Category Archives: The Creative Process

Working With a Ghostwriter to Write a Book

What Authors Can Expect During the Ghostwriting Process
  
When hiring a ghostwriter to help pen a book, it is important for authors to remember this is an ongoing, collaborative process. There are a few ways authors can prepare.
  
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Some authors are qualified writers and choose to write their own stories. Others choose to hire professional ghostwriters to help them create that compelling narrative. Both are acceptable ways to produce a book. That said, before electing to go with the latter of these two options, there are a few things authors should have prepared ahead of time.
 
Preparation of Clear Deadline Expectations
 
Before contacting a ghostwriter with a new book project, it is important for authors to set a clear goal as to when they would like to see their new book in print. Even more crucial: that deadline should be shared with the ghostwriter at the very start of the partnership. This will ensure both parties are headed in the same direction at the same time.
 
Is this a family history book that must be published and printed before that family reunion in July? Is this a business history book that must be completed in time for a company’s milestone anniversary? Is this a special cookbook or novel or poetry collection that the author wants available in time for Christmas gift giving? These are three common examples of deadlines that must be shared with the ghostwriter ahead of time.
 
From there, the ghostwriter can backtrack, with the help of the book publisher, to determine how much time is available for the writing, editing, design, proofreading, indexing, and printing stages of the book publishing process in order to meet that deadline.
 
Preparation of Notes
 
Book publishing is done electronically in this day and age, so it is important for authors to have access to a computer, the Internet, and email. They should also have a working knowledge of Microsoft Word (for the text portion of their book) and Adobe Acrobat Reader (for viewing .PDF proofs of their designed books down the road).
 
If a ghostwriter is supplied with various sets of notes that are scrawled on several different sheets of paper, the author’s costs will immediately skyrocket because it will take the ghostwriter extra time to type everything into Microsoft Word from scratch.
 
If at all possible, it is best (and most cost-effective) for authors to supply all their notes to the ghostwriter in one, continuous Microsoft Word document. The top of this document should include a first draft outline of roughly where they want this book to go and in what order they want each section to appear. From there, the ghostwriter will ask more questions to gain a clearer picture of the author’s vision, and the book will begin to take form.
 
Mental/Emotional Preparation
 
Some authors go into the ghostwriting process with the misconception that once they’ve handed their notes to the professional, their job is done and the book will be written. It is important to understand that ghostwriting is an ongoing, collaborative process in which the author will be required to answer questions and proof chapters all along the way.
 
Authors can also expect to go through a series of emotions during the ghostwriting process. It is natural to feel an initial resistance to each new draft—to feel a bit frustrated if things aren’t worded exactly the way the author first envisioned.
 
This is a common reaction during the ghostwriting process, particularly when it comes to personal books like biographies. Recognizing this, authors should read a draft over once, and then put it away for a couple of days to give their emotions time to settle. If they do this, it will be easier to read it over again, the next time around, with a more objective mindset. In that objective state, they can then feel free to change the words they don’t like or correct the dates/times/names however they see fit. All authors make better decisions in the objective state than they do in that initial emotional state.
 
Analogy for Ghostwriting
 
The perfect analogy for the ghostwriting situation is a police officer interviewing several witnesses to a car accident. Even though every witness saw the same thing, they all gave the police officer a different account … not because they were purposely trying to change the story or be malicious in any way, but simply because they were each viewing it from a different vantage point. They were still being honest and true in their account. The same can be said for a ghostwriter that has to take someone else’s words and interpret them and write them into a readable, marketable story.
 
If authors can keep this analogy and these tips in mind throughout the ghostwriting process, then it will run much more smoothly for them and their writing partner. In the end, they will come out of it with an amazing book they can both be very proud of. 
 
This article was originally published at Suite101 in February 2010 
 
 
 
PPG is a Canadian book publisher dedicated to serving Canadian authors. Visit our book publishing website to learn how you can publish your book today. 

