What do I look for in a fiction project?

Writing fiction is slightly different than writing non-fiction.

My rule for non-fiction still applies here; as long as the author is passionate about the material, then I’m on board.

While non-fiction involves research, the fiction equivalent is brainstorming.

Fiction books need to follow their own internal logic. On the surface, this sounds simple enough. But it’s surprising how tricky that can become in very little time.

For example; our hero is an adolescent who’s discovering he’s got some metaphysical powers. They pop up here and there, and he can’t seem to figure out why.

Cue the wise sage who will guide him in learning about these new powers, and get him started on his epic quest.

The wise sage states that his powers come with rules. In order to call down fire from above, the young man must be in relative good health, awake, and the sky cannot be blue.

Sounds simple enough, right?

But what if our boy hero is a native of some island chain in the Carribean or the South Pacific? Cloudy days are rare there.

There’s also the potential for him to use his powers at night or during storms. Not really a kink in his hero business, but one that must be observed or else the shaky rule structure will distract your reader. Because there’s nothing more frustrating than super-powers with glaring loopholes.

A tangent here; my daughter, like most little girls, discovered Frozen. She calls it “Let It Go.” It’s cute, and when you think about it, the movie really is just about that one song.

When she saw that we’d gotten it for her, she ran up and snatched the case off the entertainment center and waved it around, shouting “Let It Go! Let It Go!”

It’s safe to say I’ve seen the film one hundred times, easily.

Given my penchant for analyzing stories, I got a chance to review some of Ilsa’s “magic” and discovered some inaccuracies.

Instead of listing them here, I’ll let Honest Trailers do it. After all, they’re much more entertaining than I am.

Details Schmetails, Show me the Magic!

Now that you’ve seen that, you won’t be able to point these out next time you watch the movie. But I’ve done you a favor.

If you’re going to write a fiction story, you need to ensure that all logic you introduce adheres to rules. If you don’t, then it’ll distract your readers and take away from the overall plot. I’m not saying it’ll ruin your story, but it won’t be good for it either.

Fiction Needs to Sound Real

Writing a fictional story that’s based on real-world principles will still require that internal adherence to logic. So do yourself a favor and reread your manuscript to fact check.

As a certified ghostwriter, I’m eager to take on these projects. But if the client thinks their idea is all they need, then they’re in for a rude awakening.

That’s why I always require the author to have passion for their story. As a certified ghostwriter running a professional ghostwriting service, I would be doing my authors, and by extension their readers, a disservice if I just let every idea go.

Trust me, it’s important.

What about your fiction project? Have you created your rules?

Are there books out there where a blatant gap in the logic was ignored and made reading it impossible? Mention it in the comments!

In the meantime, get to writing!

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The Power of YOUR Story

If you haven’t read “Moneyball; The Art of Winning an Unfair Game,” by Michael Lewis, please do.

If you’re not a fan of baseball, statistics, or behavioral economics, I can understand your hesitancy. Who would want to willingly read about a poor baseball team that managed to beat the odds? And worse yet, they did it with math?

I did play baseball as a kid. I was great at tee-ball, and frankly, when the ball’s sitting on a tee, how hard is it to be bad at the game?

When I moved up to coach pitch, it got harder. Then there was the real pitching when the other team sought to fire heat at you from the mound. Most of the “fastballs” were laughable and wildly off target.

I gave up when I found out that I wasn’t naturally gifted at hitting or pitching. I was okay at catching. And then there’s the long and drawn out self-reflection I keep going through that if I’d just committed to getting better, maybe I could have been good enough to play in college.

Self-reflection aside, I have very little interest in baseball. It’s a fun sport to play, and I can put up with it on TV.

But the film adaptation got me interested in the book. And Scott Brick’s narration of the book proved to be irresistible. I’ve listened to it about twenty times now.

And why do I do it?

Well, quite frankly, it’s not about baseball.

Bad Choices

Billy Beane, the general manager of the Oakland Athletics in 2001 and the central character of the book, was a naturally gifted athlete. Michael Lewis repeatedly points out how scouts saw him as a future great, an all-star that would be up there next to Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, and Cy Young.

He never made it though.

