Whenever the saying, ‘a prophet is never accepted in his hometown’ is mentioned, my ghostwriting services come to mind. ((Edited in April 2021)
You see, since I started freelance writing in 2017, 90% of my clients have been strangers I meet online. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t hate my fellow Kenyans, but I loath seeing my efforts to help people tell their stories taken for granted. I’m tired of the lame excuse, ‘people already know me, no one is going waste their time reading my story.’
So when a friend, who is also a writer, asked for a quotation for non-fiction ghostwriting services, I felt compelled to write this article. My aim is to help writers like you take advantage of this sector of writing. Your work; writing for other people and letting them own all the rights of the work while you take home a fair pay. Never to tell a soul.
Who knows, you may be the right person to ghostwrite e-books for my fellow Kenyans. So, here is the process I use to coin great non-fiction e-books for my clients and get juicy reviews like this.
7 Steps Every Ghostwriter Must Use To Create A Stunning Non-Fiction E-book
When you come across a client who needs an e-book ghostwriter, don’t shy away in the name of not knowing how to go about it. This process has worked for me many times over and a few other writers I have taught. It’s your turn now to turn your love for writing into a business your will be proud of. Think of it as midwifery for birthing books.
1. Establish a Common Ground With the Client
Most people come to me armed with topics they have been meditating upon for weeks or even months. Unable to stitch together words into a book, my work is spelled out; to turn that upside down smile right side up!
Before taking a job, I ensure they understand that though I’m a non-fiction writer, I love storytelling and must incorporate it in my writing. Like I’m doing right now.
Everybody loves a good story. Call it gossip if that rocks your boat, but to my best of knowledge, showering you with philosophies won’t keep you here. Neither will it keep a reader glued into a book.
So once they buy in on storytelling, their need becomes my interest, and I sign them in. That’s the first common ground.
If you love dry jokes and believe every good book should contain such, let your client know. Better still; include a link to an article you have written as such in the proposal for the client to see. Someone out there needs a little of your madness to spice up their lives; they just don’t know how to ask for it. Show them!
Next, ask them to describe the message they need their audience to read in one sentence. The thing that has been keeping them awake all night. This should also help you identify the belief system they need portrayed in the book and taught to their target clients. Make sure they state how long the book should be, in words, number of chapters and approximate number of pages. To some client, such numbers are part of their religious beliefs. Never ignore them.
If there’s something you don’t like about what the client wants, decide if the project is for you or not and let them know.
I’m keen not to write for people whose ideologies conflict with mine by a large margin. Reason being, as the ghostwriter, I must assume the persona of the client to deliver the message as required. I become them throughout the writing period. So if the compromise is too much to bear, I let the client go. I have however written for people whose faith differs from mine. I just had to detox upon completing the project in order to reset to my default settings. But that’s a story for another day.
Also, discuss the deliverables. Does the client need you to design the book cover? What format do they want the final manuscript in? Do they need help marketing the book, and if so, for how long?
Finally, use this information to decide how much time you need to complete the book based on amount of research and creative content needed. Then tell the client.
Once of the ugliest mistake I have seen new ghostwriters make is quoting a shorter writing period to please the client. Writing a 20,000 word e-book in 2 weeks is suicidal. It denies the book the quality it deserves. However, 6 to 8 weeks is a fair deal.
2. Price it Like A Pro
Most writers use number of words per dollar to settle on price. This isn’t a blind figure. It is determined by the amount of research and creative imagination needed to come up with enticing content.
Early last year a client I met online asked me to write a book on, ‘How everyday activities improve brain performance.’ With the knowledge attained from a Neurogym’s program, ‘Winning the Game of Money‘ I coined an 8,000 word e-book that left the client thinking I was an expert in the field.
Imagine how difficult it would have been writing that book without the help of the program.
While I didn’t mind receiving $70 for the work then, today I wouldn’t charge anything less than $1 for 35 words. That allows me to take topics that I’m new to as long as I have interest in them and can access expert information in the field. Writing experience should factor too.
3. Slice It Like a Pie
If you want to thrive as a non-fiction e-book ghostwriter, ask for a down-payment. Either, ask the client to deposit half the amount into your account before you begin the job. Or, create milestones and have the client pay for each step cleared. The latter works better for most clients.
I learned the milestone process from Upwork and have onboarded non-Upwork clients there to aid in creating trust.
Don’t panic if your client still finds it difficult to trust you; they just aren’t sure of the output to should expect. Instead, make the process easier by breaking the e-book ghostwriting process into 5 stages.
Milestone 1: Creating the book outline. Hold the thought, I will explain how to do this in the fourth point.
Milestone 2: Writing the first chapter. This is the most important of all chapters you will ever write in any book. If the client doesn’t fall in love with it, neither will their audience. Picture the whole e-book as a pie and plan writing it in 3 parts. Chapter one is the first third of the pie even if the book has 20 chapters.
Milestone 3: Writing the second third of the book. Most of the time it’s half of the entire book
Milestone 4: Writing the final third of the book. This completes the first draft of the entire book ensuring that the client has the complete picture of their book in their hands. The manuscript captures the client’s message and observes the desired flow. You have just proven your ghostwriting prowess to the first level!
Milestone 5: Production of final manuscript. This takes the combined efforts of both the ghostwriter. Ensure that the book reflects what the client desires.
