Ghostwriting a memoir is one of my favorite projects. To date, I have written 3 book-length personal stories, with close author collaboration and feedback.
Collaborative ghostwriting can take anywhere between 6 months and 2 years. Our work together usually goes through these stages:
Background and Strategy
Over several phone calls, I get to know the author’s voice and the basic parameters of their story. I ask about the book’s timeline, major characters, crucial events, lessons learned, and the author’s publishing ambitions. I provide feedback and guidance, but mostly listen deeply to what the author wants their story to become, and help bring that to live in a detailed book outline.
I then create a project calendar and we set our call dates and my draft delivery dates. Typically, calls last between 1-2 hours at a time. I prepare questions, the author prepares their stories, maybe looks over photographs or old letters, and sometimes talks to family members about past and people.
Talk to Write
Over a series of content call, the author’s story unfolds. Often, authors stumble upon old memories that are surprising and moving. I ask follow-up questions to capture details and deep reflection. I listen with sensitivity and an eye toward the arc of the entire book, finding connections, searching for ways to foreshadow big events, and bringing characters to life in dialogue. Creating the text of the book is a combination of several things: preparation and intent, unearthed information, incisive questions, and the author’s willingness to be vulnerable in sharing their reflections–regrets, doubts, mistakes, hopes.
Feedback and Editing
The author reviews my drafted content, usually 50 pages at a time. We talk through their impressions, likes and dislikes, any inaccuracies or missing details, and the author’s change requests. Usually, authors generously allow me to provide revision input. My main goal is to ensure the writing is capturing their story in their voice.
Below is the cover of a client’s forthcoming memoir, to be self-published by Friesen Press. I provided the back cover copy and other marketing collateral.
Contact me about how we can bring your story to life.