As a ghostwriter, one of the Big Questions I get from prospective clients is how I can possibly write a book that sounds like them. Most people – not all, but most! – don’t want to hire a ghostwriter and end up with a book that reads like somebody else wrote it, even if it’s good. So how do I make sure that I’m able to “channel” my clients’ voices, so their book not only sounds like them, but actually comes directly from them?
The best way I can explain the process is to introduce you to an amazing woman and client of mine, the lovely Chelsea Berler.
Chelsea is the founder and CEO of Solamar Agency, a super-creative boutique marketing shop that serves businesses all over the country. And she’s only 30.
Like I said, amazing.
A little over a year ago, Chelsea and I completed the manuscript for The Curious One, the inspiring story of how she went from a painful childhood marked by poverty and loss to love, happiness and success as the CEO of her own company. The book has turned her into something of a media sensation, especially in Birmingham, Alabama, where Solamar is headquartered. Which is a little ironic, since initially, Chelsea wondered if anyone would want to hear her story at all…
LISA: Why did you decide to write a book?
CHELSEA: Honestly? Because a good friend who is also a business coach told me to! But I also wanted to reach people. I wanted people like me, who maybe don’t fit in the usual boxes, to know they’re not alone.
LISA: And why did you decide to work with a ghostwriter?
CHELSEA: I feel like my writing lacks polish, and knew I needed someone to guide me through the process of telling the story and make sure it was clear and easy for readers to relate to and understand. But I was also worried that a ghostwriter wouldn’t sound like me, and that the story wouldn’t end up being my story.
LISA: And is that what happened?
LISA: I remember that first, you told me your story over the phone, and I recorded it so I could get a sense of how you expressed yourself in words. After that I sent you fairly detailed questions to answer for each chapter – you answered them in writing, and I pulled a lot of the writing directly from those answers. I was able to use a lot of what you wrote and just embellish it.
CHELSEA: It’s true. I was surprised how much of the book came out in my actual words.
LISA: Was the process fun?
CHELSEA: Because my story was a little bit difficult, I found it to be kind of a sad process for me. But that was just me kind of grieving and experiencing things over because I had to talk about ‘em. In the end, it was super therapeutic and there were a lot of fun parts.
LISA: How did you feel about the results?
CHELSEA: I read the book several times after it was done and I just couldn’t believe it was my story. It was so well-written.
LISA: Do you have any advice for someone who’s thinking about writing a book?
CHELSEA: Everyone has a book in them – some a little more special than others. It will change your life, it will impact others, it will be one of the biggest accomplishments you’ll ever do. But I’m not going to lie, you need to invest time and money into it to do it right. Just think of it this way – if this is the only book you’ll ever write in your entire life, don’t cheap out. Do it full out. You’ll be more proud of it because of that.
LISA: Thanks so much Chelsea – your book was one of my favorite experiences ever, and I’m so excited about your success with it. But that’s a story for another blog post…
The method I used with Chelsea isn’t the method I use with everyone – every client has their own “best way” of telling their story, and my job is to help them find it and then capture it on the page.
If there’s a story inside you that’s waiting to get out, and you’re thinking about hiring a ghostwriter to help you tell it, you can find out more about me at www.gethipcreative.com.
Chelsea’s book, The Curious One, is available on Amazon and on her own website, www.mostlychelsea.com.