Some of the best memoirs are written by professional ghostwriters. While that number, or percentage, may be difficult to nail down, you can look at the shelf of your local library or bookstore and hazard a guess at half, or more. So, if a large proportion of these books are indeed taken on by the pros, it begs the question of how to hire a memoir writer.
Why Hire A Professional?
I cover this topic at length in other blogs, but if you haven’t read any of those before, I’ll give you the basic idea.
Professionals get the best results.
When your car breaks down, or your furnace is on the fritz, who do you call? The neighbor down the street with the impressive tools? Or do you go with the pro?
If you care about quality work, you find the best person for the job.
In writing that hiring a ghostwriter, the definition of a pro, that you’re somehow cheating the process. Questions of authenticity come into play. People wonder how good a memoir can possibly be if it’s written by someone other than the book’s subject. The truth is, the decision to hire a memoir writer doesn’t equate to a compromise of any kind. Instead, it represents a commitment to quality that far exceeds what one (most likely) can attain on their own.
How To Hire A Memoir Writer Step #1
The key to hiring the best person for any job starts with you. Yes, you read that right. You.
Knowing what you want from your memoir, first and foremost, helps you focus. If you start looking up ghostwriters, trying to figure out which fits you best, before you understand your book’s needs, then you’re basically shooting in the dark.
How do you focus your search? Answer a few of these questions:
What is my book really about?
When I close my eyes, what does the book look like?
What is my target audience?
Have I seen other books on the shelf that fit my vision?
What got me excited about this project?
These are all terrific, invaluable questions that really help orient a writer in their process. When I interview ghostwriting clients, these are all questions I ask them. As a memoir ghostwriter, I can start working with a client before these questions are answered but it really muddies the process.
Know what you want before you go out looking for what you need.
The Memoir Writer And Process
Once you know what you need, the next step to hire a memoir writer is to understand the process. Ghostwriting, whether that is for memoir, fiction or nonfiction, follows a very simple, step-by-step process. All projects are unique, but by and large, this is what’s in store.
The first step is creating contracts and agreements. Professional ghostwriters are paid for their work, meaning that speculative deals, deferred payments and other arrangements don’t really work. Cost can be negotiable (I work with a team of varying prices, for example) but one way or another, we need to address money before words are written.
Next in how to hire a memoir writer is interviewing. I’ve always loved talking to clients about their life stories, experiences and ambitions. In order to write a book, we dive deep, get into the nitty-gritty of not only those life experiences, but what’s behind them.
Then, with interviews in hand, I set out to write the book. While this may be the third step on this list, it’s really the most important aspect of the whole process. The bulk of our time together is spent with me sitting at these keys and writing the story.
In a typical arrangement, the last step is review. I stress that anyone and everyone looking to hire a memoir writer insist on a contract that includes re-writes. You are hiring a professional ghostwriter, this much is true, but there is no substitute for a proper re-write.
As stated earlier, every agreement and relationship is different. When you hire a memoir writer, give consideration to how your project might be special. Do you need more extensive interviewing? Does your project require special considerations like travel?
Whatever it is, remember, there is no one size fits all solution.
How To Hire A Memoir Writer… And Avoid The Scams
I always hate to go down this ugly road. Each year I’m in business though, I find that acknowledging this elephant is increasingly important.
There are scams out there. So-called professionals that, like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, are there to win your confidence long enough to take your money.
I can’t tell you who the scammers are; by the time you read this, that list will have changed. If you’re going to hire a memoir writer though, here are some tell-tale signs you could get taken for a ride.
Too many promises that seem too good to be true.
This one always strikes me. If your memoir ghostwriter presents too rosy of a picture, it’s likely a scam. The truth is that writing (and the journey into publishing that follows) is unpredictable and there are no sure things.
They charge too much (or, in most cases, too little). I’ve written quite a lot about the cost to hire a memoir writer, but I’ll restate it briefly. You simply cannot get good work for nothing. Want to hire the best professional? They all charge for their services. The way to look at price is this. If the book costs too much, the professional is likely out of your league. If it costs too little then the person on the other line is not really a professional.
You get the runaround. More and more I’m hearing this from clients who have shopped around. It’s hard to get a sense of the writer you’re about to tell your life story if you never get to meet them. Memoir ghostwriting is personal. Many of my clients send holiday gifts and greetings, we get that close. If you make contact, but it seems like you get to talk to everyone but the ghostwriter then you should walk away.
The Bottom Line In How To Hire A Memoir Writer
This business is ever changing. Two years ago, writing this blog, I would have never dreamt that AI would enter the discussion. Now, in 2024, we’re looking at a revolution in robot created content and it’s shaking up the world.
The bottom line? Trust yourself. You need to use your sense.
There are no quick and easy solutions. If you want to hire a memoir writer, in my expert opinion, the most important thing is conducting a strong, thorough interview (I believe in this so whole-heartedly, I wrote a book about the subject). Remember that the person you’re talking to needs to earn your trust as well as demonstrate their expertise.
If you feel those things faltering, it’s time to walk away.
At the end of the project, your goal shouldn’t be a finished book. It should be a book that not only can you sell, but one that will move readers.
That is why all of us, professional ghostwriters included, set out to write.