Ghostwriting FAQ

Many people who would like to have a book of their own have questions about ghostwriting. The purpose of this page is to share with you the top twenty questions people ask. If you don’t find answers to your questions, please call us at 1.800.637.6856, or email us at michael@BusinessGhost.com and we’ll get you answers right away!

  1. Is ghostwriting even legitimate?

Book publishers don’t want you to know this startling fact: Few of the nonfiction books they publish are actually “written” by their authors.

Most people who want to publish books have worked hard in their careers, usually for decades, to craft a body of knowledge worthy of publishing.

Such people often lack the time—and the desire—to do the writing themselves.

As a result, the publishing industry relies on BusinessGhost and others like us to plan books, interview authors, write, and then rewrite the manuscripts. Even many novels today are ghostwritten, with varying degrees of involvement from their “authors.”

Would the publishing industry come to a screeching halt without co-writers and ghostwriters?

Could there be any doubt?

  1. Do I need a ghostwriter, or can I do it in-house?

You can use a member of your team to interview you and then transcribe the interviews and turn them into chapters. You can then use one of the online print-on-demand companies to publish the resulting manuscript. Will it reflect the professionalism and level of quality that your reputation requires? That’s the question, and that’s why hiring a top professional ghostwriting team is often the wisest course.

  1. What kind of book should I have?

If you’ve been in business for any length of time, you probably have enough information in your head to fill multiple books. So the question is which book to write, right now.

My short answer is summed up in the initials CPR. Write the book that puts Cash in your Pocket, Right now.

In other words, think of a book as a coming-out party. How do you want the marketplace to view you?

What do you want to be known for?

What area of thought leadership would you like to occupy?

If you’re a financial advisor, what kind of clients do you look for? What are your minimum standards for new clients?

The best book to write right now is the one that addresses the niche audiences you serve and delineates you as their “tribal leader,” in Seth Godin’s great phrase. Today, there is no longer a mass market when it comes to books. Everything is niche. Your niche will make you rich.

The best book to write is the one that makes you a hero to your niche.

That book could take the form of a business book, a memoir, a business fable, or even a novel. If it’s going to put cash in your pocket right now, if it’s going to create thought leadership for you, if it’s going to make you a “tribal leader” and hero to your niche, it’s probably the right book.

You can also write a much shorter book today than ever before. People’s attention spans have been shredded by technology and social media. (We will write a longer book for a client if the longer page length is justified.)

Think about it: If you cannot close the reader on the idea that you’re the right person to serve them in 50 or 100 pages, you’re not going to get them in 200 or 300 pages.

  1. Don’t I need a major publisher?

Not anymore.

Today, major publishers are interested only in publishing people who have national recognition in their fields, deliver dozens of keynotes a year, or have tens of thousands of followers on social media. All others need not apply.

Most people today who have important things to say about their fields cannot get a book deal, given the current economics of book publishing.

That’s why independent publishing, which we offer, is vital.

Individuals who have an important message and a business or personal need to do a book can come to us for the opportunity to have their book written quickly and easily.

It used to be that there was a stigma surrounding independently published books, which, all too often, were poorly written and unattractive.

How times have changed.

Our books are just as well written as those published in New York—after all, we use many of the same writers they use! Our books are just as attractively designed and produced. Readers for the most part don’t know the names of the major publishers’ imprints, so they can’t even tell whether your book was published by us or Random House.

All they care about is whether the content in the book will help them solve a problem or understand something they’ve never understood before.

  1. Isn’t it a vanity book?

We don’t do vanity books.

Vanity springs from ego. Vanity screams, “Look at me! I wrote a book!” If that’s how you feel, buy the Maserati and forget about the book.

The books we do are not ego-driven.

The clients we attract are doing books as acts of service. They’re contributing to the well-being of others by sharing their ideas in book form.

Sure, there’s a certain amount of ego in having one’s book, but the people we work with are primarily interested in serving others.

While having fun, and making great money.

And frankly, there’s nothing egotistical about that.

  1. How do I make money from my book?

Stop thinking that book sales alone will make you rich. They probably won’t. It’s harder and harder to get people to pay money for books.

Instead, a book is a super high-level business card.

It’s a way of demonstrating thought leadership. When you’re the author, you’re the authority.

Authors have shorter sale cycles than non-authors. People are trying to get on their schedule—they’re no longer struggling to find prospects.

Authors get speaking engagements. The first thing they ask if you’re looking to get booked as a speaker is, “Where’s your book?”

Authors can charge more for their services because they are perceived as unique. Non-authors are commodities.

Authors use their books as tools for allowing the primary decision maker to convince fellow decision makers (spouses included) that they’re the best choice.