Billy Beane turned out not to be the amazing athlete everyone thought he was destined to become.

“Whom the gods wish to destroy they first call promising.” – Cyril Connolly

Lewis uses this quote to foreshadow Beane’s career.

Instead of wallowing in the sorrow of futures unrealized, Lewis gets to work detailing how Beane’s non-career turned him into something else- an instrument to dismantle old ways.

Beane himself would explain that he did it for the money. The New York Mets enticed him with a hefty signing bonus. Despite his gut reaction to pass on it and go to college, Beane took the money. From then on he decided never to do it again.

Unfortunately, all of baseball, and some teams are sadly still geared this way, thought financial determinism was the way to build a winning team.

Billy Beane proved them wrong.

He’d made a bad choice and decided never to do it again. This governed his future decisions and what ultimately led him to find new ways to build a baseball team where money was less of a determining factor.

Major League Baseball, on the other hand, kept on making the same bad choices again and again.

That One Idea

Lewis made a compelling argument all throughout Moneyball– old behaviors need to be changed.

Then there was that smaller argument he made early in the book- if baseball teams could blow millions on failing teams, what did that mean for other industries?

It’s conceivable that other industries are run by old ideas that are costing millions, possibly billions, of dollars in inefficiencies and poor leadership. And yet no one is the wiser.

Furthermore, someone who’d been chewed up by the system could also find a way to claim a leadership spot and turn things around.

Billy Beane did just that.

It almost seems as if Major League Baseball, through its own ignorance, created the very person who would seek to dismantle it.

And that idea hit me hard.

One More Story

For those who aren’t thrilled with hearing about baseball and statistics, I hope you’d be interested, even if it’s only marginally, in comic books.

Doctor Strange was an entertaining adaptation of the comic book. I knew who the character was, but I hadn’t read the comics at all. But one night, while searching through Netflix, my wife and I decided to watch it.

The basic story is as follows; a brilliant doctor loses the use of his hands, this forces him to seek alternative medicine and he stumbles upon the mystic arts.

Along with fighting a bunch of bad guys, bending reality, and making sarcastic quips, Dr. Strange comes to understand something deeper- he’s been given a gift.

While he originally sought out the mystic arts as a way to regain the use of his hands, Strange finds that there’s a war going on. He’d like to stay out of it and just go back to being the premier doctor in his field.

The ancient one, the guide for this story, convinces him otherwise.

She explains to him how he can regain the use of his hands through the mystic arts.

But if he were to do that, the world wouldn’t be a good place.

You see, Strange could use mystic arts to make a real difference, at least according to the movie.

Therefore, Strange decides to forgo healing his hands and instead focuses on saving the world.

The Power

Both of these stories, one fiction and one non-fiction, point out how life can change. Often times the change is dramatic, traumatic, and decisive. Both Beane and Strange can’t undo what’s happened.

Instead, they resolve to make the most of it, find a new opportunity and cut a new path.

These stories have had an impact on me.

I’ve made some decisions based on the actions of the protagonists. Well, more so because of Billy Beane than Dr. Strange, but you get the idea.

Beane has irrevocably changed baseball and the way we assume it should be played. There are still those old baseball thinkers who wouldn’t change if their lives depended on it. Soon they’ll be gone and baseball can be reshaped to be a better industry. Hopefully, other industries will see this change and begin to incorporate it.

As for me, I’ve resolved to be a ghostwriter.

I have no editorial background, I didn’t go to college for it, I don’t have an extensive network of publishing contacts. Yet, I believe it’s possible.

So far I’ve been proven true. It hasn’t been an easy road though.

Just imagine if someone like me can be persuaded by a story, be it fiction or non-fiction, what could your story do?

And why aren’t you telling it?

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Murphy’s Law

Writing and publishing your book is a lengthy task.
It is also not without its share of problems.

Murphy’s Law sums it up nicely- If it can go wrong, it will go wrong, and at the worst possible moment.


There are the times when it feels as though life is conspiring to keep you from writing, publishing, or even just focusing on your book.
I say this because I’m currently dealing with a few situations that are doing a good job of keeping me from writing, let alone doing my job as a ghostwriter. At this time I time I would love to complain and point out some…let’s call them injustices… that are making things needlessly difficult. There are also a few choices I’ve made, both recent and far in the past, that are also affecting my current state.
Dwelling on these bad choices, as well as the injustices that so eagerly plague me and halt my forward progress… wouldn’t solve anything.