Three Great Tips for Overcoming Writer’s Block

How to Regain Inspiration and Finish Writing a Book
  
Don’t wait until the proverbial creative well runs dry. These simple strategies for overcoming writer’s block can help authors keep the ideas flowing indefinitely.
 
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What is the best way to finish writing a book? Should writers schedule a chunk of time each day and “force” the story out; or is it best to work only when the mood hits? These are common questions many authors are faced with at the prospect of finishing a book.
 
The truth is, starting a book is the easy part. The first few paragraphs or chapters can seem to flow out of an author’s mind faster than her hands can type. This is the most enjoyable stage because it stems from “impulsive inspiration” meaning she is writing only when the mood hits. Unfortunately, if that mood doesn’t hit on a regular basis, writer’s block can easily set in.
 
Creativity is similar to muscularity in that it will begin to atrophy with a lack of regular stimulation. Just as even the finest athletes have those days when they have to dig a bit deeper to find the will to continue on, all writers will experience the same. On that note, the best cure for writer’s block is discipline and perseverance.
 
Schedule Regular Writing Intervals
 
The best solution is to treat a book project like a regular job. Writers should set aside a certain number of hours each week and make sure to be seated at their desks on time. By scheduling regular writing intervals in this way, writers can move past that fleeting “impulsive inspiration” toward a more lasting “thoughtful inspiration” and finish their books once and for all. Sometimes, when settling down to write, they may have no idea what they’re going to say—and that’s okay. It might take half an hour to get that first awkward sentence out and “unlock the floodgates” of creativity; but most authors are pleasantly surprised with how much they have at the end of the session. It’s because the intention to create is the very thing that attracts the creation. That’s the power of deliberate, thoughtful inspiration.
 
Set Target Dates
 
Another way for writers to stay on track is to set achievable but strict deadlines for themselves. Perhaps, in January, they might say, “I want the first draft of this book completed by the end of November.” From there, they should guesstimate how many pages the book will be and break down the number that must be written per month, per week, per writing session in order to meet that page-count goal. Then stick to that schedule. Keep that self-promise. Just as intention attracts creation, persistence builds momentum.
 
Read Regularly
 
The writers who spend even as little as half an hour per day reading another author’s work often find they are more creative during their own writing sessions. It doesn’t have to be another book; it can be an online article, magazine, newspaper, or blog. Sometimes the least likely source can inspire the greatest creativity. The most important point here is for writers to keep themselves open and aware of the infinite pool of ideas all around them. Whatever it takes to get that first sentence out. From there, thoughtful inspiration can—and will—take care of the rest.
 
This article was originally published at Suite101 in January 2010 
 
 
 
PPG is a Canadian book publisher dedicated to serving Canadian authors. Visit our book publishing website to learn how you can publish your book today. 

Do the Right Things and the Right Things Will Happen

Do the right things and the right things will happen,” they say. And along those same lines: “You are what you do every day.” I believe there’s a lot of truth to both these phrases; but after a couple frustrating weeks of little to no sales, I had an epiphany of sorts that I’d like to share with you. These two phrases are actually incomplete. Let me explain….
  
I didn’t sleep well on Friday night. All kinds of excuses were running through my mind as to why I wasn’t making any sales: I don’t have the resources I need; I don’t have the training I need; this is a tough product/service to sell; etc. But no matter how many excuses I came up with to explain and justify my lack of sales, my problem remained unsolved. I was still lacking sales. As a result, I still felt unsettled.
 
On Saturday morning, I drove over to Tim Hortons to buy myself a coffee; and then I drove over to Glenmore Park. I found a quiet bench where I could sit and enjoy my coffee while I communed with nature. I changed my focus from finding more excuses to finding a solution. Inside my mind, I quietly asked the question, “What do I have to do to turn this around so that I’m feeling better about things again and seeing the positive results I desire—increased sales?”
 
