E2A 044: Ghostwriters, Book Coaches, or Good Old-Fashioned Book Editors – What’s the Best Way to Get Your Book Written? 

 December 13, 2022

By  Scott A. MacMillan

Few entrepreneurs operating in the knowledge-based economy doubt the fact that becoming a published author could be a game changer for their business, however most will never actually publish a book.

The task can be overwhelming, especially on your own. Thankfully, there are people who can help from getting you started all the way through to publication and distribution.

In this episode of The Entrepreneur to Author Podcast, your host Scott MacMillan dives into the support systems available for authors – from ghostwriters to book coaches and editors – so you get closer to publishing your book.


Entrepreneur to Author Resources: https://entrepreneurtoauthor.com/resources/

Grammar Factory editing options: https://grammarfactory.com/editing-self-published-authors/

Expert Author Academy: https://www.kellyirving.com/expert-author-academy (partner, book coaching program)



Scott on LinkedIn (@scottmacmillan): https://www.linkedin.com/in/scottmacmillan/
Scott on Instagram (@scottamacmillan): https://instagram.com/scottamacmillan/
Scott on Twitter (@scottamacmillan): https://twitter.com/scottamacmillan/
Scott on Medium (@scottamacmillan): https://scottamacmillan.medium.com

Episode Transcript

Please note: The transcript is produced by a third-party company from an audio recording and may include transcription errors.


This is SSN.

(Story Studio Network)

Scott MacMillan:

You're listening to the Entrepreneur to Author podcast.


Welcome to the Entrepreneur to Author podcast, the podcast that brings you practical strategies for building authority and growing your business. And now, here's your host, Scott McMillan.

Scott MacMillan:

Few entrepreneurs operating in the knowledge-based economy doubt the fact that becoming a published author could be a game changer for their business. The authority, credibility, and market positioning that comes with publishing a high-quality, expertise based non-fiction book elevates you above your competition, clearly communicates what it is that you do, why you're different, and the incredible results that you can deliver for your customers or clients. Rather, what many entrepreneurs struggle with is how or if they could ever get a book written in the first place. Here's the bad news. There's no single best way to get a book written. If that's what you were hoping for, I'm sorry to disappoint you. But here's the good news. There are multiple excellent ways to get your book written, each of which can result in a professional caliber, authority-building manuscript that's ready for publication. That's right. The downside is the upside, and I'm going to share the details about the three top ways to get your manuscript written, no matter your skill level or time constraints in this edition of Entrepreneur to Author.

First-time authors fall into a few different camps when it comes to their readiness to write a manuscript. First, you have the gung ho writers. They love writing. They're good at it. They have no doubt they'll be able to write their manuscript. They just need to put in the consistent time and effort. Next are the time-poor writers. The time-poor writer may or may not feel like they have the skills to complete their manuscript, but frankly, it doesn't even matter. To this writer, they simply cannot fathom where they're going to find the time to crank out the 30 to 50,000 words needed for the typical non-fiction book. And then we have the self-conscious writers. The self-conscious writer is able and willing to put in the time, but they genuinely question whether they have the talent for writing. Even if they've done some short-form writing in the past, the prospect of crafting a complete book manuscript is daunting. Will the book be any good? Will anyone want to read it? Will anyone even want to publish it?

The reality is many of us don't fit neatly into any one of these three buckets. More likely, we're a combination of two, or even all three. Perhaps we're mostly gung ho, but then we get a few thousand words into writing, and the uncertainty starts to creep in. "What have I gotten myself into?" We might ask. Or maybe we're both time-poor and self-conscious. That's actually very common. And to be honest, those who check both of these boxes are usually the ones who never bother starting, even if they know they should. No matter which of the three types you might be or what combination of types, perhaps, don't worry, there is a viable path to authorship. Each type has its challenge, even the gung ho writer, you might be surprised to learn.

But I'm going to share how three different types of experts, whether used individually or in combination, can overcome the challenges you are likely to encounter as each of the three writer types I mentioned. These three experts are the ghostwriter, the book coach, and the good old-fashioned book editor. Let's begin with the ghostwriter. A ghostwriter is a professional writer who pens your book for you for a fee. They let you put your name on the cover. You're still the author, but they do the writing. Now, done properly, this isn't a give them a topic and they go off and write type of situation. Instead, it's a collaborative effort where you bring the ideas and expertise, which the writer extracts through thoughtful interviews and correspondence, and then crafts the manuscript in your voice. The benefits of hiring a ghostwriter include, well, first it's actually going to get done.