Complaining, though oddly comforting, has its place. Sometimes it’s okay to complain. Most of the time, it’s not. Complaining, in the end, really doesn’t help.
It does feel nice though. That little pity party that you throw yourself so you can wallow in the misery that won’t seem to leave. And neither does it seem to want to leave.
But unloading here is a pointless endeavor. I think it would also make me look unprofessional as well.

Making a Shift

My natural tendency towards complaining (aka- observe the gross injustices visited upon me for no legitimate reason) is a bad habit I’m working on changing.
With that in mind, I’ll simply point out what it is that I’m doing instead; getting up every day and reminding myself that this is temporary. Things change. Hell, if the Wright Brothers could figure out powered flight, then it’s possible I’ll be moving past these challenges in the near-future. There are also a ton more examples of people, not that different from me, who overcame their circumstances and prospered.
I’ll leave those examples for another post.
But I will point out that the reason I’m still here, and not quitting or complaining, is because there are still people out there who need help writing, editing, polishing, and publishing their stories. It’s one of the reasons why I started this ghostwriting service in the first place. Until there is undeniable proof that I’m not needed, or that no one on the face of the earth would ever work with me, I’ll keep going.

Why Do You Keep Going?

When you have those moments, when everything that can go wrong has gone wrong, and at the worst possible moment, what’s keeping you from quitting?
It doesn’t have to be some lofty ideal, some high-minded cause. It can be something simple.
While I did mention that I want to help people tell their stories, the foundation of that reason came from somewhere else- pain. The pain of losing a child and never getting to know him. After that I didn’t want to do anything. I lost the drive to be a teacher. I ended up in a funk. Stories helped me get out of that funk and stop wallowing in sorrow and self-pity.
I hope this honesty and vulnerability helps you to realize why you’re doing whatever it is that you want to do.

Les Brown, in one of his many motivational speeches, one I’ve listened to repeatedly, required his audience members to turn to one another. Each took a turn saying out loud a simple phrase; “The world needs your dream.”

The world needs your dream.

So don’t give up on it.

And if you’re not enduring some tough situation, that’s great, but don’t forget why you’re doing it in the first place. If you are, then I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

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Your Book’s ROI

Let’s just pull off the bandaid quickly here-

Your book will not be making you a fortune.

You’ll write it, edit it, labor over the words and structure, polish it, publish it…and you won’t be seeing a lot of money off of the book itself.

Sure, you’ll sell copies. You might even make the best-seller list on Amazon for a specific category.

The bulk of the money you’ve spent on your book, however, will not be recouped. And the sooner I can get that understood, the sooner we can focus on the real ROI of your book.

Returns

From a business standpoint, your book itself is an investment in something greater.

You’ll invest time and money to get your book made. But the book itself will not be making you money.

It’s what you use your book for that will make you the money.

Writing, publishing, and marketing a book will have a positive impact on your business because the book will be doing the hard work of connecting you to your ideal client. You’ve already decided on who your target audience is and that somewhere in that group of people there are those who would benefit the most from what you do.

By creating a book you’re establishing a way for those ideal clients to connect with you. The book will do the hard work of building trust with them while you continue to work on your business. You can save some time this way because they’ll be reading the book and you’ll be free to focus on other parts of your company. You won’t have to take them all out for coffee to try and convince them you’re good at what you do. The book, when written properly, will do that for you.

It’s a non-threatening way to reach out to these ideal clients.

From there, you’ll be able to close more sales and charge premium prices for your services. As a published author you’ll be in a different category from the rest of your industry. Sure, there’s advertising and such. But a book will establish you as more than “just another (insert industry name here).”

You’ll stop being a commodity.

Of course, all of this talk of marketing and ROI’s will mean nothing if you never write your book.

So get to writing!

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What do I look for in a non-fiction project?

