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Don't Be Afraid of Ghostwriters

Have a story to tell? Don't have the time (or the words) to tell it? A ghostwriter can help get your ideas on paper and out into the world.

As writer Judith Barrington once observed, memoirs at their best “transform fact into truth, and elevate personal experience and revelation into art.”

Using a writing consultant or developmental editor (aka ghostwriter) is more common than you think. Some historians think John F. Kennedy's Pulitzer Prize-winning Profiles in Courage was written by his aide, Ted Sorenson. It's been rumored for decades that Truman Capote (and not his best friend Harper Lee) wrote To Kill a Mockingbird. Hillary Clinton used a ghost for her memoir Living History (which, ahem, earned an $8 million advance). Former President Bill Clinton used a ghost for his own autobiography, My Life. Ronald Reagan, Lee Iacocca, Rush Limbaugh, Laura and George W. Bush, Donald Trump, Pamela Anderson, Johnnie Cochran, Katie Couric, Gwyneth Paltrow—all authored bestselling books with the help of a professional. Among the newcomers: Prince Harry, who reportedly penned a memoir with the help of J.R. Moehringer, of The Tender Bar fame. Moehringer also did the heavy lifting when tennis great Andre Agassi penned his sensational memoir, Open, which the New York Times called "one of the most passionately anti-sports books ever written by a superstar athlete."

It's Your Turn But using a ghostwriter isn’t just for CEOs, celebrities and crowned heads. A professional ghost can help anyone who has a story to tell, but would rather leave the grunt work to a pro. Maybe you’re too busy to write a book (it's a big job). Maybe you don't understand the structure, voice, and trajectory that makes a good story great, and a great story unforgettable (which blends art, craft, and formula). Or maybe you just hate to face that blank page (trust me, I get it!).

I've spent most of my life on deadline, logging 20-plus years developing features, creating business copy, and writing speeches, columns, memoirs and professional communications for publication under someone else's byline. For me, it’s a special privilege to go behind the scenes of a life well-lived, and help to share it with readers.

When I worked with kidnap victim Debra Puglisi Sharp on her memoir, Shattered (Atria, 2002), my job was to interpret Debbie’s tragic, suspenseful and ultimately redemptive experience into a powerful narrative with a beginning, a middle and an end. It's the same for all personal and business communications.

So don't be afraid of working with a ghost. It's not “cheating.” It doesn’t detract from your authorship of your life story or other experience.

You lived the life. A ghostwriter helps you tell the story. It's that simple.

Call me when you need a hand with:

  • Memoirs

  • Biographies

  • Family histories

  • Business writing

  • Expert-opinion columns

  • Speeches and nominating letters

Not So Incidentally...Your Investment May Be Tax-Deductible

Say you want to write a business book to pitch a product line, share your leadership philosophy, increase your profile as a public speaker, grow your circle of influence, or all of the above. A compelling, kick-ass book gives you authority, leverage, and an unbeatable introduction to would-be clients, investors and others. In many ways, a book with your name on the cover can make you more "bankable" in the marketplace. So, enlisting the service of a ghostwriter can be good business, with long-range benefits that more than recoup your initial investment. Want to learn more? Let's talk!


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