Shortly after that, the epiphany hit me in a series of thoughts. It sent shivers running up and down my spine and put a huge smile on my face. My mood was already elevated just from receiving the answer, even though I hadn’t actually taken it and applied it yet….  
   



  1. The first thought to come into my mind was: 
     
    I just don’t understand it. I’m doing all the right things, so why isn’t it all connecting properly? For the past couple of weeks, all I’ve done is leave voice mail after voice mail after voice mail followed up by emails. I’ve found it all quite painful, to be honest. How am I supposed to make a sale when 90% of the calls I’m making result in nothing more than voice mails and emails? It’s a lot of hard work (mental strain) for not much return. It’s a ridiculous waste of my time unless I can talk to someone.
      
  2. The very next thought to enter my mind was:
     
    Every time I pick up the phone, the first thought that comes to me is, “This is painful. I’m not even sure how I’m going to word this, or how I’m going to handle their objections. Quite frankly, I hope I get a voice mail. Then I won’t have to deal with the objection at all. If I follow up with an email, I’ll be able to give a full, uninterrupted sales pitch without having to deal with objections.”
     
  3. And then this thought came to me:
      
    Holy shit! I’ve been getting exactly what I was focused on, haven’t I? (Which means I’ve been successful in a strange sort of way, doesn’t it?) I was unconsciously praying for voice mail each and every time I picked up that phone out of the fear that I may not be able to properly handle an objection. The result? 90% of my calls ended with me leaving voice mails. My focus, over these past two weeks, was to postpone failure rather than hope for success.  
      
  4. The final thought to come into my mind was this:
      
    I haven’t always gotten what I’ve wanted, but I’ve always gotten what I’ve focused on. Always have. Always will.
     
    If I want to turn this around, all I have to do is switch from a fear-based focus on what I don’t want to a more hope-based focus on what I do want (while I continue doing all the right things I’ve been doing); and then my external results will change for the better. I’ll be successful at what I want rather than being successful at what I don’t want.

On that note, I believe the above two phrases should read more like, “Think the right things while you do the right things and the right things will happen,” and, “You are what you think and do every day.” 

As I look back on my fifteen-year sales career, I can see the absolute truth to this thought process. I can see the difference in my thoughts and actions during the times I was successful versus the times I was struggling. It just wasn’t a conscious thing before today. But it’s crystal clear to me now.

For the first time in a while, I’m actually excited to get on the phone! Can hardly wait for Monday! Lol!
   
  
 
PPG is a Canadian book publisher dedicated to serving Canadian authors. Visit our book publishing website to learn how you can publish your book today.

When to Write? When to Sell? How to Get It All Done?

Very recently, I received a note from an aspiring author who was overwhelmed by the sales and marketing aspect of book publishing and wanted to know when and how she is supposed to fit it all in. Her questions inspired this latest blog entry, and I hope she finds some of this information useful.
 
Here’s my personal formula for writing, publishing, marketing, and selling my books. Not sure if it will work for you, but here’s how I do things: 
 
1. For each book I write, I set the goal: “I’d like the first draft completed by such and such a date.” I always keep that promise to myself. I figure out how much time I need each month/week/day in order to meet that goal date, and I discipline myself to do it. (If you click on the picture to the left, you will be redirected to an article on overcoming writer’s block. This is the same formula I use to write all my books.)
 
2. After three books, my teenage son now understands mom’s process … and he knows to give me some space while I write so that I’m able to achieve these types of goals. (It is important to include family in your goals so they can help you achieve them. You may be surprised by just how supportive they are when you take the time to share your plans with them. They may even offer to help with some of the marketing.)
 
3. Once the first draft of my book is complete and with the copy editor, I switch from the “writing” gear into the “sales and marketing” gear: I write my back cover copy; I pick out the photo I want to use as my author picture; I design a rough layout of my book cover; I begin blogging about the book and designing whatever other promo (such as “One Sheets”) that I will use to promote it; I begin contacting local book stores to set up near-future signings and/or readings; I think about what sort of video reading I may want to create to post on YouTube; I start sending out invitations to the events via Facebook and email to generate interest ahead of time; etc.
 
