does the work, but the client gets the credit. It’s not such a bad deal when done right.

However, there may be some situations where the client would rather share royalties than pay an upfront cost.

Or they may be willing to put your name on the project in some form.

Think of all the possibilities. If it’s a novel or a memoir, do you get anything if someone buys the movie rights? 

Ownership is one of the trickiest parts of ghostwriting. It can easily slip into some gray areas if you don’t hammer out the details at the beginning. 

5. Revision Expectations

As a writer you’ve probably said, “Don’t worry! I’ll gladly do all the revisions needed,” and then realized that a certain client would have you doing an absurd amount of revisions because they can’t make up their mind.

Of course, as a professional writer, you need to be open to doing revisions, but it’s also well within your rights to set a limit. 

You might want to include one or two revisions as a part of the agreed-upon price and then set an hourly cost for any revisions beyond that.

This sort of clause sets expectations but also leaves it open for unforeseen situations.

6. Escape Clause

As a professional ghostwriter, you don’t want to break your contract. The last thing you need is to develop a reputation as unreliable.

However, sometimes life happens, and you realize that you simply won’t be able to complete the project. The same can be true for the person hiring you.

By including an escape clause that lays out exactly what should happen if either party needs to bail out on the project, you’re covering one of the biggest issues that can turn up.

Establish what will be owed, what happens to any work that has already been completed including rights, and solutions for any other complications that could arise from the breaking of the contract. 

A Good Contract Benefits Both Parties

If you’re worried that having a contract may scare off potential clients, you may be right. But, if a client is concerned about entering into a reasonable contract with you, do you really want that client?

It’s time to stop thinking of contracts as binding and limiting. In a way, a good contract does just the opposite. It sets the ground rules so both parties know what to expect and their own responsibilities. There’s a certain freedom in having it all laid out. 

If you want to be a ghostwriter, even part-time, do yourself a favor and draw up a contract template. It’s guaranteed to make your life easier and help you establish yourself as a reputable ghostwriter.

True Confessions of a Genealogist

“Genealogist” is a term you’ll hear from time to time in passing, but you won’t derive its definition from the context unless you’re actually paying attention when it comes up—and I never was.

I’ll admit that prior to researching and writing about genealogy and historians and the like, had I been pressed to define “genealogist” I might have guessed that it had something to do with DNA, or maybe horoscopes, or wait…is it rocks? 

There is also a possibility that at one point I might have thought that genealogy and congeniality had something to do with one another. 

Maybe for a little while there during that time I thought that genealogists were the people who teach you how to enter a room, how to politely sit and stand and exchange pleasantries, and how to make proper use of the extra silverware at fancy restaurants—that kind of thing—you know, charm school stuff. Maybe I thought that. Maybe. 

If I did in fact think that, well, I would have been wrong. But it turns out that DNA does actually come into play in genealogy, and while still far off, my first gut-guess would have been closest to the target.

To oversimplify their role, one can say that genealogists fill in the blank spaces on family tree charts.

Sure, if you know how to write and your handwriting is decently legible, you can fill in those blanks yourself.

But what if you don’t have the names?

If you wanted to know the names of your grandparent’s grandparents—on both sides of the family—how would you go about finding out? 

If you interviewed every last one of your living relatives and you didn’t get any usable results, what would you do?

In the B.G. era (before Google), if the local library wasn’t much help, you’d seemingly be left with few options. 

You could go knocking door-to-door. 

You could stop passers-by on the street. 

You could wait around hoping that eventually you’d meet someone who knew the answers to the questions you were asking. Otherwise, you were pretty much out of luck.  Or were you?

See, genealogy was around before Google. In fact, Google isn’t necessarily all that helpful to genealogists today.

The study of familial history and the charting of family trees goes back to ancient times. Nobility relied on the upkeep of their pedigrees to maintain their claims to property and power. They also used genealogy to calculate the odds that a female marriage prospect would produce male heirs.

Some examples of family trees even purport to connect all the way back to Adam and Eve.

Confucius’ family tree is over 2,500 years old. It’s maintained to this day, and it’s ranked by “The Guinness Book of World Records” as the largest family tree in existence (I googled that).

But if genealogy differs from most other forms of modern, everyday kinds of research in that it doesn’t rely as much on digital sources, how do genealogists do what they do?

Turns out it’s a pretty complicated business. Maybe that’s why genealogy is an entire field of study in itself.

I needed to know more.

For answers, I reached out to Jennifer Rizzo, a Denver-based genealogist with The Writers For Hire.

First off, I wanted to learn how one ends up in genealogy. As someone so far removed from the subject that I might have once confused it with poise and manners training, I asked Ms. Rizzo about what first sparked her interest in the practice.

“Growing up,” she replied, “I was told stories about my own ancestors, and the trials and tribulations that they faced. I always found it fascinating to think about how difficult it must have been for them to leave their entire lives behind, and journey across the ocean to a new life full of uncertainties. Discovering more about them really sparked my passion for genealogical research.”

Jennifer’s online bio states that she studied Spanish at the University of Guadalajara in Guadalajara, Mexico, and that she holds a certification for International Tour Management through the International Guide Academy. 

Absent from her bio, however, is any mention of genealogical studies in an official capacity, and it got me thinking: 

I went to college; did I ever see Genealogy listed as a major? 

Is there some kind of certification or licensing process involved? 

How does one become a bona-fide genealogist?

Jennifer laid out her story for me:

“The way I got into Genealogy was a bit unconventional. Like most professional
genealogists, my journey started out as a personal hobby and passion. However, in
addition to my background with Spanish and Tour Management, I also worked in the
medical field for many years. During that time, I was tasked with doing in-depth
research into medical records and Social Security law.

