To learn how to hire a ghostwriter to help you create a nonfiction book that will tip the scales for your business or your career, you’ll first need to set the stage so they can succeed.
To become your “writing hand” your ghostwriter will need to understand who you are. But to communicate successfully, they’ll also need to know who your audience is, what their pain points are, what your unique solution for them is and how this solution will specifically address their pain.
I’ve written this article to help you understand what you need to do to find your perfect ghostwriting match, the five key areas you need to look out for, and the things you need to provide your ghostwriter with so they can create a book that can truly help your audience.
Area 1: Your Ghostwriter Must Be Familiar with Your Niche
Having a full understanding of your niche allows your ghostwriter to focus their attention on what matters most: addressing the needs of your audience. Now, different niches have different demographics and psychographics.
Often times a niche is too broad and a good ghostwriter will tell you that you’ll be better off focusing your efforts on a sub-niche instead. By “niching down” you’ll be able to match your solution with a more specific set of needs.
For instance, “weight loss” is a massive niche that encompasses a large diversity of needs that would be difficult to address concurrently. But the sub-niche “weight loss for diabetes sufferers” is much more focused.
Now, you may argue that your solution will be able to address all forms of weight loss, but taking on a large niche will end up diluting your message as you struggle to connect with too many differing constituencies.
When your ghostwriter is familiar with your niche, they’ll be able to advise you from experience where your book will do much better by refocusing its message on a specific target audience, and they’ll help you identify who this is.
Area 2: Your Ghostwriter Must Have Experience Writing for Nonfiction Audiences
Nonfiction audiences have a very unique set of requirements. Unlike fiction, where the main goal is to entertain, nonfiction audiences seek solutions to a problem that typically interferes with their enjoyment of life.
The ability to establish a deep connection with the audience is the hallmark of a good nonfiction ghostwriter. They know that unless they can create a bond based on trust, transparency and authenticity, they’ll have trouble conveying your message effectively.
To this end, a good ghostwriter knows the specific techniques that are required to gain the trust of an audience and then use that trust to persuade them to take a desired action.
They also know that readers will instinctively tune into WIIFM (what’s in it for me) and unless they communicate in a way that fulfills the needs of your book’s target audience at every opportunity, readers will move on to something else.
Each reader must always feel that the book was written specifically for them. In order to do that, your ghostwriter must know a great deal of information about your audience ahead of time.
Tell Them as Much as You Know About Your Ideal Clients
To help them in this task of discovery, describe in detail who your ideal clients are.
Tell them what they like and dislike, what they fear most, what their challenges are, and what their hopes and dreams are, especially in relation to the problem that your book will solve for them.
Also, tell your ghostwriter where your clients spend their time online so they can do research in order to generate an in-depth profile of your book’s ideal reader.
They’ll be using this profile to create a “persona” that they’ll be targeting your book’s message to. The more thoroughly this persona is described, the better they’ll be able to reach out to your target readers.
Area 3: Your Ghostwriter Must Have Experience Writing Problem-Solving Nonfiction
If you want to create a nonfiction book to take your business or your career to the next level, then you’ll have to be able to clearly solve a pressing problem for your target audience.
When problem solving is done right through nonfiction, it can truly become a change agent. But in order to change people’s lives (or their businesses), your ghostwriter will have to be experienced in delivering solutions to readers effectively and persuasively.
If your ghostwriter’s specialty is historical nonfiction or memoirs, they likely won’t possess the skills required to read your audience’s state of mind, find the key pain points and persuade them to buy into your book’s solution.
Educate Your Ghostwriter on the Key Problem Your Book is Solving for Your Audience
Now it’s time to educate your ghostwriter on the specific problem that your solution will address. This is the problem that keeps your readers up at night, they reason why they need your book.
In order to connect with your audience at a deep level, your ghostwriter must have a full understanding of how your audience’s problem impacts their lives.
They need to be able to put themselves in their shoes and feel their pain. It’s in this intimate experience that they’ll be able to find the pathway to connect with your audience in a way that they can feel understood and not judged.
Now, before you can help your audience, they need to become open to your solution. Provide your ghostwriter with as much background information about your audience’s problem as you have.
They’ll need to know the effects of this problem on your audience’s health and on their psyche so that they can establish a connection of peers with your audience as if you were one of them before you came up with your solution.
Readers will be turned off if they feel condescended to or lectured. They need to be empathized with, and that’s the place where your ghostwriter will want to write from.
Area 4: Your Ghostwriter Must Fully Understand Your Solution
Now, it’s time to bring up your solution. In order for your ghostwriter to be effective, they must fully grasp your solution. You’ll need to educate them on the origins of your solution, what steps you followed to develop it, how you tested it and how you scaled it.
<H3> Educate Your Ghostwriter on Your Unique Solution
You’ll need to show them how it works, why it works and how people need to use it. You’ll need to explain its pros and cons, the most common objections people have and the steps you need to take to overcome them.
You need to describe the science and the research behind it, how you arrived at it and why your implementation is different from what your readers have tried before without success.
Your ghostwriter will need to prove to your audience that your solution works where others have failed and convince them to give it a serious try. They’ll need to prove to them that it will solve their problem once and for all.
Area 5: Your Ghostwriter Must Be Able to Capture Your Voice
Finally, your ghostwriter must be able to deliver all of the above in your own voice. When it comes to your readers, you’ll be your book’s author, not your ghostwriter – your name will be on the cover – and as such, you’ll be credited with the writing.
So, it’s imperative that your ghostwriter gets to know you very closely. The relationship between author and ghostwriter is very tight and it needs to be based on trust.
You must be able to be yourself along with all your vulnerabilities in an atmosphere of mutual respect. In a way, a ghostwriter isn’t that different from a dramatic actor, who has to get into the skin of their characters so that they can portray them accurately.
The only difference is that the ghostwriter uses pen and paper to achieve this goal. In the same way that actors research their characters, ghostwriters will interview you extensively so that can get a true sense of who you are.
Throughout this process they’ll capture your essence and transcribe it to the written page in a way that reads as if you were the author. Good ghostwriters are very skilled in this practice and can truly “impersonate” their clients.
When you begin interviewing candidates, make sure to have long conversations with them to assess their grasp of your project. You’ll know based on the questions that they ask you if they are really in tune with the above guidelines.
These guidelines will help you identify the best candidates. Once you have a short list of people you’d like to consider for the job, then use the advice in my companion article: 5 Tips to Hire a Ghostwriter to Work With Nonfiction Authors to help you in the vetting process.
If you enjoyed this article and are considering creating 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.
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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.