4. Once the copy editor is done with his or her job in this process, I send the newly-edited electronic version of the manuscript to my graphic designer along with my instructions, artwork, and author photo. While the designer sculpts all these raw materials into a professional-looking book, I’m still working full time, still being a mom, and still focused on my marketing plans. In fact, there are quite a few steps in this process where you’ll be waiting for others to complete their various jobs (i.e. copy editing, graphic design, indexing, proofreading), so you’d might as well work on your sales and marketing at that time.
  
5. Once the book is officially published, now I’m “on tour” and working hard to promote it with internet marketing, signings, and the like.
 
This is my process each and every time I publish a book. Although a “book tour” is meant to sell the most recent book, I always make sure to include promo for each previous book in the back matter of the new book. I also bring the old books along to each event and sell them all as a series. (Every time I write a new book, I’m thinking, “How does this tie into the other books so I can sell them all as a series?”) Do you see what I mean? Always thinking ahead.
 
On the top right-hand side of this page, you’ll see a link to the “Sales and Marketing” category of the PPG Publisher’s Blog. There you will find all kinds of great ideas to help you sell your book.
Everything you do has a cumulative effect. All these things work together over time. But make no mistake: there is NO substitute for in-person sales. It is the most effective way to move more books, and it is the author who has to do it. Nobody can do it better for you.  
 
 
 
PPG is a Canadian book publisher dedicated to serving Canadian authors. Visit our book publishing website 
to learn how you can publish your book today.

A Ghostwriter’s Job: CHANNELLING HOUDINI

Every Halloween for 10 years, Bess Houdini held a séance to call Harry back from death. Finally, after all that time, she reportedly said, “Ten years is long enough to wait for any man!” The séances stopped.

 

Popular culture has many individuals still waiting for comedian Andy Kaufman to return from his travels to the other side. Jim Carrey was a devoted fan and channelled Andy when he starred in the movie “Man On The Moon” in 1999.

 

I have discovered that ghostwriting is also a channelling of sorts. While the words I write are mine, they belong to someone else. In much the same way as an actor imbues the spirit of the character they are tasked to portray, so too must the writer capture the spirit and essence of the original story-teller.

 

It is a humbling task, one that must be handled with great care and tact. Most people have great stories to tell, but not everyone has the skills with which to tell them. Such is the gift of the ghostwriter.

 

Much is written about the writer’s “voice” and, unlike Houdini’s magic, it is not smoke and mirrors and slight of hand. It is the fundamental truth from which we all speak. It is as unique as the singing voice of Neil Young or Taylor Swift. You’d recognize it in a heartbeat. It is this heartbeat the ghostwriter must understand and connect with.

 

STORY ARC

Stories that resonate are those steeped in real human emotion, regardless of the genre or nature of the tale. Even a technical paper will have a central emotional hook at its core. A journal, autobiography or biography is more than the sum of its parts, more than an endless string of events connected only by the fact they actually happened. Perhaps these events have been rewritten by time, or in the space between then and now, reinvented in the author’s mind: separating fact from fiction, perception from reality, revisionist retelling from a total fabrication of truth. Regardless of the motivation, it is the task of the ghostwriter to channel that space and time, and not get lost in it. The story must flow from one memory or sequence to the next, with logic, clarity and purpose. Well-crafted books are not mere collections of singular events, thinly held together by chapter titles. A book must have a story arc that, like Houdini, intrigues and captivates us as we move from one act of magic to another until it culminates in a magnificent and breath-taking grand finale. “How did he do that?” we ask in wonder.

THE WRITERS TOOLKIT

There are many tools available in the writer’s kit, and it is important for authors to review them with their ghostwriters at the start of your journey together. Poetic license and freedom, chapter content and design, timelines, the use of creative devices such as foreshadowing, quotations, background and context information, chronology, historical reference; these are all concepts the ghostwriter may need to explain, particularly if the author is new to writing or written communication of any kind.

