Hillary Clinton didn’t write her own biography. Neither did John F. Kennedy or Malcolm X. They hired ghostwriters that they trusted. They hired ghostwriters with tremendous writing skills, yes, but also people who knew how to get the best story from their clients. It takes trust to do either of these.
It is not an easy decision, but it is worth every ounce of energy that you put into finding the right collaborator for your novel, business book, memoir, biography, or self-help book. You have to trust this person enough to share your ideas, your inner most thoughts, your opinions, and even your insecurities. Make no mistake, it is an intimate experience, also an exhilarating one. At Mark Graham Communications, we have experienced this bonding hundreds of times. You need someone with great writing skills, and you need someone you can trust to create a special working relationship and to create a special book.
To begin, do your research. Talk to people. This is, in many ways, a job interview, except that the person you’re interviewing is skilled in an area that you are not. Don’t be intimidated. Trust your instincts. Look for experience. Look for speciality. A fiction writer might very well be a terrific biographer and vice versa, but these are still different genre requiring different skill sets. Once you’ve established the potential ghostwriter’s skill level, then you have to judge the viability of the relationship you can build with this person. This is very much a feel thing, but it may also be an area where references can be helpful. Don’t be afraid to ask for them.
You need to be able to trust your ghostwriting collaborator with your story line or your book premise, and you want to be able to trust their feedback. One thing that we have found at Mark Graham Communications is that a person does not seek us out unless they are excited by their idea, and that excitement is something we tap into and nourish at every turn. If your potential ghostwriting partner doesn’t respond to your idea or tries to talk you out of it, that person is not a good fit. You have to trust your idea with this very important person, and you have to trust your ghostwriter with the emotion and passion that are driving that idea. Likewise, your ghostwriter has to trust you and has to take a personal interest in your story, your message, and your goals. Trust works both ways.