Research: What Does It Entail?

This eye-opening memoir from a Vietnam POW was written by Robert Wideman, Cara Lopez Lee and Mark Graham Communications

Recently, a Mark Graham Communications (MGC) ghostwriter faced a conundrum. The project was a family history/memoir, with the primary subject a woman in her nineties. Her family wanted to capture the woman’s stories and produce the book as a keepsake. Over the years, the woman had written personal essays and recorded numerous family stories, which provided a perfect starting point for the book. Using these materials and input from family members and the woman herself, the ghostwriter developed a robust historical memoir.

The problem? As is common with personal history, some vital details had been lost – and the woman was unsure about the specifics. One example involved a teaching job offer she’d received. The woman believed this had happened in 1948 or 1949. However, among the woman’s papers was her offer letter from the school district, dated 1951. Ensuring the correct sequence of events was vital to other aspects of the story. When asked about this, the nonagenarian couldn’t recall the exact timeline.

Our ghostwriter went to work. She contacted a research librarian in the city where the school is located. The librarian was able to dig up employee directories for the school district for the years 1947 through 1953. The only time the woman was listed as an employee was during the 1951-52 school year. This concrete detail ensured that related aspects of the story accurately fell into place.

This type of sleuthing is part of a ghostwriter’s job. Everyone has a story to tell – and, with regards to our personal stories, most of us assume we’d recall every detail. But memory is tricky, and time has a way of erasing particulars from the mind.

If you decide to work with a MGC ghostwriter to tell your story, our process generally begins with interviews. During this time, you’ll be encouraged to tell your story as you remember it – or, in the case of fiction, as you want it told. The interviews are transcribed, and from there, the ghostwriter develops an outline, followed by writing each chapter of the book. During this process, you’ll likely be asked for clarification on specifics. Often, as the client, you can provide this clarity, which the ghostwriter then weaves into the pages.

But what if you simply don’t know?

That’s okay! This is why you’re working with a professional. An experienced ghostwriter knows when to question, when to dig deeper, and which facts need to be checked.

The bottom line is, every professionally written book should be thoroughly researched. Individuals who write their own books cannot expect anyone else to do their research for them. Whether they self-publish or go with a traditional publishing house, the burden of accuracy falls to the writer.

When you work with a MGC ghostwriter, your job is to tell your story to the best of your ability – and rest assured that a professionally written book will be the end result.