The Ghostwriting Process

Flow Chart

I’ve come to realize that while writing is an art, I’m not an artist – I’m the owner of a ghostwriting business. For that reason, I should have processes and systems in place in my company to ensure consistency of quality and to improve my own efficiency. Do I believe that you can create a formal process for ghostwriting? Honestly, I’m a little skeptical. Yet I decided that I should explore this idea in the hopes that I can create documented processes that improve my productivity.

Buoyed by the hope of making more and working less, I’ve hired Beth Schneider of Process Prodigy for guidance. Over the next few months, she is confident she can help me document my work processes. In preparation for our work together, I started thinking about how I approach ghostwriting projects. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far for books:

–          Gather information by phone and email about the project parameters.

–          Agree on scope, information sources, schedule, payment, and final deliverable.

–          Prepare and email proposed agreement, or agree to review proposed agreement that client has prepared.

–          Modify agreement, if necessary, and sign.

–          Bill down payment.

–          Schedule first input session, either in person or by phone.

–          Request additional background information in preparation for first meeting.

–          Review provided materials.

–          Email proposed agenda prior to first call to identify key topics for discussion, including the outline.

–          Participate in phone discussion, asking questions about the book’s purpose, audience, key message, tone, style, etc. Document key points that could be chapters.

–          Organize notes from call and send to client.

–          Use notes to prepare a draft outline, which is sent to client for review. Identify sources of information needed.

–          Schedule follow-up calls, typically weekly, to further refine outline.

–          Finalize and approve outline.

–          Schedule calls to begin working on chapters, starting with the introduction.

–          Record call and send to transcriptionist immediately after.

–          Review transcript and use as basis for chapter draft, incorporating additional notes and background materials provided, as well as conducting research as needed to fill in holes.

–          Send draft chapter to client for review.

–          Schedule phone input session for next chapter.

–          Gather input and discuss state of chapter from prior week.

–          Edit chapter as needed.

That last step is then repeated multiple times, depending on how many chapters are in the book. I include up to two rounds of edits in my agreements, figuring that clients will come back right away with one round of edits and then we’ll go through the book from start to finish in one fell swoop later, which may help us see other areas that need to be addressed.

So how does my process outlined here match up with yours? How is yours different? I’d love help improving mine!

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