Share this 5-stage ghostwriting plan with the client to establish trust between both of you. Then indicate how much they should pay at each level.finewealth.me
Breaking down the total cost makes the whole project seem much cheaper than asking for the whole amount at once. Always set the milestones in such a way that progression of the project is fair to you. It knocks the worries out of your brain so you can focus on creating your best work.
Furthermore, the process eliminates chances of being mistreated by rogue clients who don’t want to pay for your hard work.
If you aren’t sure about the client’s integrity, ask them to push the job to Upwork and hire you from there. The rules there are fair though you end up with less money than you bargained for. But it is better losing 20% to Upwork than the whole amount and the script too, to a rogue client.
4. Draft the book outline
Remember the first milestone above?
Once the client is in on the 5-stage ghostwriting plan, focus on creating the book outline. It helps you define how the book will flow.
There are many templates online that can guide you in this process, but my favorite is from Scribe. It is FREE, so download your copy here before they change their mind.
Don’t shy away from filling the table provided to the best of your knowledge in a day then reviewing the content 24 hours later. When you return to the outline the following day, you will be surprised to see areas that need a little more emphasis or complete elimination.
Use the book outline to organize your thoughts while assuming your client’s shoes, soul even. Define who you are talking to, why they should listen to you, how that knowledge is important to them, and the various sections of the book.
If you feel the need to edit Scribe’s book outline to match your taste, go for it. After all you are the writer. My copy is personalized to meet my needs. But you can also use the original document as is.
Remember to share the completed book outline before proceeding with the project so your client understands the path you have chosen to deliver their message. You don’t want to write half the book just for the client to say your message differs from what they had in mind. Send the outline and ask for the payment for this stage.
5. Pour Your Ghostwriting Heart Out
When the client approves the outline and pays for it, you are set to go. Write.
Find your best creative hours to generate the creative section of the book and dedicate other hours to research.
Imagine yourself as the client, making a presentation at TED Talks about your book and the new theory you believe will change the world. Then write some more. Don’t dare hold back those creative juices when they start oozing in the name of keeping such content for you own books.
Let them flow; they belong to that particular book.
Should fear try to convince you that you will run dry if you pour all out, remember there’s more where that came from. And the only way to access it is by emptying yourself of that which shows up when your fingers begin caressing your keyboard.Some of the books I have written for myself were inspired by books I ghostwrote for my clients! Click To Tweet
6. Open Communication Lines For Feedback
Do you want to please your client?
And if fear whispers to you that you aren’t ready to submit a section you have worked on, reread it 24 hours after the penning the last word. Then submit it.
You will never know what your client thinks about the work unless you involve them. Again, you don’t want to write the first 10 chapters and have the client reject them because the tone used doesn’t represent them. Give them the opportunity to raise complains whenever they have any so you can edit the content early enough.
A client once asked me to tone down my aggression on an e-book I believed needed my ‘African Mom sarcasm’. She believed her clients were soft-spoken folks allergic to harsh words. I had to go through over 10,000 words to mellow it down. The agony!
But in the end, she loved it.
7. Pack it and Close
At the end of the project, convert the manuscript into the format required by the client before mailing it. If they have no preference, go beyond the famous DOCX format and learn how to make a Kindle, PDF or ePub version. Give them more options.
Draft2digital allows you to create the ePub version without uploading the book to the sales section. Make use of it.
If your client had asked for book cover, ensure it is ready before the last milestone. You can either design it in person, or outsource it. Whatever you do, deliver it in time.
I prefer outsourcing cover designs as soon as the book outline is complete. That way, I can present the sample covers to the client and upon approval see other dimensions of the client’s mind to aid in ghostwriting their book.
The Bittersweet Side of Ghostwriting
How would you feel if you found out that a book you ghostwrote is a best seller raking millions of dollars on Amazon after only charging $1000 for the job?
This is the biggest regret most ghostwriters suffer. The thought of what that would have meant to their bank accounts if they had asked for co-authoring rights instead of ghostwriting and walking away.
But there’s another way you can look at the whole scene. How about branding yourself as a world best author?
And though you may have signed a Non-Disclosure Agreement before writing the book vowing never to tell a soul you wrote the book, celebrate with a trusted friend upon the victory. Tell them in a few words that a book you ghostwrote emerged as a best seller without telling them which one. That way, if they are tempted to spit such facts at a party, they won’t spoil it for your clients.
Of course there are other pains in midwifing someone else’s book and letting them own all the rights while keeping your name out of sight. But if I pour them out in this article, they will break your heart and you might never ghostwrite a book in your life. So I will reserve such for yet another article.
Food For Ghostwriters
Ghostwriting is a service only offered by generous souls. If you have a problem selling great ideas and services at a price that may one day leave you feeling stupid because you charged so low, don’t dare this area.
But if you have a heart to help those who can’t chain their thoughts into a complete book, go ahead and help a soul. Just make sure to keep the price fair to both you and the client; not too low as to cripple your freelancing business, and not too high as if punishing the client for their inability to write a book. Let your talent be a tool to serve others while allowing you to profit from it.
Oh, and if you are wondering if ghostwriting is legal, don’t sweat it. Hire one here.
Happy Ghostwriting Friend!