Those fine-tuned research skills, combined with my knack for languages, passion for history, and travel/tour management education, proved to be the perfect set of skills for transferring into Genealogy.”

According to Jennifer, to be a Genealogist, it does not require a formal education or degree.

“That being said,” she continued, “for anyone wanting to work as a genealogist in a professional capacity, I highly recommend taking classes and attending seminars or workshops. There’s a lot you can learn from trial and error, but there are also really valuable skills that come from studying under more experienced genealogists. I personally have taken many classes and seminars under the Association of Professional Genealogists, as well as through Ancestry, the National Genealogical Society, and RootsTech.”

I told Ms. Rizzo about how I once conducted a practically fruitless search into my own family’s history—all I really found was a death record for my grandfather from 1984. 

I asked her if a professional genealogist could really find out much more about him, being that he emigrated from Hungary and died before the age of the internet. 

Her answer definitely reinvigorated my hope that I could one day fill out much more of my family’s story:

“A professional genealogist could likely find the ship manifest that shows his arrival, as well as his immigration papers. They could also probably find information on what kind of job he held when he was in Hungary, exactly where in Hungary he lived, and the names and ages of the people he immigrated with. Depending on what kind of information you are interested in, a professional genealogist could also find census records tracking where he lived in the United States, what kind of job he had, whether he was a renter or home owner, and even the value of his estate. Honestly, there are likely a vast number of things that a professional could tell you about your grandfather.”

I wanted to learn more about the actual process a genealogist goes through when working a case. I asked Ms. Rizzo to describe the first steps she takes when approaching a new client:

“The first thing I do is have my clients give me all of the information that they know. This could be anything from names and dates of birth to family stories that they’ve heard over the years. That information gives me a good starting place and helps me to identify which areas need the most attention first.”

When taking on a client and beginning the search into their family’s history, are there any initial indicators that their case will be a particularly difficult one?

What factors make one family harder to research than another?

How do you get around those obstacles?

“If adoptions or name changes are involved, I always know that those cases will likely be more of a challenge. For the most part, though, it’s hard to know how easy or how difficult one’s family history will be to trace until I really get into it and see what resources are readily available.”

Have you ever found the biological parents of an adopted child?

“I have never actively tried to find biological parents of an adopted child but would
definitely be up for the challenge!”

Is that kind of search even in a genealogist’s wheelhouse?

“Adoption records are tricky. Different states have different laws about providing information on birth parents. There are definitely times when a genealogist can help with that kind of search, though. Genealogists are skilled at taking little clues from many different places and combining them to put the puzzle together. While a state may only release an original birth certificate that excludes the biological parents’ information, a professional genealogist will likely be able to use the information in that certificate to find other clues.”

When you come to a dead end in your research, how do you know it’s the end of the
road? Where do you check for more info? When do you finally give up?

“Genealogy is not an exact science, and there is no distinct ‘end of the road.’ What information you can find really depends on how much time and resources you are able and willing to invest in your research. If I am searching for one specific record and find that it’s impossible to locate, I always try to find another way to get the information that
the record contained.”

Can you tell me about a time that you encountered and subsequently overcame a
brick wall in your research? How did you beat it?

“There have been times when I have tried to locate a client’s family member on a
particular census, but they were not coming up in any searches. In one particular case, I used the census records from the years before and after to make a guess as to where
they would have been living. Then, using the names and ages of the family members, I
did a page-by-page search of the census in that town. It turned out that they were
actually on the record, but that the handwriting on the original record was hard to read,
so whoever transcribed them into digital format entered the wrong last name.”

“There was another case in which the spelling of the family’s last name was changed
shortly after they immigrated to the United States. So, when searching for their
immigration records, they couldn’t be found under the current spelling. In that case, I
took the information that I knew about the family and was able to locate a ship manifest
from when the family arrived. From there, I could find their immigration papers showing
the original spelling.”

What kind of little-known research avenues are out there?

“There are a lot of avenues that can be used to find information. It’s really a matter of taking the few things you know to be true and plugging them into different sources to try to find what you’re looking for.”

Have you ever discovered anything embarrassing, shameful, or shocking while
researching a family’s history?

“History is full of all kinds of embarrassing and ugly things. So, when you’re digging into
a family’s past, it’s inevitable that there will be at least a few unpleasant discoveries. I
have found all sorts of things in my research: family members with illegitimate children,
people who spent time in the state asylum, slave owners, Nazis, murderers…the list
goes on.”

Is there ever an instance where a genealogist would choose to not share a discovery with their client?

“I try to be as honest as possible with my clients, and let them know about
everything I dig up. There have been times when a client has voiced that they don’t
want to know about anything unsavory. In those cases, I just keep those things to
myself. For the most part, though, people tend to understand that no family is perfect
and that there are bound to be some unexpected discoveries.”

I asked Ms. Rizzo to tell me about her favorite genealogical research story from her own experience. 

I wanted to know if she’d had one particular success that was the most fulfilling or if any one client stood out in her memory as being her happiest customer ever.

Here’s how she responded:

“As cliché as it sounds, I have honestly enjoyed all of the different genealogy projects I’ve worked on. Discovering and putting together all of the clues of the past is such a rewarding experience. And it’s so much fun to see how excited my clients get when I find things about their ancestors that they didn’t know before. I don’t know that I can necessarily pinpoint a specific moment that has been the most fulfilling, or a client who has been the happiest. I would say that personally my most fulfilling moments are when I spend hours trying to solve a mystery, and finally come across the answers I have been looking for.

“As for my clients, I think they have all been quite happy with the results. After all, when someone hires a genealogist, it’s generally because they have a deep desire to find out about their roots. Being able to provide them with answers to the age-old question of ‘Where did I come from?’ is incredibly satisfying for everyone involved.”

If you’re interested in starting a family history project of your own, request a quote today!