Working with a ghostwriter can bring you great joy as you collaborate to produce the book you have so long dreamed of. On the other hand, it can be a nightmare. Here are five questions to ask the references your writer has given you about working with him or her.
1. Was the writer able to meet deadlines? Deadlines can be intermediate such as the pace of writing (50 pages a month) or when the draft copy is due or it can be final such when you want to be holding the book in your hands. If the writer did not meet deadlines, was there a good reason-one being that the reference kept changing parameters of the memoir. Was re-negotiating timelines easy? (It is not necessary for you to have deadlines however. Some people want their stories finished “whenever.”)
2. Was the writer reliable about keeping in touch? Did s/he return phone calls and e-mails in a timely fashion? It is unsettling to be left without responses to your questions and concerns. When responses came, did they address your concerns or gloss them over?
3. Is the writer a good, non-judgmental listener? It is imperative that your ghostwriter listen to the story you are telling and neither impose his/her own ideas on the story nor judge it. Listening is a very important skill in a co-writer. While you do not want your writer to be judging you, you do want however to be challenged in your views. Very often, this will consist of responses like,”You say your mother was supportive, but the example you gave does not reflect that. Can you give me another example?”
4. Is the writer curious and knowledgeable about history, geography, politics? A good writer will expand on the setting of your story so as to give it a “bigger picture.” A good writer can set a story in a context that will give it more presence. The story will seem–and be–more substantial
5. Is the ghostwriter a pleasant person to work with? You do not want to be dealing with a moody person who will be rude and absent.
If you have any doubt about the reliability of the reference, ask the co-author for another.
Good luck finding the right ghostwriter!