DETACHMENT

The greatest challenge in the ghostwriting process is detachment. Companion to detachment is trust. Writing is intensely personal, even if the end result is a sales proposal! Preparation is an essential and key component of any author/ghostwriter relationship. The author must accept the fact that they have hired a ghostwriter for the express purpose of making the material they provide into an enjoyable and infinitely readable document.

In return, the ghostwriter has a responsibility to channel the author in as true and honest a manner as possible.

And so, as it is with many of the creative arts, I am me, and I am not me. Dim the lights. May the séance begin.

 If you believed they put a man on the moon, man on the moon.
If you believe there’s nothing up my sleeve, then nothing is cool.
“Man On The Moon”
R.E.M.

 

Patricia M. Gallagher is currently ghostwriting two books with an option for a third. She is a published writer, poet and musician. She can be reached through her website by clicking on her name above.

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PPG is a professional book publisher dedicated to serving serious-minded authors around the world. Visit our group of websites today:

PPG Book Publishing Website: http://www.polishedpublishinggroup.com/
PPG Publisher’s Blog: http://blog.polishedpublishinggroup.com/
PPG Writers Forum: http://writersforum.polishedpublishinggroup.com/

As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2009 to [current year] Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.

 

Handling Criticism

 

When I published my first book, everything was quite new to me, and I had an expectation (possibly an unfair one) that my friends and family members should support me 100% and compliment me on my book no matter what they thought of it. Luckily, that did happen with my first book. Everyone around me was very supportive.

Unfortunately, when my second book came out, it was a different story. I received an unexpected criticism from someone dear to me that left me shocked, hurt, and unsure how to react. I’ll be honest, it took me a couple years to come to a place where I was willing to put myself out there again. During that time, I had to rethink my expectations of those closest to me and find a way to remain confident in myself and my craft regardless of others’ opinions.

In retrospect, I’m glad I experienced that criticism so early in my publishing career because it taught me a valuable lesson about how I should measure the true merit of my work. A few times, I’ve had to ask myself the question: what is the truth here? Is it the joy and enthusiasm I felt when I held a printed copy of the book in my hand for the very first time? Or is it the self-doubt I felt when someone criticized it later on? Which one of those two moments will I use to determine the value of my book?

 

 

 

A wise woman named Lisa Nichols once said, “Oftentimes, you give others the opportunity to create your happiness, and many times they fail to create it the way you want it. Why? Because only one person can be in charge of your joy … and that’s you. So even your parent, your child, your spouse—they do not have the control to create your happiness. They simply have the opportunity to share in your happiness. Your joy lies within you.” A beautiful sentiment, don’t you think? I believe the same can be said for self-confidence and faith.

 

 

 

I went into my third book with a new set of expectations that took the pressure off both me and those around me. It’s always nice when people acknowledge a new book with a hearty “congratulations,” but I’ve decided that’s where their obligation ends. I no longer base a book’s worth on whether or not others read it, agree with it, enjoy it, or discuss it with me after the fact. The truth I try my best to hold onto is the joy I felt when I held that first printed copy in my hand. I hope you will do the same for you. I hope you will find a way to hold onto your enthusiasm even if you come up against any criticism along the way … whether it’s from friends, family members, reviewers, or anyone else.

Keep writing! Keep the faith!

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PPG is a professional book publisher dedicated to serving serious-minded authors around the world. Visit our group of websites today:

PPG Book Publishing Website: http://www.polishedpublishinggroup.com/
PPG Publisher’s Blog: http://blog.polishedpublishinggroup.com/
PPG Writers Forum: http://writersforum.polishedpublishinggroup.com/

As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2009 to [current year] Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.

 

Publishing & The Creative Process

 

Three books in, I’m beginning to recognize a familiar pattern concerning my emotional state during the book publishing process. I wonder if other authors experience something similar.