The certification course, offered through California State University at Long Beach, covered both fiction and non-fiction ghostwriting. When I took the course, the first semester was non-fiction and the second semester was fiction. Now the course has been adjusted so that fiction and non-fiction is done simultaneously.
Thankfully, I missed that schedule because focusing on just non-fiction or fiction was trying enough for me.
Throughout each semester, we students had the chance to work with live authors on various projects. Some were self-help, some were memoirs, and others were training materials.
This offered me the chance to get a look at the various genres of writing.
You know what? I like them all!
It’s the Author
The type of project mattered very little when the author was passionate about the subject. I can remember reading a rough draft where the writer had put, in capital letters, EVERY IMPORTANT POINT THEY WANTED TO MAKE!
This wasn’t once or twice but nearly every paragraph.
Despite the jarring effect this had, I saw that the author was passionate about the subject matter. They just needed assistance in writing it so that they didn’t scare away readers. I could see what they were trying to do, but in their eagerness to make the point, they ended up not making it.
So we set about finding ways to highlight their fervor without screaming at the readers.
It ended up being a fun project.


It doesn’t matter what the subject is


The reason the author matters more than the subject matter is the subject matter could be anything; cars, emotional intelligence, third-century monks, etc. When someone is passionate about said subject matter, they’ll want to make it engaging. Hence, they’ll want to work with someone who can make that happen.

When they don’t have a particular affinity for it, then it’ll make the project long and boring. And I can tell when the author did or did not have that deep-seated passion.
If they were writing a book just to write a book, then their words would fall flat. There was no conviction in them.
For example; let’s say the author cared deeply about elk.
Elk are just bigger deer, but smaller than moose. They graze, sleep, and sometimes go to the bathroom.
How do I know this?
Because my dad studied them. He’s still studying them.
He studied them for more than twenty years, published his findings…and is still studying them!
That’s passion.
You try to get him to talk about pottery or cars, and he’ll give some lackluster responses or no response at all. But you get him talking about elk and you’ll be sitting there for a while.
Why is he so passionate?
I have no idea.
And I’ve gone on these little field study trips with him. Quite a few Saturdays were ruined because he’d get me up at 4 am- four in the morning- to go out with him with elk counts and what not.
It was only when I was older that it made sense that he was passionate about these studies. Otherwise who in their right mind would do this?

The Why

That’s why I care little about the subject matter.
Because if you’re passionate about the topic, then I can work with that. You’ll have to explain things to me before I can fully appreciate your passion. And then we’ll work on writing it.
But if you’re not passionate about the subject matter, then it’s going to be a long and arduous process to get your manuscript written and polished. And you’ll be doing yourself and your readers a disservice the whole time.
So write about what you’re passionate about.
What are you passionate about?

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Your book as an attraction marketing tool

I’m no marketing expert, but I am aware of two types of marketing; inbound and attraction marketing. There are more types, but these are the two that I will be talking about in this post. Feel free to enlighten me in the comments.

But back to the first two that I’m the most familiar with; inbound and attraction.

Inbound

Inbound is when you directly approach someone with the goal of getting them to make a purchase.

You’re most familiar with the concept as the person cold-calling you or knocking on your door. Or worse, the auto-dialer.

I get, at least, ten robo-calls a day. And I’m slowly starting to learn not to answer. At first I would answer every one of them hoping it was a client or worried it was a call from a relative. But no, it was the pre-recorded voice “alerting” me to something important. The important thing I had to take care of right away really had nothing to do with my livelihood. So I would just hang up.

My favorite is when they say they’re a real person, and when you ask them to prove this by posing a question (any question will do)…they immediately hang up.

A real person would just answer the question and we could move forward.

Inbound marketing, or the better term of direct marketing, doesn’t work well with ghostwriting. And I speak from experience.

I’ve approached countless people trying to convince that they need to write a book. Every time– EVERY TIME– I fought an uphill battle to explain ghostwriting, what it was, how it could help them, and the overall benefits.

I know what you’re thinking, “This guy’s an idiot.”

And yes, I was being idiotic for wasting their time, and my time, trying to convince them they needed a book ghostwritten.

It’s far better to put out the information on ghostwriting, what I do, how I help career coaches and consultants, that I’m running a professional ghostwriting business, ghostwriting services, and that I’m a certified ghostwriter.

