The Author-Ghostwriter Relationship

In Waiting on Pins and Needles, a fertility acupuncturist weaves heartwarming and heartbreaking tales of clients’ paths to motherhood. Written by Rachel Blunk, LAC. FABORN with MGC.

Recently, J.R. Moehringer wrote an article for The New Yorker about his experience ghostwriting Prince Harry’s memoir, Spare. The piece explains Moehringer’s professional history (he also ghostwrote memoirs for Andre Agassi and for Phil Knight, the founder of Nike), as well as his relationship with Prince Harry.

The article begins by relating a disagreement between the author and the ghostwriter. Moehringer is trying to dissuade Prince Harry from including a line that Moehringer feels is unnecessary. Moehringer wants to craft a scene that closes out impactfully, leaving the reader stunned at what occurred. But Prince Harry wants to include the words he spoke that actually ended the scene—words the prince was proud of himself for saying.

The two go back and forth, and eventually Moehringer understands why the words are important to Prince Harry. But just as significantly, Prince Harry understands why the words aren’t an impactful way to end the scene. Moehringer helps his author understand that memoir isn’t only about its subject (a significant event or events in the author’s life)—it’s also, and perhaps more importantly, about creating a story that engages a reading audience.

This type of situation might give many potential ghostwriting clients pause. If you hire a ghostwriter to help you tell your story, is the ghostwriter going to try to convince you that the story should be told their way? In the end, will you feel like your book is more about your ghostwriter than about you or your subject?

It’s a legitimate concern. However, we can view this scenario differently. What happened is that Moehringer, as a professional, gave Prince Harry his professional opinion. Prince Harry had an amazing story to tell, and Moehringer’s job was to help him tell it. But the ghostwriter’s job was also to ensure that the story was told in a way that the author would not have been able to tell it, had he chosen to write his book on his own.

This is the power of ghostwriting. You have an amazing story, but you know it’s not within your skillset to tell that story in the most impactful way. As an author (if you have a book ghostwritten for you, you are an author), you want readers to continue thinking about your book long after the final page is turned. You want them to rave about it to their friends and in online reviews. Word of mouth sells more books than any paid promotion ever can—which means the more readers who love your book, the more you will engage additional readers.

A talented ghostwriter will help you do exactly that. The ghostwriter will, first and foremost, listen to you. Just as Moehringer listened carefully to Prince Harry’s reasons for including the prince’s desired final line, a seasoned ghostwriter will listen to everything you have to say about your story. The ghostwriter will take detailed notes, ask questions, and thoroughly review every conversation you have. Then, as the ghostwriter crafts your story, they’ll work with you to ensure that the story is told in your voice and that key details are included. Just as importantly, the ghostwriter will make sure your story is written powerfully—in a way that only an experienced storyteller can write it.

Thinking about working with a ghostwriter is a brave step to take. If you’re considering it, please get in touch. We’d love to get to know you and pair you with one of our knowledgeable ghostwriters, who will help you tell your unique story and maximize your audience. We look forward to joining you on this journey!