How Does Ghostwriting Work?

The process of writing a book is a simple one. Although each book is different, I follow a four-step process:

1. Analyze

Whether it’s non-fiction or fiction, you must first know what you’re writing about.
This phase is often overlooked or shortened… and problems arise later in the writing process that could have been avoided.
So take a little time now to avoid problems later.

For non-fiction

Write down the topic you want to talk about.
Now add any and all material you think is relevant to the topic. It doesn’t matter if it looks like a mess, it’s better to have a mess now than not have enough material to work with later.

For fiction

Boil down the plot to as simple a sentence as possible, ten words at the most.
Now, write down all the scenes, characters, arcs, etc, that you want to be involved.

2. Organize

With all the raw material at your disposal, work to organize the information into a logical flow. This will take time and many attempts. Sometimes what seems obvious to us, may seem obvious to your reading audience. Write an outline and if it doesn’t work, then start again. Though it may be frustrating, it will be worthwhile.

Once you’ve decided on the order to your information, write an outline.

Next comes a synopsis. Keep the synopsis brief, no more than a page. Details can come later, just focus on the broad strokes of your story, the key pieces and how you’ll move from one to the next.
Keep it simple.

3. Ghostwrite

Now for the actual writing.

With your outline and synopsis in hand, write out everything. Go chapter by chapter, or section by section, depending on how you’ve structured your book.

A helpful hint, make sure you’re reading a book while you’re doing all this. Even though you’re writing, reading other material helps to keep your creativity flowing. After all, those authors needed inspiration as well!

If you want to have someone read your work as you write, go ahead, but make sure your reader doesn’t derail your progress. You know where the book is going, they don’t. Have them provide feedback on your storytelling and leave the direction up to you.

When you’re done with the rough draft, now is the time to do a line-edit. A line edit means you literally go line-by-line through your manuscript to ensure you’re giving it punch and maintaining the storytelling style you want throughout the entire piece. This is also a great time to cut material, rework sections that may sag or slow down the narrative.

Once you’re done with this draft, hand it off to a third-party proofreader. If you can’t afford a good proofreader then set it down for a month before coming back to it. This way you give yourself time away from your work to ensure you’re looking at it with fresh eyes.

4. Polish

With your manuscript free of misspellings (and not just ones caught by the spell checker) and grammatical errors, format your manuscript to have uniform margins, chapter headings, slugs, footers, page numbers, proper spacing, kerning, footnotes, page breaks, etc.

Find a style guide for submission and/or conversion. This will help you fix all the little coding issues with your manuscript to ensure it will convert or layout properly across multiple platforms. It will also depend on the word processing software you’re using. Some open source software will have problems with conversion, so always double check to ensure you’re sending your best work!

When you’re done…

Now you can begin the process of deciding which publishing path is best for you!

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