What is your ghostwriting process?
Clients unfamiliar with publishing often ask ghostwriters to talk about their “work process,” or how the writing will be done. What I think they’re really asking, however, is how, exactly, their thoughts will flow onto the printed page of a book or into an insightful blog post by way of the ghostwriter’s brain and typing fingers.
It’s a valid question, especially since many ghostwriting clients struggle with writing and have difficulty formulating any kind of written document.
So what do you tell prospects? How do you describe what you do?
Since this is such an important factor to potential clients, it’s essential for you to have a clearly articulated answer at-the-ready. How about taking a few minutes to break down how you do what you do, so you can describe it to someone who is not a writer?
Some of the aspects of your process that you’ll want to address and describe include:
- How do you gather information? Do you prefer to meet in-person or do you talk by phone, through video, or do you have email exchanges?
- How frequently do you schedule input sessions to get the information you need? Do you travel to sit with your client for a full week, recording every discussion? Do you schedule lengthy phone conferences? Do you send long email questionnaires for your client to complete? Do you set aside time every week, or every other week, to talk through information?
- How long are these discussions? Do you spend full days in meetings interviewing clients or are the phone interviews one hour, two hours, three hours? What kind of time should the client expect to have to invest, is what they’re really asking.
- Do you provide an agenda, or questions in advance of any input session? Or do you go where the conversation naturally takes you?
- How do you gather the information? Do you record the in-person meetings or phone calls? If so, do you transcribe them yourself or do you have a transcriptionist do the work? Or do you take copious notes by hand?
- Do you outsource any of the work? That is, do you have subcontractors involved in any aspect of the information gathering, writing, or editing? Who are they? What are their qualifications?
- Do you create an outline? Is the client involved in the outline creation? How long does that take? How many iterations do you typically go through before finalizing the outline?
- How long does it take for you to write a draft of the work? Are we talking hours, days, or weeks?
- When do you work? Are you available to the client 24/7, or do you have boundaries around work and non-work hours? How quickly do you respond to client calls or emails?
- Do you like to get feedback from the client on the current draft before proceeding to the next book chapter or blog post? Or do you prefer to wait until all the components are done and then circle back?
- Do you do any research if it is needed? Is that included in your price quote? What kinds of research can you do – interviews or internet searches?
- When is your job done? That is, at what point do you hand the completed product back to the client? After a round of edits? After two rounds? More? Do you guarantee that the client will be satisfied with your work?
- What do you do to match the client’s voice? Since ghostwriting is all about making a written piece sound like the client, how do you put yourself in their shoes in order to write like they do, or sound like they do? What are your tactics?
- When will you be paid? Are you paid in full at the start of the project? In full at the completion of the project, or according to mutually-agreed-upon milestones? Do you continue to work while you’re waiting for payment?
In nearly every conversation I’ve had with potential clients, they have asked me to describe my work process, or how I’d propose that we work together.
Being able to confidently describe how you prefer to work, as well as other approaches you have taken when clients have requested it, demonstrates to clients that not only are you an experienced ghostwriter, but that you are capable of guiding them through the entire publishing process.