How do you make money from a book?

Don’t do a book so you can go into the book business.

Use the book to build your business.

That’s where the real money is.

  1. Don’t I have to be famous to be an author?

Nope.

The beautiful thing about a book is that it makes you famous in your field.

Celebrity memoirs require fame. The kind of book we’re talking about—the book as a marketing tool, the family or business memoir, the business fable or novel—only require a person who has a great story to tell.

Isn’t that you?

  1. What if people criticize my book?

A prospect or client raises this question almost weekly. “What if people criticize me for writing the book? What if they criticize the book?”

I always ask, “Who are these people?”

They’re imaginary.

These critics don’t even exist.

Most of us have negative voices in our heads implanted by parents, teachers, or other influential people, well-meaning or otherwise.

The voices say, “Who do you think you are?”

I like Marianne Williamson’s response better—“Who are you to play small?”

People may be jealous of you because you wrote a book and they didn’t. But that’s on them. Your job is to stop thinking about the critics and start thinking about all the people your book will help.

Investors who will be able to retire more comfortably because they learned the best approaches from you.

Business owners who will run more successful businesses, because of your consulting guidance.

Children, grandchildren, and future generations who will benefit from the family stories you’ve captured in a memoir.

Ignore the critics, because they don’t exist.

Think about the people you’ll help.

If you don’t write your book, they’ll never benefit from the hard-won knowledge you possess.

  1. Isn’t it too much work to write a book?

Not for our clients.

(Keep reading.)

  1. Does the world really need another book?

Why is it that only sincere, thoughtful, knowledgeable people ask themselves this question, while a lot of people with absolutely nothing to say go ahead and write and publish their books every day of the week?

Life is a giant puzzle, and each of us has puzzle pieces that the rest of us don’t have.

Or to put it another way, there’s a specific group of people that only you can touch with your ideas. The people in that niche audience need your book.

They don’t just want it. They need it.

Do all seven billion people on the planet need your book, or any particular book, for that matter?

Maybe the Bible.

But we’re not writing for all seven billion people. We’re writing for the specific audience you want to influence, as a thought leader, as a service provider, or as a family member.

They don’t have your book.

Isn’t it time they did?

  1. Do I really have enough to say to fill a book?

You would be amazed. You have enough ideas, information, and experience in your brain to write a dozen different books.

The word “book” sounds daunting. You think about your college library, stuffed with 350-page tomes that took forever to read.

But that’s not the kind of book we write at BusinessGhost.

Our books are short and to the point. Our unique approach to interviewing allows us to turn a one-hour conversation into a twelve to fifteen-page chapter.

If you can have eight one-hour conversations about different aspects of what you do for a living, you can fill a book.

Don’t let fear disguised as false modesty keep you from sharing what you know with your world.

  1. How do you plan a book?

What makes a book outstanding? The quality of the plan for the book. That’s where we excel.

Great writing is essential, of course. But a truly great plan—which we provide for our clients—makes all the difference.

At BusinessGhost, the book-planning process takes just 60 to 90 minutes.

Michael Gerber, who created the E-Myth and who is a dear friend, says that “Michael Levin has created more successful books than anyone in human history.”

That might be an exaggeration, but if so, it’s only a slight exaggeration. I may be better at creating books quickly than just about anyone on the planet, in part because I’ve done it so often.

Here’s how it works.

In that 60 to 90 minute call, we will go over three questions: One, who is the audience for this book—whom do you wish to influence? Two, what next steps do you want them to take as result of either reading your book, seeing you on TV talking about your book, attending a speech you give based on your book, or otherwise hearing about your book? Three, what body of knowledge in your head would cause individuals in that niche audience to take those specific next steps with you? We will create your table of contents during the call.

You can buy good writing just about anywhere.

But you can only get a great plan with us.

  1. How long should my book be?

Long enough for you to say what you need to say, convince the reader to take the right next steps with you, and then get off the stage.

Imagine your prospect is on a flight from Chicago to Dallas. He’s got The Wall Street Journal, some work, and your book.

The newspaper’s too depressing, and he doesn’t feel like doing any work. So he picks up your book.

Once he lands at Dallas, he makes two calls. The first is to his spouse: “Honey, I landed.”

The second call is to you.

  1. What if my book goes out of date?

Things change, and in today’s technology-driven world, they change faster and faster.

No worries.

It’s extremely easy to go back into your book, even after it’s published, update facts, figures, statistics, charts, graphs, ideas, and whatever else is needed, and republish.

Then you get to put the words “second edition” on your cover.

“Second edition” tells the reader that your book was so good, the first edition sold out.

“Second edition” also tells the reader that your book is up to date.

