I have acted as a ghostwriter or co-writer for successful cultural, political and business individuals, for Canadian and U.S. publishers. I’ve also worked with professionals who wish to publish books for posterity or as vehicles to attract clients and further establish their brands. In addition to books, I’ve ghostwritten articles and speeches. Typically, I’m involved in:
- Generating and shaping ideas
- Organizing the material and creating an effective structure
- Writing and editing
- With a versatile writing style, capturing the author’s voice
- Providing creative feedback
What is a ghostwriter?
A ghostwriter is the unseen hand behind many books that are produced every year, the collaborators who help authors tell their story. Co-writers do the same job, but their name appears on the book’s cover, usually as “with” the client.
What does a ghostwriter do?
The ghostwriting process is a creative collaboration. In some cases, the ghostwriter interviews a subject at length before taking those words and integrating them into cohesive chapters. In other cases, people have written some, or all, of a rough manuscript but understand they need help to bring the prose to a professional level (or may not have time to continue working on it). Either way, the goal is to capture the client’s unique voice. Clients often have supporting documentation relating to the project, which supplement the interviews. Ghostwriters almost always conduct additional research to broaden the context and enrich the material.
The ghostwriter and client may meet in-person or via phone, Zoom, Skype (etc) or email. (Although seldom used today, let’s include snail-mail on the list, shall we?) Often the process involves a combination of the above.
The client then reads the chapters and suggests changes, both for accuracy and to perfectly capture their voice on the page. Unless the book is being self-published, the editorial staff of a publishing house is also involved in the process. (In the case of self-published books, clients are wise to hire a copy editor and proofreader.)
As the word suggests, ghostwriters are meant to be invisible. Confidentiality is often requested, and is respected. (I often sign a non-disclosure agreement.) But the ghostwriting clients I’ve worked with include:
an international CEO writing a public policy book
an international authority on foreign relations for a book on world issues
a prominent entertainment industry figure’s autobiography
a psychologist and addiction specialist’s book on addiction
- a diplomat’s memoir on a challenging posting abroad
a constitutional lawyer’s book on political engagement
- an international consultant’s book on goverance and stratetic practices
an entrepreneur on strategies for business success
a consultant writing a book on strategic planning in the time of Covid-19
a survivor’s Holocaust memoir
WHY WOULD YOU WRITE A BOOK?
Here I’m referring to a nonfiction book that relates to the work that a professional person does. There are many reasons.
- Because you have something important that you want to say.
- Because your career has been significant enough that others would be interested in reading about it.
- Because you want to explain to others your extraordinary experiences or ideas on how to succeed.
- Because you want to establish — or further enhance — your reptuation as an authority in your field.
- Because you’d like to establish — or expand — your networking and speaking opportunities.
- Because you’ve done a cost-benefit analysis and understand that a book is a marketing/promotion line item.
One of my clients, John Ellis, a Chicago-based technologist and futurist, kindly agreed to let me refer to his book on this page:
The Zero Dollar Car: How the Revolution in Big Data will Change Your Life
by John Ellis
(Barlow Books, 2017)
Another client wrote to my literary agent: “Can I just say how wonderful David is. He is so easy to work with, flexible, open, and smart. Working closely with him over a 6 month period was a real pleasure for me. As you know I’ve never done something like this before, but David somehow maybe it easy and fun. You are so lucky to represent him and I hope / expect to work with him again in the future if he’ll have me.”
These two books were co-written:
Don’t Listen To Everyone With An Opinion: 20 Lessons Over 20 Years of Investing
by Wayne Deans with David Hayes
(Echo Memoirs, published April 2013)
The Passion to Skate: An Intimate View of Figure Skating
By Sandra Bezic with David Hayes
(Turner Publishing Inc./Opus Productions Inc.)
Hardcover, published October 1996