Friday, January 11, 2013

Questions to Ask a Book Coach or Ghost Writer

Kim Wolterman & Bobbi Linkemer
Today I am excited to share a guest post by Bobbi Linkemer discussing things to consider when approaching a book coach or ghost writer for your book. Bobbi and I met in 2007 when I took her class on writing and publishing non-fiction books at the community college. She became my mentor as I wrote and published my first book, and she has some great advice for writers.

What to Do Before You Meet with a Book Coach or Ghostwriter
by Bobbi Linkemer

Thinking about writing a book is romantic. You have a message to convey, or you know a lot about a particular subject, or you are certain your own life story would inspire others. Maybe people have been telling you for years, "Oh, you really should write a book!"  

Perhaps you have also read that publishing a book is easier now than it has ever been, which is good news for fledgling authors. If you are really excited about writing a book, you may just sit down and begin. On the other hand, you may realize that you could use a little direction. 
So, you surf the Web, looking for a book-writing coach or ghostwriter; the search engine provides you with many choices. You explore, choose one, and call or email that person with your idea.  Everything I have just described is almost intuitive. You have an idea, you need help, you Google the kind of help you need, and you follow up.   

As a book coach and ghostwriter, I meet with many aspiring authors whom, at first, are overwhelmed by the whole writing-publishing-promoting process. Trying to grasp all the steps involved in bringing a book to fruition can be daunting. My advice: Be prepared. Before you meet (by phone, on Skype, or in person) with the book expert you have chosen, do your homework. 

Then, you can participate in a two-way conversation about your book and your goals instead of swimming around in a sea of confusion. If you invest your time and energy on the front end, you are more likely to find your first meeting not only educational but also energizing.
Here are some questions to ask yourself:  

  1. Am I really committed to this project?
It's no exaggeration to say you have to be in love with your idea, because it takes real love, not to mention a long attention span, to see this through to the end. Pick up any book you like and think about what went into creating it. 
  1. What kind of help do I need? 
Here, the answer is fairly straightforward. If you want to write your own book or have written it and want it polished and readied for print, you need an editor. If you want to write your own book but want someone to hold your hand all the way through it, you need a book coach. If you have a solid idea but don't want to write it, for whatever reason, you need a ghostwriter.
  1. Is my idea solid enough for a book?
There is a way to find out, short of writing a full-blown book proposal: Answer ten basic questions. If you give them serious thought and research the ones you don't know, you should have a pretty good idea of whether you have a viable book idea. It is better know up front than after you have written the whole thing. 
  1. Do I understand the book-writing process?
There are six steps involved in taking a book from concept to completion. Each one is important—a link in the chain. If you are unfamiliar with these steps, read a book on the subject. There are many books on Amazon and in the public library. Here is one suggestion: How to Write a Nonfiction Book: From planning to promotion in 6 simple steps.  

  1. Where am I in that process?
Once you have a sense of the six steps, you will be able to identify where you are and whether you have missed any steps along the way. Many new authors begin on the second step, which is writing. That means you haven't worked your way through planning, which is essential. Read up on planning to see why you should do it first.  

  1. How do I want to publish my book?
This question may seem premature if you are at the beginning of the process, but it is something to think about. As you may have read, you do have several options. The two main ones are traditional publishing and self-publishing. Within each, there are more choices, but it's a good idea to choose one of these alternatives for starters. 
  1. Do I have a budget? How much can I afford to spend?
If you have no idea of the costs associated with book coaching, ghostwriting, or editing, this can be a difficult area for you; but if you have a ballpark figure in mind, it will help. Suggestion: Start at $5,000, just to be on the safe side, though ghostwriting fees will be higher.  

  1. Am I willing to spend months of time marketing my book?
Writing a book is only half the equation; the other half is publishing and promotion. No matter how you publish your book—traditionally or by yourself—you are responsible for promotion. A traditional publisher may provide some marketing assistance, but ultimately, either you get the word out or your book remains a well-kept secret. 

These questions are important for your own understanding, as well as to prepare you for meeting with the expert you have selected. A book coach, ghostwriter, or editor would ask the same questions. Without advanced preparation, you probably wouldn't be able to answer them. Now, you can; and even if you don't end up working with this person, you will both gain something from your conversation.   

About Bobbi Linkemer
Bobbi Linkemer is a ghostwriter, editor, and the author of 16 books under her own name. She has been a professional writer for 40 years, a magazine editor and journalist, and a book-writing teacher. Her clients range from Fortune 100 companies to individuals who want to write books to enhance their credibility and build their businesses.

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