The world changes.

Shouldn’t your book, too?

  1. Do I need a literary agent?

Not if you use us.

You only need the literary agent if you are seeking to get a book deal with a major publisher. The downside of publishing with a major house is that you can tack nine months to a year onto the production schedule.

Isn’t time still money? So that’s a lot of money you’re leaving on the table, waiting for your book to come out.

You lose control—the publisher may insist that the book be a certain length, or contain certain kinds of material, which isn’t the direction you wanted to take things.

You end up making a lot less per book. The major publishers pay only 10 to 15 percent royalties. The publisher we use pays more than twice that.

And with us, if you sell books in the back of the room, you get to keep all of the profit.

We write book proposals—selling documents to get deals with major publishers. We’ve gotten many six-figure deals for our clients. But you only need a book proposal and a literary agent if you’re seeking a publishing deal with a major publisher.

The publisher we use has a sales force that sells to Barnes and Noble, independently owned book stores, and airport book stores.

We give you everything the major publishers give you.

It’s just that we give it to you right now. Not next year.

  1. How do I get my book in bookstores and airport bookstores?

We do it for you.

Most ghostwriters do not publish books for their clients. Their final deliverable is a stack of pages, and good luck to you.

We take the copy-edited manuscript and publish it with our publishing partner as a physical book and as an e-book.

We put it up on Amazon.com and BarnesAndNoble.com.

We set up the mechanism for automated book sales so that you aren’t going to the post office every time you sell a book.

For our business books, we even have the ability to put them up on the giant NASDAQ electronic billboard in Times Square and get you a photo of your cover forty feet high.

You can’t get any of that from a typical ghostwriter.

The “print on demand” houses of the world have extremely limited access to bookstores. That’s just not their business model.

The good news is that it’s ours.

If you want your book in bookstores and airport bookstores, talk to us.

  1. How do I get on bestseller lists?

I always say that you want to be a best-earning author instead of a best-selling author. But if you want bestseller status, it’s easy.

Send a note to your entire list and ask them to buy a copy of your book between, say, 9:00 and 10:00 pm Eastern time on a Monday or Tuesday night when most of them are going to be home.

That’s because Amazon resets its bestseller lists every hour of every day.

If your book cracks the top 100 on any of Amazon’s sub lists, even for an hour, your book is a legitimate national best seller.

When you go to your list, make them a special offer.

Tell them they can buy the book at a reduced price for that hour. Tell them that if they buy one book, you’ll send them a second, autographed copy free. Or better still, invite them to an exclusive webinar, to which they can each invite friends. On the webinar, sell them whatever you want!

I know people who will pump up a book on the New York Times, Amazon, or Barnes and Noble lists, for a fee. For The New York Times, it’s a hefty fee.

I like the self-help approach better.

  1. How much does it cost?

At BusinessGhost, we charge on a fixed-fee basis, based on the nature of the project. There are no upsells or surprises.

We have a conversation with our prospect in which we learn about the purpose and goals for the book. If we think we can do a great job for that person, we will send a proposal with different price points depending on the size of the book.

Every book is different.

We would be happy to talk about yours.

  1. How do I choose a ghost?

Naturally, we hope you’ll choose us.

But if you’re looking at several, here are the questions to ask: number one, is writing books your primary function? (It is for us.)

How many books have you written and published? (BusinessGhost? 700.)

Can I see some of your work?

(On our website, we have a page with sample chapters from nine different books, to demonstrate our facility at writing in different voices for different types of people.)

How long have you been in business? (22 years.)

Any New York Times bestsellers? (We have two.)

Any books on 60 Minutes? (We’ve had two.)

How many legitimate national bestsellers have you written? (We have twelve legitimate national bestsellers, including one Amazon Kindle number-one business book bestseller.)

Can I talk to past clients? (With us, the answer’s always yes.)

Buyer beware: If a writer’s website says that he or she does books and social media and blogging and fifteen other things, that writer isn’t a specialist in writing books.

If the writer isn’t willing to send you past work, so that you can experience the look and feel of those books for yourself, that’s a red flag.

If the writer hides behind a cloak of confidentiality and says that there are no past clients to speak with, watch your wallet.

BusinessGhost typically works on a “work made for hire” basis – we write and publish for you for a fixed fee, based on the nature and length of the book.

We typically do not partner with new clients and write the book for no money in exchange for a percentage of the back end.

Instead, the client has full authorship credit, 100% of the copyright, complete confidentiality, and all of the royalties, speaking fees, movie or TV deals, new client fees, and all other income generated by the book.

  1. Can we talk?

We thought you’d never ask. We look forward to hearing from you!