Why?

Because it helps me attract clients who fit three criteria;

  1. Those who are interested in writing a book and know they need the help of a ghostwriter
  2. They want to start their project within the next six months
  3. They understand the costs of such a service

Attraction Marketing

Attraction marketing is the opposite of direct, or inbound marketing.

Here you’re simply putting information out there about you and your business. You’re letting the larger public know you’re open for business.

You can still target a specific audience with your ideal customer avatar. Some call it a persona. I see it as the po-ta-to, po-tat-o argument.

The point is you’re creating information for the type of client/customer/buyer who will benefit the most from you and your service. This can be done through all sorts of content; blogs, articles, white papers, reports, and podcasts.

There is one more piece of content that dwarfs them all.

Your Book

When you write a book and market it, you’re partaking in attraction marketing.

Sure, you can send it to clients and customers that you believe will benefit the most. A book will make a great gift. And people rarely, if ever, through a book out. If they’re not the reading type, they’ll likely hand it to someone who is.

With your book in hand, they’ll read and get to learn more about you. You’re building trust with them in a non-threatening way. They save time by reading about your business outside of the typical work hours.

If done right, your story will connect with the person who will want to buy from you or hire you to perform a professional service for them. This will save you some time from having to go out and look for them directly. If the book is out there, and it’s written right, it will filter through the larger public, alerting your ideal clients to your presence and who you are.

Your book will attract those clients to you.

Simon Sinek, best known for his TEDTalk “Start with Why; How Great Leaders Inspire Action,” started out helping companies and high-level execs find their why as a side gig. It was something he did just to help out and didn’t think much of it.

But a friend mentioned how much benefit he was delivering, Sinek decided to pursue the idea. And then he landed the chance to talk about at a TEDx Conference in the Seattle, WA, area. From there he managed to secure a book deal.

Ever since he’s been helping more and more companies find their why.

He’s also been busy doing speaking engagements. Event coordinators are inviting him to speak at their events. He’s able to command speaking fees and other perks.

He would have gotten there from his speaking by itself, but the book, “Start With Why” has cut that time in half and put him into a category by himself. No one else tries to talk about that topic or say, “I speak about that thing that Simon Sinek speaks about, you know?”

His book was a powerful attraction marketing tool.

Think of what could happen with your business as a coach or a consultant if you had a book with your name on it that was polished and published?

That’s the power of attraction marketing with a book.

What other benefits can a book have on your business?

Leave your answer in the comments.

In the meantime, get to writing.

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The Book Flyer

Before I became a certified ghostwriter, I was just writing.

A “regular writer,” you would say.

The distinction is semantic right now, but I did write a lot even before I decided I wanted to have something published. Even in grade school I would write down ideas and tell stories to my family. And when my family didn’t like that, I ran around the backyard acting out these new scenarios. A very rudimentary method for developing a story.

And yes, I looked completely ridiculous as I did this.

Unfortunately, there is no video evidence…too bad.

But I took that storytelling spirit and put into writing throughout high school and college. I wasn’t too focused in those days so most of the ideas were just thought fragments or loose plots with a few characters roughed out.

Only after my wife gave me a book on writing did I look to write a real story.

When I was done I thought it was horrible.

I wasn’t finished though.

I wrote another and then a third.

I’m sure I have a fourth and fifth floating around my computer somewhere, but those have been tabled for now.

With these completed manuscripts, I sought out literary agents. A couple were nice and read the work, offering honest feedback. One guy was a complete jerk about it and didn’t give me the time of day when I pitched him my idea.

The next step was to self-publish.

I did this with the most minimum of effort and rushed the entire process because I had a daughter on the way. My rationale at the time was that if I didn’t do it now then I would never get it published because I would have a child to take care of.

Well, two kids later and I’m still doing this.

What Happened…

The two books didn’t go anywhere.

After two years of them sitting in obscurity on Amazon, I finally got a royalty check- $30.

I assumed that putting them out there would cause a tidal wave of attention and I could make my living off my published work. Clearly, I was mistaken.

There’s a fundamental rule I had to learn the hard way; if you don’t tell people about your book before you publish it, then no one will care that it’s there.

In other words; Market your book before you debut it!

