3 Steps to Follow Before You Find a Nonfiction Ghostwriter

by Bennett R. Coles

Find a Ghostwriter

Before you find a ghostwriter for your nonfiction book, you need to get all your ducks in a row. Good ghostwriters tend to be choosy about the authors that they wish to work with and it really pays to be fully prepared ahead of time before you start setting up meetings.

Ghostwriting will allow you to publish a nonfiction book that can further your business or career goals, without having to invest the countless hours that it takes to write, revise and edit a manuscript to make it publication-ready.

But for your ghostwriter to truly help you achieve your goals, you have to be very clear yourself on what those goals are and how you’re going to get there. Here are three steps to help you in this process:

Step 1: Start with The End in Mind

So, what is it that you want to accomplish with your book?

  • Are you looking to create a pipeline of leads for your professional services?
  • Do you wish to become a recognized expert in your field?
  • Perhaps you want to launch a paid speaking career?
  • Do you want to use your book as a calling card to land lucrative contracts?

Depending on your end goal, you may need to follow different strategies. For example, if your primary goal is to generate new leads, then your book will need to be addressed to an audience made up of your ideal clients, be it consumers or businesses.

If you want to become recognized as an expert, then you’ll need your book to focus on the type of popular advice that will attract media attention so that you can become a go-to expert for segment producers and journalists.

If you want to launch a paid speaking career, you book will need to be addressed to the audiences that you’ll be speaking to so that you can attract the attention of event managers.

To land lucrative contracts, your book will need to focus on the type of topics that you’ll be bidding on, to cement your reputation as an expert in the eyes of the decision-making committees that award contracts.

In all cases, you’ll need to be very clear on what your end goal is so that your ghostwriter can have a solid foundation to build on. The worst thing you can do for them is to be vague or unsure of what you really want to accomplish with your book.

Once you’ve decided on the goal you want to focus on, then it’s time to compile the information that you’ll need to supply your ghostwriter so that they can sink their teeth in your project.

Create a Rough Book Outline

Start with your end goal and think about what the main steps or topics are that will be necessary to create the outcome you desire. Then, list them in order of appearance to create your rough book outline.

For example, if your desired outcome is to convert readers into leads, then you’ll need to identify the main problem you want to help them solve and structure your book following a problem-solving approach.

Your job will then be to clearly identify your target audience, describe your solution in detail, show how it addresses your audience’s problem and finally list the areas or topics that are necessary to arrive at your solution.

If your desired outcome is to become a recognized expert in your field, then your outline has to describe your expert opinions, the issues in your field or industry that you’ll be addressing and your thoughts and ideas on how to resolve them.

If you want to become influential in certain industries in order to be invited to speak at conventions, then you’ll need to identify how your book can be of service to their audiences and create an outline that describes the steps required to achieve that goal.

The same goes for influencing the outcome in the awarding of contracts. Your book will need to be highly regarded by decision-making bodies in the specific industries you’ll be targeting, so your outline will need to cover the topics that are essential to be considered by them as a subject-matter expert.

Your book outline will become a critical roadmap for your ghostwriter, so make sure you think it through clearly before you present it to them.

Also, this outlining exercise will often help you think about your business or career from a new perspective – it’s not unusual to come up with exciting new business ideas when going through this exercise.

Written Materials

Written Materials

Once you have a clear outline in mind, even in draft form, it’s time to gather any written materials that you may have created so you can help your ghostwriter formulate ideas for your book’s content.

These materials could be your notes, personal journals, articles you’ve written in the past, spreadsheets with valuable information, charts, drawings and clippings about interesting concepts or stories that you would like to weave into your book.

The more information you can provide your ghostwriter that’s relevant to your book the better. The idea is to invite them into your world of ideas and thoughts, because they’ll be writing using your voice.

Recorded Materials

Often times, people find it easier to “talk” their ideas out into a microphone. If you’re such a person and you have multiple audio files containing your thoughts, then your ghostwriter will transcribe your audio and use this information as source material.

Step 2: Define Your Timeline

Now it’s time to define the timeline for your book. Once again, begin with the end in mind. Think about what would be the best time to launch your book and work backwards.

Initial Meeting to Final Draft

Ghostwritten books of average length (around 200 pages) can take up to 12 months to complete, from the initial meeting to the final manuscript that’s ready to be laid out.

Final Draft to Publication

In addition, you’ll have to allow for 2-3 months for book production in order to do the internal layout and to design your book cover.

So, you’ll first need to establish when you want your book to launch, say, based on the seasonality of your business or perhaps at a public-speaking event that you’d like to target.

Then count backwards 15 months to give you an idea you when your initial meeting with your ghostwriter should take place, and finally add another 2-3 months to allow for enough time to find the right candidate.

Step 3: Vet Ghostwriting Candidates Well

Vet Ghostwriters Well

Now it’s time to begin your search for the best nonfiction ghostwriter for your book. Ghostwriting is expensive but the end result can take your business or career to a whole new level, so you have to make sure that you find the right professional for your project.

You want to hire a ghostwriter that has experience in your field or at least in an adjacent field. Tap into the networks of your peers and business associates in order to find referrals.

A Google search for “nonfiction ghostwriter” or “business ghostwriter” can also prove fruitful, but once you settle on a short list of candidates make sure you vet them thoroughly on the Internet to ensure they are who they say they are.

Finally, there are many author services companies that offer nonfiction ghostwriting services (full disclosure: I operate an author services company that offers ghostwriting) but if you follow this route, vet them well to make sure they have a solid reputation and happy clients.

In Conclusion

If you follow the advice in this article, you’ll not only be ready to engage the services of a nonfiction ghostwriter, but you’ll also become very clear about your own business and career goals as you explore and discover new areas for growth.

Best of luck on your search!

If you enjoyed this article and are in the process of writing a nonfiction book, be sure to check out my free nonfiction success guide, drawn from years of experience editing books for bestselling authors (including a New York Times bestseller) and ghostwriting for CEOs and politicians. Simply click here to get instant access.


Leave me a comment below if you have any questions or a specific need that I can help you address – I operate an author services firm that specializes in helping entrepreneurs, professionals and business owners who want to publish books as a calling card for prospects, to establish their status as an expert or to just to generate additional leads for their businesses.

Here are some related posts I highly recommend:

How to Write a Compelling Nonfiction Book in 12 Steps: A Must-Read Guide for Business Owners

How to Grow Your Business Writing a Nonfiction Book

How Long Does it Take to Write a Book to Help Grow Your Business?

5 Book Cover Maker Mistakes to Avoid When Designing a Nonfiction Cover

Write Your Own Book and Become an Expert – 11 Reasons Why You Should

Bennett R. Coles is an award-winning author of six books published through Harper Collins (New York) and Titan Publishing Group (London). He is also the publisher at Promontory Press, editor for multiple bestselling authors (including a NY Times bestseller), ghostwriter for CEOs and politicians and the founder of Cascadia Author Services, a boutique full-service firm that specializes in premium author services specifically designed for busy professionals. Our end-to-end services include writer coaching, ghostwriting, editing, proofing, cover design, book layout, eBook production, marketing, printing and distribution.

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