This is the single biggest benefit of hiring a ghostwriter. We've worked with many authors who had been wanting to write a book for years, but just never got around to it. What had been a dream for years became a reality in four to six months. Two, it's going to get done faster. A ghostwriter can finish a book faster than many people could on their own. Experienced ghostwriters have developed systems and structures that streamline the writing process. This means that once you've clarified your book idea, much of the remaining hard work is done for you. Third, it takes less of your time. How long would it take you to write and research a book yourself? Our authors often spend 100 to 500 hours or more writing, researching, and revising their books. But with a ghostwriter, you can cut that way down. How much? Usually anywhere between 10 and 30 hours of your time depending on the level of input needed and amount of revisions required.

And lastly, you don't need to figure out how to write a book. There can be a lot of trial and error in writing a book. Often, the real work doesn't start until the editing process begins, and that's when our authors finally get professional feedback on their book. But you see, ghostwriting bypasses that entire process. Now, of course, there are some downsides to hiring a ghostwriter too. First, it is quite a bit more costly. You see, most people assume that ghostwriting is expensive. And they're right. How much does a ghostwriter cost? The Writer's Union of Canada has established a minimum fee of $40,000 for a book in the 60,000 to 90,000 word range. And the Australia Society of Writers reports an average rate of over 70 cents per word, which lands roughly in the same range. That said, there is a wide range of rates, both published and unpublished.

Rates range from a much lower end of the spectrum from freelance marketplaces like Fiverr and Upwork, to much higher from high profile celebrity writers who can charge well into the multiple six figures. Now, the second downside is that you don't learn as much. And this might not sound like a big deal and for certain authors, well, it's not, but there are two types of learnings that you're likely to get from writing a book yourself. The first is technical. It's the writing-related skills that you develop the more you write. If you plan to continue to write and publish, this may be important to you. But for most, it's the second type of learning that's more important. You see, this second type of learning is what you learn about your business. The process of structuring your thinking and articulating your ideas and what you do provides incredible clarity.

I can't tell you the number of times that an author has had an epiphany while writing their book that caused them to make a positive change within their business. Now, it's not that these types of learnings can't occur when working with a ghostwriter, but it's far less likely. And if an epiphany results in a change to your business, well, it's likely going to result in a pivot for your book too, and that can be costly when you're paying a ghostwriter. So what's an alternative? Well, that brings us to our second expert, the book coach. A book coach is someone who guides you through the writing process, providing knowledge, approaches, tools, templates, accountability, encouragement, and more from start to finish. While a book coach won't write your book for you, the support they provide can result in many of the benefits you might get from a ghostwriter without the same trade-offs.

There are a few different coaching models out there ranging from self-directed through a digital online course, for example, to group coaching, to one-on-one coaching. While self-directed models may work for some people, in my experience, it's the group coaching and the one-on-one models that tend to deliver the best results. The benefits of working with a good book coach, one, proven approaches and tools. You see, just like a ghostwriter has developed systems and tools that can get your book written faster, a good book coach has their own kit of approaches and tools that can help you write your book quicker and better than if left to your own devices. Second, accountability. Many of us need a bit of positive pressure to make sure that we make steady progress on our manuscript. Book coaches provide this sort of accountability, and this may be even more true of group coaching programs where you're likely to have other authors that you don't want to let down.

Third, you may actually save some money. Maybe. If you've worked closely with a good book coach, there's a good chance that your book won't require the same level of editing support when it comes time to publish. Well, that's not guaranteed to offset the cost of the coaching. I can tell you that at Grammar Factory, we've identified a small set of quality coaches whose work we trust, and authors that have worked with them are typically fast tracked, saving them as much or more than what they paid for book coaching. Now, despite all the benefits of working with a book coach, a lot still depends on you. Compared to ghostwriting, there's still a fair amount of work to do. After all, someone still has to put the proverbial pen to paper, and in this case that someone is you.

