Time to Write: Do you really need a ghost writer?
Twice this week, I was asked about ghost writing. It seems like an attractive option for a busy entrepreneur: talk to someone about what you know, they write it all up, and voila, you have a book. You have saved yourself a lot of time and hassle.
Unfortunately, it’s not always as simple as that. Many times, there are quite a few conversations, questions to be answered, drafts and revisions to be reviewed… generally a lot of back-and-forth that doesn’t actually save time; in fact it can take up a lot of time. And it costs a decent amount for a decent ghost writer.
Interested in articles like this?
At The Book Midwife®, we have always believed that the best person to write a book is the person with the knowledge or expertise. Certainly, there’s a place for editing and proofreading, but the expert is more than capable of doing the planning and writing at least the first draft. It doesn’t have to take many months or years, and there are some clever ways of shaving time off of the process. Here are three ways to save at least 50 hours on your book writing:
Write a great plan
I mean, a really great plan. Thinking it all through at the beginning, on your own or with the help of a book coach, means you are less likely to miss major things that need to be added later, or end up with lots of content that needs to be taken out. You want to put plenty of detail into your plan, so that you minimise the amount of thinking time later on.
I don’t think there is such a thing as too much detail, but there is a danger if you don’t have enough detail. You could end up with a book that is too short or skimpy, and your readers may think you have just a superficial knowledge of your subject. If you think you need help with this, get that help as early as possible. It could save you many hours of self-editing and re-writing.
Write in sensible time slots
Most people who have a good book plan can spend two to three hours writing before beginning to feel fatigue. People who say they are going to write for the entire day seldom do; many things can interrupt you or distract you, but you can usually ring-fence a two-hour slot and concentrate for that time.
I had a friend who set out to spend every Friday writing her book (despite my advice). Sure enough, she worked on the book most Fridays (with a few Fridays getting hijacked by other people and demands) and on those Fridays where she was supposed to work on the book for the entire day, she managed about four or five hours. The result was a first draft that took ten months to write instead of three, and she missed out on a big opportunity because her book was not ready.
Writing sessions can also be too short. Very few people can jump straight in, write for 15 or 20 minutes, and then stop. Some people can, but I feel it is best to give your writing a little time to breathe, and not have to stop just when you are getting into your flow. Look at your schedule and plan in sessions that will allow you to produce a good amount and feel good about it at the same time.
Trust yourself and your ideas
The book publishing industry is full of experts who can help with many aspects of planning, writing, editing, design, publishing, launch and marketing of your book. Be careful who you listen to, as some people will just be giving you their opinion. Scratch that – everyone will just be giving you their opinion. I have seen so many authors get disheartened, disillusioned and even derailed by well-meaning critiques, comments and ‘helpful’ advice. Usually, this happens when the author is not confident about their ideas and begins to doubt their concept and their entire book.
What you need to remember is that this is your book. You may get input and advice from others but at the end of the day, you are the one who will be using that book to build credibility and profile, and to initiate conversations. If you are going to use pure self-publishing (as opposed to cooperative publishing), you will be able to have complete control over the title, look and feel, format, content… everything. That is one of the benefits of self-publishing.
If you are confident and secure about those things, don’t let anyone imply that they know better. They don’t. Of course, if you want to explore ways of partnering with a publisher on a more collaborative basis, I’m always happy to have a chat. I’m just warning you, though: anything that comes out of my mouth is just my opinion. A professional opinion, but still just my opinion.