Hiring a professional ghostwriter is challenging. You have so many options, so many writers begging for your work. But you don’t want to work with an amateur, do you? If you’re like most people, you want your story in experienced hands. You want a writer with professionalism, someone who takes pride in their writing. You want your story in the hands of a wordsmith who can make your personality, character, with all your greatness and certitude, injury and healing, vision and passion, come alive on the page. You want to be vulnerable, but you don’t want to look like a fool. You want a book that represents you. But you don’t want mere words. You want your fire, your experience, whether traumatic or victorious, to sound authentic. You want brilliant ideas to shape your story, and you want elegant writing. You can’t hire a Faulkner or a Hemmingway, but you can hire a writer who loves books, knows writing, and has the ideas you need to write a best-selling memoir. Why not?
I’m not Jesus. I can’t turn water into wine. But I can turn your words into a narrative that carries your voice. Voice is the sine qua non of all top memoirs. It’s that essential ingredient, the glue that holds all the other elements of the narrative in place. Whether your book is a personal memoir or a business memoir, voice matters.
Voice is the spirit in the machine. Voice is the undertow in the ocean breakers, compelling the swimmer into deeper waters. Voice perks our ears to someone who can’t be ignored. Or to someone who must be ignored. Voice transforms the colorless sky into a purpled twilight.
Why not expect more than mere words on a page? You can get software now to translate your words into a Word document. But a machine can’t capture your voice. It will never be able to capture your voice until it can empathize. When that happens, we’re all out of work.
So what is this voice I’m talking about?
- It’s your passion without the sentimentality.
- It’s the images in your head.
- It’s your experiences that show your character and emotions.
- It’s the unique way, the special way, you see the world.
- It’s your attitude, your convictions, your will to live.
Choose a Professional Ghostwriter who is up to the challenge of writing your life
This is why ghostwriting is so challenging. Picking the right ghostwriter who will capture more than the words that come out of your mouth takes a special talent.
Distilling a lifetime of experiences down to a meaningful narrative is one of the most difficult tasks facing a memoir writer. One writer compared writing about one’s life to distilling a field of corn down into a shot glass.
That image is useful because it implies several things: Writing your story is a process that takes time. It’s during this process of distilling down to the elemental truth of your story that your voice emerges, strong but vulnerable, honest but not foolish (unless the narrative calls for it).
I’ve spent my professional writing career listening to clients and figuring out the deeper meaning of their stories and then getting their story down on paper. One of my return clients said about my technique:
“John is an empathetic man with a fantastic ability to articulate thoughts
and emotional processes on paper.”
CEO, Chapman House Recovery, Inc.
Yes, I believe that the key to capturing and creating your literary voice is empathy. The ability to understand your emotional life and to articulate it. That’s how I do it. That’s my process. I have no reservations about calling myself a professional ghostwriter.
If you are looking for someone to help you get your story fashioned into a compelling read, give me a call. I will give you a free evaluation of your story and assessment of what I can do to help you reach your publishing goals.
Call me for a free evaluation.
My Five-Step Process for Writing a Memoir
My five-step process takes you from start to finish in eight months.
Listening and Learning
This is where I’m learning about you and your ideas. During our first month together, we talk through your story. I record every session and make a transcript that lays the foundation for the narrative. We’ll spend six to eight hours a week together–over the phone or in person.
Your story will be given the care and attention to detail that it deserves.
We all have governing scenes from our past that have deep emotional memories attached to them. These scenes may come up slowly or rise quickly through layers of memory as we talk through your story.
Often in conversing with my clients, new insights into past events are gained. These become critical to developing your story. That’s why I spend a lot of time with my clients, recording every conversation, going over the stories and conversations in detail before I begin writing.
Drafting and Revising
Your book will now come to you in chapters. Here is where you will spend time reading it, making notes on the manuscript, and returning the pages for my revision.
One concern I often hear about using a ghostwriter is “Will it sound like me?” Hopefully, it won’t, at least not the spoken you. Most of us have a spoken voice that differs from our writing voice. If you’ve never written a book before, then a written voice needs to be developed.
But it will be your words, your ideas, your humor, and your vocabulary, for the most part.
Remember, what sounds interesting in speech typically won’t sound good on paper, so there has to be some shaping of the words, the ideas, the sentences to establish a voice that’s authentic to you. This is where my interviewing skills come into play—to dig deep into the story and the meaning behind the events.