…What I Should have Done

Marketing a book requires some lead time.

This doesn’t include the publishing process itself, but they can be done at the same time.

Anyway, marketing a book requires you to let others know about it before it hits the shelves, both in the digital world and in the real world.

Part of this is through social media, being a guest on podcasts, radio shows, and your local affiliate.

But another part, one that many authors don’t think of, is contacting purchasing agents and letting them know it’s available. You don’t have to sell the book n a phone call or an email.

No, there’s a better way to do this.

The Book Flyer

If I had been smart and done my research first, I could have created a good buzz for my book.

To do this, I would have made a book flyer.

The sample above is for one of those self-published books of mine that’s languishing in Amazon.

There’s the title, a quick blurb about the plot, a few reviews from beta readers (which I didn’t get), my author bio, and finally, ordering information (if I’d gone the print-on-demand route).

This is a bare-bones sample and can easily be made in Photoshop or PowerPoint. You can tell that I didn’t put a lot of time into it, but it gets the point across.

When it comes to your book, put in that time and effort and blow this sample out of the water. In fact, you’d better, because if I find out you read this post and then created a book flyer that looks like this one, I will find you!

But back to less threatening matters…

A book flyer is a simple tool, and when done right, it’s a powerful component of your marketing campaign.

Who Has the Power?

Marketing your book does mean you have to get out there and let people know.

I’ve mentioned the guest spots and social media already. I’ll circle back to those in another post.

There is also an unseen trove of people who can purchase your book. And not just one at a time.

These are purchasing agents.

A purchasing agent is the one who decides what to buy with the corporate credit card. In large companies, it can be a whole department. Government agencies also have these as well.

Don’t forget the purchasing department of corporate book fairs!

Go out and find them!

This takes time as you have to dig into the directories of companies and find the purchasing department. And even then, you’ll either have to call or email to track down the precise person in charge of making that decision.

For example; The Northside Independent School District is the largest school district in San Antonio and the fourth largest in the state of Texas.

Let’s say I have a non-fiction book that I feel high schoolers would enjoy reading or one that can be used as a reference in a specific subject, like debate. I never took debate, but I did substitute teach a couple classes. One of the many requirements for building an argument was citing sources. These debate students would fire out quotes from books left and right during their discussions.

With that in mind, a book entitled “Best Quotes for Your Next Debate” should fit nicely into a high school library. Northside Independent School District (NISD) has eighteen high schools, that means eighteen high school libraries my book can be purchased for.

I reach out to the purchasing department of NISD, or the vendor relations department, different organizations have different names for these departments. I send an email to their help desk asking who I can speak to about books purchased for their high school libraries. I get a response back that it’s the school librarians who decide what to purchase for their libraries.

Now I have eighteen people I need to track down emails for and send my book flyers to.

If all goes well, then there are eighteen book sales that will happen when my book debuts.

Just One Part

The Book Flyer is a powerful tool, but it’s not the only one you should rely on.

Your flyer will help your book a lot more than just putting it out on Amazon and hoping that people notice it.

I’ve tried that method and I can speak to its stupidity!

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Your book to answer FAQ’s

Currently, I’m reading “The Undoing Project” by Michael Lewis.

It’s a follow-up to “Moneyball,” his account of Billy Beane, Paul DePodesta, and the use of Sabermetrics to reinvent the Oakland Athletics. They were the poorest team in the league and yet were able to put together a team that nearly won the World Series multiple times.

This book goes into the “brain science” behind decision making. While Moneyball tackled the math, more or less, The Undoing Project seeks to answer why decisions are made at all levels. And then why some of the dumbest decisions are hailed as genius.

Basically, why are millions of dollars blown on players who never pan out?

Luckily, Lewis is brief when it comes to the math and skillfully handles the psychology so that I can follow it. I’m already bad at math, and diving deep into someone else’s mental processes is not an easy task for me either.

But what The Undoing Project, and Moneyball, do is seek to answer the usual questions someone would have about such things. Of course, the average person isn’t too concerned with decision analysis on a daily basis. Unless they’re a decision analyst.

And if they’re not a statistician, then they couldn’t care less about numbers and what they mean.

