Marketing Sherpa Wants You to Know about Ghostwriters

Today is the last day to get a free copy of Marketing Sherpa’s 80-page report (regular price US$127) How to Get Your Business Book Published. If it’s still November 27, 2007 as you read this, go download your copy of the report right now and don’t wait to finish reading this post. If it’s too late and you want to know whether to pony up the $127, read on.

The report starts with an examination of what writing a business book is good for your career and covers everything from agents, publishers, contracts, and marketing to—yes—working with a ghostwriter. It concludes with four sample book proposals from successfully published books.

Examples like this are always worth having, because every author, even those who self-publish, should have a proposal. These are recent examples, so they give you a good idea of what you need to know and do to make your book succeed in today’s saturated publishing world. The report also provides contact information for business book agents (rarer and harder to find than agents for fiction) and publishers.

Marketing Sherpa’s recommendations and warnings are consistent with those in RainToday’s 2006 Business Book Publishing Reports (well worth reading, if you haven’t seen them yet). There’s plenty of fresh, original material here, though, and it’s presented in a very accessible way. Two of my favorite sections are those on agent turn-offs and myths about publishing.

And what does Marketing Sherpa think about hiring a ghostwriter? The best way to sum it up is probably “When it is good, it is very very good, but when it is bad, it is horrid.” And naturally I’m in full accord with their conclusion:

As in most things, you get what you pay for when it comes to hiring ghost writers. Professional, experienced writers charge more than, say, a graduate student majoring in writing—spend the money to go with the professional. You’ll save time and money in the long run—the better the work, the less rewriting and editing you’ll do. Expect to spend at least $5,000 (it could be much more) for a 250-page book.

While it may seem that the ghost does all the work while you get all the credit, that’s not the case. You’ll need to work closely with the ghost writer from the beginning to be certain that everything you want to say will be included. You will probably want to at least provide the writer with an outline, and will certainly want to spend some time giving the writer background on the subject. Then, once the copy is written, you need to make sure everything is exactly the way you want. You must copyedit, fact-check, and revise—or have the ghost revise—until the book is perfect. Remember, it’s your name on the book.

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

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