Ghostwriting and the Beauty of Words

This page-turning historical fiction was written by Kirk Raeber, Mario Acevedo and Mark Graham Communications.

This page-turning historical fiction was written by Kirk Raeber, Mario Acevedo and Mark Graham Communications.

If you’re reading this, you’re most likely a lover of words, much as I am. The right word or combination of words can be beautiful, emotional, inspiring, heartbreaking.  Words can also be wasteful and meaningless.  But all words count.  All words have power.  The power to move us. The power to bore us.

Too often, we may not spend as much time as we might thinking about the words we are speaking or writing.  Just allowing words to spew out of our mouths can be wasteful on many levels.  Writing just to fill the page is mostly a waste of time and energy.  Nonetheless, an obsession with words and their magic is a special thing and worth investing considerable thought and energy.

You may wonder about the correlation between ghostwriting and the beauty of words, but it is very clear to anyone who has done it at a high level.  The best ghostwriters use their own words and their own phrasing to put forth an idea or story shared with them by a client and to do so with a respect for those words, even a love of those words. The best ghostwriters do not go through the motions of bringing a client’s story or message to life, but rather commit themselves to combining the best possible words in pursuit of a special book, special article, or  whatever special thing is writing.

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Ghostwriting and the Indie Publishing Mind Set

Wow Moments

This engaging how-to business book on customer interaction is a collaboration between Mark Kent and Mark Graham Communications

The minutes you hire a ghostwriter, you proclaim yourself an entrepreneur. The minute you hire the right ghostwriter, you become both businessperson and entrepreneur. Whether you’ve chosen to write a business book to expound upon your proprietary view of the industry you’re in, a memoir to celebrate a special, meaningful part of your life, or a work of fiction to launch a life-long dream of being a novelist, you want to be just as diligent and thoughtful about the process as you would if you were opening a restaurant or starting a tech company.

Yes, of course, there is something wonderful about the art of writing and creating and putting pen to paper. And yes, you want to celebrate that totally. Know, however, that this is about a team.

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Ghostwriting a Novel is like Planting a Tree

Let’s say you have a wonderful idea for a novel. Let’s say you don’t have the time or experience necessary to bring this novel to life. How then do you find exactly the right ghostwriter or professional editor to collaborate on such an important venture?
I like to think of it as choosing the right tree for exactly the right spot in your yard. It’s a critical decision. A pear tree needs lots of sun and plenty of breathing room, for example. A sunrise maple is probably a better choice than a sugar maple for a backyard in the city.


When you’re thinking about selecting a writing partner, the more you have a handle on the plot of your story, the more you’ll be able to communicate this to the ghostwriter of your choice.

A Drop of Rain – collaboration with Heather Smith callahan and Mark Graham Communications

The better developed your cast of characters, the more memorable you and your team will be able to make them, though you also want a collaborator who stimulates your imagination when it comes to both plot and characters. That’s what a good team does. The more open you are to the voice, tone, and style of your book, the better, however, the person you are working with also has to have an open mind and respect your viewpoint.
A tree is a personal thing. You will be living with it in your backyard for many years, assuming you give it the care it deserves.
Your book is equally, if not more, personal. It will take anywhere from six months to two years to complete, and you want a partnership with your ghostwriter that thrives on the interaction this process will take.

Consider these four key elements when you’re thinking about the novel you want to author:

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Book Design and Ghostwriting

image of the Aftershock book cover

This motivational book was a collaboration with Kelli Poles and Mark Graham Communications

You may be asking yourself how there can be a connection between ghostwriting and book design.  The truth is, the two are tied together in very obvious ways. Or at least they should be.

With all of our ghostwriting clients, every conversation includes some mention of where the final product will end up.  We don’t just hand over a finished manuscript and say, “Good luck.”  We want the finished manuscript to be published just as badly as our clients do.  There are two ways to go. Indie publishing (or independent publishing; also called self-publishing) and mainstream publishing. We talk about these two vehicles all the way through the process.  Yes, this may seem on the surface to be putting the cart before the horse, but we are planning for the publishing process throughout the writing process, whether the project is a novel, biography, business book, or book of health and inspiration.

In preparation, we introduce a client to our book designer and book design team very early in the process, even as the first draft of the book is coming together.  If a client chooses to independently publish their book and take charge of the publishing process, we want them to be thinking about their book cover – such an important decision – early on and to be aware of the interior layout process. We want to be sharing the different printing and ebook options available to them. Mostly, we want them to know that they are not alone in this process.

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Great Writers Start Out as Good Writers

image of the Surreal Estate Book Cover

Surreal Estate – a captivating thriller, was a collaboration with Sugar and Mark Graham Communications

Great writers have a special way with words. They have a special way with storytelling.  They have a special way with building memorable characters.  They know drama. They understand jeopardy.  They understand their audience, and they never deceive their audience.