Thankfully, I fall into neither category.

Both books, on the other hand, help me to understand, albeit in a rudimentary way, the foundations of both and how they’re being put into use at a high-level in the military, government, and business.

The frequently-asked-questions are answered and I’m free to move onto other questions that may not be so blatantly obvious. For example; if interviews have been proven to be so inadequate at evaluating someone’s performance before they begin a job, why hasn’t there be a push to formulate a better way, or at least improve interviewing?

Still waiting on that answer.

Saving Time

Bob, not his real name, is an executive coach. He consults with high-level leaders and managers in businesses to help them run their organizations more efficiently. On any given week he meets with roughly eighty to ninety individuals to discuss progress, troubleshoots issues, and answer questions.

One thing Bob noticed was that he was answering similar questions among most of his clients. The questions were important but ones that Bob was seeing again and again in almost every meeting he had. And it took time for each client to implement a reasonably simple solution.

So Bob came to me and asked for help in writing out typical solutions to these common questions. It wasn’t that Bob hated answering them, he just saw how a common issue was prevalent in his industry, and how it could be solved easily. Therefore, clients of his could read it in a blog post, article, or a book, and implement the solution themselves.

Then, if they had more complicated or unique challenges, they could still come to him and work on finding a solution. It would save them and Bob some time.

These business issues had little to do with math and a lot to do with psychology.

Again, I am no pro here.

But sitting down with Bob for a few sessions and talking over his common solutions for the issues helped me to understand what it was that Bob was trying to say. And given that Bob had a full schedule of meetings, it made sense to delegate this task out so he could still do what he loved- coaching C-Level executives and not have to commit time to something he knew wasn’t a strong skill of his- writing.

I’m happy to say that the articles we’ve written together have had a positive effect on his clients. And I’m even happier to report that I didn’t have to have an advanced degree in the subject to help Bob out. All I was really doing was taking Bob’s knowledge and putting in the page in an engaging way. There was some editing too.

FAQ’s

Books are a great way to package knowledge for quick and easy distribution. Having an FAQ page on your website is a good place to start. A book, however, can give much more detail and explanation.

Podcasts are also a great way to do that and feel free to visit my podcasts page to find some answers to common FAQ’s as well.

And of course, check out these blog posts for more answers coming soon!

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Who Would Want to Write a Book?

The digital age is upon us, and things are becoming more and more…digital.

With that, there is the ongoing argument over whether print books and books in general, still have a place in society. More specifically, a place in the business world. If you can download content on your smartphone in seconds, and consume content in smaller pieces much quicker, what’s the point of a book?

There’s also the argument that print books are destroying our trees.

All valid points.

To give into this way of thinking, however, is to give up and decree that books are now an outdated technology that no longer serves any purpose whatsoever.

But books, like many things in this world, are evolving. And not just in how they’re produced, distributed, and marketed…but their purpose is evolving as well.

A book is still a powerful vehicle for entertainment, conveying ideas, and packaging information. The very notion of a book gives the impression that there is a lot within. For an author to sit down and spend that amount of time working on a book means that person has a lot to say. They could just as easily partitioned that information out into small chunks and distributed it out slowly over a longer period. This strategy works for bloggers or those who want to play the long game.

For those who want to create a feast instead of snacks, there’s the book.

They’ll put the whole story, all the information, and everything relevant to a topic into one package and let the reader decide how fast to consume it.

There is still the option of rationing it out in little bits over a long stretch of time, and then putting it all into a book. Nothing wrong there. It’s a unique marketing strategy that works for some people.

Writing and publishing a book is a better way to go.

Because held within all of those pages and words, is the author’s message. Their goal. The reason they felt it necessary to spend months of time writing, editing, rewriting, editing, rewriting, and proofreading to produce a polished manuscript. And then turn that polished manuscript into a book.

It’s in there.

And that’s why they write it.

Who’s would want to do all that?

There’s a statistic out there that 80% of the US population feels they have a book in them.

But there’s an even smaller number of people who have the drive to actually write it down. And an even smaller percentage of that group who will finish, and a smaller group within that group who will pursue publishing in one form or another.

There are those who do it for themselves. There is no clear cut demographics to illustrate this group, it’s everybody.