The final expert that will cover is the good old-fashioned book editor. As I've discussed before, there are many different types of editors. And regardless of which path you take, professional editing will play a role. Even if you work with a ghostwriter, a second pair of eyes will need to proofread your ghostwriter's work. And most book coaches work with you at the structural or developmental level, meaning that the lower level editorial issues of voice, tone, and language will likely require a copy edit even before going into a proofread. But for those authors who don't use either a ghostwriter or a book coach, a developmental editor, sometimes called a substantive editor or a structural editor, may just be your new best friend. This type of editor takes a macro view of the manuscript that you have written, reviewing it in light of who your ideal reader is, what transformation you hope to take your reader on, and what your goals are as the author, both for you and for your reader.

The editor will provide input on the logical flow of ideas, appropriateness of stories, case studies, and anecdotes, and whether you've included the right and right balance of content from chapter to chapter and topic to topic. They then help you revise and iterate on your manuscript until it's high-quality and publish-ready. There are a couple of different ways you might work with an editor in this capacity. And terminology and process differ a lot, so I'll use Grammar Factory as an example. We normally incorporate this type of editing into our core publishing services in what we call a structural edit. In the structural edit, we cover all of the areas I've mentioned, and we make the majority of the edits directly to the manuscript on the author's behalf, providing clear editing notes back to the author, along with a version of the manuscript with all of the changes tracked.

Now, a less hands-on approach is what we call a developmental edit. It too covers all of the same things mentioned earlier. But instead of making all the changes directly, the editor shares the feedback with the author so that the author can make the changes themselves. Edit for edit, the developmental edit is less time consuming for the editor, and thus less expensive for the author because more of the effort is pushed back to the author. Quite often, a couple of rounds of developmental editing is helpful to get to the right place. So that's all well and good, but let's get back to our three types of writers, which experts can be most helpful for each. Well, as with most things, that's going to depend, but here are some general thoughts to consider. For the time-poor writer, an obvious solution is hiring a ghostwriter. This can be especially true if your time can be more profitably spent on high-value activities, like sales in your core business, and that also makes it easier to calculate whether the additional investment makes financial sense.

For the self-conscious writer, the best option is often to work with a book coach. The proven approaches, tools,, and knowledge that a book coach brings is usually what this type of writer needs to get their book finished with confidence. For the gung ho writer, the mistake that some make is thinking that they don't need any support at all. Look, even the best professional writers think Malcolm Gladwell, Cal Newport, Brené Brown, they all work with developmental editors to make sure that their book hits the right notes for the readers, so too should you. Now, like we said earlier, not everyone fits neatly into one of these three camps. And as a result, there are some hybrid approaches that can work really well for some. And here are a couple that might resonate depending on where you see yourself. First, even if you work with a book coach, you may still benefit from the additional feedback of a developmental edit. Just remember that two experts may have differing opinions on how to approach a manuscript and both can be correct.

So my suggestion here is to share as much of the input from your book coach as possible with your editor so that he or she has the context of what feedback has come before and can try to keep their feedback consistent. And second, even if you've written your first draft manuscript yourself, there may be times when you might benefit from what I call a partial ghostwrite. We see this often after the structural edit, when the feedback from the editor suggests that there's a good deal of additional content, maybe some additional stories, a new chapter, or the like, that the author should add. In this case, some authors prefer if they can instead have some back and forth with the editor to share their thoughts on it, and then have the editor ghostwrite the remaining content. This can work well balancing effort and cost, provided the core ideas were already included in the first draft, and the partial ghost write isn't too extensive.

So there you have it, three experts, three types of writers, and a variety of ways to mix and match them. If you have a goal of writing your book in the next year and feel like you'd benefit from the support of a ghostwriter, book coach, or editor, I'd invite you to reach out to me. In some cases, we may be able to help directly. And in other cases, I can connect you with people I trust who I know can deliver great results for you. Regardless of which path you choose to get your manuscript written, remember this, now is the time; time to write, time to publish, and time to grow. Until next time, I'm Scott McMillan.

Scott A. MacMillan

Scott A. MacMillan is a speaker, international best-selling author, entrepreneur, and the President and Executive Publisher at Grammar Factory Publishing. He and his team help expert entrepreneurs write and publish books that build their authority and grow their business.

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