The thing is, great writers got that way by persevering.  Yes, they have skill, but they developed that skill by writing and writing every day. They never quit.  They push through the hard times when the creative juices might not be flowing.  They push through rejection and failure.  They let nothing come between them and their time in front of the typewriter, with their computer, or with notebook in hand.

  • Good writing takes practice.
  • Good writing takes study.
  • Good writing is about mastering a craft.
  • Great writing is when the practice and the study and the craft emerge as an art.

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Write for the Reader

God in My Closet - Sonya Black

God in My Closet is a collaboration between Sonya Black and Mark Graham Communications

It’s really very simple. Good writing is about the reader, not the writer. If your goal is to indulge yourself, you’re probably going down the wrong track.  A good writer thinks about the reader’s point of view when he or she is composing sentence to sentence. A good writer doesn’t think, “Is what I’m writing clear?” but rather, “Does this bring clarity to the reader?”

Good writing can and should explore multiple layers, whether it be the perspectives that come from different situations or different characters or overlays different dimensions to a storyline or a narrative, but it should do so for the benefit of the reader, not as a means of coming across as eccentric or egotistical.

Earnest Hemingway once said, “The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shockproof, shit detector.”  Hemingway also advocated for keeping things simple without meandering toward the simplistic. Make sure you’re not indulging some great need to use fifty-cent-words when a good ten-cent-word will do.

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Make an Impact – Inspire a Young Writer

This unique self-help book on realizing your dreams as a reality is a collaboration between Jason McKinney and Mark Graham Communications.

This unique self-help book on realizing your dreams as a reality is a collaboration between Jason McKinney and Mark Graham Communications.

If you love writing or love reading and you want to inspire a young writer to sit down with pen and paper (or more likely at the keyboard of a computer) and encourage them to express herself or himself in words, here are some tips along those lines:

  • Be there for them. We can’t encourage our young writers if we don’t engage with them. Talk up reading and writing. Make sure your young writer knows that there is no right or wrong with the words they put down on paper. Their words are unique to them, and they should know that every word that goes down on a piece of paper is a part of his or her legacy.  Show that you are interested and that will spur their confidence.
  • Give them the tools. Make sure your young writer has a safe place to express herself or himself. A journal is a great idea. A computer that they have access to both at home and at school is important in this day and age.  Make sure they are given the time, space, and freedom to put their words down and make sure they respect that time. Continue reading

The Art and Science of Ghostwriting

#5 Samaritan Court

This moving and powerful biography is a collaboration between Maria Mai-Thuy Swenka and Mark Graham Communications.

Good, strong, powerful writing is considered an art.  Of course, it is. You know great writing when you read it.  Just like you know poor writing when you read it. It is the writer who can elevate his craft to a place where the flow, tone, pace, and magic of each sentence drives the reader to want to return time and time again to the pages, hoping the prose go on forever.  Okay, that sounds a bit romantic, but you know how it is when you can’t wait to open that special book you’re reading at the end of a long work day. Or when you want to sneak in a few minutes with that special book during the day. It’s a true pleasure.

The art of ghostwriting is really no different. Whether the ghostwriter is tasked with the creation of a novel, biography, business book, or self-help book, the magic of finding the right words to express the client’s message or mystery, philosophy or world view, secret recipe or darkest secret is just as compelling and challenging as the author penning a short story or fantasy novel.

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The Beauty of Literature

Inspired by real life events, this fascinating story is a collaboration between Gretchen Wiegand, Anna McDermott and Mark Graham Communications.

Inspired by real life events, this fascinating story is a collaboration between Gretchen Wiegand, Anna McDermott and Mark Graham Communications.

Stories can be found everywhere. When a good friend of mine once said, “The power is in the story,” he was referring to everything from history to gossip, a poem or a memory, a song or a child’s laughter. Everything we do in life is the essence of story, and thus, essential to the beauty of literature.

We all know that stories pre-date language, especially that of the written variety. Stories are a means of connecting, and human beings, as solitary as our physical bodies might be, long for connection. Literature connects us. Sharing literature with others, either by writing, reciting, or recommending, is a powerful form of communication that is a brick in the bridge that brings us together.

Literature is not for the great writers alone, nor is it for passionate readers alone. Literature is expression, and we all thrive on expression. We all thrive on the wonders of going places that no one else can go. If you and I read the same passage from the Songs of Solomon, our individual journey is completely unique, and that is extraordinary.  If a high schooler writes an eight-line poem, those eight lines are unique to him or her on a planet of seven billion people. Is there anything more beautiful?

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Trust and Your Ghostwriter of Choice

An award winning biography ghostwritten with Paul Wayne by Mark Graham Communications

An award winning biography ghostwritten with Paul Wayne by Mark Graham Communications

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.

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