And then there are those who want to write a book for themselves, and see it as a useful marketing tool for their business.

That group is a little easier to define.

For me, as a certified ghostwriter running a ghostwriting service, I work with the career coaches and executive consultants who want to have a book as part of the overall brand.

The book is how they’ll tell their story. Usually, the career coach will include the concepts and methodologies that guide them in their practice. And suggestions and helpful information is part of the whole package too.

But the main point is their story.

By telling their story, they want to connect with the readers in their audience whom they can actually help. Sure, they’ll sell a lot of books, but with the goal of connecting with those select few who will want to work with them directly.

That’s the primary goal here.

Some other goals

A book can also open doors.

Throughout the marketing process, the author will seek out relevant markets to pitch their book. They can offer to speak at conferences, be a guest on radio shows and podcasts, and host book signing events at bookstores.

Having a book greatly improves the odds of landing these speaking engagements and guest spots. In fact (my numbers are a little rusty), 90% of podcast guests are published authors or soon-to-be-published.

And those speaking engagements? The career coach can sell the books at the back of the room.

Books will also serve as a business card.

The next time the career coach (now an author) meets with a potential client, they can hand out their book as a free gift. And no one throws away a free book. Sure, they may not read all of it, but they’re likely to hand it to someone they feel would benefit from it.

The book will become a passive marketing tool.

Who else?

Business consultants, career and life coaches aren’t the only ones utilizing books as a marketing/lead generator. I’m simply using that specific industry to highlight the benefits.

Anyone with a story to tell can write a book. But the book shouldn’t be the only goal.

Reaching out to a specific reader is the main goal. And to do that, you’ll need to first create a polished manuscript, publish it, and market it properly.

Listen to the Chirp on this topic, and soon I’ll have a video as well.

I’m also working on posts/videos/chirps on the marketing aspect and expected return-on-investment of a book.

Until then, keep reading and writing.

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So Why Hire a Ghostwriter?

A Common Question

It’s a simple question, but it helps to start here when explaining “ghostwriting” to a new client. Sometimes they know a little, sometimes they know a lot, and sometimes they know nothing.

Let’s start with the basics then…

If you’re busy, but still need a book written, then hire a ghostwriter.
If you need help navigating the publishing industry, then hire a ghostwriter. A good one.
If you would like a more involved confidante in the writing process than just an editor or a proofreader, then hire a ghostwriter.
If you fall into more than one of the previous categories, then hire a ghostwriter.
And I’ll say it again— hire a good one.
Ghostwriters, by definition, do the writing for the author of the book. Hence, a ghostwriting service or a professional ghostwriting company do this for a range of clients in a particular genre or niche. Mine is primarily focused on career coaches and executive consultants.
The many permutations of how much the ghostwriter actually writes could take a long time to lay out and explain. I’ll keep it simple then- from my experience as a certified ghostwriter, I’m acting more like a middle-man between the author’s mind and the page. They tell me what they want to say and explain it all out for me. Sometimes they have to explain it twice and use small words, but when I get it, I start working on how to convey that message in their voice and tone.
I use anywhere from 80 to 95% of the original material they provide. That 5 to 20% is me editing, moving things around, maybe suggesting they use this word and not that one, and keeping the narrative clean. I go back and forth a lot on which words to use, the right tone, etc. You can imagine that this can’t be done quickly. Then again, if you want it done right, it will not be done quickly.
The process of ghostwriting is long and laborious. But I’m one of those weird people who enjoys sitting at a computer and figuring out the right words. Then again, can you blame me? I grew up helping my dad count elk on Saturday mornings. Some of that “weird” was passed on to me. Luckily, however, it doesn’t involve elk.
Back to the main topic now…
When I take on the writing and editing of a manuscript, I’m freeing up the author’s time to take care of other things. Writing a book is great, it is a fun process, and when you’re done you have a real sense of accomplishment. It takes a lot of time and energy to do it though. That is why ghostwriting is so appealing to those who want to write a book, but don’t have the time, the knowledge of the publishing industry, or the confidence in their writing skills to do it.
There are more reasons, yet those seem to be the ones I hear most often.
Listen to my Chirp on the subject as well.

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