When we’re done it won’t be my voice, neither will it be the spoken you, rather the literary you. One that is true to your energy and vocabulary and personality.
Peter Petre did this with Alan Greenspan’s The Age of Turbulence. If you’ve ever heard the former Chairman of the Federal Reserve speak he’s often obtuse. His language is usually riddled with financial jargon that sounds foreign to the average listener.
Petre took his ideas and words and shaped them into extremely readable prose. You can hear Greenspan’s voice for certain, but you can understand clearly what he means even when he’s speaking about the most complex economic mechanisms.
Sometimes a voice comes through in vocabulary; sometimes in the cadence of the speech.
You can read this in Jimmy Connors’ memoir, The Outsider. When Connors played tennis he had a pugilistic flair to his game. Reading the first page of his memoir brings that same aggressive staccato energy to bear. It’s him all right behind those words. I can feel the energy in the short sentences like he’s trying to punch me in the face with them.
Voice is a complex nuance to any written work, and I work hard to find yours. It’s a combination of sentence length, vocabulary, emotion, personality, and magic. You’ll see.
A Professional Ghostwriter Knows How to Structure Your Memoir
Most memoirs are organized around a sequential series of events that move through conflict to some deeper problem, ultimately leading to some resolution. But there’s more. A memoir can also be organized around themes or both sequential events combined with themes.
Mary Karr in her famous memoir, The Liars’ Club, did this so adroitly. (Her book was not ghostwritten. If you write as beautifully as she did, you certainly don’t need me.) She organized her narrative simultaneously by themes and a sequence of events.
While she moved through her life from age five to college, each chapter is deepened emotionally by the development of her father’s drinking buddies and their penchant for telling tall tales. Hence the “Liars’ Club” of the title foreshadows the final scene where the ultimate lie unfolds.
It’s not what we’re expecting, but it has been hinted at, so we’re not surprised. The theme has been so carefully developed that we’re ready for it, and we know by now it’s not a tall tale.
During this structuring phase we’ll decide on the different narrative devices we can use to tell your story. This is part of the process of developing an outline with chapter summaries.
For instance in Drew Barrymore’s, Little Girl Lost, the writer used both first and third person point of view within each chapter. This dual narrative allowed the ghostwriter to dive into her family’s past that bore directly on Drew’s decisions and the situation in the present. This created empathy for Drew and suspense over what would become of her.
We’ll also identify the essential conflicts and the crisis of each chapter. Chapters progress through conflict that somehow changes the value (emotion or state of mind or situation) of the author. This builds interest because the reader will want to know more.
This change in value creates the character arcs every good story possesses. Changes should result from something you did or was done to you. Another way of thinking of this is that all change and growth comes through the decisions and events in the author’s life. This gives you new insights into what matters to you—a business breakthrough, professional achievement, relationships, sobriety—whatever you are striving for.
I’ll incorporate all of these elements into the outline that gives direction to writing a memoir. It will serve as a guide, not a rulebook, as the story unfolds.
Revising and Copy Editing
At last, you will receive a completed manuscript. You will read it one more time in its entirety, make comments on it, and then send it back.
After I’ve made the last round of revisions, I will send it to a copy editor. I work with a professional copy editor to smooth out the prose and to proofread the text. A pair of fresh eyes will tighten it and give it the final polish. That’s what makes it publication ready.
After the book is copyedited, I make corrections and send it back to you for a final review.
My clients are happy because I deliver a book they can be proud of, one that demands to be read. Once we have completed writing your memoir, we can consider the publishing options. Writing a memoir is difficult enough, that’s why I make the publishing options easy to understand.
While the book is in copyediting, I’ll help you sift through the publishing options. There are a wide variety of self-publishing options available and if you decide to self-publish your book, I’ll be happy to assist in evaluating your options and make a fully informed decision that works for you.
Traditional Publishing Option
If you seek to publish using a traditional publisher, you will need a professional Book Proposal. Most literary agents will not consider your book without receiving a Book Proposal. For an additional fee, I can write a Book Proposal that will get your project immediate attention.
If you are looking for a professional ghostwriter to help you write a memoir, I will assist you in every step of the submission process to literary agents.