Q&A: business book ghostwriting

Let’s start with two definitions. A ghostwriter is paid to write material credited to other people—copyright transfers from the ghostwriter to the author upon project completion and fees paid.

A book planning coach helps you, the author, plan and organize your book—before the writing stage. If you want to know more about the scope of my coaching service, please ask.

In this article I answer these common questions:

How does the business book ghostwriting process work?

When you engage me as your business book coach you’re hiring a partner to help you structure and articulate your ideas the way you want them presented.

The overall business book ghostwriting process can be thought of as planning, drafting, and rewriting. If the book is well planned the other two stages will be much easier to accomplish.

The drafting process can be as simple as you talk while your ghostwriter records your words and then shape them into an integrated narrative. However, this stage comes after a planning stage:

  • purpose
  • topic
  • structure
  • style.

A book that’s short on ideas and long on words is likely to bore your reader. If your ideas don’t work for a book, I’ll respectfully tell you so. The relationship between you, the author, and, me, the business book coach is of tremendous importance. Success depends upon a good fit between us and clear communication.

My initial objective is to draw out your ideas and organize the good ones into a coherent outline. In the first stages, I’ll be asking you many questions and listening to your responses.

I encourage you to structure the content of your book before starting to draft the manuscript. I call this Phase I. This preliminary process gives the book a reality test. You may decide that your content would be better communicated as an audio or video or not at all. It’s best to know this before moving on to the drafting and final editing stages.

What is the cost of hiring a business book ghostwriter?

I am no longer taking on full-length book projects. My fees for ghostwriting a simple project started at $60,000 paid in equal monthly increments throughout the life of the project. More complex projects ranged between $75,000-$85,000. You can expect these fees to be in line with any professional colleague I introduce to you.

What topics do you like and dislike?

My favorite topics for books I’ve ghostwritten are interpersonal communication, negotiation, self-help, decision-making, strategy, and leadership.

I decided not to write books for an academic- or technical readership, nor digital marketing, despite how much it is in demand right now, but I’m happy to recommend a colleague who will.

Is your business book service confidential?

Yes, confidentiality is standard practice in my business. I don’t disclose a ghostwriting-author relationship or titles I’ve ghostwritten.

Non-business book ghostwriters are sometimes given credit on the cover of the book “as told to,” “written with,” or “edited by.” However, most ghostwritten business books are confidential, and the name of the ghostwriter does not appear.

How can I read what you’ve written?

You can read my book reviews and articles.

What reading my blog won’t tell you is about collaborative effort, idea generation, storytelling, research, and structuring that goes into creating a long-form book.

Your style can be anything from formal to funny. Every book is different: every client is unique.

What’s the right length for my business book?

In this short-attention-span environment reckon125-200 pages, about 45,000-50,000 words. But the answer is it depends on what you want to achieve.

Consider who should read your book—and who shouldn’t. Thomas Piketty’s bestseller, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, runs to 696 pages.  Ken Blanchard and  M.D. Johnson Spencer’s small-format classic, The New One Minute Manager, is only 112 pages. Each of these books is aimed at a very different readership. One trend is toward shorter books for a busy audience.

What matters is to be interesting, have something of value for your reader, communicate what you have to say, and stay on point without being overly repetitive.

We live in a distracted age where attention and focus are in short supply, so if you have a lot of material, think about writing two or more books.

Will I make money from book sales?

While mass book sales are nice to have, very few business-book clients expect to strike it rich that way. Instead, they want what the book can do for themselves and their businesses, such as enhanced professional stature, brand equity, or competitive advantage. A book opens doors to new possibilities. And new opportunities are where your book can pay for itself—many times over.

How long will it take to ghostwrite my business book?

A writer’s joke goes like this: This piece of writing is long because I didn’t have time to write it shorter. Business books are getting shorter, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that they take less effort to write well. Any piece of writing can improve with revision.

Each project is different, and the timing depends upon the entry point. You may have done significant work, or you may be at the concept stage. A solid outline of your entire book will get you to your destination faster. And creating an outline is one of our first orders of business.

How long it will take depends upon what you want to say, your readership, complexity, length, and your availability. Writing your book takes time and effort. While there are no hard and fast rules, allocate approximately six-to-nine months for a 50,000-word manuscript from scratch.

Getting started

Please write a sentence or two about your forthcoming book in the contact form.

Time is always in short supply. But you can expect to significantly shorten your time investment by working with your business book ghostwriter. Every project must have a beginning. And that beginning can be at a different point along a continuum. At one end, you may have vague ideas, rough notes, or an outline; at the other, a rough draft or an almost wholly revised work. However, all projects start with a discussion.

Please contact me, and let’s talk about your business book project.