For me, there is a calm sense of accomplishment once I’ve completed that first draft and sent my book off to the editor. Believe it or not, that confidence and faith even survives the editing and graphic design processes despite those annoying little setbacks and frustrations that pop up from time to time. When I first hold the completed book in my hand, I can’t help but feel excited and very proud of myself.

For whatever reason, a day or two later, my confidence in the project takes a nosedive. It suddenly hits me: “Oh, my God. Now I have to share this with people. They’re going to read it.” I feel vulnerable at the thought of it, as though I’ve just stripped down naked in front of 1,000 people and invited them all to take turns pointing out my flaws. A daunting prospect, to say the least!

 

 

 

That insecurity can last up to three or four weeks, until the next book starts to take shape inside my mind. Then the feeling subsides, and I’m fine again. This happens to me every time I publish a book—I’m not sure why—but I’ve come to accept it as a natural part of my creative process. (On the plus side, the confidence always returns, and another book idea always comes in.)

I would like to hear from other published authors about your experiences. Do you go through something similar? How long does it last? Is there anything you do to ease the emotions, or does the mood just pass with time?

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PPG is a professional book publisher dedicated to serving serious-minded authors around the world. Visit our group of websites today:

PPG Book Publishing Website: http://www.polishedpublishinggroup.com/
PPG Publisher’s Blog: http://blog.polishedpublishinggroup.com/
PPG Writers Forum: http://writersforum.polishedpublishinggroup.com/

As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2009 to [current year] Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.

Writing & The Creative Process

 

A common question I hear from people at book signings is, “How do you even begin to write a book? Do you set aside a little time every day, or do you just write when the mood hits you?”

Each of my books was a little bit different….

My first book, A Letter to My Son, took me around ten years to complete. In hindsight, the majority of that time was spent procrastinating rather than writing due to fear of the unknown. I didn’t see that clear path ahead of me. I didn’t know how to get published and wasn’t all that sure it would ever happen, so I felt no strong sense of urgency to finish the book. Then, one year, I experienced a life-changing event that had me questioning myself and my life purpose. It was the catalyst that motivated me to finish my book once and for all … to find a way to publish it … to keep that promise to myself. Once I found that resolve, all the information and resources I needed to publish the book found me. And I did it! (Smiling.) What a proud moment!

 


Each book that followed came a little easier simply because I knew the process ahead of me. Isn’t that the way life is? The first time you try anything is always the hardest. But, if you push through that initial fear and prove to yourself that it’s possible, it does get easier. Needless to say, my second book, A Letter to My Daughter, took me only two months to write. My third book, 11:11, took me around six months.

When I was younger, writing was more a pastime than a career aspiration, so I only wrote when the mood hit me. After my first book was published, and I became a little more serious about things, I found a structure that seems to work very well for me to this day….

 

I treat writing the same way I treat my regular job. I set aside a certain number of hours each week, and I make sure I’m seated at my desk on time. Sometimes, when I sit down to write, I have no idea what I’m going to say. It might take half an hour to get that first awkward sentence out of my mind and “unlock the floodgates” of creativity, but I’m always pleasantly surprised with how much I have at the end of the session. It appears the intention to create is the very thing that attracts the creationevery single time. Another thing I do is set deadlines for myself. In January, I might say, “I want the first draft of this book completed by the end of June.” And then I stick to that schedule. I keep that promise to myself. That’s what seems to work best for me.

I would like to hear from some of my fellow writers out there. What is your creative writing process? I’m interested in learning what works for you.

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PPG is a professional book publisher dedicated to serving serious-minded authors around the world. Visit our group of websites today:

PPG Book Publishing Website: http://www.polishedpublishinggroup.com/
PPG Publisher’s Blog: http://blog.polishedpublishinggroup.com/
PPG Writers Forum: http://writersforum.polishedpublishinggroup.com/

As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2009 to [current year] Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.