How does the ghostwriting process work?

There’s no mystery to the process, but there can be magic

Businesspeople are busy people, so for most, the arduous process of
writing a book begins with a phone call between ghostwriter and subject matter
expert to gauge interest, expertise and objectives. If the call is a productive
one, it leads to a consultative (preferably in person) meeting during which the
writer lays out some of the process including estimated length of time to
complete, suggested roles and functions, meeting times, fees and payment
The writer’s job is to listen closely, ask the right questions, offer
general suggestions and advice, and perhaps make specific suggestions. But the
main purpose of the consultative meeting is to ensure there’s a fit, to
establish both the writer’s and client’s expertise, to see if there’s a book to
be written, and to generate trust.
Follow-up:  the mechanics and timing are explained in
detail, a suggested theme, initial outline and suggested contents are proposed.
The writer determines the client’s primary and secondary goals in writing the
book and their estimated time commitment. A written summary is then submitted for
approval, and sample introduction pages are often submitted to establish the
correct style and tone of the book.
Once agreement is reached and formal approval is given, the writer will
email an engagement letter and contract to the client outlining rights,
responsibilities, obligations and production schedule. After the letter and/or
the contract is signed and an initial payment is received, a full interview and
creative session will be conducted to establish:
The level of sophistication of the book’s contents and theme (and target
Overall direction — possible titles, perspective, focus and contents
Research access/availability, including possible access to subject
matter experts such as economists, analysts, fixed income/ equity/ tax/ estate planning
An optimal production and interview schedule
Within two weeks of signing the contract, the writer will deliver a
table of contents, a detailed outline or a synopsis of the book, plus several
draft pages that will form the introduction to the book. When the contents and
tone and narrative voice are to the client’s satisfaction, the introduction is
refined and resubmitted, and all subsequent chapters are submitted in stages
for approval – not always chapter by chapter, because it depends on the length
of each chapter.
For a financial book, the writer will, as a natural part of the research
and writing process, suggest charts and graphs for insertion at key points.
However, the client is the expert; they decide what and which shall be used,
how they will be used and how they will be executed. Estimated completion time
is 6 to 8 months from contract signing, although that can be accelerated,
depending on client and writer schedules.
That’s the process. There’s no mystery to it. So where’s the magic? Frankly, the magic may never happen. It depends on the chemistry between business expert and writer which, if it happens, comes early in the process. But as long as the two are on the same page and are running with the same story, magic or no magic, the result will be a solid book.

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